Related Articles: Literary, All

Bay Area Bride in Search of Guide

The Wild World of Wedding Books

Does every girl dream of her perfect day? After my relationship hit the two-year mark, I convinced my then boyfriend to move out of the Mission and into my 300 square foot Rockridge cottage. I then started the subtle-but to him all too obvious-campaign of what was next? Where were we going? What does the future hold (hint, hint)?

When he finally asked me to marry him, I felt a huge sense of relief, as I knew that this was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

And then it began - I became sucked into the wedding maelstrom. An entire industry is set-up to tell you what you have to have on your special day. Your guests need welcome baskets and thoughtful take home gifts. It is no longer ok just to send out invitations but now you needed to do an elaborate save-the-date announcement (to show how much fun you are as a couple).

Panic quickly ensued. I didn't want to turn into Bridezilla and I didn't want to go into therapy.

Naturally, I headed to the bookstore for help. I figured there had to be a "keep me sane from the madness" guide for the girl who wants a fun, meaningful ceremony andreception (without tiaras or Cinderella theme songs, please). There had to be a guide out there that simply detailed what you had to do, how you could to do it (while working full time and without the help of a wedding planner), while keeping your sanity and your fiancÚ.

Here are a few I found:

Anti-Bride Guide: Tying the Knot Outside the Box by Caroline Gerin & Stephanie Rosenbaum

The rebel in you cries out as you see this guide on the shelf. Visions of being hip, funky, and fun at your own ceremony are very appealing. This is a fun package (with tabs and great illustrations), but not worth the price. It appears to be for the just-out-of college bride and if you're not the glue-gun wielding type, this is probably not the guide for you.

The Knot's Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World: The Ultimate Source of Ideas, Advice, and Relief for the Bride and Groom and Those Who Love Them by Carley Roney

I was pleasantly surprised to find this guide extremely helpful. It contains everything you need for budgets, location ideas, and tips on selecting vendors. It is a great source for creative ideas, incorporating cultural traditions, and, most importantly, tips on ways to save money. I particularly liked the stories from real-life brides and grooms. The writing is straightforward and it helps you envision the type of wedding you would like for you (not the type that you "should" have.)

Weddings from the Heart: Contemporary and Traditional Ceremonies for an Unforgettable Wedding by Daphne Rose Kingma

This is a book that I have given to friends over the years (on the advice of my sister). I was excited to finally use it for myself and I'm happy to report it is an excellent resource, especially if you're looking to create your own ceremony. Kingma brings you back down to earth (away from selecting engraved silver picture frames as the perfect give-away item for your guests!) to why you are getting married in the first place. It is a great resource for getting thinking about what you and your fiancÚ represent as a couple, what marriage means to the two of you, and how you would like to present reflections of that to the community you have gathered.

The Perfect Wedding by Maria McBride-Mellinger

This is the "I'm dreaming of a Martha Stewart" wedding type of guide. It is beautifully packaged, with dreamy (if I only had $50,000 or more to spend) weddings. It is a beautiful book, with some good ideas; however, it does not include money-saving tips or real practicalities. A nice book to receive as a gift (note the price!) but it is not a very helpful step-by-step resource.

It all comes down to this: there are so many guides on the market, selecting one presents as much pressure as finding the perfect place, the perfect vendors, the perfect dress! My advice, surf the web, buy one (ok, maybe six) wedding magazines, select one guide to help you plan, and one guide for readings and your ceremony, and you'll be all set.

Anti-Bride Guide: Tying the Knot Outside the Box
Caroline Gerin & Stephanie Rosenbaum
Chronicle Books - ISBN: 0811829677
$19.95

The Knot's Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World: The Ultimate Source of Ideas, Advice, and Relief for the Bride and Groom and Those Who Love Them
Carley Roney
Bantam Books - ISBN: 0767902467
$19.95

Weddings from the Heart: Contemporary and Traditional Ceremonies for an Unforgettable Wedding
Daphne Rose Kingma
Conari Press - ISBN: 1573248614
$16.95

The Perfect Wedding
Maria McBride-Mellinger
Harper Collins - ISBN: 0062586637
$42.50