I have the Revised and Expanded Second Edition of The Everything Wedding Book. This edition came out in 2000 but there are various editions which are all similar. Now.. on with the review!
I decided to start with the end to summarize my thoughts! This book is a good book, but I feel it’s better for the bride that wants to follow traditions and do everything JUST RIGHT. However, if you are a bride like me, you may end up annoyed by a lot of what they want you to do, or how they tell you what you “should” do. I believe in traditions and etiquette to a point, but I don’t like being told that you must do something a certain way as I believe each bride should do what she feels is best. So while this is a good reference to everything you’d ever want to know about the “right way to do things”, you should be prepared to disagree with some of their thoughts. If you want the perfect wedding, and feel it must be perfectly traditional as well, than this book will work for you. If you feel a perfect wedding can be whatever you wish it to be, than this book still works as a reference but not as an end-all answer to all of your questions.
With that, here’s some info on the book itself and why you may want to pick up a copy, or probably just save your money :)
This 370 page book is broken into 4 parts focusing on Getting Started, The Wedding Ceremony, The Reception and Beyond, and finally Worksheets. Each section is further broken down into chapters that are supposed to cover every single aspect of you wedding. Some aspects are more detailed than others which seems to be based on how important the book thinks that aspect is. They seemed to choose the appropriate sections to expand on so I’m not complaining about that.
There is one major flaw in the layout. 3/4 of most pages is the text for the book, but 1/4 of the page has some random tip or trick. I hardly ever remember to read these tips since they are on the way outside of the page! Or, if I do remember to read them, it’s between paragraphs of the main text and therefore leaves me confused and having to re-read. I’d prefer these tips be thrown into the actual text than displayed on the side. There are a few places where the “tip” takes up a whole page. So if you are reading page 14, you have to skip to page 16 to catch the end of the paragraph, then go back to 15 to read the tip! Dumb.
They tried to be cute with the titles for each aspect of the wedding, however a lot of the times I find myself not knowing what it means until I read some of the associated paragraph. For example, here are a few titles where you probably can’t guess what will be discussed… and then I wrote what is discussed. Finally the Italicized section is what I would have rather the title have been!
“Stay right where you are!” … about holding the reception and ceremony at the same location instead of 2… I would have said “Reception and Ceremony at One Location”
“Who Else?” … about who else you should give flowers too besides those in the wedding… I would have said “Who Else Needs Flowers?”
“The Soft Stuff” … about having nonalcoholic beverages … I would have said “Nonalcoholic Beverages”
“Watch Out” … about making sure you find a photographer that’s not too high or low priced, and good at what they do … I would have said “Tips on Picking a Good Photographer for a Good Price”
I’m trying to show you that while titles DO make sense when read in the context of the chapter/paragraph, they DO NOT make sense if you are trying to read the table of contents and skip to an aspect of the wedding, you’ll find it hard to decipher which of these weird titles is talking about what you want to know! Luckily there is an extensive index that you can use to look up keywords, however I would have preferred a better titling system that actually explained the text you were about to read. I did not plan to read each chapter straight through, but found myself stuck reading more than I wanted just to try and find the useful info I needed!
Traditions out the window!
As I said in my conclusion, I don’t like how this book tries to tell me things as if it’s the one and only way to do things. Even when they offer options they seem to be saying “these are the only options you have”. And when I didn’t agree with any of the options, I felt like the book didn’t leave it open for me to make my own decision. Here’s some examples that irks me:
“Unless you’re planning a cocktail reception with hor doeuvres or an informal buffet, a seating plan is a must. Guests, especially those who don’t know many people, often feel uncomfortable without assigned seating.” I am having a seating plan, but don’t agree with this section because I’ve been to formal weddings where there was no assigned seating. Also, I’ve had friends tell me time and time again how they hate getting stuck at a table the bride or groom placed them at, when they would have rather found somewhere else to sit. So basically, this section tries to say “you must have a seating plan” but I disagree with anything that says “must”. It’s a good idea to have one, but not a must.
“Once you’ve made the big decision….yadda yadda yadda…announce your engagement in person to both sets of parents. If your or your fiance’s parents are divorced, think long and hard about which parents to inform first.” I put yadda yadda yadda to summarize this paragraph, but basically the whole section is yadda yadda yadda to me! I mean, just tell them, we just told my parents b/c they were there, and called my fiance’s parents because they weren’t there. There was no “think long and hard” about who to tell first. Once again, this book makes it seem like you must do something in a certain way and I disagree completely.
So those two examples are two of many places where this book got on my nerves more than helping me. Yes there were a lot of useful tips, but instead of being presented as “tips” or “ideas”, this book lays them out as “rules”. That is just not for me. I prefer a book that leaves the final decision open to you and instead just provides pros and cons of various ideas. Here’s one last example that bugs me:
“[Your shoes] should be silk or satin, dyed to match the dress exactly (not all whites are the same).” Ok, um… NO! My shoes will not be dyed. My shoes will not be silk or satin. Do you know what a pain dyeable shoes are? Ok, so if you don’t know than you should be aware that dyeable shoes stain very easily because they are meant to pick up color quickly. Take my advice instead and by any pair of white shoes that you feel good in. They will not even be seen if you are wearing a dress as long as most brides so if they are not the exact same shade of white, no one will notice. But I’m not telling you what you “must” do, just giving some tips ;) Dyeable Silk or Satin shoes may be a good SUGGESTION, but once again this book tells you “should” which is just another word for “must”. How annoying.
The Conclusion Again, before I start to rant!
If these examples above, or the thought of someone you don’t know telling you what you “must” do, irritates you as much as me, this book is really not for you.
However, if you want a 100% traditional wedding, and you want to follow the rules with very little leeway, then you can check out this book. I suggest you pass, and instead check out online places like The Knot. The Internet is kept much more up to date than any book I’ve read thus far! If you do choose this book, please at least look online for other ideas as well.
Good luck with your wedding planning :-D