Friday, January 13, 2012

{La Book Review - A Practical Wedding}

As a wedding planner, I read a whole lot of wedding books.  I also don't like most of them.  When I find one that I LOVE, of course I have to share with you.  Here's my thoughts on why you should read  A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning aBeautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration by Meg Keene, if you haven't already.  

Meg Keene is a refreshingly reasonable, calm voice in the increasingly unreasonable, frenzied genre of Wedding Planning media.  A Practical Wedding is an honest, thoughtful, and thought-provoking guide for traversing the journey of planning a wedding that is sensible yet fun.  Keene’s voice resonates throughout the book – she comes across as that wise, sincere friend that you turn to when you need to be talked off of a ledge. 

As any good wedding book does, A Practical Wedding covers the standard items and etiquette that make up a wedding celebration – budget, vendor selection, ceremony considerations, and organization.  However, there are several key features that set A Practical Wedding apart from the countless tomes heaped upon women as soon as someone ‘puts a ring on it’ and catapult it into the elite category of great wedding books. 
History and justifying what’s important.  Keene takes the time to give the reader a brief history of the American wedding and point out that all the “Things You Must Have to Get Married” which you’ve been hearing about and stressing over are, for the most part, recent inventions.  What is particularly fantastic is that after explaining that some traditions are inventions by the Wedding Industry, Keene points out to her readers that if they find meaning or enjoyment in said traditions, they should, by all means embrace them to the fullest.  She gives those planning a wedding permission to do what is meaningful to them and let the rest go, and sometimes, permission from an authority is exactly what a to-be-wed needs.

Gender neutrality and marriage equality.  Even though the large majority of her readers will likely be brides planning to marry grooms, Keene takes great care to not alienate based upon gender or sexual preference.  It is refreshing to read a wedding book that has quotes and passages from a groom’s point of view as well as inclusion of same-sex weddings.  To me, it’s important to acknowledge that a wedding is a wedding is a wedding.  A great wedding book transcends being pigeon-holed as a “straight” or “gay” wedding book.  Regardless of who is marrying whom, the elements that make up a wedding do not change. 

Sensible DIY (or as Keene calls it DITogether).  The chapter focusing on DIY projects is by far, the most in-depth and honest writing I’ve read on the topic.  With a plethora of style blogs, magazines, and television shows bombarding to-be-weds with images of perfect, handcrafted wedding elements, it is easy to catch DIY fever, which left untreated can lead to DYI mania.  Keene discusses the various reasons people DIY, how to get it done and most importantly when to let it go. 

Big Difficulties & Huge Conversations.  Most wedding books are all flowers and table settings and pretty, pretty princess business.  Before reading A PracticalWedding, I would have been hard pressed to think of a wedding planning book that actually discusses the really weighty topics like calling the whole thing off or planning in the midst of tragedy.  Keene discusses the tough stuff – difficult aspects like strife, compromise and letting go.  She also encourages her readers to have the important discussions necessary to forming the foundation of a solid marriage (faith, finances, values and intentions).  It may not be pretty princess stuff, but these are the topics that you’ll be dealing with long after the flowers have wilted and the tables have been cleared.  

Additionally, Keene bucks wedding book tradition and lets her readers in on some secrets that many in the wedding industry don’t want anyone to know – planning a wedding is not easy, there will likely be tears & arguments, things will go wrong, and ultimately it’s not about doing everything under the sun to have one perfect day but doing all that you possibly can to have one gloriously imperfect life.  

One of my favorite quotes from the book is:  “Weddings are like most good things in life: really hard and really worth it.”  With all of the insight and honesty in the pages of A Practical Wedding, it just got a little easier. 

La Verdict - a must read survival guide for to-be-weds.  Oh yeah, and there's this too - 


PS - if you want to hear even more practical thoughts on weddings and marriage, come to Meg's reading at the Barnes & Noble in Park Slope Brooklyn on Saturday, January 28th.  We're helping to organize a kick-ass after party & we'd love to see you there!  You can get more info & RSVP here

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