Planning a Wedding Without my Mom or Sister

It’s definitely weird to think about my Mom and little sister Sarah not being a part of my wedding day and everything that leads up to it. It definitely helps that I’ve had time to grieve over them and that I have definitely brought a part of my Mom into everything by crafting so much. I know that as my guardian angels they’re always with me in spirit.

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Soon after my Mom’s cancer metastasized (moved) to other parts of her body, I had told Theo I wanted to get married before she died. He agreed. Unfortunately, her decline was while I was still in college and she was gone before we were ever truly ready to get married. My Mom lost her battle to cancer in October of 2011. Before that we lost my little sister in August of 2006 on my first day of Junior year in high school.

It’s sometimes hard to plan our wedding without them, but I’m so lucky to have an amazing “bridesmaid brigade” and stellar Stepmom to help fill in some of those roles (not to mention a sweet and supportive fiance!).

Another thing I’m lucky to have is my mother’s crafting gene. I’m excited to hand-make so many things for our wedding and have unique, customized items for whatever I choose to spend in time and money. That is what makes me a Mostly-DIY Bride-to-Be and lots of handmade touches will bring special thoughts of her to our ceremony.

I’m also planning a special tribute to these two special women in my life who will be watching our ceremony from Heaven, I’ll let you in on that as well! Stay tuned for how to include lost loved ones in your ceremony and your wedding planning adventures!


5 Wedding Planning Books: My Review

So I’ve definitely read my fair share of wedding planning books and magazines from cover to cover and in the process was able to learn a lot about history, etiquette, things to be aware of or avoid and find lots of inspirational ideas. The five books I’ve reviewed below are the books that I’ve re-read (or read for the first time) since I have been engaged.

1. The Wedding Book [The Big Book for Your Big Day] by Mindy Weiss with Lisbeth Levine

the wedding book

Review and Description:

This book will make you a know-it-all when it comes to weddings (not in a Sheldon Cooper kind of way).



It has detailed illustrations to help show all of the different options for things like dress styles, veil lengths, suits vs. tuxedos and bouquet types. It will help you know the difference and be able to use the correct terminology when talking to your vendors about what your ultimate goals are.

It comes with a little sheet of sticker tabs in the back to remind yourself to return back to passages you liked and overall has been the best resource to lay a groundwork for me as far as having ideas for every step of the process. It has been so helpful for me to come up with important considerations of what I want in a bouquet or what is important for the rehearsal dinner and what we can’t forget for the ceremony and reception. It has lots of advice to bring up thought-provoking considerations so you can avoid putting yourself or others in a bad situation related to your wedding day.

One of the last chapters has different timelines based on engagement length, and the end has budgeting and contact documents, checklists and pages for notes. There is also a long index referencing all of the items mentioned in the book if you’re looking for something specific.

In all reality, this book would be more information than most brides-to-be would ever need about every topic under the sun related to wedding planning. It is definitely comparable to the size of a dictionary or a volume of an encyclopedia. It’s a great wealth of knowledge, and is great for someone who likes to be over-prepared (me) but could definitely be overkill for others who only want/need the basics. One flaw to note is the copy I own is from 2007 and some of these ideas are clearly outdated. Another is the author is a top-tier wedding planner who grew up in a wealthy household so this is NOT the place to look for budget or DIY ideas; her normal clientele are brides with a huge budget so many of her “budget” wedding ideas are fairly standard practice by “average” couples today. This book would be an amazing supplement for someone who gets all of their modern-day inspiration from bridal magazines and/or Pinterest but need some help putting everything together and/or a bride to be who is looking for good overall advice and lots of knowledge, not “budget-minded” advice.

Overall, I give this wedding planning book a solid 8 out of 10 for its wealth of knowledge, outstanding illustrations and organizational features( stickers, timelines, contact sheets).

2. The Knot Book of Wedding Lists [The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Day, Down to the Smallest Detail] by Carley Roney

book of lists

Carley Roney is the editor of The Knot bridal magazine and although this book was published in 2007 it is incredibly relevant, especially for Type-A listmaking brides-to-be like me. This book is awesomely compact (about 5″x7″ in size with 1/2″ thickness) and that makes it perfect for carrying around in your purse to events like vendor appointments. Almost every page has lines on the side margins too which can be used for taking notes.

This book is essentially an incredibly long checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything in your wedding planning journey. There are lots of thought-provoking questions and advice from Carley on what to do in certain situations. Some checklist items are things you may forget in the wedding hustle and bustle, like calling your credit card company to alert them you will be spending in a new place before leaving for your honeymoon. Carley’s tips are generally down-to-earth and cater to brides of all faiths, nationalities and budget situations. This book has very few images so when considering something (like if you want a mantilla veil or a fingertip veil with blusher) you would need to look up all of those images on your own for comparison. (Of course this book recommends as the primary resource for all wedding related questions and searches).

Overall, I give this book a 8.5 based on its portability and space in each chapter to take notes. It’s great for brides who are driven by checklists and feels current despite being published a few years ago.

3. A Practical Wedding [Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable and Meaningful Celebration] by Meg Keane


This book really hit me right in the feels. It’s one of those books where I really felt like the author “gets me”. This book does not shy away from discussing hard-to-deal-with family situations and the like and gives real, PRACTICAL advice on what to do in those situations. I had a good sob session when reading about how hard to can be to plan a wedding when a parent is no longer alive to support you through this transition, and knew that the author understands what planning a wedding as a regular person is like. This book is another that I would say is an amazing supplement to someone with other resources, this one keeps you down to earth. She talks a lot about how the WIC (Wedding Industrial Complex) seems to make us think and do crazy things when we’re engaged and planning a wedding. *This concept of having “bride brain” is totally true–you suddenly spend hours obsessing over something that isn’t really important, wouldn’t be “missed” by anyone but you if it didn’t show up on your wedding day and you feel the need to invest significant time and money into finding the perfect one; she helps you realize that no one will notice that $40 bedazzled cake topper but you. However, if it truly makes you happy and it’s not breaking the budget, go for it.

I give this book a 7 out of 10. I feel like you definitely need some other resources if you are planning a wedding but this book is a great read and reminds you that this is going to be one of the most meaningful days of your life and it doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or overwhelming.

4. The Wedding Expert [400 Things You Need to Know to Plan Your Big Day] by Bettie Bradley

400 things

Admittedly, this book has been hard to finish. Maybe it was because it was the last one I read and by this point I already was a “self-proclaimed wedding expert” as the title claims. There are a lot of good tips here but nothing really stuck out to me as new information or something special I remember about the book. Maybe if I hadn’t already read the others this would have been beneficial but I wasn’t truly impressed with this book.

5 out of 10. Some outdated ideas and some current. I really feel like it was info you can find in other places.

5. The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner


This book was easy to get through and used a ton of my post-it notes! Because I got this one from the library I didn’t want to write all of my own information in there and had marked tons of pages to make a copy of for my wedding planning binder. They have well designed pages to write all of your info down about vendors and your bridal party. There are also pages of words to help you figure out how to describe what you want your wedding to be/feel like when you are in the early stages of planning to help hone in on key ideas and goals. This book is not too big and truly its biggest perk (in my opinion) was the opportunity to store all of that information in one place that is not as hard to lug around as my 2.5″ thick wedding binder.

7.5 out of 10. This is definitely not the only thing you would want to use when wedding planning but it has some really great sheets to help you keep things organized and for some brides-to-be, it might be able to replace an oversized wedding planning binder.

Have you read these wedding planning books? Have you read others? What is your “must read” wedding planning book?