Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blah Blah Blog II

Photo Credit: Mike Licht,

Part II of this post:

While I do think you can overdo the blogs and Internet searching, I also have found them invaluable for resources and ideas. So how does one find the balance between psycho-surfing and calmly gathering information online without getting anxious or unfavorably comparing oneself to others? How to make the most of the blogs/websites without making yourself crazy?

Although I think every person has to go through the obsessive blog scouring phase for him/herself to find his/her own balance, I have found one simple uncomplicated solution to minimize the madness: Bookmarking!

I told you it was not a novel idea.

But it is something that has truly reduced my anxiety, and allowed me to utilize the web in a manageable, helpful way, and not get too addicted.

In the beginning, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a wedding blog. When I found out, I was hooked. I clicked to oblivion going to every site, soaking up every idea, every word, every piece of advice. My mind swirled with images and crafts and vows. I started reading the blogs at work, because it felt like there wasn't enough time to get through them all at night. I mean, I had to read every single blog, of course! Otherwise, what if I missed the one perfect idea that would make my wedding wonderful? Sound familiar?

You know what happened next. I got burnt out on the blogs.

I read so many blogs and had so many thoughts about weddings and DIY projects and resources that I had to start my own blog just to process it all (which definitely helps!).

And then I realized that I just needed a way to manage all the information I was getting from the blogs. Because much of it (like some of the blogs I have linked on the right) is useful and informative and helpful, especially to someone like me who associated weddings with everything I wasn't. I needed the guidance but not the headache.

So I started treating my blog-reading and web-searching like research. I recalled my graduate school years and harkened back to the days of the standard research models upon which I so often relied. Most importantly, I realized that I needed to categorize the information as I gathered it, and leave the analysis for later.

Enter bookmarking. I bookmarked like a fiend, creating folders, subfolders, and sub-subfolders. There was a folder for anything having to do with invitations and other paper goods, and one for ceremony ideas. Another folder contained all the sites/posts I liked which dealt with food ideas, and another was dedicated to table runners. And for some blogs which I found consistently inspirational, I bookmarked their general URL (not a specific post) so I could return to them regularly. The key here is that these were sites I enjoyed reading and that gave me pleasure and inspiration, not made me feel inadequate, behind, or nauseous.

[*Technical note: When I say bookmark a page in a blog, I mean save the actual single post, not the blog as a whole. To do this, make sure you click on the title of the blog and then bookmark. If you are half way down the front page, reading a post and bookmark that URL, you are only bookmarking the site, not the post. When the front page changes, you will lose that post. This is probably a no-brainer for most of you, but I shamefully had to learn this the hard way after losing some posts I really wanted to save.]

It may sound silly, or hyper-categorized, and maybe it is. But it worked. Instead of feeling like I needed to soak up every single word and internalize each new idea on every single blog, I just skimmed. If I vaguely liked something, I bookmarked it in a specific category. For example, I know at some point, I would like to make table runners for the picnic tables at our reception, to spice things up a bit. Believe it or not, there is a whole world of table runner ideas out there--how to choose fabric, how to sew them and the no-sew method; using wallpaper instead of fabric (who knew?), and links for discount fabric stores. It's all out there. And when (if) I get to the point where I am ready to start making my table runners--bingo! I go to my handy dandy folder and sort through those ideas. I don't need to do that now. Now I need to focus on other things, one at a time. Like finding a caterer and an officiant. Those things (to me) are more important right now than table runners. Period. Staying focused helps me stay sane.

This process worked beautifully for our save the dates. I spend a few months casually collecting images I liked. I skimmed through websites that sold custom made STDs (not to be confused with sexually transmitted diseases) to give me ideas, and googled resources for paper buying. I bookmarked whatever I found to my liking in my STD folder and forgot about it for a while. When it came time to make our cards, I sat down with Jake and showed him what I had gathered. I checked a few more blogs and websites that night, just to see if anything new was out there, and bookmarked those. We chose our favorite ideas, shut down our computers, and started making them. It really simplified the process. I stopped trying to find THE PERFECT STD, and just chose an idea and project I liked and ran with it. Added my own touch, and bada-boom bada-bing. Done. No agonizing over options anymore. No obsessing over what could have been. The STDs were done, we were happy, and we didn't second guess them. Not even when we made mistakes. We wasted cardstock cutting them up incorrectly; it took us several tries to line up the text to fit the card properly; we got too overzealous with the printing and smeared a bunch of finished products; we accidentally spilled coffee on a handful of hand-addressed envelopes; and we failed to notice that our dog had inadvertently incorporated a few of our STDs into his bed and proceeded to drool on them. But hey! They got done. It was challenging enough making our own ideas a reality, the last thing we needed was to confuse the situation with more and more and more ideas from various sites and blogs. As you well know, the options really can be endless. So put a limit on it.

I guess the important thing I realized was that I didn't have to decide everything right then and there when I stumbled upon it on a blog. I had to remind myself of that, because otherwise I felt pressured by every new idea I came across. Cool postcard invites? Maybe I should do that! Oooh, cool magnet invites? Maybe I should do that! It's enough to drive us relatively sane people crazy.

Gather the ideas and tuck them away. Move on. With time, what you really want, what is truly important to you, will become clear. It takes a while to figure it all out. Many of us have not been planning our weddings since we were little girls. And those of you that have, probably came to the realization that you may not be able to afford the wedding you envisioned.

So take your time, sit back, surf the web with a glass of wine in hand, and remember not to take it all too seriously. Bookmark what you like and save it for a rainy day. You're not behind in your planning. You're doing what any smart bride would do--gathering data. In the end, armed with the wonderful ideas, tutorials, and lessons learned from brides before us and brides going through the same process now, you will make the right decision. The one that works for you.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht,

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