The Countdown: Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway?

In part one of an exclusive online series, bride-to-be Ashley Primis tries to figure out how her wedding plans went from Martha Stewart to muzak

THE COUNTER SAYS 39 days till my wedding.


THE COUNTER SAYS 39 days till my wedding.

That would be the evil "Countdown Till Your Wedding!!!" clock contraption that my evil cousin got me for my shower. (I, to torture my fiancé Quinn, put it next to his side of the bed.) Most of the real planning is done, so a lot of the time I was devoting to choosing vendors and setting timelines is now spent reflecting on how the actual day will play out and whether my choices were right. And when our online editor approached me to write about the last weeks of my single life, I selfishly thought Ahhhh … free therapy. But maybe my confessions will also help all the other B2Bs out there (lesson #1: never say B2B) get a grip on the days left on their clocks. Let’s start from the beginning.

***

The way I see it, the only real wedding decision a couple has to make (and usually the last one said couple makes together) is who their wedding is for. Not buffet or sit-down, not March or May, but is your wedding going to be for you, or for your guests?

Here is what I mean: I chose to have my wedding for my guests. Now, it doesn’t make me a saint and anyone who chooses the opposite coldhearted — because it sucks to plan either kind and the result is the same: You’re hitched. But when I decided to have the ceremony in Naples, Florida, asking guests to fly there and spend two nights in an expensive hotel — basically demanding that they spend $800 per couple in addition to a gift — I began with the guilt thing. Then this guilt thing led me to vow to make my guests the most important part of the event. And that had consequences: The expenses piled up and slowly depleted the budget for things that I wanted.

First, we told all the singles they could bring a guest, which took my 200-person invite list to almost 280 and forced the reception out of an elegant and intimate beach hotel and into a three-wedding-a-night beachside factory (which my mom sweetly calls "shabby-chic" and which I realistically call "decrepit"). More examples? See bills for babysitters and a rented room with children’s meals for all the kids. Transportation to and from the hotels and rehearsal dinner. Bamboo matting on the beach so our guests won’t have to deal with sand. Buying my bridesmaids their dresses and renting heaters in case it gets cold.

Once my guests were set to be happy and sand-free, though, I started to get bratty. Sure, I got the tent I really wanted, but decorating that 40′ x 100′ space (large enough to accommodate all my guests in comfort, of course) would have been another 10 grand. All of a sudden, my tent vision went from Martha Stewart to company picnic. Feeding 280 mouths took my dream menu of cucumber soup shots and sliders down to basic pasta and beef. My elaborate dessert bar idea shrank to chocolate-chip cookies and cliché cake. And my "strawberry daiquiris and steel-drum band shaded by the beach" cocktail hour is now muzak on a small patch of grass.

imageAfter it’s all said and done, I hope I remember that all of my friends were there, rather than that my favorite flower was not. I’ll always be jealous of their magazine-worthy weddings with perfect pin-tuck linens, in-season flowers, historical venues and tiny personal touches — but I’ll also always be annoyed that I had to drive home drunk because there was no money left in their budget to get me a cab. In the end, it is your day — whether you opt for totally accommodating or drop-dead gorgeous, it will be your dream wedding, which is the whole point.

E-mail Ashley to discuss, and look for part 2 next week!