How to Get Married in Twelve Easy Steps

Step One: Get Engaged

I don’t know how your story goes, but mine is a little something like this:

I’d threatened him long ago that if he ever proposed at a sporting event that I would say no, but if we wound up on the JumboTron I would not only refuse but also be forced to kill him and bury the body in a shallow grave, which is really more work than I’m up to on any given day. It wasn’t something I worried much about, considering the fact that I once had him 85% convinced that Quidditch was a real sport, but still. Better safe than sorry.

When it happened, it was in our living room. There were no candles, no rose petals. He didn’t get down on one knee. The cat, involved as she was by having the ring box nestled between her paws, looked at us contemptuously as I somehow breathed in the affirmative that yes, I would, of course I would.

We spent a blissful hour as an engaged couple. And then we told people.

Step Two: Tell People

Congratulations! This part is so much fun. Everybody was thrilled for us, and they will be for you too. We’d already decided what we wanted to do. A simple morning ceremony, followed by dinner with our parents and a casual party later in the evening with assorted family and friends. What could be more charming?

Step Three: Have People Tell You All the Ways In Which You Are Doing It Wrong

“What do you mean, no dance? Where are you having this, a Russian gulag?”
“Your grandmother will throw a fit if there isn’t a proper reception. She’s already making noise about haunting you once she’s dead.”
“You’re not legally married in this country if someone isn’t crying with frustration by the end of the day. You’re marrying a lawyer, you should know that.”

Step Four: Eat a Pillow Out of Anxiety

Wash it down with a nice bottle of wine. I personally chose a cabernet sauvignon, but I don’t want to tell you how to live.

Step Five: Give In Compromise

Okay. So G’s dad only asks that his (seven) brothers be invited. Great. And yeah, maybe the morning wedding isn’t convenient for getting ready. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to get all the family together for a happy occasion instead of a sad one, and who doesn’t love dancing?

This is how it starts. If this isn’t how you want it to go, I suggest you shut down your computer right now and run to the nearest city hall. No, faster than that.

Step Six: Ask Your Bridesmaids

You will find out that it is popular to find cute ways to do this, including keepsake handkerchiefs and handmade paper dolls. What actually happens is a little closer to pouring a shot for your oldest friend and saying “SO YA WANNA BE MY MAID OF HONOUR OR WHA?”

Like the trouper she is, she pounds the shot back and gives you a hug. “I FUCKIN’ LOVES YOU AND I WILL DESTROY ANYONE WHO GETS IN THE WAY OF YOUR HAPPINESS SO LET’S DO THIS, BITCH.” Later, at the wedding, she will give a speech that makes all your aunts sniffle, but this one, just between the two of you, is the one closest to your heart. You might not be sisters by blood, but sisters by blood alcohol count must mean something.

Step Seven: Get Vendor Quotes

Bridal etiquette books will tell you that it is not polite to laugh until you cough blood when you receive a catering quote of roughly the GDP of a small country. I say etiquette books lack imagination and must come from old money because seriously, fuuuuuuuuuck that. BBQ buffet it is.

Book a great photographer. The rest will come together later, once you start running out of pillows.

Step Eight: Say Yes to the Dress (and Various Accessories)

Here’s your chance to be the fairytale princess you’ve always wanted to be, if you were the owlish kid whose parents read you all the German versions. Some of the shoes they try to sell you on will put you in Aschenputtel territory quick-smart.

You’ll promise yourself not to get caught up in the whole thing, but the look on your mother’s face when you step up onto the pedestal make you think there’s something special about it, underneath all the ridiculous fuss. Once the veil goes on, it’s all over. You’re a vision in lace and there’s no turning back.

Step Nine: Pinteresting

You’ll find many beautiful wedding ideas on Pinterest. You will, however, have to wade through people who think carving a lace pattern into a watermelon is a perfectly valid use of one’s time.


Tread wisely. Gaze too long into the abyss, and the abyss will hand you a glue gun.

Step Ten: Be Our Guest

I will say this now: there is literally no way to do this without a) going way over budget or b) mortally offending a family member. My advice is to cut something inconsequential and pony up the dough for an extra chicken dinner for that great aunt nobody ever sees. She’s not starting the Seven Years’ War with your mother-in-law, you get a nice card out of it, everyone feels good. Life is too short.

Have pillows on hand for snacking when you do your seating chart, because some relatives won’t sit with other ones on account of the whole feud started at the last goddamn wedding. Thanks a bunch, Cousin With Strong Feelings About Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays That You “Accidentally” Unfriended on Facebook. Thanks a fucking bunch.


Before you know it, the day will be upon you. You’ve hunted people down for their RSVPs, you’ve sold a kidney (not your kidney, but a kidney) to pay for everything, and you’ve buffed your skin to that new car shine. It’s time to get married.

Of course, the morning of the wedding you will be so nervous that you inform your maid of honour that you are about to hork. She will pitilessly throw you, fully clothed, into a cold shower. You will be reminded of why you chose her for the job.

Your hair will be kind of awful. One of your bridesmaids will hand you scissors to fix the raggedy bits. Your photographer will note that not many brides can be found cutting their bangs an hour before the ceremony.

Your dad will cry when he sees you in your dress. Your mom’s hands will shake as she fixes your veil.

You will be late to the ceremony. Your husband-to-be will check his pocket watch at the altar, but you won’t know until later when your father-in-law confides that he had a moment of panic. Just a little one.

You will see him at the end of the aisle and wonder how you ever lived without him, this man with the green eyes who knows your heart like no other. When you say your vows, you will feel an invisible thread that connects you not only to him, but to everyone who’s ever stood in front of their loved ones and said these words, this covenant of something so much older and more sacred than you have ever imagined before this moment.

You will laugh during all your photos, toasting with chicken nuggets procured from Wendy’s by the best man’s brilliant wife. You will laugh harder still at the toasts and jokes and Bill Cosby impressions at the reception. You and your entire bridal party will rap the entire theme from Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

You will cry during your first dance. It will only get worse when you dance with your father.

You will dance until the lights come on and they kick you out, guests partying all the way out the door in their glowstick bracelets and crowns.

Step Twelve: Happily Ever After


Step Thirteen: “So When Are You Gonna Have a Baby?”

Buy more pillows.

One thought on “How to Get Married in Twelve Easy Steps

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