My wedding is not a college entrance exam: does every wedding choice have to prove a point?

Guest post by Cat Cenedra
Photo by Anna Hutchison Photography
Photo by Anna Hutchison Photography

Dear Wedding-Planning-Me,

When I embarked on the adventure that is wedding planning I knew right away that I did not want to buy into the idea that weddings should fit a mold. My mother wanted me to do one of those “everything” wedding packages, where I would just tell the venue what my colors are and they would do all the rest. “No!” I protested. I struggled against all the etiquette, and must-dos, and checklists from The Knot.

Three months later, my living room looks like an elementary school art room blew up. DIY magnet favors cover every metallic surface in my house, handmade vintage carnival invitations are piled on my TV set waiting to be assembled, terrarium plants and pebbles are splayed across my dining room table. These are projects that are almost done, with four months left to go. They are messy and hard, and not as cost-efficient as I originally thought. But, you know what? I want MOAR.

I want to sew bunting and sculpt WoW-themed figurines for the groom's cake. I want to make a funny card monster card box and giant lollipops and shoes that are shockingly red. I want to work at this wedding until every piece of it has been touched by me, and my love has been infused into each and every detail.

Why do I want this? I want this because when I went offbeat, when I turned down the one-size-fits-all big white bag of traditional wedding planning, I did it because I wanted this wedding to be “us.” I wanted it to scream, “Cat and Jim were here and LOOK at how AWESOME our love is!” I thought this would be so authentic, that it would be so much easier than trying to fit into the mold.

I was wrong. Somewhere in the wedding planning process I gave birth to a beast: you, Wedding-Planning-Me, you were born. And now we have to have a little talk.

I'm sorry I couldn't find that perfectly rockabilly pin-up dress, but Wedding-Planning-Me, the dress I did find at David's Bridal is perfectly fine, and not some sort of betrayal to your vision of the day. Handmade bunting would be a fun and wonderful aisle runner and it would encapsulate our theme, but, dear Wedding-Planning-Me, you can't sew. Please, Wedding-Planning-Me, just pick and purchase shoes that are adorable and red and won't sink into the ground. No, Wedding-Planning-Me, the shoes do NOT have to embody your entire personality, represent your love for your future husband, or be a statement against animal cruelty. You can do those things later, in other ways.

This is the terrible courage of being offbeat. Every choice that we make that goes against the norm is an exposure, a glimpse into ourselves as a couple, a peek into our lives.

I love being an Offbeat Bride. I love that we are out here, for our own reasons, trying to plan events that are authentic to ourselves. I am also proud of the ways that I am integrating my and my future husband's personalities into our own wedding. But I need to remind myself every day that my wedding is not a college entrance personal statement. No one except me will look at my choice of linens and think, “Hmm, what does this pattern say about their personality as a couple.” I will not be quizzed at the end of the event to see if I correctly guessed the reaction of my guests to my choice of cupcakes over a traditional cake.

This is the terrible courage of being offbeat. Every choice that we make that goes against the norm is an exposure, a glimpse into ourselves as a couple, a peek into our lives. We do not have complete reception packages; we have choices that are limited by budget and skill with sewing machines, but unlimited in the potential to express ourselves creatively. Even our non-choices (yay rainbow weddings!) are expressive. Sometimes it may feel like we're exhibitionists walking down the aisle.

Wedding-Planning-Me, go ahead and infuse the wedding with personality, DIY to your heart's content, be hella courageous — but remember that we are not our wedding. The most spectacular, creative, offbeat, unique, fun, rock ‘n' roll wedding will never be as fantastic and authentic as our love for our future husband. So make an awesome party and save the personal statement for another time.

Love,
Me

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Comments on My wedding is not a college entrance exam: does every wedding choice have to prove a point?

  1. Fantastic and personal and SO VERY PERTINENT. Thank you for knocking some sense into me, especially with

    “The most spectacular, creative, offbeat, unique, fun, rock ‘n’ roll wedding will never be as fantastic and authentic as our love for our future husband.”

    Exactly, self, exactly.

  2. Thank you so much for saying this! It’s exactly how I feel…I have to keep reminding myself it’s not an offbeat contest, it’s a celebration of our love..and nothing more.

  3. Thank you for saying this. It’s hard to let go of details and admit that one’s time would be better spent on ones that we can 1. actually execute well ourselves, and 2. that have a special place in our hearts. I feel naked, making these decisions that will be outre for the guests, but are authentic to us. In the middle of the hot gluing and crafting and choosing, there’s a lot of doubt, a lot of pressure (mostly from myself), and a definite lack of perspective. Thanks for helping with that last one!

  4. Wonderful!

    It sucks to have to choose between This and That, instead of Having it All or
    Having All that is Significant to Me be Significant to Everyone.

    But that is life, yes?

    Way to be gracious to yourself, lady. 🙂

  5. My beast purrs contentedly reading this. DIY is massive fun, but it is always good to remember that really, nobody is going to care whether I do scrollwork or clean modern lines on my invitations. Not an excuse for half-assing things, more a reminder that it’s not as important as I perceive it. I’m also glad to see someone else has a living room exploding with feathers and scraps, though admittedly not all of mine is wedding related flotsam, I DIY everything.

  6. So true! My moment of clarity came when I was hollering at Mr. Ninja about how something had to be done JUST SO or that was it!! He looked at me all confused and said something like “So when did we decide that a glue gun had input into our marriage?” And then I managed to wrestle Crazy KC into submission and get back to being fun, happy-to-be-marrying-him KC (who didn’t give a f*ck about glue guns).

  7. I just sighed in relief.

    Our wedding plans just changed drastically – now that gay marriage is legal in New York, we’re looking at getting married near where I grew up, rather than in Maryland (where we live now).

    I found a beautiful venue in New York – it’s our style, it’s in our price range, the food is delicious, and it just feels right. And I was resisting committing to it, because it didn’t seem offbeat enough.

    It’s hard to make any choices when you feel like everything has to communicate your personality to your guests, and to the internet at large. But it’s your wedding – you will be in the room. Ta Da! Personality present.

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