If you've ever witnessed a "bridezilla" giving a verbal smack-down to her cowering fiancé on a wedding reality TV show, then you know that weddings and the women who plan them have gotten a bad rap lately.
Like Disney-related things, weddings tend to stir up feelings of pleasure in some people and scorn in others. Both carry the timeworn illusion of the princess fantasy, grand sparkly dresses, Prince Charming and living happily ever after. (Of course with weddings, the evil witch and the bride are usually presented as one and the same person.) But it's not all bad. For every princess image that's pushed, there's also a counterpart, whether it's a book or blog with tips for a do-it-yourself wedding, a helpful guide for grooms, or a straightforward look at the wedding industry that could greatly influence your choices when planning your nuptials. And fortunately, you can find most of these resources at your local library. Whether you plan to do everything yourself, throw a blowout bash, or just want to get through the planning and the big day gracefully, there's a title for you.
Here are a few books--some traditional, some charmingly offbeat:
The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget is helpful for both the eco- and wallet-conscious.
Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette Written by Post's great-great granddaughter Peggy, this book will help you adhere to the utmost standards of civility.
For cake inspiration, look no further than Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes. For more contemporary and alternative designs, consider Wedding Cakes by Mich Turner of the London-based Little Venice Cake Company. Turner's book also includes how-tos if you dare to bake and decorate your own cake. Before you make that decision, however, you may want to check out Cake Wrecks.
Vintage Wedding: Resource and Guidebook, 1910s-1950s is full of tips on creating a nostalgic ceremony, complete with sketches of vintage bridal gowns, explanations of historical colors, and ideas for vintage receptions.
If you have the good fortune of giving a speech or toasting the happy couple, check out Wedding Toasts & Speeches: Finding the Perfect Words.
For Jewish ceremonies, there's The Everything Jewish Wedding Book: Mazel Tov! From the Chuppah to the Hora, All You Need for Your Big Day by Rabbi Hyim Shafner.
The DIY Bride: 40 Fun Projects for your Ultimate One-of-a-Kind Wedding features cool projects for the craftily inclined, from invitations and jewelry to ceremony decorations.
Authors Tess Ayers and Paul Brown wrote The New Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings based on their own experiences. Topics include basic wedding planning (invitations, guest list) but also other factors to consider such as what to call your significant other (bride? groom?); gender-bending wedding fashions; how to place same-sex wedding announcements in newspapers; and telling your family the news.
Michael Arnot from Groomgroove.com has published Don't Screw Up Your bride's Wedding: a Groom's Guide to Surviving the Most Important Day of Your Wife's Life. Because guys need wedding guides, too.
Well Groomed: a Wedding Planner for What's-His-Name (and His Bride) by Peter Scott gives a humorous take on weddings for the guys. Chapter titles include "How Can a Magazine Cost $12.95 and Not Have Pictures of Naked People in It?"; "Why Are You and Your Mom Acting Like Rival Street Gangs?: the Complicated Relationship You Have With Your Parents"; and "Warning!: Don't Ask These Questions!"
Finally, I just got my hands on Planet Wedding: a Nuptial-Pedia by Sandra Choron and Harry Choron. This is the most fun I've had reading anything wedding-related, even the parts that don't necessarily apply to me. Sections include "How to Tell If You Are a Momzilla" ("Do I expect to be invited to the bachelorette party?" "Do I speak of the wedding as 'my' wedding?") and "A Deadly Combination: Your Wedding and Your Job." Behind the humor is some really useful information, such as ethnic wedding customs you may want to incorporate; how to find a photographer; and how to write your own vows.
Before you plunk down too much money on bridal magazines like I did, have a look at the free resources at your neighborhood library--it won't even make a dent in your wedding budget.