This is part one of Bridget's wedding countdown.
I am getting married on Sept. 6, 2009. I could give you the exact number of days left before we take the plunge because our online registry is counting down, ostensibly so I can remind family and friends they only have 69 (68, 67, 66) days left to buy us plates. Dan and I met in college; we've dated for more than six years and lived together for one. He proposed at the Griffith Park Observatory (not because we're huge Sal Mineo fans, although I do admire his work) in February of this year. Before the ring had even warmed to my finger, we decided we wanted to get married before the holidays, and September sounded good. It would still be gloriously warm in Southern California, a special treat for all of our Chicago and New York residing friends. We are openly attempting to lure people to California. We think everyone we like should move here. It's going well: We've successfully recruited two people.
So when we decided on September, that meant a six month engagement, which is pretty quick by today's standards. Several people have asked if I'm pregnant, which is not only incredibly gauche but also illogical; six months is the exact WRONG amount of time to be engaged if one is hiding a pre-nupitial pregnancy. Also, why would you plan something like a wedding if you couldn't drink while doing it?
The wedding planning commenced in earnest the day after we became engaged. My fiance and I sat down with my parents, who are generously hosting the joyous event, and decided that we will have a "backyard" wedding on my grandparents' roof deck on the bayfront of an island in Newport Beach, Calif. There will be a family style dinner, and then dancing. What can I say? We are a decisive family. Outsourcing the planning wasn't an option, so my mother and I rolled up our hostess sleeves and got to work. Naturally, I did what I always do when I'm about to start a project (breaking down a butternut squash, using a wide barreled curling iron) and went to the Internet.
I Googled our favorite restaurant in the neighborhood (Sage on the Coast) and e-mailed to see if they catered. They responded right away! They catered! I'd been engaged 29 hours, and I was already making headway. Then ... I fell down the rabbit hole. I have always been a fan of Grace Bonney's blog Design*Sponge . I knew she was getting married, so I started poking around there, and that's where I found guest blogger Vane of Brooklyn Bride Online . From there ... all hell broke loose. Through Brooklyn Bride I found Style Me Pretty , or maybe it was Snippet and Ink , and from there I landed on Ten Thousand Only , and from there I found A Practical Wedding , which is still my favorite. APW is a big fan of East Side Bride , so off I went, and from there I stumbled upon A Cup of Jo , which is written by a Glamour contributor, and sometimes all she does is link to her Glamour site, which I totally understand but don't love. At that point I discovered Wedding Bee , which was recently purchased by eHarmony , which caused many members who are or are supportive of gay/depressed/non-religious people to stop using it or at least become less interested in it. It's all kind of a blur.
Once I found these sites, my planning wasn't just about finding a band (MoTown or American Standards) but about finding a color palette and a theme! I thought having enough seating was a priority, but now I realized that if I had the appropriately charming details, I could distract guests from a lack of seats! These blogs presented so many things I'd never considered: Polaroid guest books, DIY photo booths, and pressing your friends into service-all of these women seem to have cousins or friends who are fabulous amateur photographers/seamstresses/pastry chefs/blue grass musicians and they were shooting/playing/cooking the weddings! Other than my friend Vanessa, a very talented graphic designer, all my friends are lawyers or actors or agents whose hobbies do not include anything crafty. (Vanessa did not escape; she generously did our invitations.)
At first I was staggered by how many of these websites exist. I'm used to it now, but I should make a few distinctions: Some "bridal blogs" are personal, sort of bridal LiveJournals full of checklists and anecdotes about finding a photographer. Ten Thousand Only, The Broke Ass Bride , and A Practical Wedding are all bridal blogs. But others are "inspirational" wedding sites, full of cataloged images, projects, and links to vendors. If you can think of a style of wedding, I can recommend a blog for you to peruse.
These sites get very specific. If you are planning a whimsical, themed wedding, may I suggest you check out OnceWed.com ? It features lots of DIY projects, brides that are often tattooed, and grooms in slim-cut suits, in addition to a great selection of used wedding dreses. If you are going for a more classic look, or enjoy the wedding styling of celebrity planner Mindy Rice, you'll love Style Me Pretty. You might be familiar with Ms. Rice if you read InStyle magazine; she plans many events for people who appear in its pages.
The bridal blogs also provide an amazing anthropological service. One can follow micro-trends as they whip across the country in weddings from coast to coast. For example, the fake mustache. Fake mustaches had a cultural moment a couple of years ago, but they are still going strong in the wedding world. Lots of brides and grooms holding up mustaches on sticks.
It might sound overwhelming, but it was a great place to start. I realized anything was possible wedding-wise. I had seem Pom Poms on MarthaStewartWeddings.com , and here they were, in action, on numerous sites. Instead of feeling like they were over-done, an unfortunate side effect of reading all of the blogs, I was heartened. Heck, you only have one wedding (hopefully); it's not like everyone else is checking these blogs noting the use of Pom Poms. I've also read some good advice. Meg of A Practical Wedding discusses various ways to acknowledge that not everyone, in California, can be married. The bridal blogs aren't just about the surface details. In my reading I've found that the sites strive to emphasize that marriage is the most important part of the wedding. Marriage and a really great cake topper.
Read the next installment in Bridget's wedding countdown here .
Photographs of Bridget and Dan by Christine Farah.