A Muse Gets Married, Ch. 5: Save-the-Dates

A Muse Gets Married, Ch. 5: Save-the-Dates

Sending save-the-date notes can be a strain on a wedding timeline, but there are ways to make sure your guests receive the correct information while not going completely bonkers. Angie provides insight into how she approached this for her wedding.

The Wedding Basics, Step Two: The Budget

So, your guest list is finished! Now you have to start thinking about the money.We know, that almost made you close your browser, right? This is no one’s favorite topic. But we promise you’ll feel so much better once you’ve got all the numbers nailed down! Here’s how to land on your final budget without running away screaming.


Who’s Paying for This Party?

If you and your partner are solely funding this event, then this step is easier. Take a look at what’s in your bank account, and figure out how much of it you want to spend.

…Okay, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Some things you might want to take into consideration are how big you’re imagining the wedding to be and what you can’t live without. Maybe it’s a great photographer or a top-notch meal. But whatever it is, start getting some quotes from local vendors to figure out what’s feasible with what you’ve got. And no matter what things are most important, it’s also good to start getting an understanding of the things that will probably cost the most no matter what, like the venue and catering.

But let’s talk for now about if someone else is paying for your wedding. You may know right off the bat if your family is willing to contribute, but if you don’t, please borrow our script on how you can non-awkwardly ask them:

“Hey [Mom/Dad/Aunt Betty]! We’re so excited to start planning our wedding, and are sitting down today to get the budget figured out. There’s no pressure to contribute, but we wanted to find out now if there’s anything you felt strongly enough about having at the wedding that you’d like to help pay for it. If not, then we’ll just look forward to celebrating with you on the day-of! Can’t wait!”

Obviously feel free to adjust this as needed, but what we hope to accomplish here is both to find out if anyone wants to contribute and also to set the clear ground rule that if your family really, really, really wants you to have flowers at the wedding, and you personally don’t care if there are flowers or not, then they can either offer to contribute them or accept your final call on where the money gets spent. Which leads us to…

The Payments and the Power

If you’re paying for the wedding entirely on your own, you may wind up having a smaller affair, but you also get to completely decide every detail. If someone else is paying for it, then like it or not, their opinion matters.

Obviously, this is still your wedding, so you’ll need to decide how much control you’re willing to give away. If someone offers to, say, pay for your wedding outfit, but then will only pay for it if you pick the one they like, maybe that’s money you don’t want to take.

The best way to work with the people paying for your wedding is to start laying down ground rules from the get-go. What are you willing to compromise on? What absolutely has to stay the way you’ve pictured? Try to have a conversation with the person who’s funding the wedding about what accepting that money means and how much of a say that person is now expecting to have. Getting these big, hard conversations out of the way early on will mean a much more relaxed wedding planning process down the line.

Where the Money Goes

Once you’ve got your budget all figured out, you have to decide where to spend it. Let’s get back to talking about where you want the money to go. What’s most important to you? Being able to invite whoever you want? Decor? Hair and makeup? Narrow it down to three things that are really important to you so that when you have to start making hard choices, you know what’s been important to you from the get-go.

One of the things that was most important to my husband and me was inviting the guests we wanted to invite and making sure they felt comfortable. That meant arranging shuttles to and from their hotels, hosting a brunch the day after the wedding so we could spend more time with them, and putting together lists of things they could do if they were traveling from out of town and staying a few extra days in our city. Overall, this meant more of our time and money went to our guests than to many other parts of our wedding, but that’s what made us happy.

So, what will make you happy? You may not be able to have everything on your list in just the way you pictured, but by picking a few key things that you want your time and money to go to, you’ll still wind up with a wedding you can happily tell stories about for the rest of your life.

Lifting the Veil: The History Behind One of Our Oldest Wedding Traditions


Wearing a veil to your wedding is a tradition with roots so deep that it predates white wedding gowns. And like many other wedding traditions, this one exists because of the patriarchy. We’re all surprised, I’m sure. That said, I still wore a veil to my wedding. I’ll get to my own reasoning why, but first, let’s ask a much bigger “why:” why do we wear veils at all?

Origin of the Bridal Veil

From Judaism to Christianity to Hinduism, wedding ceremonies have involved veils for thousands of years. Ancient cultures used veils to hide the bride from evil spirits, but as time went on, veils became a symbol of purity and chastity – yet another way to signal to everyone present that the bride was a virgin. There’s some speculation that in the cases of arranged marriages, the veil was lifted from the bride’s face so she could be presented to the groom either right before or after the ceremony for approval. The “right before the ceremony” lore says that the groom and his family had to make sure they were being given the right daughter and weren’t the victims of a bait-and-switch. The “after the ceremony” lore says that the veil is lifted after marriage in case the groom doesn’t like what he sees. Then the marriage is already finalized and he can’t back out.

And these are all lovely traditions surely designed to make women feel wonderful about themselves.


A funny side effect of those long-ago veils from Ancient Greece and Rome? They were floor length and flame-colored, and while they definitely obscured the bride’s face, they also obscured her vision. That’s why brides were walked down the aisle by someone. They couldn’t see and someone had to make sure the bride wouldn’t trip and fall.

The Veil in Everyday Life

Veils weren’t just a symbol of the bride – they were (and in many places, still are!) a symbol of being a married woman. In Ancient Rome, wearing a veil signified that you were under your husband’s control. Conversely, not wearing a veil meant your marriage was dissolving. By the Middle Ages, this had evolved into a married woman covering her hair, but not her face. Christianity and Judaism continued to slowly eliminate the veil as a mandatory item of clothing, replacing it with hats (sometimes with a short piece of lace attached) or head scarfs. But the veil is still used in many religions as a symbol of purity. Consider, for instance, the last time you saw a statue or painting of the Virgin Mary. She was wearing a veil, wasn’t she?  

For remaining such a staple in wedding culture, and for having such deep roots in religions around the world, the veil has become a controversial topic, particularly in regards to Muslim women. Some countries have gone as far as to ban veil-wearing by Muslim women, including France. It’s the subject of a lot of heated discussion across Europe, the UK, and the US. Who would have thought that such a small piece of fabric would cause such a ruckus?

So, Do You Want to Wear a Veil to Your Wedding?

I did. My husband is Hindu, and for the Hindu portion of our ceremony, I was required to wear a veil to show my respect to the deities as well as to the elders present. My mother-in-law had a veil made for me, and my sister-in-law put it on me at the appropriate moment.

And since our wedding was all about combining worlds (I am not Hindu), I decided to wear a western-style veil for the western portion of our wedding. For me, it was about celebrating the traditions of both of our cultures. Though I will mention that I lifted my own veil from my face before the ceremony started. It felt like a nice way to honor the past while embracing a more independent, feminist future.

If you’re considering wearing a veil, you might want to ask yourself what’s important about it to you, and how much the sometimes-troubling history of the veil means to you.

Either way, the same rule applies to veils as well as to everything else on your wedding day: your wedding gets to look however you want it to. Wearing a veil can be wonderful, but not wearing a veil doesn’t make you any less married.

Did you or are you considering wearing a veil to your wedding? Why or why not?

Wedding Planning Basics, Step One: The Guest List

So you got engaged, you and your fiancé have spent a couple weeks basking in the glow of happiness, and now you’re coming out of the haze and realizing you need to plan a wedding (did anyone else just think, Oh, sugar?) While I’m sure there are five dozen different ways to take a concrete first step, I’m going to definitively declare a clear winner here: make a guest list. Knowing who, and how many, folks you plan to invite gives you and your sweetheart a jumping off point for what your wedding looks like. So, how to go beyond putting together a comprehensive list of your family and friends? Read on…

Call your mom (or dad. Or other important/influential parental figures).

Close family will likely have an idea of who you should invite, and if you’re thinking about a guest list of over 20 people, it’s good to ask for their opinion (opinion being the operative word).

Doing so will will give you an idea of exactly how big or small your relatives are envisioning your wedding will be, which gives you a great excuse to start practicing loving but firm conversations tempering those expectations. It won’t all be rough conversations, though; their input gives you an extra set of eyes to make sure you didn’t accidentally leave off anyone important.


“Hey, stranger at Starbucks. Want to come to our wedding?”

If you’re my husband, you don’t just call your parents and grandparents for a list. You involve everyone, like  siblings and great aunts and make an enormous list of people who could be invited. That third cousin you’ve only met once? Absolutely they should come. Your siblings’ ten best friends? How could the wedding even happen without them! After a couple weeks of gathering names, you look at an Excel spreadsheet with five different tabs for various branches of the family plus your friends, and you add up all the names, and you discover there are 600 people listed there, and then you invite them.

Yes. All six hundred of them.

Why did we do this? Simple. The guest list was, easily, the thing my husband cared most about. He wanted absolutely everyone we wanted to invite to get invited.

Calculating out who would realistically come to our wedding, my husband and I were left with a grand total of three venues where we could host our nuptials. And then we could move on to deciding everything else.

What is that magical everything else?  

Maybe you’ll draw a lot more hard lines than we did about how many people ultimately get a save-the-date, or maybe you’ll do what we did and start inviting people we’d met the week before. But in either case, it’s going to be the first big discussion you have with each other and your family about what this wedding might look like, and it’s going to determine everything that comes afterwards: the venue; the catering; the size of the dance floor. It will also, most importantly, give you an idea for about how much you should budget.

And hey, maybe you’ve always dreamed of getting married in the same church your parents got married in, and it seats 20 and so that’s how many people are going to get invited. Great! But unless you already know of a solid reason why the guest list shouldn’t be the first thing you knock out, then officially consider this your first step.