I recently read a wedding article that declared, “If you follow these steps, you’re sure to have the wedding of your dreams.”

I’m calling bull.

No amount of planning will save you from potential nuptial disaster. Before you even start with the Googling and Pinteresting, brace for the connubial stress — there will be drama.

Your best man might puke in the hedge outside the reception hall. Your high school boyfriend might show up uninvited and weep quietly in the back row of the church. The limo might break down. Your 6-week-old might scream for the duration of the ceremony. The DJ might play the wrong song for your first dance. Your bio dad might go off on (or run off with) your ex-stepmother. Your flower girl might need to pee halfway down the aisle. And the photographer’s camera might get stolen.

Whatever happens, do your best to rise above it on the day. At my favorite wedding ever, the bride had the stomach flu and her period, and they lost the ring in the shrubbery right before the ceremony. But she handled it with grace, a smile and an unguarded, celebratory sense of humor. Love was in the air, fluffy and warm as a setting meringue.

Weddings are about cake and flowers and all of that, but really this is you two taking a running leap at the future and trusting you’ll make it through together — through having babies and parents dying and running out of money and having your dog get hit by a car. Through sinks full of dishes and breastfeeding twins in the same sweatpants for a week. It’s about your partner remembering that you like dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. It’s about you knowing that your beloved can’t do movies with subtitles. It’s about taking care of one another — partnership and compromise.

Surviving the planning and execution of your wedding is a good place to start that journey. Here are some bits of advice that might help you make it through organizing and surviving the “perfect” wedding.


They say God is in the details, but with wedding planning, the Devil is in there, too. Way to make a girl crazy, Real Simple. A thumbprint-tree guest book or a themed crossword puzzle for the children? Seriously, Pinterest? Strip it down, keep it simple, elegant and personal. Make it yours, but don’t make yourself nuts.


Step away from the Internet for a minute. It’s a vicious time suck, and most of that stuff is unrealistic for us normal people. Skip the apps and get a three-ring binder with dividers, a pencil with a good eraser and a calendar. This will give you a little space from overwhelming virtual wedding circus.

Be Decisive

Make a choice and cross it off the list. And give your partner room to choose stuff that directly impacts him or her. For example, my husband wanted to wear a suit but I insisted on a rented tuxedo. Turns out, it was too short and the heinous, shiny plastic shoes made his feet sweat. He’s still a little pissed.

Be You

Honor tradition and your elders, but sprinkle a bit of you in the mix. Buy the dress you want, not the one your mother wants you to wear. Your bridesmaids will love the camo theme. Those rainbow stockings under your dress will look awesome with the purple Doc Martins.

On Drinking

Don’t get drunk, but make sure your guests have that option. On you. A cash bar is a common gripe of wedding attendees. It’s worth it.

Invite Who the Hell You Want

That is all.


Never underestimate the power of place cards. My husband’s family spends afternoons prior to dinner parties fretting over combinations, considering personalities, arranging and rearranging cards. I’ve come to appreciate the chemistry experiment of who sits next to whom. With a little thought, you can get it just right.

On Bridesmaids

Don’t cave to anyone when choosing your bridesmaids — if you need just two of your closest friends up there, great. If you need 20, do it. So what if the bridesmaids outnumber the groomsmen? You’ll be glad you did it. And let your ladies choose their own dresses. Brides are doing that a lot these days — give them a color palette and have them find the dress that fits and flatters. Trust me — 23 years later, my women still don’t forgive me for what I made them wear.

On Money

If you’re on a budget, splash out on the music and booze and have a potluck reception in your mother’s yard.

Thank You Cards

Write them within four weeks of your wedding.

Have Fun

Plan your wedding like you would a kick-ass party. That’s what it should be — a party with a bit of tradition for good measure. And remember, just as there is no “normal” family, there is no “perfect” wedding. Try to be OK with that. Put on your dress, take a deep breath and enjoy your beautiful, imperfect day.
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Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes

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