Monday, March 30, 2009

Blah Blah Blog...

Photo Credit: Michael Karshis

Blogging is often about expression and validation. Finding people out there that mirror yourself in terms of thoughts, ideas, feelings. That's why it was nice to find a post by Meg of "A Practical Wedding" today that described more or less how I have felt, at times, about all the wedding blogs out there.

In fact, Meg's post motivated me to write about so many of the things I have been feeling after months of reading the many wedding blogs and DIY sites, that I think I will need to do it in at least two parts...


In essence, her advice was to curb your obsession with scouring the wedding blogs, and take careful note of when they are helping--or in some cases hurting--your planning process, or even your self esteem. Take them with a grain of salt, basically. Don't judge yourself based on what everyone else is doing or making. And for gosh sake, when you feel yourself feeling worse about your own wedding because of what you think other people are doing for their wedding--STOP. TURN THE COMPUTER OFF. Go have a drink or watch a stupid movie. Get perspective.

I admit, in the early stages of planning, I was scouring the wedding blogs like mad. I never even knew all this stuff existed. I was like a drug fiend who was never satiated. I wanted more links, more resources, more stories, more everything wedding. I had so many random thoughts and emotions afterwards, I needed a place to let them out. So I started my own wedding blog, adding to the Internet wedding overload. OY!

But it is true that you have to take these things with a grain of salt. I know that the following thoughts may not be well received, and may even offend a few people, but I gotta say it. What I have found is that so many of these blogs and weddings try so hard to be unique or DIY that they go totally overboard. While I think letting the Organized Wedding Mafia get the best of you is a bad idea, I also think that turning into a DIY bridezilla is just as bad. And what's worse--sometimes I found that by reading about all these other wedding bloggers--those that spent hours searching out the perfect spool of ribbon from etsy with which to use on their completely handmade, multi-textured, paper-based invitations, or those that described the process of knitting all the [personalized] [color coordinated] yarmulkes for guests from vintage silk yarn purchased on Ebay--well, they just made me feel like a hopeless underachiever! Even though I didn't even want to do any of those things for my wedding.

Yes, I want my wedding to reflect me and my partner. And I definitely love doing as many crafts for the wedding as I can, because that is what I enjoy doing and because it saves money. But there is a difference between making sure that elements of our personality are incorporated into our wedding and being so self centered about everything that our big event seems to scream ME ME ME to anyone who will listen. Personally, I don't see the difference between a Bridezilla who has meticulously, obsessively hand made everything in her wedding to one that has paid a helluva-lotta money to have someone else make everything exactly to her detailed specifications. Ok, well I do see a difference, but I think each scenario is problematic in its own way.

That's just me. After reading so many of certain types of wedding blogs, I started to feel like a DIY sellout if I did not incorporate every single special thing about Jake and I into our wedding. Or like I was being a bad crafty bride if I took the guests' considerations into account, rather than make decisions based solely on what I wanted. Or what Jake wanted.

And while I acknowledge that people forcing their opinions on you is obnoxious/wrong, I don't demonize people for expressing themselves or asking questions. Yes, people challenged some of our decisions. But that's OK. Jake and I are direct enough to stand up for what we think. I don't really get upset when people challenge us, if it's done in an appropriate way, or well-intentioned...I try to take it in stride. Unless, of course, it comes from people who we have specifically asked to lay off. Uh, yeah, then I may go off on a slight rant. To them.
Truth be told, I even had a few "aha" moments after a friend or two "challenged" my thinking on some things. Months ago I was going on and on to a friend about wanting people to walk down this path in the park (where our wedding is going to take place) which happened to be gravel. Then I told her how I wasn't going to offer beer in addition to wine (our venue does not allow cocktails, just beer & wine). I also told her I didn't want to bother with chairs during the ceremony--it was only 20 minutes long, what's the point? After respectfully listening to me go on about a few other things I wanted to do, she politely said, "You know, it's funny. They always tell you it's your day on your wedding. But the truth is, you are still the host. The host of an event that revolves around you."

I know there are a lot of you out there that cringe at the mere thought of your wedding day not being only your day. But this does not make me cringe. I think there are different degrees of self-centeredness, and I am only willing to go so far before I start to feel like a brat. I actually really appreciated what my friend said. I had been thinking of only myself. I had been following (some of) the wedding blog mantra telling me not to listen to anyone else's opinion; to ignore what others wanted; to focus only on what me and my fiance wanted and forget the rest. In short, I got carried away by my own desires and visions.

But what about the few guests that are in wheelchairs and have to navigate the gravel? And what about the people (like my fiance's brother), who don't enjoy wine but who would be eternally grateful and delighted by the option of drinking a nice cold beer with his meal, on a hot July afternoon? How comfortable will the guest with the bad back or bad knee be while she/he stands up during my ceremony?

This does NOT mean that I immediately drop all my ideas and cater to others' needs. It did, however, make me realize that just maybe I should consider the effect of some of my choices, on others. What I appreciated about what my friend said was that she reminded me that I really was the host of this event, as well as the guest of honor. And I might need to consider both sides if I want a truly community-oriented, happy day. The funny thing is--what I consider unique about myself, or at least a good quality of mine, is that I do consistently take others' feelings and needs into account. That's what makes me a good friend, a good daughter, a good lover. I don't want to change that, I want to use it to make my wedding fun for me and fun for guests too! Reading through some blogs, taking all this into account almost made me feel like a traitor in the anti-big-fat-wedding community.

So I agree, for my own reasons, that overdoing the blog reading can be harmful. It can cause you to stray from your true self, and instead encourage you to compete for the best, most unique, most outlandish, most "authentic" experience. This will likely cause you more stress than it's worth, and make you feel bad. While I don't profess to know what is right for you, I can only encourage you to learn from my experiences, and to be true to yourself. You certainly don't have to answer to me, or any other bride out there. Just yourself.

So step away from the Macbook or PC, brides! While the Internet is awesome for so so so many things, YOU have many great ideas on your own without it! I'm sure of it. Don't worry if you don't sew every tablecloth or emboss every handmade save-the-date. Just enjoy this exciting time and maintain perspective. Unplug and let the creativity flow. At least every once in a while.

Or just grab a beer, sit back and read a juicy novel. Just make sure the main character isn't getting married.

(next up--Part II: Tips on how to use the Internet effectively when you do scour the blogs. At least some things I found helpful for Jake and I in our planning.)

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