weddings

Seven Things to Do on Your Wedding Day

Seven Things to Do on Your Wedding Day

Look, we'd be lying if we told you that your wedding day will be anything less than a bustling blur . But after preparing, attending, and participating in countless weddings over the years, we've boiled it all down to the seven most important things you can do to keep your sanity and make your special day actually feel special.

Ring Lingo: Everything You Need to Know About Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands

Before we get into the history of the rings, let’s just say this up front: getting married doesn’t actually require fancy jewelry. If you want rings, great. If you want bracelets, great. If you want nothing, great. If you want to celebrate your commitment to each other by going skydiving and then signing some papers at the end, GREAT (ps: if you did this, can we watch your wedding video? That sounds amazing). But for everyone curious about the difference between a wedding band and an engagement ring, this post is for you. In a traditional western wedding, you’re looking at an engagement ring (for one or both spouses) and a wedding ring (usually for both spouses). But...why?

The Not-So-Hidden Secrets of Why We Buy Engagement Rings

Today, we buy engagement rings to signify to ourselves and to the world, “Hey, I intend to marry that person” (and subconsciously at bars, “I’m taken, back off” — sometimes). Engagement rings are worn roughly between the period of deciding to get married and actually getting married, though many people go right on wearing them after the wedding too (they’re so pretty! Why not?), with the wedding band typically worn beneath the engagement ring.

Are Engagement Rings Always Sporting Diamonds?

In 2013, The New York Times reported that 75% of women wear diamond engagement rings. But the tradition stems from marketing of all places. Back in 1938,  De Beers hired the New York ad agency N.W. Ayer to give a boost to diamond sales, and those guys did some Mad Men style magic on those particular gems. The Atlantic reports that it wasn’t the first time anyone would buy a diamond engagement ring — the practice was unevenly gaining some ground even then — but people weren’t spending a lot of money on the diamonds, opting for lower-quality, smaller stones. Ayer set out to convince us all that the money you spent on a diamond was directly proportional to the love you felt, and we super believed them.

But here’s the fun news: not all engagement rings have to have a diamond. You could have literally any stone you wanted, or no stone at all. Things to keep in mind while you’re considering a stone choice if you decide you want an engagement ring: pick something that won’t easily dent, chip, or discolor. If you think you’ll wear your ring every day, you want something that will stand up to the wear and tear of washing dishes, eating popcorn while binge-watching Making a Murderer, and gesturing wildly while talking about Making a Murderer and hitting your hand into stuff.

And With This Second Ring, I Thee Wed: Why We Buy Wedding Bands

Wedding rings are typically exchanged during the wedding ceremony, and signify, “Hey, I married that person!” As opposed to engagement rings, which might only be worn for the period of the engagement, wedding bands are worn for the whole marriage. Yes, even when you’re fighting.

Gold, Silver, Platinum, Rose Gold: Help? The Color Spectrum of Wedding Bands

Both men’s and women’s wedding bands come in (most popularly) gold, white gold, or platinum, though you can find them in a wide variety of metals. Basically, the periodic table is your oyster when it comes to what mental you prefer, so long as you take a few things into consideration, like: do you want the color of your rings to match? (Meaning, are you okay having a gold ring while your partner has a platinum one?) How often do you see yourself getting your ring cleaned? Would you be willing to have it re-dipped if you choose white gold and it starts to wear off eventually? All of these questions can help you figure out which high- or low-maintenance band would be best for you.

Pro tips:

Higher-maintenance = white gold, which will need the plating re-applied when the yellow gold beneath starts to show through.

Lower maintenance = platinum, which may outlast the apocalypse in perfect condition, though keep in mind it’s pretty heavy .

The Million Dollar Question: Should You Buy an Engagement Ring or Wedding Bands?

Honestly, the better question is, why do you think you want one? For me, that physical symbol of “I love you today and I’m going to love you all the other days too” was really meaningful. I like being able to see it; I like the reminder of it on my hand. One of my best friends could not care less about rings. Her long-term partner has expressed an interest in having wedding bracelets someday, and that’s about as much as they feel comfortable doing. They’d rather spend that money somewhere else, and they don’t feel like they’d miss having rings.

The best answer is this: You and your partner will have to make that decision together. Yay communication!

Love your engagement ring? Love NOT having an engagement ring? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.

 

The Art of Staying Calm: 4 Tips for Less Stressful Wedding Planning

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:

  1. 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!

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Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.

4 Unexpected Benefits of Saying “Yes!” to the Maid of Honor Gig

Til Death Do Us Party

Til Death Do Us Party

I’ve done the maid of honor thing from both sides of the aisle: I’ve been one and I’ve asked someone to be mine. So I know the costs add up fast between a dress (that you can wear again, fingers crossed!), shoes, maybe a plane ticket, a bachelorette party, a bridal shower, the time it takes to organize all of the above… you know what? I’m gonna stop there. It’s not just pricey, it’s also a  ton of work, and I hope your best buddy is super crazy grateful for all the time and effort and money you’re putting into being there for them. For moments when the stress is getting to you, I’ve compiled the major benefits to keep you sane:You get to taste all the things.

I knew the part of wedding planning I’d really excel at would be cake tasting. I was not wrong. And when you’re the maid of honor, you get to cake taste, too. You can also dinner taste. I maybe possibly tracked down the drinks vendor and  wine tasted as a maid of honor (this is definitely a thing, so if you start telling people about it and they say they’ve never heard of a wedding party doing this, send them my way). And I actually managed to do all this from half a country away! My commitments to friends and food are strong. If you’re in the same city as your engaged friend, I enthusiastically recommend you tag along and eat everything you are allowed to and really help narrow down the menu. If, like me, you are many states away, then track down the closest alternatives and eat them in support over the phone while the couple talks over the options. In a stressful moment, you can always return to your local bakery in the name of “helping.”

You know that updo you’ve always wanted?

Whether someone has been hired to do hair and makeup or the wedding party is tackling this job solo, this is an awesome time to get together (face-to-face or over Skype) and go through online tutorials for looks you’ve always wanted to try and never had the time/energy/boldness to really put effort into. Here are real-life things I real-life tried as maid of honor: contouring (not for me), cat eyeliner (lots of yes), fake eyelashes (changed my life), and milkmaid braids (also not for me and broke my heart to realize it). I would not have called myself make-up-ly competent before doing all this online with my best friend before her wedding, but it turns out practice really does make perfect.

You can’t imagine how memorable getting ready together is.

Obviously you can get ready with whoever you want day-of, and maybe the engaged couple wants to only get ready with each other (support!), but if you're invited to get ready together the day of the wedding, I would take it. My most cherished memory of my best friend’s wedding is helping her mom zip her into her dress and then walking her to the courthouse. We sat in a quiet, small room together while we waited for the ceremony to start. Nothing big happened during that moment. But we were together, right before she was going to get married, and I had put her shoes on her feet when she couldn’t see over her dress. It was emotional in ways I wasn’t expecting.

What goes around comes around in weddingland.

I didn’t know it when I was maid of honor for my best friend, but about a year after her emotional courthouse wedding, she was maid of honor for me. She called me every time I seem stressed, she didn’t think I was silly when I discovered a deep love for picking out tablecloths, and we of course ate more cake. The day of the wedding, after our makeup and hair were done, she had her new husband bring us garlic fries and then did dramatic readings from gossip magazines until I was in tears laughing. (There are photos of it — I have them saved to my desktop and look at them often.)

Final tally on being a maid of honor: It’s totally work, and it’s totally stressful, but in the end? Totally worth it.

Have you been a maid of honor? Had a great one? What were your favorite parts?

Sara Kendall lives in Redwood City with her husband and dog. Her main hobbies are coffee, books, and musicals.