Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: The Overwhelmed Bride

Sometimes I get social media fatigue. It's hard to describe, but I can usually tell it's coming on when the sight of a perfectly aligned gallery wall, spotless kitchen, or beautifully filtered pile of donuts on my Instagram feed makes me want to throw my phone against the wall. Don't get me wrong...I like pretty things and appreciate aesthetics, and I've been known to get just as caught up in a gorgeously curated feed as the next girl. But sometimes I have dirty dishes in my sink, and I'm two loads behind on laundry, and I have nothing clever to tweet, and I just want what's real. 

Which is why I am so beyond excited to report that The Overwhelmed Bride is real. The Instagram feed, the blog, and the book as well. You know why? Because Jenn Hallak, the instagrammer/blogger/author behind The Overwhelmed Bride, says things like this:

"What is the ultimate purpose of a wedding? To throw the most extravagant party for your friends and family? Or to display your commitment of marriage to each other in front of those who are closest to you and then celebrate this huge step in your life together? I'm pretty sure you know the answer to this question, but if not, it's the latter." (15) 


PS: Jenn and I connected and planned a book swap via social media, which is the kind of thing that keeps me logging in to all of these accounts again and again. People + relationships + community + support. Those things matter, whether they happen virtually or in the "real" world!


the overwhelmed bride totally deserves a spot on your nightstand

I think Jenn and I might be soul sisters, and I'm pretty sure I said that out loud like three times while reading her book. When I got to the planning timeline page 30 of her book, it all made sense. 
"My husband and I got married six months after we got engaged, so clearly, our timeline was a bit altered."
She was a Hitched in a Hurry bride. And while her book isn't specifically addressed to those planning in six months or less, her advice is just as relevant for brides planning in two years as it is for gals sprinting toward the aisle in two weeks.

In three words, The Overwhelmed Bride is:

1. Honest—Expect direct talk about venue visits and hidden fees (49), vendor selection (36), guest list organization (45), mama drama (23), and dealing with divorced parents on the day of the wedding (26) just to name a few.

2. Informative—Especially when it comes to establishing and maintaining a budget! Jenn's expertise as a wedding coordinator really shines when she's talking about finances. See page 38 for proof—the "Budget Breakdown" section contains an itemized list of ceremony and reception elements with suggestions about how to best distribute your dollars between each category. SO helpful.

3. Wedding Planning 101—Okay, that's not one word. But I still think it's a great way to describe The Overwhelmed Bride. At 90 pages, Jenn's book is compact and easy to read in just one sitting, ensuring that your head won't be pounding with a TMI headache afterward. It gives you all the essential information you need without any added fluff—because really, you already know the style of gown that looks best on your body, and you don't need to review a history of six different kinds of forks (and when and how they should be used). You DO, however, need to know where each member of your wedding party should stand during your ceremony (81), what items should be a part of your Wedding Day Survival Kit (86), and how to officially change your name after the party's over (88).

While Jenn's advice about budgeting, creating a photographer shot list, deciding on a cash vs. hosted bar, and other planning topics was fantastic, my favorite section of The Overwhelmed Bride came right at the very beginning.
"We live in a society that no longer values one single marriage. We all value weddings, but clearly there is not enough emphasis put on the marriage part. Yes, we all want our beautiful Pinterest weddings, but is this what really matters?" (16)
I'll say it again. PREACH. This is so right on, but the passage doesn't end there. Jenn goes on to challenge her readers to participate in 365 Days of Love, which involves creating a list of 365 things you love about your future spouse—one for each day of the year. Because, "If you can find 365 things you love about your spouse, then there is no reason to ever question if you should be together." (17)

I can't wait to take on this challenge in my own marriage—in fact, I'm planning on beginning my list in November, the month of thankfulness! I loved Jenn's suggestions for "distributing" the list items, too: Gifting my husband with a box full of the reasons why I love him, communicating each item one by one each morning (great if your guy's love language is Words of Affirmation), texting him one reason each day, or typing up the complete list and presenting it to him on a special occasion.

Finally, I'll leave you with this—a passage from The Overwhelmed Bride that completely resonates with the heartbeat of Hitched in a Hurry (and my hope for all of the future brides-to-be that come into contact with either of our books):
Just remember, the odds of something going wrong on your wedding day are actually very high. But don't let this scare you the end, you are marrying the man of your dreams, so who cares what went wrong! All of the little things, and even large things, are absolutely not the end of the world. No matter what happens, just know that you were as prepared as possible and that at the end of the day, your lifelong commitment to each other has been made and you are going to have a celebration you will never forget." (86)
If you're interested in purchasing a copy of The Overwhelmed Bride, click here. To read Jenn's review of Hitched in a Hurry, click here! 


Happy Wedding Wednesday, y'all!

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