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This post is the first in a series that will last, interspersed with other posts, until I stop thinking of odd things that odd people will want to know about planning weddings. After the big day, my maid of honor said jokingly, “now you’ll have to write a book for us so that we know what to do next time!”*

Well I, being I,  am going to do just that. In bite-sized pieces for people with short attention spans, people stuck at work, or people who never seem to have a few hours to spare to settle down with a single book (i.e. brides-to-be).

‘But there are lots of bride books out there! And websites, too!’ you may protest. Well, now I protest. There are a lot of bridal books and sites, but frankly, the more I read those sites, the more terrified I became.

When I was in the first flush of engagement, my MoH very sweetly passed on this little book of wisdom. I read everything that seemed relevant while I was in the early planning stages. It laid out what the members of the wedding party do, some etiquette tips you probably wouldn’t pick up anywhere but a wedding, useful stuff like that. So far, so good.

Two months later, while I was mired in appointments and lengthy email chains, I went back for a second look. I never picked up the book again, and soon learned to shy away from any of the standard lists of ‘dos’, ‘don’ts’ and ‘have you booked [xyz] yet?’ I didn’t need a hairstylist, a makeup artist for the entire party, a limo. I _really_ didn’t need to whiten my teeth or start six months ahead of time to make my hair silky soft and unicorns and starshine come out of every possible location. (Fun fact: My engagement was six and a half months long.)

My wedding was outside. I didn’t have a caterer, a florist, a hairstylist, a manicurist. I sure as heroes didn’t have a wedding planner. My sisters gathered the flowers the day before, and I compounded the buttonholes and bouquets myself the morning of. My mom, who has been my personal goddess for the last six months, organised the food, and she and her friends cooked. I forgot things, and one or two things weren’t quite perfect.

And yet, there are only three things I would change, given the chance. I would have
a) made a clear list of what other people needed to do on the day of. My mother made such a list for people helping in the kitchen, and it worked perfectly.
b) figured out beforehand who was good with the bouquets and buttonholes and corralled them. These take longer than you think, and having the bride deal with them is time-consuming.
c) hit the groom with a stick every day until he figured out where to get his clothes from. More on that later.

More on all these points later, in fact. Future topics will include
-Afternoon weddings: the good, the bad and whatever else I can think of
-NTS and the vests: the fine art of not making other people panic
-Flowers: sourcing, time, talent and materials
-Houses for spouses: Renting the house and other venue topics

This introduction is a post in itself, so I’ll cut it short here–for now– with a few final words. You can do it. If the idea of a formal wedding terrifies you, as it did me, you can cut out almost anything you want to. Manicures, a long dress with a train, a formal dinner (perhaps in favor of a cocktail hour), matchy dresses for your attendants. Attendants. Guests that aren’t your parents or best friend. The day is about you and your life together. Don’t make it so complicated you can’t enjoy it.

Thanks to other Alyssa, a sweet bride-to-be I met this weekend, for kicking this blog into action with her interest. Best wishes for your wedding, Alyssa! You can do it. Panic not. No matter how much the bridal world tells you otherwise.

* Next time being the next time one of my girls gets married, not the next time Iget married. Really, you should know better.

UPDATE: I should probably clarify that this is a post-mortem of the wedding, not the marriage.