Book Review – The Anti-Bride

TITLE: Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide: The rules and how to bend them
AUthoR: Carolyn Guerin
Format: Paperback
Published; 2004

I got engaged on January 1, so of course the first thing I did when I made the next trip to the library was to find the wedding section and get a couple books.  I started reading this one right away and was done in a  very short amount of time.
The purpose of the book is pretty much to make brides relax a bit.  Just because your mother talks lovingly about wearing her mother’s wedding dress or your sister shared her special day with 18 attendants in matching head to toe ensembles doesn’t mean that you have to continue those traditions.

The initial format of the book is pretty nice.  She’s arranged chapters by thing, and they’re pretty much chronological.  There’s definitely nothing complicated about this.  Each chapter starts by telling you the history of whatever it is, and then expands in to a Q&A/FAQ type format where it talks about ‘do you have to’ or what ifs or whatever.  [note: the wedding cake history isn’t entirely right]

It’s not bad.  It’s nice to know why we do the things we do, and the author wants you to understand things before you decide to do them differently. There are charts to show expectations of things like what to wear and when.  It’s also nice to know that there are silly fuddy-duddy things that don’t need done anymore.  (And have people say it’s okay – there are so many details a bride has to think of that I’m sure there are plenty that are afraid to go off script.)

That said, I had some issues.  For starters, the author likes ridiculous examples of things and doesn’t offer real world solutions nearly as often as she could.  Also a lot of the things she brings up are a little clichee – like dyeable shoes – but that could also be a product of the fact that the book is 10 years old.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is that I didn’t learn hardly anything from this book (I did learn that “honor of your presence” should only be used if the wedding is in a church), and a lot of the scenario/answer things were pretty common sense or out there. “My mother’s been telling her yoga class.  Help!”  Well, so what?  Is your wedding a government secret??  And some of it wasn’t even thorough.  “I didn’t get a present, I feel slighted!” should have had the “hello, they have a year!” reminder in addition to her actual advice of don’t keep score.
I didn’t gain anything whatsoever from this book and I think it fell very short where it could have been fabulous.  Also, updating things would make a lot of these answers so much better.  I mean, the book is over a decade old, so it barely mentions the internet’s existence.  (And really, if it were done today, there’d be a total ETSY RULES!! chapter.) I think the book had potential, but I think it fell completely short of where it should have been.  If you’re new at this and don’t have a clue, it may be helpful.  But I can sum the book up as “it’s okay to relax tradition” and you can skip it, too.

Also, the book is in two font colors – black and pink.  Which maybe would be okay with the right font, but the font is a skinny little thing and it made reading really difficult at times.  So there’s that.  I want to be generous and all and give it a better rating, but in my heart, I know this needs to be a 2/5.

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Book Review – Save The Date

TITLE: Save The Date: The occasional mortifications of a serial wedding guest
AUTHOR: Jen Doll
FORMAT: Hardback
PUBLISHED: 2014

I will start this review with a slight disclaimer.  I found this book in Book Pages, in the midst of a page of chick lit books, so I expected it to be fiction when I requested it from the library.  It’s a memoir.  But I decided that the jacket blurb still sounded amusing enough (so what if it wasn’t the genre I expected? – the blurb hadn’t changed, right?), so I read it anyway.  And really, in my defense, it had sounded like chick lit, so I assumed.  Even her name sounds fake (although her website and bio blurb both promise it isn’t.).

Anyway, I’m sorry I read it and that had nothing whatosever to do with genre.

In case you wondered, here’s the blurb:

From a fresh and exciting new voice, a hilarious and insightful examination of the search for love and the meaning of marriage in a time of anxiety, independence, and indecision.

Weddings. They’re fun, festive, and joyful, and at a time when people marry later in life—and sometimes not at all—they offer endless opportunities to reexamine love and what we want for ourselves, regardless of whether our aim is a walk down the aisle. In Save the Date, Jen Doll charts the course of her own perennial wedding guesthood, from the ceremony of distant family members when she was eight to the recent nuptials of a new boyfriend’s friends.

There’s the first trip home for a childhood pal’s big day, during which she learns that her first love has eloped to Hawaii. There’s the destination wedding attended with little baggage beyond a suitcase of strappy sandals and summery party dresses. Regrettably, there is a series of celebrations that mean the end to a valued friendship. There’s also the wedding that offers all the promise of new love.

Wedding experiences come in as varied an assortment as the gowns at any bridal shop, and Doll turns a keen eye to each, delivering a heartfelt exploration of contemporary relationships. Funny, honest, and affecting, Save the Date is a spirited look at the many ways in which we connect with one another.

 

It sounds like typical chick lit (even if it is the non-fiction version) so I started ahead.  The book starts with a wedding she attended as a child and goes on and on about how she was hooked and weddings are the Most. Amazing. Things. Ever.

Every chapter is part something about her and something about somebody’s wedding.

What I was hoping for with this book was a bunch of stories about weddings she’d attended with a few anecdotes here and there.

Really, with several of these stories, especially in the second half of the book, you could take the wedding out of the chapter and just have Jen Behaving Badly.  Ever. Single. Chapter.

You see, she’s the kind of person that I can’t stand.  She’s one of those in the moment damn the consequences but not in a good way sort of people.  One of the early weddings she talks about is the destination wedding of a friend.  She’s broke, of course, so she immediately goes and books airfare and buys an expensive wedding gift (and I know this because she told us it was an expensive wedding gift) and takes a vacation to the Caribbean, because hello, the opportunity clearly presented itself.

Never mind that if you were really poor there’s no way in hell you’d even consider going, let alone manage to find the funds to do it, so let’s describe her like she really is.  Overtaxed monetarily because she has no stop button.

Every chapter has pretty much the same sort of story line.  1. Ridiculous over the top wedding.  2. Open Bar.  3. Jen behaves like a spoiled toddler.  4. Somebody has to do damage control because she’s a raging alcoholic, and not even the kind that’s just fun to watch.  She’s a TOTAL FUCKING TRAINWRECK.

To the point that in one chapter, she even ADMITS that she “may have been a bit of an alchoholic for a while” – which shows she’s still floating in Denial (capital D for sure) because she had several chapters of being a mess of an alcoholic after that.  Including going for drinks before the wedding so she could drink at the wedding and after the wedding and at the after reception party.  (Side note:  I haven’t exactly been to a million weddings, but not one of my friends has ever had a wedding with a party after the party.)

I read to the end because I was determined there had to be a point to all this.  But there wasn’t.  There was no arc that made her sympathetic in the least.  And she glossed over all the weddings, which was supposed to be the point of this book.

I would have loved it if we could have enjoyed more details about the traditional New Orleans wedding bash – or hell, even more about the gifts that all got stolen (nope, just a throwaway line about how the bride was like “oh well”  – um,  no she wasn’t.).  The destination weddings.  Hell, even a detail about THE BRIDE’S DRESS instead of Jen telling us what she wore to the bash.

I would rather read the 2nd 50 Shades book than read any more of her drivel.  I’m pretty sure the only reason that this book ever saw the light of day was because she wrote for a big NYC magazine and has friends in the Biz.

In fact, the only thing this book has going for her was the fact that she managed remarkably well formatted sentences and exceptional grammar.  But that aside, it’s total crap.  So 2 out of 5, but only because her sentences were pretty.

 

 

 

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