Tag Archives: blogdom commentary

$5500 Wedding budget: Photography (What to do when you have $850 or less for photos)

Enough already with the tales of my own wedding, let’s get back to general wedding theorising. I think it’s more fun. Onward with my favourite wedding topic: figuring out what a average wedding would be like if people only had weddings they could afford.

If your wedding budget is $5500, you have about $850 to spend on photography. But $5500 is just the estimate for the (New Zealand) median, which means half of all people would be working with less than that. If your wedding budget was $2500, you’d have about $380 to spend on photography.

A freaking joke, right? Check this out: the price quote for A Practical “fighting the system yet sponsored by Proctor and Gamble” Wedding’s* most recent photography advertorial. The starting rate given is $2950 for 8 hours of photography. Which translates to a total wedding budget of about 19k. Which to comfortably afford means an annual post-tax income of $190k. (APW is always looking out for the little guy!)

It all seems pretty hopeless, especially when you read blog after blog talking about how photography is the most important thing. Skimp on everything else, but for the love of cake, splurge on the photography! But I offer you salvation:

1. Stellar photos aren’t actually that important. Seriously, how often are you really going to look at these photos in the future? Daily at first, then once a year? After the first decade will you stop looking at them once a year? And will your affection for them really be dependent on the quality of the photos, or will it be dependent on the happiness of your memories from that day? Do you have any old, crappy quality pictures, from say your childhood, that you love and treasure?

2. Covering every minute of the day isn’t that important. The photographers’ unaffordable ‘basic package’ starting prices have a bad habit of including 6 or 8 hours of coverage.

I submit to you that you do not need that much time. I submit to you that endless pictures of the wedding party in different poses are redundant, not to mention a waste of everyone’s time especially if it happens during the reception, by Jove. Also, who gives a crap about immortalising the moment the bride applied her eyeliner. I submit to you that there is such a thing as enough photography, and it involves a full length shot of the couple, a face shot of the couple, some family group shots, and a picture of each partner with their wedding party. The stuff after that is gravy.

3. A lot of your guests have cameras. Just because there is no professional present, doesn’t mean moments aren’t being captured. In fact, your guests might be so busy acting like a crowd of paparazzi that you’ll need to actually tell them to stop it. You know how when you have a night out with your friends, a few photos always end up getting taken?  And, you know how you never find yourself wishing, Oh, If only there had been a professional photojournalist with us to take photos of us all at Beerfest? (Bad example?)My point is, there WILL be photos of your wedding day, and they will be good enough.

So here’s what I reckon people should do: hire a professional for the length of time your budget allows for, and get your portraits taken during that time. Get the group shots that are necessary, and then spend the rest of the time you have on couple portraits, and then some photojournalism of the ceremony and  the beginning of the reception if time allows. At the reception let your guests do what people do anyway at parties, which is take photos. Ask everyone to upload their pics to a photo sharing site somewhere, or to just send them to you. Choose your favourites to collect into your own album.

The thing about all those unaffordable photography packages is that if you break it down to an hourly rate, it suddenly becomes an option to get them for an hour or two. For the photographer listed above at 8 hours for $2950, that works out at arout $370 per hour. Not that that’s what that person would charge, but it illustrates the range you’re working with. Even on a legitimately low budget, you could still have someone relatively high end do your portraits for an hour before the ceremony.

I recommend figuring out the hourly rates of various photographers, finding ones you like, and then approaching them with your numbers and asking what they can for you. The Wedding Photojournalist Association is a good place to start – it’s international, and list prices (sometimes by the hour!) of photographers with links to their websites.

That is what I did. I found a handful of photographers that charge around $200 per hour, told them I have $450 to work with, and said, What have you got? The one I chose in the end offered me 2.5 hours photography with the ferry transport to the resort included. He’s offering me something less than his normal hourly rate because, get this, the fact that my wedding is so low budget and quirky (read: short casual dress) makes it valuable to him as a photographer! It’s a sweet sweet feeling when the industry works in your favour.

*I did manage to stay off APW for quite some time after I wrote this post, and it was awesome. And then I started hate-reading it.


Choose your bridesmaids by not overthinking it

Have you guys noticed the amount of bridesmaid drama on the blogs? It’s an ever-popular topic for the Ask Your Blogger to Solve Your Dilemma type of advice columns (you know, those contrived melodrama columns that make me yawn so). East Side Bride receives so many emails about bridesmaid crap that she started a second blog devoted to simply posting the emails. She quaintly calls it My Maid of Honor is a Cunt.

I think what is going on is that, like so many others things, the role of the bridesmaid has become regarded as ceremonial necessity. It’s not a proper wedding without at least one, and the role of the bridesmaid has become weirdly formalised. Take for example the list of tasks the bridesmaid is supposed to perform – The Knot (who else?), gives 24 duties. Now granted, some of these are not actually jobs, there’s plenty of fluff in there like “Keep the bride laughing” (memo to my bridesmaids: if you don’t extract at least one laugh from me per every 5 minutes of wedding reception, I’m cutting you from my friends list), but there is some legit actual work in there too. Let us take a sampling:

  • Make sure everyone gets their bridesmaid  dresses, go to dress fittings, and find the right jewelry
  • Host or cohost a bridal  shower for the bride.
  • Keep a record of all the gifts received at various parties and showers (Wha..?)
  •  Plan the bachelorette party with the bridesmaids
  • Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe  place
  • Dance with the best man during the formal first-dance sequence and possibly be  announced with him at the beginning of the party. Also dance with other  groomsmen, the groom, and others.

What is the dance sequence stuff? That sounds like it belongs, if anywhere, in a world where young ladies also have such a thing as a debut into society, followed by attending balls as a means of finding a husband, and men ask for permission from their love’s father before proposing, and the wedding is paid for by the bride’s family, and that all sounds a bit like Regency England, or maybe a wealthy old money subset of southern US. I always get those two mixed up. I think it’s the carriages. Except even Emma and Mr Knightley did not hold a private ball as a wedding reception, so, burn. This formalised dance sequence oddness does not belong in our world, ok? What is it with this urge to build elaborate etiquette ceremonial behaviour into things that don’t need it?

And the same applies to the other alleged official duties of the bridesmaids. Act as official collecter of gifts? A shower and a bachelorette? (Quick aside: Words that are feminised by adding ‘ette’ or ‘ess’ on the end irritate my feminist sensibilties. Manageress? I don’t think so. My people don’t use the term bachelorette, we have Hen’s nights).

Anyway, I really like how Miss Manners describes the duty of bridesmaids. There’s only one: be a friend. Just, be a friend. Also note, there is nothing about matching clothing.

Things get so much simpler once you start ascribing to this view. No longer is the success/legitimacy of your wedding dependent on your bridesmaids’ ability to look equally ravishing in dresses of the same cut and shade of Tangerine Tango. Who cares if they suck at putting together a celebration of penises I mean Hen’s night. And hence, all angst surrounding bridesmaid antics or lack thereof, are instantly dissolved.

By extension, the angst of deciding who your bridesmaids should be also dissolves. In my opinion, you should only have attendants that are obvious choices. In fact, since their job is to be a friend, they choose themselves…by being your friend. The person who spontaneously decides to arrange a shower for you (if this happens, you should look into your daily hygiene habits. Hah! I kill myself), is performing the standard role of attendant, so then it becomes obvious to go ahead and call them an attendant. After we got engaged, my dear friend Z, who resides in Perth,  didn’t waste time going “We get to throw you a Hen’s night!” while dear friend R, who is living the Parisian dream, went “Oooh, can I please make you a garter? Or a ring pillow?” These chicks also happen to be close confidantes, so, done.

So easy. So simple. So melodrama-free.

Making my peace with/getting over A Practical Wedding, Part 2

(Quick note: Sorry I took more than 24 hours to put this up. Also, the other day I looked at my blog when I was not logged in as myself and there was an advert between the post and the comments. Wtf? I didn’t put it there and had no idea it was there. Have you guys been seeing ads on my blog?? I don’t know what’s going on. Since we’re chatting, I want to also apologise and thank everyone for their patience re: my frequent spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. I read my older posts and want to punch myself in the face, as Rogue would say. Thank you for not doing that for me.)

As I mentioned yesterday, over the years, the content at A Practical Wedding has changed drastically as the site has grown from a one-woman hobby to a money making enterprise that requires several people to produce. While the readership has soared, my enjoyment of the blog has waned. The number of posts have gone up; the number of posts I enjoy reading has gone down. What used to be a diary style blog, is now…something else entirely, with lots of new types of content having been added over time, and none of it being as interesting as the original story I got invested in. This is what APW has on offer today: Wedding Grad posts, advertorials, Wordless Weddings, a Q & A advice column, intern diaries, “Lazy girl’s guide” DIY how-to posts, Reclaiming Wife posts, the occasional diary style posts from Meg, and more sporadically, posts about specific weddings that happened in a different era.

I think I’ve already made my feelings about the advertorials clear, and the Grad posts,  already filler-like in their nature from the beginning, have essentially become the backbone of the blog’s content. I suppose it’s a good model – an ever replenishing pool of readers eagerly submit their wedding for its day in the sun before they get bored with APW. And probably that is a very satisfying arrangement for readers who don’t stay on board for too long and who move on after their weddings. Like how pregnancy magazines have a constantly revolving group of readers joining and then leaving.

The Wordless Weddings are some of the most filler-like filler material I have come across. Consisting of nothing but pictures, I’m not sure what we are supposed to get out of them, because if I am online to look at pictures then that is definitely not the place I go to do it. They’re like Grad posts but easier. Maybe to encourage people who are not up for writing a whole story to still send a submission? The occasional vintage wedding post strikes me as a desperate grasping for content too, when an intern gets her parents to write about their wedding.

The Ask Team Practical advice column and the Reclaiming Wife posts are as good at it get’s on APW if you’re looking for something meaty. But as Ariella commented yesterday, I like  them much more in theory than I do in practice. The advice column has a tendency to be overwrought, and like most things on APW, too wordy. The Reclaiming Wife posts also have this way of somehow promising more substance than they contain, and can irritatingly be reliant on using a semantic argument disguised as taking  a controversial position on married relationships. Witness: “My spouse is not my best friend“, and “I keep secrets from my husband“. Some of the Reclaiming Wife posts are not about the spousal relationship itself, but about life things that happened to the couple after they got married. Again, I’ve got better places to look if I want to read one-off stories of people’s lives. Similarly, when they are actually about specifics of relationship dynamics, there’s no reason to believe writers at APW are especially qualified at this part, and I’d rather take advice from someone else.

Then there’s the intern’s planning diaries. I enjoy a good wedding planning story, and that’s what got me into APW in the first place. Unfortunately I don’t find the interns’ efforts that good a read for this. If you want entertaining, check out The Bitchy Bride and The Knotty Bride (the funniest wedding related thing on the internet), or my girls on the sidebar.

So what’s left that’s still good about APW? The message they promote. Updates about Meg’s life. The useful DIY stuff. And maybe for those living in the relevant areas, the directories. I just don’t know that all these things make for good long term blog fodder. Here is what I wish APW was really like:

  • Everything pertaining to promoting vendors to be on a separate page/site where I only see it if I have specifically chosen to see it.
  • A self-governing online community founded on the APW ethos, that is allowed to grow organically into whatever it wants to be. This would be the place for sharing stories with each other, and asking for and giving advice.
  • A personal blog by Meg about her life.

At this point, everything that is valuable about what APW promotes is distilled in the book, and a blog based on constantly rehashing the same ideas for years is always uninteresting. And of course the foundational ideas of APW are at odds with the need to have copious adverts and sponsored posts featuring services that tend to be flagrantly unaffordable. The “F*ck ’em if they don’t like chairs” catchphrase used to promote the book is cute until until APW gets sponsored by a furniture rental company (it happens).

So, ultimately, I would like APW not to be a blog. I would like it to be a community around a facebook page, or some other forum platform. I would like readers to be able to initiate conversations with each other with out relying on comments to posts. The community around APW has already shown promising hints of its potential to be great (the dress giveaways, the book club meet-ups), but the thing is, online communities don’t work when an institution is trying to maintain control of them*, and I think the way APW is run has kind stifled most the growth.

So those are my thoughts. Now, the making peace part (beware, mushiness ahead): becoming a fan of something and then watching it evolve into something you don’t like, creates a sense of resentment and yes, betrayal. The whole reason I couldn’t let this go, and wrote this, is that I was quite a big fan in the first place. I genuinely wish Meg well, and will continue to be interested in her life adventures, but I want to let APW  go now. I want to stop caring when APW does something that bothers me, and I want to stop being disappointed when I check it every day and find nothing stimulating. It is what it is. A gazillion readers love it. But it’s not for me any more. I want it out of my head space.

I still haven’t read the book, so I do plan on writing a book review on that. But in the mean time, I’m saying good bye to APW, and issuing myself a challenge to go a week without checking it.

*Dammit I had a really good link for that and now I can’t find it. I’ll keep on looking and update when I do, ok?

Making my peace with/getting over A Practical Wedding, Part 1

So. *long exhale*. Ok. You guys know I’ve criticised A Practical Wedding plenty a time already, and yet here I am, devoting another entire post to APW. I’m like a dog with a frakking bone, right? I have mixed feelings about it. I’m 100% sure that Meg is a very nice person, and I even like her, as far as I can tell. I bet we’d be friends (you know, if I wasn’t spending time criticising her work). And yet I can’t let it go, stuff niggles me, so I write. But whenever I write about APW, I find I have to remind myself over and over how much I believe in the power of critical thinking, and that critiquing ideas is a force for good in the world. Today I just want to get it all out, and then, hopefully, I can get on with thinking about stuff other than APW. Because this is not serving me any more, and reading APW is not really serving me any more at all either.

This feels tricky to write because first of all, (flattering myself that Meg would pay any attention), I don’t think she’d like it. And not just because I’m saying I don’t like her blog any more, but because direct criticism doesn’t seem to be something she is into. In a very early APW post, Meg wrote: “…you really don’t want to write a negative blog, as you will get a negative readership, and that’s a heck of a lot of energy to put into creating more negativity in the world.” Well, I disagree. Critiquing stuff is not putting more negativity into the world, it is making it better, and that includes brutally ridiculing stuff that is ridiculous. So I’m going to move on past the fact that writing these words is making me a non-friend of one of the most successful wedding bloggers around, and just say my piece.

That post I just mentioned was written back in April 2008, around the time I started reading APW. If you’re not a long time reader, you’d be amazed at the difference between APW then and how it is now. When it first started out, the blog posts tended to be pretty short, and a lot of them consisted of reblogging pictures from somewhere else, with Meg going, “You know, I like shrugs,” and a diary of her wedding planning. I got invested in her story. And she taught me something, too – before reading APW, I thought it was important to have a beautiful wedding and a perfect wedding dress. I was younger then, and also not close to planning an actual wedding, so maybe I would have realised on my own that expensive styling is not what makes a wedding good. But it was APW that opened my eyes to this for the first time.

After a while, APW started having Wedding Graduate posts. When these first started, they were written by her wedding blogging buddies (there was a posse of them that kicked off in 2008, and I was reading them all and never commenting, like some weird eavesdropper stressed out grad student). Wedding Graduate posts were sporadic, and they struck me as filler material – that day, Meg didn’t have to think of a new idea to write about.

In 2009, Meg had her wedding. You know what’s disappointing? When you read a diary-based bridal blog, which is built on getting invested in a story that’s going to culminate in a wedding, and then when the wedding happens, they don’t show you hardly any pictures. To this day, Meg has published only a handful (like four?) pictures from her wedding. I mean it’s understandable  about not wanting to show the world your personal stuff. I get it. Doesn’t make it any less tiresome for the reader though. And I was already disappointed that she refused to show any pictures of her invitations.

The content has changed a lot since those days, of course. APW has remained a daily habit this whole time that I have struggled to break, automatically typing the url into my address bar, hoping for something interesting to read, and avoiding admitting to myself that there really is no point any more. I started skipping over the Wedding Grad posts early on, with their tedious introductions (No really, this one is the best ever!) that have a tendency to give away the punch lines too early, and their sheer mass that has made them all blur into one anyway. But the increasing number of Grad posts were just the first step in APW’s path to growing gradually more and more boring. I find these days that it’s not worth taking my time to read there any more. I’ll go into specifics tomorrow.

Podcast: Me talking wedding budgets with Rogue Bride and Hindsight Bride

I’m not saying this is exactly what went down, but when I remember recording this podcast with Rogue Bride and Christie from Hindsight Bride, these are the words I recall being said:

Christie: Lindsay writes an angry, righteous blog…
Me: What? No, I’m a nice person, I swear!

Me: Wedding budget calculator. Income. Wedding budget calculator. Percentage. Calculator.
Them: You’re a massive nerd.

Them: Wait, is it REE-dill, or rye-DELL?
Me: What the hell are you guys talking about.

All of us: Sha-vari chairs? Key-uh-vari? What is that anyway, frikkin Italian or something?

Christie: Rainbows and sausages.

Rogue: I’m going to punch myself in the face.

Them:*giving me compliments*
Me: You guys are the nicest people ever!
Them: What? No, we’re badass, we swear!

Shorter version:
Them: It’s nice that you’re badass.
Me: It’s badass that you’re nice.
(Thank you Robyn Sherbotsky and Ted Mosby.)

According to Rogue and Christie, my South African – Kiwi mongrel of an accent sounds sexy to the American ear. I’m not sure I believe them. Certainly I don’t think either saffas or kiwis enjoy my deviations from their norms much. So it’s possible they were just being super nice to me again. They’re tricksy like that. They keep saying nice things to you and offering to do nice things for you, and then also doing them, and then the next thing you know, you really really like them and start to feel like doing nice things back. It’s how they suck you in. They’re selfish like that.

You can listen to the podcast and assess my accent for yourself here.

On the pitifulness of traditional wedding media

For ages now all the wedding reading I do is in blogdom, and I’ve gotten so used to it that even when I disagree with stuff, there are still a number of certain mutual understandings among the blogs that turn out not to exist yet in the traditional media of magazines and newspapers., and I fear, therefore the general non-wedding-obsessed public too. Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise: wedding magazines are necessarily part of the WIC and their dependence on advertising means they can’t remain bias free; meanwhile, any column about weddings that a newspaper spits out is probably written by someone who has spent, let’s just say, WAY LESS time thinking about weddings than bloggers have.

So perhaps I should forgive the author of this article about the supposed new, 2012, rules of wedding ettiquete. Some of it she gets right, some of it she gets painfully wrong, and some of it she phoned in to buff up the word count.

I mean, just take a look at this stuff:

“If the bride pays for the bridesmaid’s hair, makeup, dresses and shoes, she has every right to make them look as gorgeous or as heinous as she likes.” I think the idea behind this is it’s supposed to be the corrolary to the fact that you shouldn’t force your bridesmaids to pay for an outift that wasn’t of their choosing. But that doesn’t mean that just because you’re paying for it, you get to be totally inconsiderate to your friends that, by the way, you care enough about to have in your wedding.

“If they have a registry, use it. At the very least you know that your gift is wanted.” Nope. Most couples have a registry not because they want to make sure they don’t get any gifts that aren’t good enough, but out of consideration for the guests who aren’t quite sure what to buy otherwise. And that means non-registry gifts are likely to be some of the most welcome of all.

“Asking for money is now not considered rude. In fact, it’s pretty convenient.” No, it’s still fracking rude.

“If you’re on a budget, how much should you spend on a gift or cash? A good rule of thumb is ‘how much would this event cost me if I had bought a ticket?’” AAAAAAAAARGGHHH! NOOO!! You give people presents as a way to show love and affection, and what in the world does that have to do with how much money the couple happened to have available to spend on their wedding? This woman seems to be under the impression that weddings are fundrasiers. Way to go on making an important life event devoid of meaning.

I can’t imagine any of the wedding blogs I read saying this kind of stuff, and if they did, a bunch of people in the comments would call them out. But in the traditional mainstream media, a poorly thought out, top-of-the-mind article like this can be gotten away with. And what’s worse, most likely swallowed whole by most of the readers, and this crap then becomes the received wisdom. When someone you know thinks your wedding is not meeting the guidelines of propriety, this is why.

Thank gods for blogs!



If you’re having a wedsite, it may as well be free (plus some wedding blogdom commentary)

Wedsites have been on my mind a bit lately. As I mentioned before, the cool thing about this modern wedding necessity is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything. A recent wedding innovation that is not about increasing consumption! It’s not hard to find free wedding websites that have all the functions you need. This is one of the very best things about the internet – people put stuff out there for free, and it just makes all our lives better. Sometimes I feel all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about that, and it restores my faith in humanity (not joking).

Meanwhile, of course, there are plenty of people online hawking non-free wedsites. Why in the world would you possibly choose to pay for something when you can easily get a just-as-good version for nothing? The only reason I can think of is that the specific graphic design is REALLY important to you. That, and/or you are sold on the brand of the website promoting it. Or maybe you don’t know how to google the words “free wedding website”.

So let’s make clear that the graphic design of your wedsite will not affect anything about your wedding day. But maybe you’re just into that stuff anyway, and also you cannot find something from the 129 designs on weddingwire that satisfies your need for good design. Fair enough. I hope your wedding budget can take it. Except if you’re like most people, you probably can barely afford your wedding, or you’re actively not affording it (*points at self*). So I’m going to just say it: paying for the design of your wedsite is unrealistic for most people.

Of course APW have just announced a collaboration that sees APW selling wedsites. You know, for money. This has always bothered me about APW, as you guys know: the simultaneous anti-WIC preaching and advertising of expensive wedding shit. Once upon a APW comment thread, Meg explained her rationale:

Here at APW we talk a lot about making a wedding budget that is created around  what makes you happy. IE, do what you love and ditch the rest. I (to my great  surprise) cared a lot about creating custom invitations, which we did with help.  That excited me, but I was willing to totally ditch a lot of other things, (no  DJ, no florist, no favors, no night wedding, etc.) to help make that happen. I  spent on what I loved, and got rid of the other stuff all together.

Well, I’m not buying it. The idea of choosing to spend more on things that are important to you is not revolutionary, it is the everyday life of all adults. So that is really not the point. It’s also not a question of choosing which luxuries you will include: I’ve looked up the stats and run the damn numbers, and most people are struggling just to figure out how to afford the basics (venue to fit people, refreshments to give them). Does no one else get frustrated about the disconnect in APW’s messages?

Argh, I feel like I could talk in circles for hours about APW. I have mixed feelings about it, because some of the content there is actually valuable. Plenty of people see no problems at all though, and it’s interesting to watch how the brand of Meg herself is a central part of APW’s business model. The fact that a business based on weddings can write a whole slew of posts about Amtrak, and people find it relevant and interesting, is testament to the fact that for a lot of readers, APW is about Meg, and not necessarily weddings. I think this is key in the other stuff APW gets away with, like repeatedly asking people to buy the book both online on the release date as well as on the book tour.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the reaction to APW selling unnecesary wedding shit is nothing but one of support (I’m looking at you Rogue!), but I am disappointed. Anywho, here is a list of places where you can get FREE wedding websites that will do what you need, and that make me feel like the world is a wonderful place:


PS. Rogue, I still love you.