To be completely honest with you, I had my doubts about this new book when it was out for pre-order. I thought, “What could possibly be covered now?” Between the 2011 guidebook, the website’s oft-updated front page and growing archives, and downloadable spreadsheets available online, I wondered if it was going to be a redundant piece of fluff. I bought my copy to see if it was worth suggesting to my couples (I'm a wedding photographer), or warn them not to waste their money. So for me to read it, cover to cover, and have my skepticism blown away actually speaks really highly of this book. It’s useful! It’s smart! It’s handy!
See, the first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, gets you into the *headspace* of planning a wedding. For many of us, our wedding is the first wedding that we’ve ever had to plan. Figuring out how to approach wedding planning, then feeling right about our decisions, is what the original APW book is all about.
This companion book, A Practical Wedding Planner (“APWP”), coaxes you into actually taking action. Meg starts by asking you to think of your wedding’s “thesis” — not colors or theme, but the takeaway that you want your guests to feel after the wedding is over. (Best dance party? Amazing spiritual experience? Warm, casual vibe?) Then build your wedding around that thesis.
While the planner, at around 9×7″ (notably bigger than the novel-sized 2011 guidebook), isn’t quite large enough to feel like it’s an essential replacement of a wedding-planning binder, it feels more like a notebook and has wide margins so you can scribble all in it (there are some dedicated spots for you to fill in your plans, but for the most part, the book tracks out to-do’s). It’s divided into sections that you can jump to depending on where you are in your planning process: budgets, venues, catering, etc.
The best part about this book is that it can be scaled up or down depending on the type of wedding you’re going to have: Meg doesn’t assume that you’ll be having a giant wedding, a tiny one, or that you’ll hire all of the vendors that most wedding-planning books recommend you to hire. She outlines DIY projects, describes the risks and rewards of DIY, and suggests how to get the most out of DIY planning. It’s a little bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Want to do your own makeup? Here’s the path to take. Interested in arranging your own flowers? Here is what you need to look out for.
Where APW used voices from married couples, describing how they created an authentic wedding instead of going with the traditional or expected, APWP interviews wedding professionals. These seasoned vendors explain how to get the best deals from different vendors (hint: it’s not always about negotiating, but by understanding what is typically included in the industry norm and what are additional fees), as well as the best questions to ask the vendors you’re vetting to work your wedding.
Some of the best stuff is in the nitty gritty: there’s a chart of flowers, when they’re in season, their price ranges, and good substitutes. There’s an alcohol calculator. There are sample timelines, sample ceremonies of many religions and cultures, and even guidelines on how to address your invites in a “gently feminist” way.
In short, should you get this book if you’re planning a wedding?
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