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From Their Mouths to Your Ears

A group of recent New York brides spill on their wedding-planning thrills and fiascoes.


Illustration by Olivier Kugler  

Alex, 32 ........dinner and dancing at Angel Orensanz Foundation
Nina, 32............two-day multicultural wedding in the Catskills
Ramona, 38 ..................evening wedding at Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Chloe, 37 .........outdoor reception at parents’ residence upstate
Sita, 35.........................four-day Indian extravaganza in Manhattan
Meg, 28.....................................................formal wedding in the Hamptons
Raeanne, 29...multicultural wedding at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Daphne, 29.................................black-tie party at the University Club


The Engagement
“When it happened I didn’t cry as much as my mother, who lost her mind.”

Anyone resort to strong-arming?
Raeanne: Sort of. We had been dating for five years. Would I have waited five more? Probably not.
Alex: I had help. My husband has a group of eight best friends; as soon as one proposed, it was like dominoes. He was so happy not to go first.

How long were your engagements?
Nina: A year and a half. I wasn’t looking forward to the planning.
Meg: You were smart! We didn’t give ourselves time to enjoy it. Our engagement quickly became about money and feeling guilt about wanting certain things. That sucked.
Sita: Mine was six months. Intense. We wanted summer and didn’t want to live with wedding planning for that long.
Raeanne: The upside of our one- and-a-half-year engagement was getting our first-choice venue, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and paying 2007 prices for our 2008 wedding.

Did you pay for your wedding?
Raeanne: Well, we paid for the band.
Chloe: We paid for part of ours—not the lion’s share. My mother said, “If you elope, we’ll just give you the money and you can use it for a down payment.”
Meg: Mine too!
Raeanne: Mine too!
Chloe: Now I feel horrible for choosing a party!
Meg: I felt so wasteful. Vendors told me to take the money and run. They told me that we’d regret it when we’re their age, and I thought, You can say that now because you’ve already had yours.
Ramona: For me, the party was so much for my parents.
Sita: We considered eloping, but my dad would have killed us.


The Planning
“I was prepared not to be human for the month before the wedding. I felt like a machine. I never slept.”

Did any of you hire a wedding planner?
Meg: We did. My family and my husband didn’t get along with her.
Daphne: I didn’t have the best experience. We hired somebody for the day of. She came in and started contacting the vendors without talking to us, changing times after things had already been set.
Nina: I hired Preeti Shah of Spotlight Style—she was incredible for day of. I had two weddings: an Indian reception on Friday night and a Western wedding on Saturday.
Alex: We interviewed ten. With each one we were like, Eh. And for the money you’re paying! We asked our venue who they like working with and who had worked there before. It was the best strategy. It’s been several months since our wedding and I still miss my planner, Eyal Tessler of In Any Event, every day.

How involved were your parents?
Raeanne: I fought with Mom about silly things I didn’t want to spend money on—like, she really wanted valet parking. Also, she wanted her name and my father’s name on the invitations, and I wanted them to come from us. She said, “No, we’re hosting this. I want our names on it.” The wedding brings out a whole other side of people.
Meg: My mom didn’t think navy blue was formal enough for our invites. I went back to Kate’s Paperie like 18 times.
Sita: My dad wanted these really traditional, enormous multilayered invitations from India, which I wanted nothing to do with. I ended up ordering them; they came, Dad saw them, they were not loved, and they were returned.

How involved were your grooms?
Alex: Very.
Meg: Surprisingly opinionated.
Raeanne: His thing was the music. We hired the Lou Davis Band and they were incredible. But other than that, he couldn’t get into the details. My mother and I are very detail-oriented, and he got tired of hearing about it.

Did the wedding planning take a toll on your relationship?
Sita: It was six months of planning, with no mother involved. The two of us planned everything. I would have meltdowns and yell at him.
Alex: We fought. My husband would say, “You’re going to drive me insane. You just need to make a decision!” But you stress about every decision. All of a sudden, you can’t make one. At one point we decided to schedule times to talk about the wedding. We said, “You know what? We can’t talk about this all the time!”
Sita: My husband would say, “You’re more than the wedding.” It became my mantra: I’m more than this wedding; this wedding does not define me.


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