Friday, January 30, 2009

I hope my heart goes first

Hey, Internet. I know you've been thinking to yourself, boy, I sure wish Jocelyn would discuss all the wedding-related books she's been reading. I miss her insights. Well, you're in luck! Having done a survey of books available to the cheap, cynical, public-library-using bride, I feel ready to recommend some things.

But first: you should know that lots of things are off-limit for me. Especially: 1. Wedding magazines. Anything with a headline that says "Item x in every price range!" (WITH an exclamation mark) where "every price range" means "for more money than you inevitably want to spend" is out. 2. Conventional, actual wedding books, which seem to have titles like The Crafty Bride: Spray-Paint it Silver! or So You Finally Tricked Him Into Proposing: At Last Your Life Can Begin!. Neither of these is helpful to me. Here is what IS helpful to me:

Two books about weddings

One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding
by Rebecca Mead

Even if you have no interest in weddings, you should read this. In fact, if you have no interest in weddings you should especially read this, because it's all about how contemporary North American weddings have been emptied of their social and religious significance and marketers have tried to step in to fill that void with sparkly heart-shaped crap. It will give you ammunition. Of the wedding books I have read this is by far my favourite, and each section made me more convinced that I want to divest myself of as many wedding "traditions" as possible. (Except walking down the aisle to The Cure, obviously. That's staying.)

Funny story: there's this poem usually called the Apache Wedding Prayer, sometimes called the Navajo Wedding Prayer, that seems to pop up on wedding websites and in actual weddings so much that I was good-naturedly complaining about it to James the other day. And then this book taught me the true history of that little bit of nonsense, and it's so deliciously ironic that I can't even bring myself to re-type it here. I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with ullshit.

I Do But I Don't: Walking Down the Aisle Without Losing Your Mind
by Kamy Wicoff

This book is more of a memoir (as compared to Mead's more journalistic book), about the conflicts that a contemporary, self-identifying feminist goes through as she is proposed to and plans a wedding. I lost count of how many times I found myself nodding emphatically as I read, and being like, Yeah! That's crazy!. Bride-to-be solidarity. It's funny and smart and honest and kind of bittersweet.

The only beef I had with this book is that its subtitle is a little misleading, because the book actually has nothing to do with instructing other people on how to walk down the aisle without losing their minds. This might seem petty, but I'm like a professional bookologist, so these things bother me. If you need to have something after the colon, it should at least make sense.

Two books about planning weddings:

Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides
by Ariel Meadow Stallings

This is my favourite of the wedding-planning books (more how-to than actually about weddings). So much so that its companion website, offbeat, has made it onto my bookmarks toolbar--which can only happen after a fierce competition, a sort of favicon Thunderdome. There are people on this website having Star Wars weddings and steampunk weddings and flip-flop weddings and all kinds of other-things-that-nerds-like weddings, and that's comforting.

I also like it when the author of a book about weddings isn't afraid to start a sentence with "If you're having..." as in, "If you're having flowers/a bridal party/a DJ/a garter toss" because I'm not having any of those things so I get to skip sentences. Yesssss. It's also nice when the author of a book about weddings doesn't seem to operate on the assumption that all her readers are planning to spend $25,000 on their weddings. $50 FTW!

The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way
by Kelly Bare

I didn't mind this book, except I think it didn't really serve its purpose because I always knew that my wedding would be mostly DIY-ed. The tone of this book is sort of comforting and encouraging-- you CAN do stuff yourself! You can live without vendors!-- which is sweet and everything, but in my case, utterly unnecessary. I'm the choir, and I was being preached to. I was hoping for more practical ideas, like about making the paper for my invitations in my kitchen sink out of recycled grocery flyers, or sewing weird hats for all my guests, or interpretive-dancing my vows, and this book does not provide those things. Apparently, I need to write the book that provides those things. It could be called The Interpretive-Danced-Vow Bride: Spray Paint Your Unitard Silver! And Your Face!

And then I will finally have achieved my dream of using the expression "your face" in a book title. And that truly is something I've been dreaming of since I was a little girl.

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