By Meg Keene
Lifelong Books, $16.00, 240 pages

While planning nuptials can bring out the worst in even the most sedate among us, Meg Keene works to calm such chaos in her book A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration. Keene effectively uses both sarcasm and practical advice to cut the tension. Consider, for example, her humorous adaptation of “The Six Stages of Wedding Planning”: (1) Euphoria: “Squeee”; (2) Discovery: “Ooooh, Pretty”; (3) Panic: “How the Hell?”; (4) Outrage/Depression: “What the Eff,” “Eff Me”; (5) Rebellion: “Eff It”; and (6) Zen: “It Is What It Is.”

When people say that your wedding is the happiest day of your life, they have it a little wrong. If all goes well, your wedding may be the happiest day of your life so far. But the wedding marks the beginning of married life; it is the announcement of the start of something great.

The creator of APracticalWedding.com, an alternative wedding planning website, Keene offers couples of all faiths, ages, budgets, and sexual orientation a wise and well-written hands-on guide for navigating the complexities of etiquette and cultural expectation. Again and again, Keene astutely reminds her readers that advice-givers frequently don’t know what they’re talking about. As Keene reminds us throughout her book, the engagement and vows are about joy; so if it’s not making you happy, she argues, just chuck it: “Here are the basic rules of wedding etiquette,” Keene writes: “Be kind, be thoughtful, be honest, and don’t mortgage the farm to pretend you’re someone you’re not for five hours.”

Jennie A. Harrop