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When you’re planning a wedding, the last thing anybody should give you is more to do, but guess what? I’ve got homework. To be fair, it’s homework that might actually help you get your hands around the throat of the rabid monster known as the wedding industry.
I’ve read all of the books below in my work as a wedding coordinator and let me tell you, each offers something important to help you and your partner have the wedding you want, from why we do this thing called marriage to how to have the disco-inspired ceremony of your dreams. Happy reading!
1. One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead
Let’s start with the bad news: Weddings are a business (a $72 billion one, at last count). This well-researched and profoundly disturbing book from New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead may be 11 years old but the stats will still turn your stomach. It’ll also give you the knowledge you need to make better buying decisions as you navigate this thing called wedding planning.
2. Marriage, a History by Stephanie Coontz
If your tastes run more toward history, this book by acclaimed author Stephanie Coontz is for you. Coontz explores marital traditions from Babylon to Victorian England to 2019 and asks “What tradition?” (This, by the way, is also a great response to anyone who insists you do anything for your wedding “a certain way.”)
3. Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding by Kirsten Palladino
Based on the eponymous website, “Equally Wed” offers advice on wedding planning, big and small, from how to budget to how to handle homophobia among wedding guests. Regardless of the combination of couple in your wedding, this one’s worth a read because Palladino reminds us that all weddings are about something universal: love.
4. A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene
Google “feminist wedding planning” long enough and you’re bound to hit upon A Practical Wedding, the website born out of Meg Keene’s own adventures in wedding planning. Keene is celebrating her 10-year anniversary this year with a second edition of her book due out in December.
APW is one of the rare feminist-minded, realistic, and yes, practical approaches to wedding planning out there (you’re currently reading one of the few others). The book of the same name is very much in line with the website but with more anecdotes. There’s also the companion planner version, if you’re jonesing for a checklist.
5. Offbeat Bride by Ariel Meadow Stallings
Like APW’s Keene, Ariel Meadow Stallings offers a website to accompany her book of the same name. Unlike APW, Stallings more explicitly caters to the quirky, the crafty, and the edgy. (In perhaps some of the best wedding planning advice of all time, Stallings suggests stressed out couples masturbate the day before the wedding. “It’ll help you sleep,” she writes.)
Stallings published her book before her website took off, which, as she acknowledges in the intro, is really not how most people do things. But that might as well be the subtitle of “Offbeat Bride.” Tune in for chapters about disability-friendly weddings, conflict mediation, and online invites.
6. Literally any other book that’s not about weddings.
Because the patriarchy makes it easy to feel like your life didn’t actually begin until the day you got engaged.