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Like You Read About

Books can be helpful in the planning of your perfect wedding

By Melissa Mansfield

You get your ring, you tell your folks. . . . Now what? Living in this age of abundant information, most brides head on over to their computer to search away. I found many bridal Web sites offering suggestions for my big day (my picks:,, but I’m a book person. I wanted something tangible.

Quick way to start: If you want an outside affair, follow Jewish traditions, or run away and have a destination wedding, look for a book specifically written for your day. It will cut out a lot of information you don’t need (like how to light up a room, or the order of a Catholic processional) and focus on the essentials you do (how to scare off squawking seagulls or how to craft a chuppah out of rock T-shirts).

Next, choose your type of bridal book. There are planners and guides. If you have no organizational skills or tend to lose things, get a planner. It will be a binder or series of folders or notebook, with worksheets and suggested questions and specific spots to put things like the caterer’s phone number. If you are the type of person who has a coupon drawer, a basket for mail (which is sorted twice a week), and can remember to pay your bills on time, skip the planner and go for a guide. Pick up your own accordion file or even manila envelope, and you will be just fine.

There are as many types of bridal guides as there are shades of white at a bridal salon. The best basic book of everything is The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World, by Carley Roney, creator of The book provides real questions that arise during the planning process (What should a vegetarian bride do if she’s feeling pressure to serve meat?), real brides and grooms sharing their experiences (Carolyn and Mathew, smiling in front of a New York City skyline, talking about how to bring up a prenuptial agreement) as well as generic hints and help (how to identify authorized dress-sellers, to how to address the invitations). The book has a budget worksheet and is pretty straight and narrow about costs, etiquette, and tradition without hitting you over the head with “This is how it’s supposed to be!”

Many brides these days are looking for something different. They go to the cookie-cutter wedding factories, and aren’t impressed. Many new books try to help these brides get what they want. Anti-Bride Guide: Tying the Knot Outside of the Box, by Carolyn Gerin, attempts to reach this audience. The book helps “anti-brides” figure out their priorities (skimp on the calligrapher—not on the booze), but still recommends employing a wedding consultant, advice no bride I know has taken. The book has pros and cons of various alternative venues (barns, museums, boat launches) and tips on dresses beyond sample sales (like white bridesmaids’ dresses), but doesn’t seem to push too far outside the comfort zones of most. This would be good for brides who want to get married barefoot on a beach, not something more extreme, like on a subway car heading to Brooklyn. Favorite tip: Collect random vintage water pitchers to use for centerpieces. Eye-roll tip: Make sure your wedding is professionally lit.

Where to Sit Aunt Edna, by Hundreds of Heads, offers the guidance of, well, hundreds of heads. While it has lots of tips from real people, it’s broken into general categories that aren’t too easy to follow. The advice is as varied as the brides and grooms surveyed, but includes anecdotes, from the heartfelt description of one couple who got married at a bowling alley where they met, to the egocentric but funny: “Don’t choose a ring bearer who’s cuter than you. . . . Every family has at least one homely little boy; he should be the ring bearer.”

As for those instructional-series books? Skip the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Wedding (the cheesy picture of a blurry bride and groom surrounded by white doves should be an indicator of what’s inside), but Wedding Planning for Dummies is worth picking up at the library. It has many tips that can be found in most bridal magazines, without talking down to the happy couple.

The Everything series offers many types of wedding expertise, with books focused on a variety of topics like the basics, outdoor ceremonies, checklists, vows, bridal showers, etiquette, elopement, for-the-bridesmaids, for-the-groom, etc. All of them are clean, easy-to-read and resourceful. This might be the inoffensive, nonpartisan book to keep on hand for when a question arises between the bride and groom, or the couple and their parents.

The much-anticipated (in the world of indie brides, anyway) Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides, by blogger Ariel Meadow Stallings, just began being shipped by Amazon last week. Though I haven’t seen a hard copy yet, her blog has provided a lot of amusement to brides over the last few months, from how to decorate a Port-O-Potty (complete with poetry to hang up!) to explaining to your parents your choice of Princess Leia and Han Solo as a cake topper.

You will probably spend more time, get more stressed out, and plan more for your wedding than for any other event in your life (at least until now). Take your time, find a book that fits you, and remember that the day really is about you and your partner’s love for each other.


2007 Bridal Guide Home

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