Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Designer, Design Thyself's Wedding

While taking a cursory browse through a bridal shop with a friend two days after my engagement,  we were talking about my wedding colors and whatnot and she said, "this is what happens when a designer gets married - your wedding is going to be amazing and gorgeous!"

Well.  While I certainly appreciated the vote of confidence, I'm discovering that designing for one's own wedding is a bit more problematic than one might expect.  First of all, there's this pesky thing about "theme."  People keep asking me, "What's your theme?"

Theme?  My wedding needs a theme?  I thought themes were for kids' birthday parties.  My bad.

See, I thought you just picked out a couple of colors, you know, based on what you like and what season it is and then built a palette around that.  Then you give a swatch to your bridesmaids and your florist and then maybe order linens and favor bags to match.  Or something. But apparently you need a theme.  I know more than one person who's had a Disney-themed wedding.  As everyone tries to "out-theme" each other, there are zombie-themed weddings, fairy tale-themed weddings,  Steampunk-themed weddings, themes based on cartoon characters, TV shows, and so on.

Now, look.  I'm not saying these aren't super neat and all, but why is everyone so hung up on theme?  So if I don't have a specific theme, people are going to say, "this wedding sucks!  All I see are a bunch of fall leaves and pumpkins and a Matron of Honor in a purple dress.  So what's the theme?"

Well, the "theme" of our wedding is this: Deedee and Wade met through a drive-through window at Starbucks.  She called him Hot Tea Guy.  He likes tea.  Fall is their favorite season.  They enjoy donuts.  Maybe a little too much. They like the outdoors.  They like to eat and drink and laugh. They like "Twin Peaks."  And so there will be elements of all of these things in our November wedding, all loosely coordinated in a pretty palette of aubergine, sage, brown, orange, and red with pumpkins, tea, food, drink, laughter, and perhaps a few Twin Peaks references (the donuts could be construed as part of this), in a theme that basically says "This is Us" (not to be confused with the TV show of the same name, wonderful as said show may be).

Now I'm at the point where I'm trying to design my own invitations and other printed materials, and while I have designed plenty of invitations and save-the-date cards and wedding programs and place cards and the like in my day, doing them for yourself is a whole other ball of wax.  I have gone through this with other self-designed things like my business cards and such for my freelance business.  Why is it SO difficult to design my own stuff?  Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me?

I think some of it has to do with having a trillion different ideas flying around in my head and being unable to pin just one down.   When I'm designing for a client, it's easy to say, "here are three concepts that I believe represent the essence of your business" or "this color scheme will appeal to the demographic you're trying to attract," or "here's an invitation that includes pink and white roses and uses a pretty font, just as you'd requested," etc.  But for myself, I have so many ideas of what could work, what I think I want - and much of this includes old ideas that I've catalogued in my brain for the fall wedding I imagined having before the ring was even on my finger.  It's a little overwhelming. I like vintage-y stuff.  I like retro-y stuff.  I like Asian inspired designs.  I like mid-century designs.  I like Art Deco designs.  I like fall.  I like pumpkins. I like purple.  I like birds.  It's far easier to eliminate things I don't like, because the list is so much shorter.

I guess it may also have something to do with the fear of losing one's designer cred.  Like, if I don't come up with an absolutely PERFECT design that totally nails it,  I've failed as a designer.  Or if I just relent and let someone else design it for me or pick out a pre-fab design from a catalogue, then I might as well just turn in my Mac and my AIGA badge.  Maybe it's expectations.  I expect myself to come up with something great because I know I'm a capable designer.  And I expect others to expect me to do this as well.

So here I sit, with nothing to do but wait for the axe to fall at my day job (this is my last week here - I'm being laid off at the end of this week) and overthink all of this stuff.  But if I don't start moving on this, I'm going to end up sending out a Facebook event instead of paper invitations a week before the wedding.

That actually doesn't sound like such a bad idea right now.  Haha.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

You Do You, We Do Us

When I announced my engagement a few months back, the first things I heard after "congratulations" were bits and pieces of advice about wedding planning and a few warnings eschewing the "Wedding Industrial Complex."  And I agree - the W.I.C. is indeed, a ridiculous, over-priced, over-rated, predatory institution that plays on the myth that "every little girl dreams of her wedding day;" a guilt-tripping monster that beats you into submission until you're shaking and sweating and saying, "yes, yes, embossed napkins and a $5,000 designer dress are what I have to have!  Yes, my guests must have steak tartare and top-shelf liquor! And we HAVE to have a Photo Booth or my reputation is ruined!!" This is the girl who brings an entourage of 18 with her to the bridal salon and breaks down in tears because none of the 18 other people like the dress SHE picked out.  Fuck that.

Now, I get that these well-meaning folks who insist it's okay to not want a traditional wedding are doing so because they want me to feel okay with my choices and not feel pressured to conform.  It makes perfect sense, seeing as I am a creative and independent (and typically pretty thrifty) individual who hasn't ever really placed myself squarely in the middle of formal tradition.  I've never been one to follow trends or do something simply because it's what society at large tells me is acceptable.  I think people have come to expect me to do something totally different and possibly a little weird.  And I guess that's flattering.

BUT.  What if what I want IS something kind of traditional?  What if I want something classy but not over-the-top, semi-formal but not stuffy, traditional-ish with a few hints of personal flair and slightly unconventional details but nothing completely off the wall?  Is that bad?

I'm not interested in burlap or chalkboards, mason jars or mustache-themed props, food trucks or nacho bars.  We aren't getting married at a vineyard, an old sawmill, a pumpkin farm, or a converted grain silo. If that's your thing, then that's what you do.  And that's been the pervasive sentiment through all of this: "You do you!"

And I am doing me.  But more importantly, my fiance and I are doing US.  And THIS is what WE want.  While our well-meaning friends say, "You can just have a picnic!  You don't have to spend money on a fancy dinner!  Have pizza and hot dogs!" I am working on a budget to serve strip steak and salmon because THAT IS WHAT WE WANT.  We booked the venue that we did because it's a lovely space in a place that has special meaning to us.  We could have gone with any number of good venues that were within our established budget, but the sentiment is what sold us on this one.

I AM going to wear a pretty ivory dress.  It won't be super fancy or blind anyone with bling, because (a) I'm not a fancy blingy person and (b) my groom will be in a simple two-piece suit and we need to balance (note: this is not based on any societal parameters; it is MY taste). My dress won't have a train, and it may not even go past my ankles.  I might wear purple shoes. I'm likely not wearing a veil.  And it won't cost $5,000. It might not even cost $500.  Hell, I'd wear a $50 consignment shop dress if I found one I liked that looked good.  This is ME.  Doing ME.

We are following one "hot trend" in our decision to do away with wedding cake and serve Paula's donuts instead (for those of you not in Buffalo, believe me when I tell you that the best wedding cake in the world can't hold a candle to Paula's donuts).  Our musical selections might be a little different from what one is accustomed to hearing at a wedding.  I have a pretty specific "Do Not Play" list for my DJ (who is pretty cool and is looking really forward to working with our eclectic playlist).  But beyond that, things promise to be pretty traditional.

It is worth noting that neither my fiance nor I have ever been married before.  This is our first - and ONLY - wedding.  And while being of "advanced age" puts us within different budgetary parameters with different financial priorities, there are certain things WE want out of this wedding.  And among those things are a number of traditional practices and formalities.  I won't apologize for that.  I won't feel guilty about thinking "inside the box" on certain things, because perhaps the reason I'm choosing to be there is because that's where I feel comfortable and happy.  Comfortable and happy are two things I most certainly WANT to feel about my wedding day.  And in this day of everyone trying to outdo the last hot "different" thing, perhaps traditional is the new different.  Our day, our way.