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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Real Simple Weddings - The Book Review

Subtitle: Spending my money so you don't have to.

As Mrs. Nearlywed mentioned below Real Simple Weddings went on sale today at Crate and Barrel. They call it a "magazine" but it's softbound, 160 pages, and around $13 so it really is more like a book.

I was really excited for this b/c I like the "Real Simple" style of life. My expectations were for a lot of inspiring images of simple yet elegant weddings that wouldn't break the bank and similar bits of advice and hints on how to achieve such a look.

Here are my 2 cents. The book in general is more of a "I just got engaged, now what?" type of book. So it has chapters on things like Venue, Invitations, Registry, etc. It includes things like a wedding timeline, what dresses are flattering to each figure, what flowers are in season etc.

What I Didn't Like:

1)Each chapter starts with advice on "how to chose X." I found a lot of the information a bit too simplistic for any bride who has thought about her wedding. For example, in the venue section they devote two pages to types of venues and they say you can have it traditional (church), at home, destination, or "quirky." Then it gives the pros and cons of each. Do you really need a book to tell you this?

2)Similarly, each chapter has a "questions" section. In general I find almost all "question" sections of bridal websites, magazines, books, etc. too simplistic. This wasn't an exception. There are questions like "do I have to do a bouquet toss?" or "is it possible to get an inexpensive dress that doesn't look cheap?"
Are there any brides out there that really can't answer these questions themselves? Is any bride really up at night thinking about this stuff? What is the answer going to be? "If you don't do a bouquet toss your wedding will end in divorce"? "Only expensive dresses look nice"? Of course not, so why put these softballs in a book? Don't get me wrong, there are hard questions out there but these never get answered in print.

3) My biggest disappointment- The pictures! As I had hoped they did showcase a handful of "Real Simple" weddings. But each wedding got a small paragraph of a description and then one page of thumbnail size photos. Wedding books are all about the eye candy and I could tell that some of these pictures would be great but they were so small you really couldn't soak them all in. There were some full page pictures at the beginning of the chapters but other then that the rest of the photos were more on the smallish side.


What I liked -

1) Each page has a "Save Money" or "Save Stress" hint. I actually, thought some of these were pretty useful. Like square envelopes can cost up to 17 cents more to mail then rectangular envelopes. Who knew?

2) Their registry information is for real people. I hate registry lists that say stuff like you need "12 white wine glasses, 12 red wine, 12 water glasses, 12 snifters, 12 cordial glasses, 12 whisky glasses," etc. It's like, seriously who needs all this? Their registry is short, sweet, and "real simple." It's the things you ACTUALLY need and will probably use the most.

3) They recommend some good money saving websites you don't normally see mentioned in typical wedding books. Like VeilShop.com. Us brides have known about this great secret for getting reasonably priced veils for a while but most magazines just want to sell us $500 veils so they don't mention these gems. I found most of the Real Simple store/website recommendations spot on for a "Real Simple" bride.

4) Even though the weddings they featured don't have the best pictures, they really are "Real Simple." There aren't any $5,000 dresses, no huge ballrooms with uplighting and gigantic flower displays, no over the top decorations, etc. Just classically elegant soirees. They even feature a "pot luck" wedding!


Final Opinion
Overall I'd say save your $13. Most of the information is either self evident or easily found online for free. In fact you can find MANY parts of the book on the wedding section of the "Real Simple" website! Seriously, some of the exact same pictures and articles. Just look for the articles with "Real Simple Weddings" in the title. The other articles are good also, though, so read them too!

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