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I hope everyone’s been enjoying the holidays—especially those of you who are newly engaged! I haven’t made much progress on the wedding planning front since my last post—we’ve been more focused on getting our immigration documentation together, about which more another time—though I am putting together a wedding website, and we’re starting to work on invitations. This time, though, I want to write about something near and dear to my heart: books! I’ve always been a massive bookworm, and as much information and inspiration as I’ve gotten from wedding blogs I thought I might as well scope out the print offerings as well. I’ve read thirteen (so far), and the titles below are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.
Unlike the others on this list, One Perfect Day isn’t a wedding guide but rather a hard-hitting commentary on the state of the industry. Mead comes down hard on the wedding business, and I can’t say I agree with all of her conclusions. But her investigations into popular contemporary wedding “traditions”—like the unity candle and the Apache wedding blessing (neither of which I’d heard of before reading this book)—and visit to a wedding dress factory in China alone make One Perfect Day worth a read. Her thoughts on the reasons behind the rise of Big Wedding are interesting, too. While Mead has a lot of sympathy for brides, I don’t love the way she treats them more as gullible victims of the industry than as active agents. There’s a lot of talk about the ways in which various arms of the wedding industry manipulate brides—and some illuminating interviews to back it up—but not a whole lot of discussion with real brides, especially of the intelligent, empowered variety. Still, this is by far the most interesting wedding read I’ve found, and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in the industry, whether or not you’re currently planning a wedding.
I’m going to be honest: A Practical Wedding didn’t quite do it for me, but if you’re looking for reassurance that it’s okay to buck the wedding-industrial complex this is where to find it. Contrary to what you might expect from the title, there’s not a ton of practical advice here (though there’s lots to be found on the A Practical Wedding blog, and, I gather, from the soon-to-be-released A Practical Wedding Planner). The focus is more on working through what your wedding is all about and taking the focus away from having a Pinterest-perfect day. Personally, I could’ve used some reassurance in the opposite direction—since I started planning my wedding I’ve struggled a lot with my (somewhat unexpected) desire for a wedding chock full of all the pretty, and though this is by no means an untapped topic I certainly could’ve benefited from some awesome wedding book telling me I’m not a bad, shallow person for caring a lot about the aesthetics of my day. An Impractical Wedding, perhaps?
3. Getting Hitched: The Rough Guide to Weddings for Girls & Guys / Ruth Tidball, Nadine Kavanaugh, Sean Mahoney, Peter Buckley
This one seems to be out of print, which is a pity because it was one of my favorites. As the subtitle suggests, Getting Hitched is refreshing in that it really is targeted at both brides and grooms. It also delves into the differences between US and UK wedding customs, which aren’t necessarily relevant to the average reader but were fascinating (and also just plain helpful) for me. Getting Hitched is very much focused on practical information rather than inspiration or emotional stuff, and it contains the most—and the best—day-of advice of any of these books.
4. The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide / Dana LaRue
Another book based on a popular blog, The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide goes through lots of money-saving possibilities and provides sample budgets and tips from real weddings (though I think they’re all US-based, so your mileage may vary if you’re getting married in the UK or elsewhere). I especially liked the chapter on having a green wedding, since I feel like the question of how your ethics (whether they run toward environmentalism or otherwise) could or should play into your wedding is a topic that deserves more coverage than it gets. This is a playful read, and while I suspect it has more to offer for those planning less conventional (or at least less formal) weddings, there’s plenty of information that should be applicable across the board.
5. From Yes to I Do: A Wedding Guide for the Modern Bride / Lucy Tobin
This is an entertaining, accessible guide written from a UK perspective. It’s focused on planning, from engagement to honeymoon (though with more of a focus on the pre-wedding bits), with lots of advice from real brides and industry professionals. There’s lots of information about ways to keep costs down and DIY options, which is always appreciated. Published in 2014, it’s still quite current, and there are lots of links to helpful websites, videos, playlists—even a helpful blog directory in the back, though sadly SYGM doesn’t get a mention.
Bonus Non-Book Resource: Save the Date Podcast
If you’re more of an auditory learner (or even if not), check out Aleisha McCormack’s Save the Date. This dynamic, irreverent podcast features questions from real brides, interviews with bloggers and other wedding pros, and amusing anecdotes and wisdom from Aleisha’s own experience. At over 100 episodes (and counting), Aleisha covers just about every wedding topic you can imagine (and if there’s anything missing, you can always write in with suggestions).
Disclaimer: I only read wedding books I was able to check out from the New York Public Library, so I’m sure there are plenty of great reads I missed out on. If you’ve read any wedding books as part of your planning (or just because), I’d love to hear which ones and what you thought of them!