How to survive a Southern wedding

(Maggie reminded me today that I haven’t given y’all nearly enough details about my wedding, aka the BIGGEST DAY OF MY LIFE.  Therefore, you can thank her for this wedding-related post.)

As a young girl, I never played at being a bride.  I never dreamed about my wedding, never fantasized about my perfect dress, never poured over wedding magazines.  I can’t rattle off styles of bustles; I don’t know the different shapes of bouquets; I can’t tell organza from tulle.  I never thought I’d be getting married at all, much less be getting married this side of 30.

Thusly, when the Boo proposed back in August 2012, I immediately assumed we’d have a low-key wedding, with 50 or so guests, possibly held in the city where we’d both gone to college, maybe with a band that played music we could all shag to, likely with an afterparty at one of our favorite dive bars, with cheap beers poured into red solo cups.

But in the South, a wedding is not just a wedding.  It’s a Wedding.  It’s an excuse to throw parties, to eat, to drink, to laugh, to get together with old friends and far-flung acquaintances.  It’s an occasion to show everyone just how darn hospitable you are.  I was truly and utterly unprepared for the consequences of being the only daughter, and the eldest granddaughter, in a southern family.

Allow me to share some of the things I’ve learned during the process of planning a wedding in the South.

One. The wedding is not about you.  Southern brides-to-be, get this through your head now.  This marriage is about your parents, who are paying for the whole shindig.  Evidence: I wanted a 50-person wedding in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I’m getting a 250 person wedding in my hometown in Florida.  I wanted a “rustic chic” feel with burlap accents.  I’m getting an “elegant winter wedding” with silver Chiavari chairs.  Just accept that your mother has been to 5 different weddings in your hometown over the past 12 months, and she feels the need to top them all.  Therefore, if “rustic chic” is not in style this year, you’d better save your burlap for another occasion.

Two.  Do not underestimate how much your grandparents will drink.  As I mentioned, I’m getting married in small-town Florida.  There are no suitable reception venues (other than our local country club, which may or may not be going bankrupt in the next 30 days) within 20 miles.  Therefore, the ceremony is being held in Smalltown A, while the reception is being held in Slightly Bigger Town B, about 25 minutes away by slow car or fast jog.  My 85-year-old grandfather (who still likes his vodka cold and plentiful) has made it known to me no less than 5 times that he’s highly upset the reception will be so far away, because how is he supposed to get home afterwards?  Just make sure you order enough booze, otherwise you might have a riot of cane-weilding octogenarians on your hands.

Three.  Your engagement is an excuse for other people to party.  The Boo and I have traveled to Florida twice now for two separate engagement parties.  And we’re getting off light.  One of my Dad’s friends shared that when he was getting married, they had no less than six parties thrown in their honor.  For both occasions, all I could think was, between the money we spent to travel down here and the money that was spent on this party, we could have bought a car.  Not a very nice one, but a car nonetheless.  My aunt offered to either throw us a party or put that money towards our honeymoon.  I think you can guess which option the Boo and I wanted, but my mother almost ripped all her hair out at the thought, so we had a party.

Four.  You will know next to no one at your own wedding.  Remember that 50-person guest-list I wanted?  Just wait until your parents get ahold of it.  The list now includes women from my mother’s bible study group, my father’s business associates, men who play poker with my grandfather, and relatives I haven’t seen since I was 8.  True story: at our latest engagement party, my mother had to stand at the door with us to greet guests because she was worried (and rightly so) there would be people coming through the door that neither the Boo or I would know.

Five.  Etiquette-ness is next to Godliness.   Your friends have nicknames?  You’ve called someone by other than their Christian name their entire life?  Too bad.  That’s not the name we’re writing on the invitation envelope.  We need to make invitations formal enough so that they don’t think you actually know who they are.  See point Four above.

So there you have it, friends.  The best advice I can share with you for surviving a Southern wedding.  I hope you can take it and learn from it, and elope if you have the chance!

Note: My parents are the greatest people in the entire world and I love them.  They’re paying for this wedding, so it’s completely up to them to spend their money how they so choose.  I write all of this with love and a sense of humor.

Have you been through a wedding (Southern or otherwise)?  How did you survive?  We have 30 days to go and I’m looking for inspiration!

6 thoughts on “How to survive a Southern wedding

  1. El Guapo

    Many of the lessons you’re learning are ones I’ve seen play out in other weddings.
    When my girl and I got married, we did exactly what we wanted – about 30 people (close friends and immediate family) on a Thursday morning at Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. We gave everyone tickets, showed up with the rest of the tourists and an officiant, and got married in the setting we wanted, the way we wanted.

    Hope your wedding was everything you hoped!

    1. Erin E. Post author

      That sounds awesome! Every time I’ve been in NYC (which is all of twice), it was either too rainy or foggy for us to justify the cost of getting up Top of the Rock. But it’s on my to-do list whenever I can make it back to the city. What a great place to get married! And I’m sure the pictures were incredible!

      Our wedding certainly isn’t going be what I don’t want (the Big Day is February 22, 2014), it’s just not going to be how it would be if we were paying for it and having to plan it ourselves. This is mostly because my mother knows about and can process all the details that I’m too lazy to care about. Honestly, I’m incredibly thankful my mother has stepped up to do it all! The absurdity of traditional weddings just makes my head spin sometimes.

  2. Aussa Lorens

    Oh man, this sounds intimidating. Luckily I don’t have anyone to pay for my (theoretical) wedding except me and my boyfriend (theoretically). Everything about it sort of stresses me out except for the disney princess hiding behind this tough exterior that just wants to glide around in a really pretty, flowey dress.

    1. Erin E. Post author

      Nah, it’s really not that bad! I’m so grateful to my mother, who is handling all the details I just do not care about (like which picture frames we’re using to display baby photos in the restroom, and whether the ribbons on the table vases are “eggshell” or “off white”).

      I agree with you about the inner Disney Princess part – when I went into try on dresses I was all “I want a sophisticated, elegant grown-up dress”. Then I tried on a ballgown, and, well, that was that.

  3. Maggie O'C

    How did I not see this sooner?! Love it and I remember those days. My mother’s line was, “What you want is….”

    🙂 So glad it was fab!


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