Things I wish I had when I planned my wedding 7 years ago include a wedding planner, a plan for saving up money to pay for the wedding, less of a desire to DIY my wedding, and a better knowledge of the best wedding planning books to read!
I thrive in environments where I am learning new information, so it should come as no surprise that even as a wedding planner with 5 years of weddings under my belt, I’m always looking to learn something new. 2020 gave me the time to do just that!
The following wedding planning books impacted me the most, with their humor, realness, and desire to keep things centered around intentional relationships. Because that is what a wedding day is all about, your relationships!
So let’s dive right in with 3 wedding planning books to help you out of your wedding planning funk!
Wow, Leah has done it with her first book “The Wedding Roller Coaster: Keeping Your Relationships Intact Through the Ups and Downs”! If you are plagued with worries about rupturing or ruining your relationships during wedding planning, or you already know of some sticky conversations you will need to have with friends or family members – READ THIS BOOK!
Not only is Leah’s advice from years of interacting with couples planning their wedding absolutely sage, but she also brings in experts on psychology, inclusion, finances, sex therapy, and more! The book’s 3 part structure is the perfect guideline for a couple to explore their inner and outer worlds and how these two collide in a sometimes messy way.
In order to put your best foot forward in any relationship is to start with yourself. Part 1 dives into “the personal and the practical” as you “learn about the inner work and conversations that will help set you and your partner up for success in the wedding planning process.” Set aside some time to explore your emotional priorities and your emotional intelligence, so you and your partner can lean into one another’s strengths.
Part 2 adds on the next layer of the different and complex emotions that can affect your body both physically and mentally. Sometimes those emotions are a euphoric high, and sometimes they are stress (and sometimes they happen at the same time)! But all of it is part of the human experience you are having, so extending yourself (and others’ grace) goes a long way.
Finally, Part 3 wraps up diving into the interpersonal ups and downs that come with planning a wedding, both in a community or without the support of one. Exploring how your family functions as a group is the best place to start when setting internal and external expectations and involvement levels with them.
I suggest reading this immediately after getting engaged (or even before if you’ve started to have those conversations). It’s time to put happy and healthy relationships back in the driver’s seat of wedding planning!
One of the first books I read when I set out to become a wedding planner, was Meg Keene’s “A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration”. There’s A LOT jam-packed into this one!
This wedding planning book presents a wide, yet not too deep, no-nonsense look at some of the major decisions a couple will face as they plan their wedding. And it opens up a plethora of options for them, from traditional to doing it your own unique way. Including how to get started and who will be involved, what vendors to book first, and how that defines a large portion of your wedding day. Of course, it also dives into the reality that paying for a wedding sucks and how to do it with a grateful attitude, what it really looks like to DIY an element of your wedding, and how to triage your wedding day from the unexpected.
As a wedding designer and planner, I often get a deep look into the inner workings of my couples and how they process things. The things they enjoy, what they hate, and the things that stress them out. One of the biggest stressors in wedding planning is absolutely the wedding budget (aka money).
“In the depths of planning, weddings can feel like they are about money, but they are not. Weddings are about love, about family, and about a major life transition. They’re also about things like logistics and enjoying yourself. And sometimes that costs money, and that’s worth it.”
If you are finding it hard to balance the reality of wedding planning with your expectations. (ex: your budget doesn’t feel like it is stretching enough to get you the day you wanted, you can’t seem to make decisions that you feel confident in, or you feel overwhelmed by other people’s expectations of your day). With this wedding planning book, you’ll feel like you are sitting down with a longtime friend who is not going to let you BS around this wedding planning stuff!
If you are looking for ways to curate the most intentional guest experience set aside some time to read Priya Parker’s “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters”. Especially in light of coming out of a pandemic filled with isolation and loneliness, gathering can feel forced, foreign, and sometimes too scheduled and inflexible.
What actually helps a group connect and bring meaning to a gathering? Is it the stuff (the logistics, the equipment, the decor, etc) or is it the feeling of belonging when with a group of people?
So how do we do this? Priya, in her 15 years of working with individuals, companies, and dignitaries to create meaningful gatherings, has created a framework that allows you to really dig in.
A great event starts when you decide why you are gathering, and commit to that boldly and unwaveringly! You will have to dig a little bit deeper than “I’m gathering my friends and family together because I’m getting married.” What then is the purpose of your marriage? Think about the needs of your guests and you and your partner.
“Having a purpose simply means knowing why you’re gathering and doing your participants the honor of being convened for a reason. And once you have that purpose in mind, you will suddenly find it easier to make all the decisions that a gathering requires”
Parker reminds us to not be afraid to close the doors and make our events exclusive. This step may take some deep introspection and analysis. There is a kind way to exclude individuals from your event. It’s so that the purpose of the event stays intact. So you respect the guests who will be gathered. And so those who would distract from the purpose of the event cannot do so. Every single person that you gather together will affect the entire group dynamic.
Consider the following questions.
“Who not only fits but also helps fulfill the gathering’s purpose? Who threatens the purpose? Who, despite being irrelevant to the purpose, do you feel obliged to invite?”
There are many ways you can infuse your event with a new sense of purpose and have guests saying, “I’ve never been to a wedding like that”! Consider creating a temporary alternative world for your guests to live in just for one night. You can enforce the purpose and direction through simple yet meaningful ground rules that keep them engaged with the purpose of the event. We’re talking about flipping the expected rules of etiquette and doing something different.
“If the standards of etiquette are fixed, imperious, and exclusionary, pop-up rules have the power to flip these traits on their head, creating the possibility of more experimental, humble, and democratic – and satisfying! – gatherings.”
Also, take time to make sure you are not starting or ending your event with logistics. Most wedding ceremonies start with an announcement to turn off your phones. This immediately sets that stage for a dance of logistics, rather than a heart-led event. What could you implement earlier on in your event to welcome your guests intentionally and set the right mood for your time together?
If you’ve ever had the thought of “screw this, let’s just elope” or are struggling with finding ways to make your wedding day feel unique to you, instead of something copy-cat off of Pinterest, this book will give you a boost of energy to do something different and so meaningful with your wedding day.
When you hit a planning snag, whether it’s with those you are planning with or more internal, don’t jump to the easiest (and most convenient) explanation! It’s important to take the time to peel back the layers of the onion, so to speak. Take the time to figure out what’s at the core of this issue to find the best way to troubleshoot and resolve it.
A bridesmaid who isn’t responding to texts may need some space, rather than an angry ultimatum. A parent who isn’t seeing eye to eye with you on your food choice may have some lingering fears leftover from their own wedding experiences, rather than a desire to control everything.
I hope that these wedding planning books can be a resource and guide to you and your partner as you plan a celebration of this chapter of your love story.
If you are looking for more hands-on help – let me put my wedding planner hat on!
I believe in the magic of love, and the relationships that fuel that love.
Wedding and event planning came into my life during a time where I was so creatively suppressed. I was having a hard time finding a way to express my gratitude towards life!
Everything changed, or rather clicked into place, when I got married. I started re-evaluating my priorities. The life I had begun to craft was founded on building up the relationships in my life and celebrating them. It came as no shock to me when I realized there was a creative outlet that would help me live this out daily.
Planning and designing weddings seemed kind of silly at first as a career shift. But having a passion that allows me to elevate the pivotal relationships in in all our lives has made this journey all the richer.
Kindred Weddings and Events is a wedding planning and design company in Los Angeles, encouraging couples to joyfully celebrate and invest in their relationships through small and intimate weddings. Our specialty is crafting whimsically sophisticated weddings, where you get to be a guest at your own wedding.
If you are planning a wedding in Los Angeles or the Southern California area, I would love to connect with you to see if we are a match to help bring these cherished moments to life!
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Sarah is a Los Angeles wedding planner ready to
elevate all your relationships through small and intimate weddings.