‘A Practical Wedding Planner’ – Review & Giveaway

Four years ago, I bought and reviewed the first A Practical Wedding book, companion to the similarly-titled website, with positivity and excitement. When Meg bustled through Austin on her whirlwind book tour, I was there too. She mentioned, during her talk at BookWoman, that she was interested in writing another book — perhaps after a nap. And so. Book number two is here: a different book, one that’s a little more action-based than the previous.

Long story short, the A Practical Wedding Planner (list price $19.99), is a handy-dandy piece of wedding planning that is actually pretty darn useful. You can scroll down to win a copy of your own. Or, hop down and read my quick review.

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To be completely honest with you, I had my doubts about this new book when it was out for pre-order. I thought, “What could possibly be covered now?” Between the 2011 guidebook, the website’s oft-updated front page and growing archives, and downloadable spreadsheets available online, I wondered if it was going to be a redundant piece of fluff. I bought my copy to see if it was worth suggesting to my couples, or warn them not to waste their money. So for me to read it, cover to cover, and have my skepticism blown away actually speaks really highly of this book. It’s useful! It’s smart! It’s handy! 

See, the first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebrationgets you into the headspace of planning a wedding. For many of us, our wedding is the first wedding that we’ve ever had to plan. Figuring out how to approach wedding planning, then feeling right about our decisions, is what the original APW book is all about.

This companion book, A Practical Wedding Planner (“APWP”), coaxes you into actually taking action. Meg starts by asking you to think of your wedding’s “thesis” — not colors or theme, but the takeaway that you want your guests to feel after the wedding is over. (Best dance party? Amazing spiritual experience? Warm, casual vibe?) Then build your wedding around that thesis.

While the planner, at around 9×7″ (notably bigger than the novel-sized 2011 guidebook), isn’t quite large enough to feel like it’s an essential replacement of a wedding-planning binder, it feels more like a notebook and has wide margins so you can scribble all in it (there are some dedicated spots for you to fill in your plans, but for the most part, the book tracks out to-do’s). It’s divided into sections that you can jump to depending on where you are in your planning process: budgets, venues, catering, etc.

The best part about this book is that it can be scaled up or down depending on the type of wedding you’re going to have: Meg doesn’t assume that you’ll be having a giant wedding, a tiny one, or that you’ll hire all of the vendors that most wedding-planning books recommend you to hire. She outlines DIY projects, describes the risks and rewards of DIY, and suggests how to get the most out of DIY planning. It’s a little bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Want to do your own makeup? Here’s the path to take. Interested in arranging your own flowers? Here is what you need to look out for.

Where APW used voices from married couples, describing how they created an authentic wedding instead of going with the traditional or expected, APWP interviews wedding professionals. These seasoned vendors explain how to get the best deals from different vendors (hint: it’s not always about negotiating, but by understanding what is typically included in the industry norm and what are additional fees), as well as the best questions to ask the vendors you’re vetting to work your wedding.

Some of the best stuff is in the nitty gritty: there’s a chart of flowers, when they’re in season, their price ranges, and good substitutes. There’s an alcohol calculator. There are sample timelines, sample ceremonies of many religions and cultures, and even guidelines on how to address your invites in a “gently feminist” way.

In short, should you get this book if you’re planning a wedding?

Resounding YES.

a practical wedding planner

Here’s the fun part…

Win a copy of this book!

I would love to give away a copy of the A Practical Wedding Planner to anyone planning a wedding or someone who knows anyone planning a wedding. You don’t even have to be in Texas to win! :)

Here’s how to win:

– Leave a comment on this blog entry with your name, valid email address (required to leave a comment), and who the book is for — with the understanding that if your name is chosen, you’ll have to give me your address so I can send you the book. Then “like” this post’s Facebook button (the blue one at the bottom).

That’s it! Be sure to get your blog comment in by January 31, 2016 by 11:59 PM CST, as the drawing will take place on February 1, 2016.

I’d appreciate if you went to the Elissa R Photography fan page and “liked” it if you haven’t already, but it’s not required to win!

Just so you know, new commenters have to have their comments approved, so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately.

A winner will be drawn randomly out of a hat on February 1, 2016 and the winner will be notified no later than February 7, 2016. The book will ship out to the winner within 2 weeks of notification.

Disclosure: The link to the book is through my Amazon affiliate account so if you purchase the book via the link I will receive a small portion of that sale. Giveaway fine print: You must be at least 18 years old and a US resident to enter. The book is a $20 value. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Once contacted by email, the winner will have 24 hours to claim the prize or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase is necessary & void where prohibited by law. I am NOT receiving any kickbacks from APW for this giveaway, as I am the only sponsor of the giveaway. 

Even if you don’t win, I would recommend that you purchase a copy of the book!

Katie & Lacey | Colorful Outdoor Wedding

starry night wedding photo

Whatever I say about this wedding, it won’t be enough. Lacey is a well-known poet and the majority of the guests were eloquent, beautiful speakers, whose toasts brought raucous laughter and happiness. My words pale in comparison.

Katie and Lacey were wed at Casa Rio de Colores, a funky, multicolored house filled with eclectic stuff. The moods were joyous; the crowd, loving. After a heartfelt ceremony at the river’s edge, hugs, and cake, everyone celebrated in the cool October night. It was only a few months since the Supreme Court decision, and Lacey shared their marriage certificate with a triumphant: “To those who oppose same-sex marriage… How do you like them apples?” Every ecstatic face during the reception fed my happy soul. Love, love, love.

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More credits: Casa Rio de Colores; 3 of Cups Events (coordination); Wahoo’s Tacos (catering); DJ Digg; family and friends

Friends and family can view their entire gallery and order photos here. 

Deb & Zac | Awesome Wedding with Lipsync Battle

austin wedding photography

Cloudless. October in Texas can be a gamble; it can be pouring rain and shivering cold, or sunny and warm — and that is what greeted us on Deb and Zac’s wedding day. Six years ago exactly, I was getting married on a day bookended by pouring-down rain; our wedding guests had wrapped themselves up in shawls and coats to keep warm. But this year, the sun winked merrily on the sprawling golf course at the Omni Barton Creek resort.

Most of the guests were from the north, surprised by our odd weather, but enjoying wearing open-toed shoes. Zac and his groomsmen were all New England Patriots fans (just check out his cake!), and the vows may have included some choice words about constant love, even through the waxing and waning of the Patriots’ wins (or losses).

After a spectacular lipsync battle helmed by Greenbelt DJ — starting with Zac and BSB’s “Everybody” (my jammmm) and ending with the victorious Deb dubsmashing the hell out of Sia’s “Chandelier” — everybody partied down with glow sticks, dropped at the perfect time by Mandy of MWE. My cheeks still hurt from grinning.

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Credits: Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa (venue & catering); Modern Whimsy Events (coordination); Greenbelt DJ; Pollen Floral Art; Mariachi Cuicani (mariachi band); EJ McMahon with Lasting Luxe (hair); Avery Allen (makeup); Coleman Jennings (videography); Sweet Treets Bakery