The AOW A-Z of Getting Married – F is for Fluff

 

The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be.  It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel.  Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there.  From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds.  We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.

To help the A-Z become an even better resource, please leave your tips, advice and comments below. 

F is for Fluff by Becca

I should add that I don’t actually think that this applies to the women that read AOW. I think its just something I would like to get off my chest before I explode so here goes…..

When we started wedding planning I cut pictures out of magazines and saved photos from online (am I the only one that doesn’t get pinterest when you could right click and save?). I started with the odd dress and some nice classic stationary. Nothing wrong with that! Then flick over the page and we’re talking different ways to fold napkins and different lighting all necessary to give our day the big WOW factor. I ended up with pages and pages and pages of crap. Literally….unnecessary crap.

I understand that some brides want to make their day personal. Hell, a wedding is about as personal as it gets. But what I don’t understand is how personal translates to décor and personalised “sweetie bars” and not vows. A quick flick through UK magazines and blogs tells you everything you need to know. There is no “this is the song we chose in the ceremony” or “this is the reading we had” or “I felt like I was in a bubble”. What you actually get is “I chose this jewellery” and “I picked this dress because” or “I got my bridesmaid dresses from X,Y,Z”. Isn’t that all just….mindless fluff?

I read a Guardian Article (I know…must have been having a liberal day) and it was discussing the “Princess for a Day” phenomenon. The article (from 2010 but its still amazing and had me nodding along at my desk) followed the comments made by Rev Dr Giles Fraser, the canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, on Radio 4′s thought for the day. Rev Dr Fraser said that modern weddings and their trappings were “becoming a threat to marriage itself”. Wow…that’s a bit strong when I’m pretty sure that if I wanted to get married in St Paul’s Cathedral it would take more than “I sometimes eat my lunch on your steps”. But I think maybe he has a point?

Rev Dr Fraser continued that modern weddings were “specifically designed to be all about ‘me’”. You all already know my feelings on the complete and utter selfishness of the whole “Your Day Your Way” pish that the wedding industry pedals so I won’t start on it here. Needless to say it’s not “your day, your way” if you are made to feel like your wedding will be worthless if it’s not blogged, featured or otherwise and obviously it can’t be blogged or featured on such car crash TV unless its “different” and features a variation of the following: sweetie bars, arrows with signs, photo booths, bunting, sloe gin (made by the fairies that live in your garden obviously), hay bales (even at a City wedding) or 8 bridesmaids all wearing different vintage dresses owned by their relevant grandmothers which have been single handedly repaired/darned/altered by the bride whilst riding a tandem bicycle . Repeat: Your wedding does not need to be “alternative” or blogged or in a magazine to be amazingly personal and the best day of your life.

I could go on to talk about how commercialization and trends aren’t new. Many traditions we deem essential, like wedding rings, are made up by the wedding industry as late as the 20th century. Turns out some guy in America wanted to cash in and turned an ancient Roman tradition of women wearing rings into the argument that men should wear them too. For the record TBTMMO’s not having one and no I don’t think or am worried (1) about it’s because he wants to cheat on me (still can’t believe someone actually said this to me) or (2) about what a bad feminist I am for not demanding that he wear one (are you kidding?!).

But what makes me cringe is that we all do it. I’m worse than anyone. I go to wedding fairs even though I hate them. And I read magazines and blogs as soon as they hit the shelves. The fact is that I don’t know anyone that doesn’t buy into the world of weddings because I don’t know anyone that got married in their lunchtime in their jeans at the registry office.  Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with wanting a nice dress and buying dinner for 150 people that have supported you for your whole life. You do it once. I shall enjoy every second of it. What is there is something massively wrong with is thinking that it’s OK to ignore the fact that it’s all got a bit ridiculous. Have the balls to at least own that.

You must read this by Rebecca Mead. She’s a billion times more articulate than I am:

 

Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
39 interesting thoughts on this

38 Comments

  1. Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Exceptional piece. Agree with your points…superbly put, Becca.

    The bit I disagree with is:
    “But what makes me cringe is that we all do it. ”

    I didnt. I’m not saying that as though it’s a badge of honour, as in some ways it was probably naive of me. But I didn’t touch wedding mags with a barge pole and wouldn’t have thought to look online at wedding blogs…it was after our wedding that I realised that whole wedding blogging world even existed.

    I don’t like having to put up with bullsh*t in any aspect of my life so certainly didn’t want to go near the wedding fairs, magazines etc. it’s selling a world that is entirely false, in my opinion. Off to have a read of that Guardian article.

  2. Katy
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I know feel a little bit guilty that as we speak my uncle is off picking sloes… He says it keeping him healthy and it will be combined with GIN. I now feel justified.

    Otherwise, I totally agree. A wedding is “personal” because it is your own love story, what else do you need?

    • Katy
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      *now. Gin is seeping into my brain. Oh well.

    • Becca
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I love sloe gin. We have sloe gin all the time at home. Its people that never have sloe gin ever but then have it because it fits in with their Alice in Wonderland drink me theme that irritate me….have sloe gin/elderflower cordial/pommegranate vodka because YOU love it.

      And NEVER feel guilty about anything YOU BOTH want in YOUR DAY (unless you are being a completely selfish madam in accordance with the your day your way school of thought…in which case..stand in the corner)

  3. Fee
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with all of what you’re saying about the ‘fluff’ being ridiculous. It has all got a bit crazy. I personally didn’t ever read wedding magazines for this very reason and because I didn’t want to get overwhelmed with what the wedding industry thought I ‘should’ be doing.

    However, I think that if all of the fluff makes someone happy they should do it- for example, I had a photo booth because I wanted one. I’m glad I did. Equally, I have friends who are desperate to be a princess for the day – and if that what makes them happy, they should have that.

    Esentially, I am agreeing with you – people should do what feels right for them, whether that’s a full blown castle extravaganza or a registry office in jeans. It becomes ridiculous when people do it for the wrong reasons (ie. to make it blogworthy, whatever that means).

    Caveat: This does not mean I am on board with the ‘Your Day, Your Way’ ethos at the cost of everyone else. That makes me cross.

  4. Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Hell. Yes.

    I’m pretty much exactly the same as you – started off all gung-ho about not conforming to the crazed-wedding-circus-industry demands that I sacrifice either my entire wage/all hours of the day/sanity/grandmother on the alter of weddingdom… then before you know it I was pinning (my desktop is a mess as it is without me right-clicking-and-saving every picture of a cute bridesmaids dress!) all sorts of crap.

    The funniest thing, was that on the day, all those little “extras” that I’d thought would make our day that little bit more special (cake table with cute handwritten cards, stripey straws, etc) were not looked at by ANYONE – me included! I was too busy actually having fun with my brand new husband and the people I love! I forgot to get a single photo of the cakes that I’d persuaded friends and family to spend time making, and I headed home the next day with a pile of paper straws that no-one had used!

    Essay finished.

    • Becca
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      “started off all gung-ho about not conforming to the crazed-wedding-circus-industry demands that I sacrifice either my entire wage/all hours of the day/sanity/grandmother on the alter of weddingdom…”

      I wish I’d thought of this line…..

  5. Frances
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant post and interesting article.

    i was thinking about wedding magazines this morning – and came to the conclusion that they are pretty frothy, but I like to use them for design ideas and light reading (I like seeing what other people are doing but that’s mainly just because I am admittedly nosey). I think as long as you take them with a pinch of salt it’s ok.

    Also reading that article, it makes me sad that there are brides out there writing “if we can get through this, we can get through anything”! Maybe we haven’t hit that point yet but we’ve really been enjoying planning ours together and it’s been a lot of fun so far…

    • Becca
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      We’re having fun too now although I’m pretty sure that he wasn’t at the start when I went a bit bridezilla.

      I think the trick to enjoying it is to not let it consume you. We barely talk about the wedding at home at all and tend to have one day every few months where we absolutely blitz about 15 things and I get really excited about crossing them off the list. I also tend to do much research so when we do discuss it I can say “which one out of these three” rather than “lets look at 60,000 options”.

      I should also add to the wedding magazines that just feature the same weddings as blogs…you do not deserve my £4.90 and I’m going to go and spend it on a christmas box of shortbread from M & S.

      • Frances
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        We do talk about our wedding to each other a lot,, yes about fluff but also about how much we are looking forward to being married and why we are choosing certain aspects of the ceremony etc. It’s all about fluff perspective – know why you’re having the elements you’ve chosen and really enjoy having them.

        And heh, I love those wedding blitz days/weeks. I do research too as otherwise he ends up agreeing that he likes every option I’ve found which is nice but not overly useful!

  6. Katie
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Becca, I agree fluff is a bit silly, but quite a nice hobby, if that’s what you like.

    Unlike Frankie, I fell for some of the fluff. I had a word document of copied and pasted pictures from the web. I love spreadsheets, and started one, as soon as we got back from holiday, and put every.single.cost in it, including stamps. I know it’s not fluff, but it’s possibly a bit OTT.

    My wedding planning obsession went in stops and starts, I very quickly got bored of looking at stationery. I have always had these obsessions though, whether it be planning a wedding, decorating the living room (so much fun choosing fabrics/sofas/pictures etc), or even planning a holiday (I selfishly refuse to go on package holidays, just for the fun I’d miss out on, in organising it all myself). My current obsession is what pushchair for our baby (not due till February).

    As long as you are not of the mindset, “it’s my wedding day, it’s what I want, with no thought to anyone else” , and you can afford it, and the fluff doesn’t stress you, then why not have fluff.

    xx

    • Katy
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Is it bad that the repeated use of the word “fluff” is making me think of that American marshmallow spread? Having that at your wedding would be fluff-y :)

    • Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes this is me – part of the fun in life is planning (oh dear how sad do I sound) I absolutely love planning holidays and wedding planning has just taken over on that for now. The fluff is exciting and interesting but for the most part we have decided unnecessary, still fun to browse though! :-) xox

      • Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Oh and I love the section in the APW book about wedding traditions and how they aren’t really traditions at all. xox

    • Becca
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Katie, I’m not against fluff. God, we have crap loads of fluff. Hook line and sinker for some of the fluff. Its about not wanting to be so caught up in the fluff and whether the focus on fluff takes the focus away from the ceremony, the vows, the friends and family. I’ve known people get so caught up in the most amazing venue which goes with their “theme” that they’ve had to cut their guest list in half. Which, in my opinion, is wrong. A wedding is the declaration of marriage infront of friends and family and you shouldn’t cut off half of that friends and family because you like the decor.

      Also….I bet I could out spreadsheet you as mine has “Postage Save the Dates, Envelope Save the Dates” and then the same for Invitations.

      • Katie
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I agree Becca, it’s being courteous and thinking about your guests requirements, not just your own. I’m sure there is a balance.

        I doubt you could out spreadsheet me! Just had a quick look at mine:

        Sheet 1 – budget and actual expenditure
        Sheet 2 – to do list
        Sheet 3 – gantt chart (schedule in run up)
        Sheet 4 – on the day timings
        Sheet 5 – guest list day (with addresses and note on gifts received for thank yous)
        Sheet 6 – guest list night (again with addresses and gift received for thank yous)
        Sheet 7 – table plan

        I’ve already got one with similar detail for baby. Feeling embarrassed now, I’m going to have to slink off to corner.

        xx

        • Posted September 28, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

          Pleeeease tell me that there is a G is for Gantt Chart post coming up next week?

        • Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

          This is brilliant Katie! You are so organised! I’d love to hear about the baby one!

  7. Mrs Jones
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    *mmmmmm fluff…..*

    I do agree and I have to say that I definitely fell for the fluff… I really wanted our wedding to feature on a certain polka dotted blog and I will admit to being gutted when it didn’t feature. I felt that maybe my day wasn’t as amazing as I’d thought it was and maybe I wasn’t beautiful or blushing enough (!) It took me back to not being the popular girl at school…

    It’s really bad that a blog had such an influence on my choices and I was so relieved when I found AOW as it was filled with women who weren’t obsessing over how pretty your wedding is/was/will be but how full of love your day should be.

    I agree that many of us get wrapped up in the pretty and forget why we were actually getting married in the first place.

    • Katy
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I know the feeling (kind-of-not-really) as I plucked up the courage slowly to write my first comment there and got ignored, but when I did the same here people replied and asked me to contribute to the AtoZ.
      It seems like we should have some kind of rejection counselling forum on here? (or maybe just a forum to allow for more chatter/discussion). Or we should ALL become pen pals.

      I am sure your wedding was the most beautiful thing to the 2 of you and therefore to everyone who was there.

      • Lara Blue
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        Katy- I find that Twitter acts as an unofficial AOW forum so if you don’t have it, then get it :) I am MissLaraBlue (although technically I’m a Mrs now!).
        Mrs Jones- I think rejections (whatever their scale or context) bring out all our insecurities and secret (or not so secret) fears and feelings of inadequacy. Just focus on the fact that the day was amazing for you, your friends and family and that you married the person you love :)

    • Becca
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Mrs Jones. Repeat after me:
      “The reason my wedding was not on a blog is because I did not pay their sponsors enough. Or I did not copy the wedding of the blog owner. Not because my wedding was not perfect or I was not blushing enough”.

      If you haven’t sent in your AOP we DEMAND you do so now (if you have…sorry…people have different names on their AOP to their comment name and it confuses me)

  8. Posted September 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Guys I’m just going to put it out there that I’m all for a bit of fluff!

    It’s your wedding. Fluff it up.

    Of course blogs and magazines talk about the fluff and not the other stuff. They are entirely sponsored by the fluff providers. Their main aim is to sell you the fluff. You don’t have to be crazy about it or feel bad or pressured from the industry. I bet even the person who goes and gets married in their lunch break in their jeans got some new jeans. Or nice knickers or something.

    I certainly didn’t consider myself to be a ‘princess for the day’ but I did want it to look nice, to look different to just a lunch with friends or a birthday. I really did. Not because a blog or a magazine told me to.

    • Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes! And what this reminded me was that I have witnessed lots of these beautiful weddings and you know what? You can’t judge a wedding by its cover. Some of the most humbling, touching weddings have also happened to have the fluff. But you might not see that in the photos, you had to *be* there. Crying behind your camera. You also don’t know if the fluff was authentic unless you know the couple, their lifestyle, their family and friends. And what if it’s not authentic? What does that really matter if the day is still about two people commiting to each other and celebrating with people that matter to them?

      • Lexie
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

        That’s got me thinking! Like like like.

    • Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Exactly Anna! You’re completely right. Which is why it’s so annoying that wedding magazines are such ‘A Thing’ nowadays. It’s slightly depressing that many brides won’t have found any alternatives eg. AOW and that they’re getting sucked in by the magazines, and possibly not realising they’re giving a warped view of everything. (Like women’s mags generally which it’s taken me all these years to realise are actually pretty awful!)

  9. Posted September 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I think for me as an observer and lover of weddings and merry making of any kind it is about authenticity.

    Ladies and Gentlemen if your wedding is honest and true to you, you’ll love it and have one hell of a time. The sloe gin point is a great example. In our case it was jam favours. My dad grows fruit and my mum is a regular jam maker. She has a ‘shop’ in her utility where she kerps her stash. It was a crazy feat for them to pull off a couple of days before the wedding, all things considered, especially as we had a ‘the favours are you’re coming to our wedding and getting fed and watered all day for free’ rule. But they did it. Sneaky parents.

    If you’re doing things because you think its the done thing then take a tip from Mr Stendall. When about to buy/make/do something for your wedding, ask yourself ‘will it make any difference to your marriage in 20 years?’. If the answers no (and it almost always will be) maybe you shouldn’t do it. In fact you almost definitely shouldn’t if you’re sticking to the Stendall rule. That was our motto and it definitely curbed our costs as well as leanings to insanity. And of course some fluff snuck in there. Hehe. It’s pretty, we liked it, don’t apologise. I’m not. But not as much fluff as if I’d let my inspiration folder vom all over our day. And on the day it felt authentic and us.

    • Becca
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      The issue isn’t about the fluff or how beautiful a wedding is because the whole point is that everyone EVERYONE has fluff and EVERY wedding is beautiful. Even if its small teeny tiny pieces like the dress or fancy outfit or new shoes (which pretty much 99.99999% of brides will have) or the reception (which 99.999999% of couples will have). I don’t have a problem with fluff – I have a problem with the wedding industry making out like the fluff is the most important thing in the world.

      The point is that the fluff has become a focus. And it shouldn’t be. It should be about the vows and the commitment. We are getting married in a civil ceremony because we have issues with the whole religion thing but I sometimes think we are missing out on the marriage preparation courses. It has nothing to do with improving relationships and everything to do with focus about WHY you’re doing this. Maybe civil ceremonies should include something like it? So you’re made to think less about the fluff and more about the FABRIC of what a marriage is in the run up when you’re doing all kind of crazy things like stressing about tying ribbons onto the right shape of napkins.

      • Lara Blue
        Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Becca- From what I understand, you’re saying that it’s important to not let all the “fluff” become the main focus of the wedding and to remember that you’re entering into a marriage. As for not getting a religious ceremony- we didn’t have one but had a celebrant perform the ceremony instead (slightly different from a civil ceremony with a registrar as in that case you’re not allowed to have any religious elements whatsoever) and although we had traditional vows, we also wrote our own to say before. The day before the wedding we were both panicking as we hadn’t written them yet and my husband turned to me and said that even if we didn’t manage to do them for the ceremony then we should do them after as he wanted to say all the things he had been thinking and felt that it was important to articulate them. As it turns out, we managed and by their own admission, 90% of our guests were in tears, particularly over his vows so I’ve been teasing him ever since that he stole the show :)
        I think that, even if you can’t incorporate something like this in the ceremony or it feels too personal or too much to do in front of everyone, it might be nice to each write something and do it on honeymoon or when you get back….just a thought :)

      • Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think people in the industry do think it’s more important than the marriage, how many have you asked in person? I think weddings have become commercialised, of course, they are more glamorous for your average person than they were in the old days but its still about the same thing. Two people getting married. A few years ago the only way you could have a civil wedding was in a register office, now beautiful country homes and castles are available. Things move on and couples want it to. It’s supply and demand/ chicken and egg thing really, isn’t it.? Is it the industry or is it brides who take responsibility for making weddings what they are today? Because people can and do say no.

        • Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          The wedding industry is just that- an industry, they have to make a living so of course have to market these things as important but at the same time if you read most photographers or florists or balloon sculpture artists’ blogs they will talk about the love and the vows etc etc that they saw at specific weddings.

          With the way print is going- If the more mainstream magazines focussed on those things they would alienate people over religious/cultural/same sex views etc so they have probably found it safer to stick with the stuff side of things.

          I dunno. I guess it’s a bit like London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week and Vogue and all that fashion stuff- they’d have you believing you’re not a person if you don’t have an ‘it’ bag (because they have to sell the it bags) but I buy most of my clothes in H&M and know I am in fact, a person but I can pick out some of that fashion stuff to know when I’ve found a Hermes scarf in a charity shop. (weird analogy but I hope you know what I mean)

          I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you Becca that it shouldn’t be bigger than the marriage or the vows exchanged and I’m not arguing that it is AT ALL. It’s just that I do actually think the fluff is important. It is worthy of a bit of focus. It’s the stuff you choose to make your wedding the day of celebration. It’s like choosing to get balloons and candles on a birthday or picking out specific flowers for a funeral. A marker of the day. Because it’s one of the biggest celebrations of your life so why wouldn’t you want some physical markers even if you just have a flower in your hair as you elope with no pomp or ceremony?

          Even if you do marriage classes you’re still thinking about what you’re going to feed people and where and about what you want it all to look like. Even if you have very little of those details they’re still important.

          I feel a bit silly saying all this in the comments but I’m surprised how strongly I’m on #teamfluff

          • Posted September 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

            P.S. I hate the word Bridezilla and absolutely disagree with the ‘my day, my way’ thing. I don’t agree with it being all about ‘me’ either and on the whole agree with the article you linked to.

            It’s just I think when you say the fluff shouldn’t have focus that’s not quite right either.

            It’s a balance I guess and llike other commenters have said about not letting it get to your head or out of perspective.

            • Becca
              Posted September 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

              I didn’t say that fluff shouldn’t have focus I said it shouldn’t be THE focus. Blogs can cover both….look at polka dot bride in Australia, practical wedding in the USA and AOW in the UK.. It’s just not covered at all in the UK outside of here. Magazines can cover things other than their advertisers. Look at Marie Claire…they cover real life as well as fashion.

    • Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Good tip from Mr Stendall there. I like it.

  10. Posted September 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    All I’m going to say is I love that Giles Fraser has made it onto the pages of AOW. Am a big fan of his, by the way he’s now Priest in charge at St. Mary’s, Newington, Elephant & Castle way.

  11. Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    This was a brilliant discussion and it has struck a chord with me! More please!

  12. Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    This is interesting… Not what I expected when I got back to a computer this morning.

    I think (what I gleaned from all of this) that:

    a) It’s not all about the bride, it’s about a couple so the princess for a day thing is kind of the wrong message

    b) Do whatever you like with regards to fluff but try and do things meaningful to you and not because they are on trend /in all the magazines/ your wedding won’t be personal unless you have x, y and z

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    [...] weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel Original post: F is for Fluff An Original Edwardian Wedding Dress for a 1960s Mod Inspired …Lady Of The Lake: A Styled Bridal [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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