Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What NOT to do when you get engaged: become a "bride"

So I'm reading this list of "things to do as soon as you get engaged" because somebody somewhere linked to it (probably on Pinterest.

So, because I'm amused, how stupid this list is:

1. Get a manicure! Because you're now not a human being with a face or eyes, you are only a hand on which to display the ring. Listen, if you want to get a manicure, that's cool, I think having nice looking nails is a good thing. But the reasoning, which is basically "you're going to be showing your ring off and taking pictures of your hand A LOT" is just stupid because it's part of this ridiculous notion that an engagement is about the ring and not the two people becoming a family/partners and committing to help and support each other for the rest of their lives.

Which is what leads to the kind of stuff I talked about last week where a woman was saying her own mother was being rude to her and telling her she needs to force her fiance to buy her a better/bigger engagement ring.

Like almost all things, the answer is to just be yourself. If you like having nice nails/hands then do it! If you don't give a flip then don't! But seriously, you're a human being with a life and hobbies and activities, not a jewelry display case. You aren't your ring, and nobody should act like it including you.

2. Insure your ring! You know, this would be totally great advice except for the fact that it's completely dripping with the aforementioned assumption that a man's worth as a husband is tied up in the worth of the ring. My engagement ring cost less than $100, nobody is going to write an insurance policy for that.

But whatever, my point is that this isn't something that every single person should do when they get engaged because in my opinion, people need to stop being so tied up in super expensive gaudy engagement rings. Again, if you love expensive jewelry and it's within your means, I'm not telling you that you shouldn't.

I'm saying that going into debt to buy a pricey ring that you have to have insured seems a little stupid if you don't have the money to do it and/or you aren't the type of woman who wears a lot of jewelry regularly. If you have expensive possessions, you should insure them, absolutely.

But there's no requirement that you need a ring worth insuring.

3. Settle on a Budget: This is, in some ways, good advice, but not in others. Because the fact is before you can talk numbers or any of that, you need to talk expectations, ideas, and other generalities. You can't make a budget without knowing what you're budgeting. Were you wanting to invite a few close friends and he wants to invite the world? Are your parents going to insist that you have a catered dinner when you were thinking buffet? Yes, you probably have a general idea of how much money you can spend, but specific numbers? Not on your life. That's going to take part of the planning and research before you can do that. Unless you are a wedding planner, or just helped your friend get married or something then you don't really know what things cost when you get engaged.

Also, this line: "keep all familial relationships in tact by minding this budget down to the last red cent."

HA. The money and the budget is what STARTS almost all wedding arguments, and it's largely brides who are trying to "mind this budget down to the last red cent" that are the most screwed.

Seriously though, do a bit of research before you come to the table with whoever is footing the bill because otherwise you're just going to end up with bad estimates for everything and your budget will be messed up from day one. Honestly I would suggest coming up with ball park figures on your own after a discussion with your fiance about what type of wedding you both want. There's no use having a meeting without information.

4. Pick a date: Another thing that's good advice but not exactly once they elaborate. First, this should come before the budget because the season/month you get married in can change your budget immensely. This is exactly what I was talking about.

Second, their reasons? Because it will influence a lot of important decisions like "picking your gown, theme, bridesmaids dresses, etc." Okay, you know what all those things are? Things you should have in mind before you make your budget. They're also things that could be season specific if you want them to be, but depending on your venue, might not matter.

There was literally nothing about my actual ceremony that wouldn't work in any season, because it was inside a church. And because this whole "you can't do X at a winter wedding!" stuff is stupid. Plus, you should probably pick your venue before you can pick your date or season. Because what if you pick a date but the church is booked?

Your date will impact some things, but your venue is more important to picking your dress, bridesmaid's gowns, and probably also your "theme." And your venue also will affect your date. Pick a couple possible dates, in case you can't get the one you want.

5. Choose a diet plan and start it: The response I have to this advice is actually too vulgar for this particular blog. Let's just say it's a word that you're only allowed to say once in a PG-13 setting.

The fact that it's REQUIRED for bride's to try to lose weight and make themselves into something they aren't for their wedding day is a sign of a much, much greater problem with our entire society and I just don't have time to break that down.

If you aren't healthy and you want to be, great, it's always a good time to start being HEALTHY. But focusing on your weight and your perceived flaws is a really terrible way to start your life with your new spouse.

6. Sign up for Pinterest: Okay, yeah, that's probably a good idea but geeze do people go freakin' overboard with it all the time. First of all, roughly half the single/unmarried women I know already have wedding boards on Pinterest. Second, they pin EVERYTHING.

But it is just a technology advancement on what I did, which was go to the bookstore and buy a stack of wedding magazines and tear out the stuff I liked. Personally I still need the tactile aspect of physical pictures for that kind of thing, but yeah, Pinterest is probably going to be pretty helpful.

7. Pick a location: You know, if they had suggested this was a freeform list, maybe I'd still be on board. But the implication was that this was in order, and you're way past the time to pick a location. I mean, they're saying it's the most significant decision, but it's 7th? Then they say that you should consider the season, theme, and budget to pick a location, which seems completely backwards to me for the reasons I pointed out above. It is significant, because it will affect your season, theme, and budget not the other way around.

I mean, you could do it this way, but I don't see why you would. You certainly can't even begin to make a budget until you know about the venue, because you don't know if there will be a cost. And you can't get the cost for your venue until you know when it's available. And sometimes it'll be a lot cheaper in a certain season, so why pick a season until you know that?

8.Adopt better beauty habits: Okay, you are going to be in a lot of pictures and stuff, but seriously? Do we need yet another thing piling on to the "women-you don't look right no matter what you do so get to fixing yourself PRONTO" bandwagon?

One of the things I hate most about weddings is that they are all about becoming "a bride" instead of about the actual woman.

9. Hire a planner: Oh for Pete's sake. Hire a planner IF YOU NEED ONE. Also, IF YOU CAN AFFORD ONE. Planning a wedding is a bit stressful but it's actually kind of fun, and while I have the fuzziness of mine being seven years ago, I don't remember it being all that hard. It's certainly not nearly as difficult as a lot of the stuff I've done since. You try planning a film shoot, then a wedding feels like organizing a brunch date.

Not to mention the fact that this is one more thing that's telling you that you HAVE to do certain things and your wedding HAS to include this, that, and the other. You HAVE to be complicated. You HAVE to have place cards and favors and something quirky at the reception like Mad Libs or whatever. You HAVE to spend X amount of dollars. You HAVE to have a DJ and toasts, and dancing, and an open bar.

Listen, here's the most important rule of weddings and getting engaged: what you have to do is only governed by the laws of your municipality and your religion. Otherwise? It's all optional.


A wedding planner, 9 times out of 10, is probably going to try to make you have all the requirements. So if you want the straight up traditional exactly as everybody else experience, then sure, whatever, get a planner.

If you're a busy career woman who doesn't have time for the annoying aspects and the paperwork, then sure, have a helping hand.

But you don't NEED a wedding planner anymore than you NEED a wedding. Have the day you want to have. End of story.

10. Sign up for sale alerts: Again, good advice for the wrong reasons. This one is because the gown is apparently worth splurging for but the accessories are not.

Listen: you will not wear your gown again. It is a one time thing, and while you will likely see your pictures often so you should be happy with it, at the same time, your accessories can be paired with other things and worn for the rest of your life (except your veil, that really isn't going to work with anything else).

Yes, you should absolutely save money where you can, including on the gown. Sale alerts probably aren't a bad idea. But there are other ways to save on your gown, like, oh, not going with a designer label? Not spending $6,000 on it in the first place?

Again, this entire list was basically the "how to have a standard cookie cutter wedding 101." So here's my best advice for you for what to do as soon a you get engaged:

Take a deep breath. Think about yourself for a little while. Think about your fiance. Think about your lives together, both before and in the future. Think about who you are, outside the wedding, without the trappings.

And keep that in your mind, as clear as you can make it, through the whole process. Your wedding isn't about what other people think you have to have or what other people want. It's about two people standing together, not just for one day but forever.

Your wedding day is just the start of your marriage, and a milestone in your life up to that point. It's about you, and your fiance, and the two of you together. It's about celebrating a great moment in your life with the people you love most, and them wanting to wish you well and enjoy the moment with you. It's about families coming together, and creating a new family.

If you can keep that in mind, then the rest will fall into place and you'll enjoy every minute.