The Wedding Whisperer: Deborah DeFrancesco of the Bitchless Bride Blog
The former planner extraordinaire sounds off on tying the knot with style, grace, and barely any drama.
Meddling moms, flaky ’maids, oversize guest lists—they’re enough to turn even the sweetest bride-to-be into a full-fledged bridezilla. Just ask Boston-based Deborah DeFrancesco, a former planner and the mastermind behind the all-things-weddings blog Bitchless Bride. Addressing her loyal readers with the endearing nickname “Bridey,” DeFrancesco channels her 15 years of experience into sassy, frank posts that ponder the finer details of wedding coordination, from bridal-party etiquette to vendor negotiations. “I am a big fan of being nice. As someone who has seen so much, you definitely get more sugar with honey,” DeFrancesco says. “Pick what’s important to you and put your foot down, but do it in a way where you’re sticking up for yourself—not being a bitch.” Ahead, DeFrancesco shares her secrets for keeping it all in perspective while prepping for the big day.
Do couples really need a wedding planner?
If you think about it, we hire real estate agents, financial planners, people to cut our hair, for God’s sake. Hire a professional to help you. You’re paying somebody for their incredible network of vendors, vendors that you can trust. You’re literally saying, “Take care of me.”
What if a soup-to-nuts planner isn’t in the budget?
You can hire a day-of planner, who would step in a month to two weeks before your wedding to help you solidify your vendors, make sure everybody knows where to deliver their goods, and be the point of contact on the day of. I would highly suggest hiring a full-time wedding planner regardless of your budget. It will save you time and energy and your sanity.
Speaking of sanity, any tips for dealing with difficult family members?
Alcohol [laughs]. This comes up quite a bit. The more skeletons you can pull out of the closet, the better. Address things you know are going to be issues ahead of time and be proactive. If you know that your mother-in-law is going to be overbearing, think of a project that will keep her busy. Have her own the ceremony programs or throw you an amazing rehearsal dinner.
On the flip side, what’s your advice for couples who are having planning-related meltdowns of their own?
First and foremost, be kind to everyone—your vendors, your bridal party, your family. Nobody’s going to want to help you if you’re rude. Your wedding isn’t about perfection. It’s a reflection of who you are as a couple, and nobody’s perfect. Perfect sucks. Do what makes sense for the two of you and let the rest go. Take a step back and remember that this is one day out of your life versus the lifetime that you’re going to have with this person. And also, nobody cares about your wedding as much as you do. Period. So remember that when you’re stressed out about the small stuff like the perfect linens or wine pairing.
You mentioned bridal parties. How much is too much to ask of ’maids and groomsmen?
There’s a lot of expectation there, and it can be very stressful. As a bride, don’t be a bitch. If your friend or sister or cousin is telling you she loves you but can’t afford to be your bridesmaid, let it go. You don’t ever know someone’s financial situation. As for choosing your bridal party, you know your friends the best. If you ask someone to be in your wedding, make sure you trust him or her to take it seriously.
Do you have to ask someone to be in your wedding if you were asked to be in his or hers?
Here’s the thing. Do you want to be friends after the wedding? Seriously, it’s very black and white. You have to think about it, because you’re essentially deciding whether or not you want this person to be in your life after the wedding. It’s a personal decision, and it has to be case by case. Sit down and ask yourself how important this person is to your life in the future. That’s the line in the sand.
Does the same apply to friends who invited you to their wedding and you’re not sure you want to return the favor?
I would say so. That said, you might have a really tight budget and need to trim the fat. Unfortunately, if you invited everyone who ever invited you anywhere, it becomes not about you. It suddenly takes on a whole other life.
What’s one of your biggest wedding pet peeves?
I think I speak for a lot of guests: When there are three or four hours in between the ceremony and the reception, what the hell is everyone supposed to do in between? You’re just putting them in an awkward position.
What should brides and grooms keep in mind on the big day?
One thing one of my couples did that I thought was so kick-ass was they made a pact not to leave each other’s sides on their wedding day. It’s so easy to get pulled away in different directions, and it’s probably one of the fastest days of your life. It’s about you two, so spend it together. And have fun! You worked your ass off planning, so don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Let it go on the day of, whatever happens.
Deborah DeFrancesco offers quick fixes for three common planning hiccups.
Problem: All of your unmarried friends expect plus-ones.
Solution: Stay consistent. Only give extra invites to people who are engaged, in long-term relationships, or living together.
Problem: You want to keep the party going with an open bar, but a cash bar is more cost-effective.
Solution: Would you ever invite friends over and ask them to chip in for the wine you’re pouring? There are ways to have an open bar and keep it to a minimum. Consider offering a signature drink with beer and wine, or closing the bar during the announcements and toasts.
Problem: Your mother is unhappy with your gown/venue/flower arrangements/everything.
Solution: Don’t forget that it’s your wedding. There’s always going to be someone who is disappointed and isn’t afraid to tell you. You can’t please everyone.