Brides-to-be are bombarded with extravagant ideas. Everywhere you turn, well-meaning advice-givers offer tips on how to make your wedding more spectacular than anyone else's.
In case the modest and sensible side of you is seeking advice from the other perspective, here are some tempered thoughts from local women.
A Los Altos Hills mom had this to say: "A couple should spend more time preparing for their marriage than preparing for their wedding. It is not the wedding day - it is the years to follow that matter the most. The weddings I have been to lately have been very over the top, and that is not a value of mine."
Los Altos Hills resident Michele Harrison tells her daughters that an extravagant wedding is out of the question. She said, "The important thing is not the wedding - which has turned into pure hype, from magazines to television and especially Hollywood. Girls are bombarded with the idea of the 'fairytale' wedding from a very young age." Harrison added that weddings have transformed into a megabusiness.
"We have always tried to explain to our daughters that what matters is not the dress or the cake - it's the marriage - the life that begins when the honeymoon ends, the lifelong commitment to partnership, compromise, hard work, support and often doing things we don't really want to do.
"Saying the vows and remembering the commitment should really overshadow matching flowers and shoes to silk organza. This can be done very beautifully in a small, intimate setting among family and friends who are there to wish you well along the journey."
Janet Jorgensen, a Los Altos resident, said, "Sometimes you have to let go of the fantasies you may have had about location. Entertainment is more important than location anyway - a great live band can make the party." Jorgensen recommends local band Mack the Knife.
Another local woman recalled causing dismay in her family when she and her husband catered a simple in-home wedding with little more than a deli tray from the local grocery story. She credited her succesful marriage (now 20 years and counting) with her and her husband's shared values.
If such thoughts make sense to you, keep these questions in mind when deciding the scope of your wedding:
• Are you comfortable speaking in front of a large group?
• How do you feel about raiding your parents' retirement fund and/or starting your marriage with drastic debt?
• If you have plenty of money, how do you feel about ostentatious displays of wealth?
• Has your wedding planner ever been married?
• Do you have nerves of steel, or are you likely to crack under the pressure of inevitable complications in a big event? Can you be beautiful while cracking?
• Do you believe that an event can be 100 percent under your conscious control?
• Do you believe that money spent on your wedding could not be put to better use?
• Do you have nothing better to do with your time than plan a wedding?
• Do you think magazines are more concerned with your well-being or with the well-being of their advertisers?
Pam Walatka is a writer and Los Altos Hills resident. To see more of her work, visit www.wildhorses.com.