While traditionally the bride’s family pays for the wedding, that doesn’t mean the groom and his family are completely off the hook. In addition to paying for the rehearsal dinner, did you know it’s custom for the groom to pay for transportation and flowers?
There's something idyllic about gothic castles and fog rolling across an overgrown cemetery. This time of year there are so many classic Halloween touches you can add to your nuptials to capture all of the spooky and all of the gothic chic with none of the boring cliché!
Take back the night with a bewitching Halloween wedding!
Wedding season is in full swing — you have the bridesmaids dress and heels in the closest to prove it. But you don’t have the wedding-toast your BFF deserves. Enter Vow Muse and our Disney-Themed Wedding Speech kit.
So, your guest list is finished! Now you have to start thinking about the money.We know, that almost made you close your browser, right? This is no one’s favorite topic. But we promise you’ll feel so much better once you’ve got all the numbers nailed down! Here’s how to land on your final budget without running away screaming.
So you got engaged, you and your fiancé have spent a couple weeks basking in the glow of happiness, and now you’re coming out of the haze and realizing you need to plan a wedding (did anyone else just think, Oh, sugar?) While I’m sure there are five dozen different ways to take a concrete first step, I’m going to definitively declare a clear winner here:
Every once in a great while, I hear about engaged couples who have the exact same vision for their wedding. For them, planning just means getting all the vendors booked (no small task in itself). And then there’s the rest of us.Wedding planning, in my experience, is a giant series of compromises.
I now pronounce thee overwhelmed
My husband and I think about almost everything in exact opposite terms. We’re on the same page for all the really important stuff — what we want out of life, what joy we find in new adventures, whether we want kids, and how much Netflix is too much Netflix (answer: no amount). Generally, it’s something we both enjoy about our relationship, but the wedding brought into focus how much we could differ on really simple questions. Here’s a partial list:
Big or small wedding?
Long or short ceremony?
Religious or non-denominational?
Get married inside or outside?
Should we have a first dance?
Should we see each other before the ceremony?
Do we want flowers as centerpieces?
Are we fine with the black folding chairs the venue provides or should we rent different ones?
Write our own vows or not?
How many people in the wedding party?
And here’s the complete list of things we agreed on right off the bat:
Do we want cake? (Yep.)
How many flavors of cake? (Three.)
Cake tasting was definitely our strong point in the whole process.
But outside of dessert, we knew right away we’d need to have a lot of long, emotional conversations about everything in the wedding. Around the point that we got to “wow, we both have really strong feelings about chairs,” I was so. Done.
How to compromise when you both have strong opinions
Our saving grace as we moved through the wedding was this question: Who cares most about this?
He cared most about chairs. I cared most about centerpieces. Sometimes the small details meant the most to our families; my mom definitely cared most about whether or not I walked down a traditional aisle, and his cared the most about having a brunch the day after the wedding.
It didn’t mean we were suddenly able to relinquish the things with grace and let someone else handle it since it clearly held more meaning for them, but it got easier with time, and eventually, it even felt great to let go of some stuff, and to give myself permission to let someone else care about certain details instead.
But sometimes, the simple truth was that we both cared exactly the same amount.
“And” instead of “or”
I’m not religious. My husband is.
I tried really, really hard to get comfortable having a religious ceremony because it was important to him.
But about six months before the wedding, I realized I was never going to be okay with it. I felt like I wasn’t being represented, because even though I don’t have religious beliefs, I still have beliefs about our life together and our relationship, and I wanted those to be discussed, too.
So when it became clear that I’d be unhappy having a religious ceremony and he’d be unhappy not having a religious ceremony, we just…decided to have both.
A lot of couples in our situation wind up having two ceremonies, usually accompanied by a break between them and an outfit change. But we had this vision of one ceremony with two officiants, combining everything that was important to us. That’s actually how I first met Vow Muse, and we sat down with them for a couple hours outlining everything we needed to have happen. They worked with our religious officiant to blend things together seamlessly. When I first read the ceremony draft they’d created, a weight lifted off me. I felt so much better, and so much more represented, and overall our ceremony just really felt like us.
It went so well, we wondered why we hadn’t just been doing what we both wanted all along. Though, admittedly, I’m not sure this strategy would have worked as well with the chairs situation. Overall for us, it meant a less traditional wedding, but also a way more personal one, and in the end, that’s what really mattered to us: that we felt like ourselves.
What are the big compromises you’re making or have made? Was anyone else really surprised that their partner cared so much about chairs? (I just really didn’t see that coming, guys.) Give us your best tips!
In today's edition of “the patriarchy hurts us all,” let's look at how one-sided wedding jewelry has been since the middle ages. Did you know men didn't even regularly wear wedding bands until the 20th century? But now in century 21, thanks to the rising spread of equality and the slowly-being-chipped-away wall of traditional gender roles, we've arrived at a really simple, really basic concept about wedding and engagement rings: if you want to wear them, you should, and if you don't want to, you shouldn't. Moment of silence for how long it took us to reach this conclusion. One of the last bastions of “this is only for ladies” in weddingland is engagement rings, and it's high time we stopped indulging that fantasy. In an effort to be part of the solution and not the problem, let’s look at engagement rings for men.
Do men wear engagement rings?
According to a 2014 survey by The Knot, about 5% of men wear engagement rings. (Please note this article calls them “man-gagement” rings, because heaven forbid we break down a small gender barrier without creating another, but that's a feminist lecture for another day.) I can't find a more recent survey, but given the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country and a push toward creating more equal, loving wedding ceremonies overall, I would be surprised if that number hasn't grown.But if you're reading this and the real thing you're wondering is “Can I wear an engagement ring? Can my partner?” then the answer is yes.
Why don't more men wear rings?
As we mentioned in an article we wrote about wedding bands vs engagement rings, De Beers is the big reason we have diamond engagement rings at all. They ran a very convincing ad campaign in the late 1930s. These were heteronormative years where men were expected to be the active partner (buy the diamond! Propose!) and women were expected to be the passive party (wait for a diamond! Hope he proposes!). Women wear engagement rings because women have historically been the people being proposed to. That’s the big secret. And I bet you already knew it.
Isn’t this a double standard, you might be wondering? Yes, I would say. Yes, it is.
What kind of engagement rings do men wear?
Because this is still relatively new territory, let’s break down some options here. But the bottom line is you can wear whatever kind of ring you want. Glide that puppy down your left ring finger and bam! Engaged.
Men's engagement rings with stones.
This beauty from Gemvara showcases a popular style for men looking for a ring with a stone. Many men’s engagement rings have stones set into the band instead of above it. However, the styles of inset stones are many and varied. You can have one in the center, ten all the way around, a cluster of six or seven -- there are more possibilities than you can probably imagine.
Men's engagement rings without stones.
If you’re not into the look of stones, you can get a plain band. Note this looks similar to a traditional wedding band, so explore some possibilities. You can wear your engagement ring as a wedding ring if you love it, or even have it engraved before the wedding day to mark the change. You can also consider getting an engagement ring and a wedding band that interlock with each other.
Rose gold, copper and even wood make for stunning men's engagement rings.
Get creative! You’re not limited to silver and gold. “Engagement ring” shouldn’t be a term that means “only diamonds and only for women.” There’s a whole wide world of materials and stones to craft a ring to mark this huge life transition. If it’s an occasion you want to mark with a physical symbol like a ring, then by all means, do it. And maybe send us a picture (like one of our faves, Skylar Astin).
Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.
Picking bridesmaids was the easiest part of my wedding planning process. I'm an introvert, and at the time of my wedding, I had exactly three close friends plus a soon-to-be sister-in-law (there really should be a shorter term for that relation). Boom. Done. My husband, on the other hand, will someday write a book called, “Why Aren't There More People At This Party: How to survive in a world where you can only invite a thousand people to everything.”
Picking groomsmen was a hard task for him, but here's how he narrowed down the field of contenders (without ruffling any cumberbunds) and how you can do it too:
Know what you want from your groomsmen. Like anything, it’s helpful to first look inside yourself and understand why you want a flock of well-dressed folks up there with you at all. For my husband (and likely for you), it was a mix of emotional and practical considerations. He wanted people beside him who he loved and who were going to support him through this major life decision, and he also wanted those people to make sure he got everywhere he needed to be on time and to remind him to eat breakfast the morning of the wedding.
Consider all the options. My husband has a close group of 12 friends. And one of the many options he considered was asking all 12 of them. But logistically, that many people got messy. His family was bringing over outfits for the groomsmen from India, and wrangling measurements from a dozen people just wound up being NOT what he wanted to do. What he really knew was that he wanted his brother up there, and his best friend since high school. Since I’d already stolen one of his siblings for my own wedding party, he decided to just return the favor and stole both of mine. That way, we had all siblings represented, and we each still had our bestie up there.
There’s room for everyone at the party. Just because all 12 of his best friends weren’t groomsmen didn’t mean all 12 of them weren’t important. Ultimately, my husband felt he could have picked anyone from the friend group without causing a lot of hurt feelings because he planned other activities that included all of them. They all had a bachelor party together, they all talked about wedding plans together, and they all came to the wedding and stayed with us until the venue turned the lights back on and kicked us out. Friends for life, guys.
Don’t worry too much about the “men” part of “groomsmen.” Or the “maids” part of “bridesmaids,” really. If I hadn’t asked his sister to be a bridesmaid, he would have asked her to be a groomslady. If he had decided to go big or go home and asked his 12 friends to be groomsmen, I would have asked my brothers to be bridesmen. We really wanted our siblings up there. And if you have siblings or friends you know you want standing by your side that day, don’t let gender be the hang-up.
As many rules as it feels like there are around who you do and don’t ask to be in your wedding party, the truth is this: you get to do what you want. Can’t imagine being up there without your 12 friends? Go for it. Would rather just be up there with your partner and an officiant? Do it. As you decide who to ask (or not ask, as the case may be), consider how you want to feel on your wedding day. Is the person you’re thinking of having stand up there with you going to help you feel that way? Your answer will probably tell you everything you need to know.
How did you pick a wedding party? Any tips for the engaged folks out there?
Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.
I met a newly engaged friend for drinks recently, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Last summer I texted a bride two days before her wedding to tell her I couldn’t make it. I have just learned how much that probably cost her.” A ton of people get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, so if you’re one of them, let us be the first to welcome you into the wide world of Things You’re About to Learn About Weddings. There is, first and foremost, the cost. Then at some point you’ll realize how many details you haven’t even thought of that you’ll need to plan out (for me, it was reading a blog post where someone said they realized the day of their wedding they’d forgotten to get a microphone for their officiant. Pro tip: Get a microphone for your officiant). Then your family and friends will suddenly have a million ideas for your wedding, and other people will suddenly decide they’re very offended by the way you’re approaching centerpieces, and then you’ll turn to your beloved and say, “What if we eloped?”
I totally support eloping, and I have watched two people in my family try to do it and be beaten back by the tide of hurt feelings that followed. The decision to elope is its own post. For today, let’s assume you’re planning a wedding that guests will be attending.
Let’s also assume you’d like to retain some measure of calm feeling between now and then.
We can’t promise wedding planning will be totally stress-free, but there are definitely ways to get through it with a minimum of anxiety-induced pizza eating. (All pizza eating should be joyous, after all.) Here are my four tips for making it happen:
Agree on your wedding budget up front.
You can’t start planning without knowing how much you feel comfortable spending. This may mean taking a long look at your bank accounts (yes, we recommend sharing savings info and salary with each other if you haven’t already) or having honest conversations with relatives who want to help. Once you’ve got a number in hand, talk about the top three things that are most important to you both. Is it being able to invite everyone you’ve ever met? Great food? Rockin’ music? Do you love decor? Knowing the things you’re willing to spend more money on will give you some natural direction for how the budget will balance out, and can be a nice list of points to come back to as you’re struggling to decide which tablecloths to rent.
2. Make someone your official outsourcer.
All those things NOT in one of your main categories? Yeah, decisions still have to be made for them, and you might be the kind of person who has a hard time settling on a final choice, or who has a busy job, or who just doesn’t want to think about any of those details. I recommend making someone — whether it’s a wedding planner or a sibling or a friend — your “Decisions I Don’t Care About” decision maker. When my venue emailed to ask me how many of the lights I wanted on for the reception, I immediately panicked, and then responded with, “CC’d here is my friend, who is in charge of lighting.” My wonderful, level-headed, not-in-the-middle-of-wedding-planning friend wrote back to ask what the venue recommended doing, the venue made a recommendation, and that’s what we did. I thought about it for maybe fifteen seconds total.
3. Surround yourself with people you’re comfortable with.
Worried you’re going to look unnatural in the photos? Wind up with a ceremony that just doesn’t feel like you? Be a total wreck the day of the wedding? “Good people” is the answer to all of that. Hire a photographer you really like and can be yourself around. Meet with your officiant a couple times before the wedding to make sure they really understand what you’re after (Vow Muse, for example, meets with everyone before the ceremony is written to get a sense of who you are as a couple). Have bridesmaids or groomsmen who are not going to fight with you, each other, or anyone else, and instead are going to really be there to support your relationship during this next big step.
4. The details aren’t what anyone is going to remember.
And actually, it’s probably not what you guys will remember either. My wedding was seven months ago, and my husband and I no longer have any idea what color the napkins were. As my wedding planner put it, “The only centerpieces anyone ever remembers are the ones that catch on fire mid-reception.” The stuff you wind up remembering forever might surprise you, and the stuff you thought you’d definitely remember might go by so fast you’ve forgotten it in a week. And from your guests’ perspective, what they’ll really remember is you and your new spouse, starting this next step of your lives together.
No matter what, here’s what your mantra should be as you wedding-plan: You are getting married. The wedding will happen, and you will leave it a married person. Even if you’re short a microphone. So take a deeeep breath, and start planning!
Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.
I really didn't want to write my own wedding vows. Our enormous wedding already had about fifty things that were stressing me out (giant guest list, two days of activities to plan, and the sheer number of tablecloths we were going to need to name a few), and I just didn't see “put all your thoughts about why you want to love this one person forever into a two minute speech” as an enjoyable addition to my to-do list. But just like I didn't want to invite 600 people and then did anyway, and I didn't want to do a first dance and then did anyway, I wound up writing my own vows anyway. And I did all these things for one reason: my husband really wanted to, and I wanted him to be happy. Confession time? I am beyond thrilled I did all those things, and I wouldn't change them for the world. But the vows, man. Nothing like a blank page and the pressure of speaking your intimate thoughts aloud to foster creativity, right? Haha. Ha. Add to this my husband’s request that we keep the vows a total surprise, and you have a recipe for potential disaster.
Whether you're thrilled to be writing your own vows or terrified (welcome to the club), there's a lot of nerves in the writing process. I think it's because it feels so nebulous, you know? What if you say totally different things? What if yours are funny and your partner’s are super serious? What if you keep them short and your soon-to-be-spouse talks for ten minutes?
Turns out, there's totally a process here. You just have to know where to start.
Ask your officiant for guidelines. Angie and Alicia told my husband and I to keep the vows to about two minutes max, which winds up being 300 words. Talk to your officiant about how much time you have to play with for vows in the overall ceremony, or what lengths they've seen work well in the past. Knowing how much you have to write is a helpful first step.
Personal tip: I always find it easier to write everything in my brain and then edit down than to underwrite and have to find places to beef things out. The first draft of my vows was 800 words. The final draft was less than half that.
Pick a general format. If you are into surprises, that’s great, and you can keep the vows a secret. But it doesn't mean you just shouldn't talk about them. For those on the “okay with just a little surprise” end of the spectrum, consider writing a fill-in-the-blank style vow Mad Lib that you then both, you know, fill in. (Think something like: “[Spouse name], I'm standing here with you today because of [reason I love you]. I promise to always [thing 1], [thing 2], and [thing 3].” Etc.)
If you're on the “total surprise” end of the spectrum, discuss a much wider style format of vows. (Here's what my spouse and I came up with for our wedding — feel free to steal it: [Paragraph about why I love you], [paragraph about a specific event in our relationship that's meaningful to me], [paragraph with some promises for our future].
The part where you actually have to write them. A tip to keep in mind: they don't have to be — and shouldn't be — perfect after a single draft. Don't sit down at a computer or notebook thinking “I have to write my exact vows right now.” Sit down thinking, “I can get some ideas on paper.” To get you started, try writing about anything meaningful to your relationship: first date, how you met, a moment in your relationship where you knew they were The One, a funny story, a little trait you just really love about your partner. Eventually, you'll have a few paragraphs of some really meaningful, heartfelt, and unique moments, and you can start working your favorite ones into your agreed-upon vow format. And if you decide this just isn't something you want to stress about anymore, call us. We can totally help you.
Know thyself. You should read your vows out loud before the wedding. Full stop. For practical reasons, it'll just get you comfortable saying them so you're not totally scared the day of the wedding, and it'll tell you about how long your vows are running. For creative reasons, you'll notice once you're reading out loud if anything could be said more smoothly or if something doesn't quite make sense. If you are prone to stage fright, read them out loud to someone else. It's a different feeling than reading them out loud to the mirror, and the trusted friend you pick can even give you some feedback if you need it (and you can watch them burst into tears as you read them, which is validating as heck!).
As the wedding gets closer, you will probably start worrying about the vows. Public speaking is nerve-wracking, even when you really want to do it, and even when everything you wrote is lovely and wonderful. My advice? Speak the panic aloud. The day before the wedding, I told my maid of honor about a crazy fear that had taken hold of me: I'd get up there, look at the vows I'd written, and suddenly not be able to read my own handwriting. Which is not a problem I've ever had. She lovingly listened to me say this, and then said, “Okay. Well. I don't know how to tell you this.” And then she put her hands on my shoulders, and said, “That's not a thing. Calm down.” (Weirdly the most helpful thing anyone said to me about any of the pre-wedding fears I developed.)
Writing my own vows wound up being a super rewarding experience, and I can't imagine not having done it now that I'm on the other side. We’re here for you if you need some help, and in the meantime, would love to hear any questions or advice you've got about the whole tricky business of putting your feelings into words. Did you write your own vows? Are you considering it? What's been (or what was) the hardest part?
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to celebrate two people I think are awesome."
When my husband and I got married, we had a huge initial hurdle: we didn't share a religion, and we had no idea who to ask to officiate our wedding. That's actually how I met Angie and Alicia (hi, guys!). They wrote a gorgeous ceremony that left plenty of room for all the religious traditions we wanted to incorporate, and they saved us from an ongoing nightmare scenario we dreamed up where no one in the entire world could marry us.I don't know anyone who has gotten married and said, “I just really don't care about the ceremony.” Everyone wants it to feel unique to them, whether they're incorporating a lot of old traditions or blazing a totally new trail. So why not turn to a friend for help with that whole “actually getting married” part of the wedding?
Having a friend officiate your ceremony means you get to be married by someone you already know and love, plan out the details with someone who totally gets you, and enjoy a lot of the personal touches that come from someone who knows all the best things about you.
But how do you actually make this happen (and with the least amount of stress for everyone involved)? Here's what you should consider:
1. Choose wisely. When you're thinking about who to ask, consider folks who not only know you well, but who would genuinely like standing up in front of a bunch of people and talking about you. Some of your friends might love YOU a lot but hate public speaking.
2. Tell them why you're asking them. Not just because compliments are always nice but because it'll give them a sense of what you're hoping they'll bring to your wedding. When a friend of mine was asked to officiate, the couple told her they were inspired by her — the subtext between those lines being that she felt like a valued friend.
3. Don't leave them in the dark. Are you hiring someone to write the ceremony and just need your friend to perform it? Are you writing it yourself? Do you want your friend to write it? Maybe a mix of all of the above? Giving your friend clear ideas about what you want in your ceremony (especially if they’re new to officiating) will help them feel supported and ensure you wind up with a ceremony you love.
4. Give them lots of time (and practice!). Get together with your friend and put some dates on the calendar for first, second, and final drafts of the ceremony if you're asking them to write it. That way you're not up till 2 AM together the day of the wedding finalizing word choices. If they're just performing it, talk about doing a rehearsal so you can hear everything out loud and make sure it sounds the way you pictured it when it was just words on a page.
5. Make it all legal. If you're having a legally binding ceremony, your friend needs to get the proper credentials. Check out your local and state laws (usually found on the county clerk’s website). Some states require your friend to be deputized, others allow for your friends to become ministers (free!) through the Universal Life Church. There’s an awesome run down on California officiant information at Offbeat Bride.
Pro tip: When your officiant and witnesses sign your marriage license, be sure there are no smudges or crossed-out words! The clerks are 100% particular about these documents.
Having a friend perform your wedding means it's totally personal and uniquely you. And hey, if they need some help getting all their ideas in order, send them our way!
Has anyone performed a wedding or had a friend officiate theirs? What advice would you add to this list?