Web Exclusives:Features

February 13, 2002:
Why wear white? And who needs a wedding cake, anyway?

Stephanie Rosenbaum's new sassy bride book encourages brides-to-be to think creatively

If you're planning your big day and want to shy away from Princess Diana-like wedding dresses and all the pomp that goes with a very traditional ceremony and reception, you might want to check out Stephanie Rosenbaum '90's new book, Anti-Bride Guide: Tying the Knot Outside of the Box. For the bride-to-be who wants to get married her own way, Anti-Bride Guide (Chronicle Books) is chock full of ideas for creative approaches to everything from the ceremony to veils and head adornments, as well as practical advice on what to ask prospective caterers, dress designers, bakers, and the like. "It's a fun, sassy guide to having the wedding you want without losing your mind (or your friends)," says Rosenbaum, the restaurants editor at Citysearch.com, who hasn't walked down the aisle yet.

She wrote the book with her friend Carolyn Gerin, who owns her own design firm in San Francisco and has had three fun, alternative wedding celebrations, one in San Francisco, one in Washington, D.C., and one in Paris — all with the same man. Their guide book is intended not only for brides but also for lesbians and gay men who want to affirm their commitment to each other.

"Most of [the bride books] are very traditional and really expect that you're going to spend a lot of time and money and effort in planning this big, huge pageant," says Rosenbaum. But that philosophy of weddings doesn't fit Gerin and Rosenbaum and their artsy friends. So the two set out talking to professionals in the wedding industry and interviewing anyone they knew who had been a bride or in a wedding.

For the authors, a wedding is not about having the perfect invitation and table setting, says Rosenbaum. "When I talked to people, no one mentioned any of that." Instead, they focused on the emotional aspect of the event.

"There's a real need for people to reconnect with what the wedding is about," says Rosenbaum, who majored in English, earned a certificate in theater and dance, and has held a series of jobs in the San Francisco area, including freelance make up artist, cigarette girl, go-go dancer (no stripping), and restaurant critic. People "really want to get back to the basics. They want something that's more personal. And people are also reacting against the huge wedding industry, in the sense that 'You have to do it this way. You have to do everything that these books and magazines tell you to do. And people are saying, 'Why? Why do I have to do that? That's not me. I hate white. I never wear ruffles. ... I think people should be able to do whatever they want."

How about a reception with an "Arabian Nights" theme, complete with spicy incense, North African and Middle Eastern music, piles of silky cushions instead of chairs, and stuffed grape leaves and hummus served on round brass-colored trays. To spark memories and conversations at the reception, the authors suggest scattering framed pictures from other family weddings around the tables. As for a wedding dress, one bride the authors know insisted on a "deep-crimson dress with a sleeveless corset that pulled her in and pushed her out."

Rosenbaum has attended a lot of weddings and says she's "kind of a sucker for society pages. I constantly read the vows section of the New York Times," which inspired ideas for her book as did the "amazing parties" thrown at Terrace Club, where she was a member. "I have a knowledge of obscure party facts," she adds. Did you know that "long ago, Romans dressed wedding attendants in the same attire as the bride to confuse any evil spirits who might try to curse or kidnap her"?

Be a princess, the authors say, but also keep in mind that it's all about you and your honey starting your life together. And you shouldn't go broke on one day.

By Katherine Federici Greenwood

Email Kathy at federici@princeton.edu