Lucy Knisley’s new graphic memoir, Something New, has many audiences. But being that it’s about weddings, we hoped that brides- (and grooms!)-to-be would fall for it. So we took it as a good sign when the awesome wedding website Borrowed & Blue reached out to us to ask if they could interview Lucy. Below is a Q&A with Lucy and Helen, Borrowed & Blue’s Chicago Market Specialist.
Here’s a quote from Helen about why she and Borrowed & Blue love Something New:
“Something New is an awesome read, whether you’re immersed in the world of wedding planning or not. Lucy Knisley’s wit, approachable writing style, and utterly delightful illustrations make this book so much fun, and so relatable. Her charming, sometimes self-effacing sense of humor is a reliable companion throughout the book, whether she’s making light of obscure wedding traditions or chronicling her obsession with DIY-ing as many aspects of her wedding as she could! I know that our Borrowed & Blue readers—savvy men and women alike—are going to feel a strong connection to the charming, approachable narrative that Lucy has crafted in Something New. I can’t wait for them to get to read it!”
And because Something New is so spot-on for the soon-to-be-married set, we’re also offering a sweepstakes with three prizes. Lucy will illustrate the grand prize winner’s love story history. First prize is a digital portrait of the winning couple by Lucy. And 10 runners up will win signed copies! Click to enter for a chance to win!
Q&A with Lucy Knisley, author of Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
Helen: Lucy! I’m so excited to get into these questions. For friends who are new to your work, describe your aesthetic—as a writer and illustrator—in ten words or less.
Lucy: Truth can be funnier than fiction; self portraits in time! (Counts on fingers— YES!)
Helen: I loved reading Something New because I think you really understand the complex knot of feelings, tradition, and logistics that come together to become a wedding. Can you share a sentence or two (or an illustration!) that you think synopsizes how you felt when you began planning this Big Life Event?
Lucy: My husband and I weren’t even dating (officially) when he suggested we get married, so I was pretty unprepared. I think a lot of people have at least some idea of what they’d want their wedding to be, but even when John and I were “together,” we’d had an expiration date on our relationship, so I’d never allowed myself to think about it. Suddenly, we were getting married and I had to adjust my understanding of weddings and marriage to understand what it meant to me, and that meant trying to understand the history, sociology and psychology of weddings through any resource available. I had no idea the scope of the wedding industry, nor the depth of the societal expectations or the craziness of historical tradition in all this, and it was a surprising (and sometimes hilarious) experience finding this all out!
Helen: You’ve never been the sort of person who dreamed of her wedding, but once you were engaged, you were thrust into that world, whether you liked it or not. What was your “North Star[s]” as you were deciding what you and John wanted your wedding to be like—and how did you keep them in mind throughout?
Lucy: Unsurprisingly for the husband of a cartoonist, John is very good at thoughtful conversations. We talked about almost every aspect of this process— both of us with the shared goal of getting married painlessly, while trying our best to please our families (as the first children of either side to tie the knot). Sometimes these goals were at odds, other times we made it work. We’re both a little intense about saving money and doing something a bit unique, so my DIY fervor came in handy.
Helen: Do you and John have any advice for couples looking to divide the work of planning evenly between partners?
Lucy: It helped for us to talk about how we wanted our partnership to be, and to think of the wedding as a celebration of that partnership. We went into it with the understanding that this would be shared project, and we both made clear and agreed on our feelings about certain traditional aspects of marriage (specifically trying for as little of the traditional “bride as chattel” stereotypes and traditions, and avoiding the impulse to spend every penny on this event). This is true in our marriage, too— we try to be partners and talk over our shared responsibilities often, and help to shoulder one another’s burden when necessary. Writing our vows together early on in the process was a nice way to anchor the idea of what the wedding meant, and how we would navigate the planning process in the spirit of those vows.
Helen: From what directions did you feel pressure in the run-up to your wedding, and do you have suggestions for other couples on how to mitigate that?
Lucy: My mother is a retired caterer, who’s thrown many a party. I’m also her only child, and the wedding was held in her backyard, so she had a LOT of Opinions and sometimes it was tough to fight that kind of locomotive. I don’t really have any advice on this. My mother and I are very close and get along well, but (aside from adolescence) I don’t think we’ve ever fought more than in the year leading up to the wedding. Family pressures are such a delicate balance, and with a wedding you’ve always got multiple families to please. My mom had to relinquish a lot of control over her own Plans for the wedding, and we had to give up some of our own to her, as hostess and professional. In the end, I feel like choosing the battles that meant more to me than to her was a good strategy. For example: My mom wanted to hire a band, and John and I wanted to do our own playlists. We didn’t back down on this, and I’m really happy we got to have the music that mattered to us at our wedding while saving some money. BUT my mom also wanted to hire a wedding coordinator, which I wasn’t into. I gave in on this one, and I think it made all our lives easier to have an outsider helping out and offering professional opinions— and it didn’t really matter to us as much as it did to my mom.
Helen: Was there any bit of marital advice (which I’m sure you heard over and over again, from many different sources) that you actually found helpful?
Lucy: Hope for sun but plan for rain.
Helen: What do you find yourself remembering the most when you reflect on your wedding day?
Lucy: John and I wrote our own simple vows, and then spent the summer before the wedding memorizing them. It was nice, because we could take turns prompting one another, and reminding each other of these vows we’d written together. I had it memorized WAY before John did, and teased him a little about it. BUT on the actual wedding day, I was so overcome with emotion and performance anxiety that when it came time to start the vows, I totally blanked. I couldn’t believe it. My godfather (who performed the ceremony) slipped me the first couple of words and then it all came back, but I remember very clearly that feeling of just being completely overwhelmed in the moment.
Helen: Were there aspects of the day that, given the chance, you might want to do differently?
Lucy: Anticipate inclement weather more. Handle the conflicts with my mother more maturely.
Give in a bit more to her insistence on a larger guest list. I loved our small wedding, but I doubt I’d have really cared on the day if my mother had included everyone she wanted to, and it would have cut down on the number of conflicts.
Helen: If you had the power to move cultural mountains, what would you want to change about the wedding industry itself?
Lucy: I wish that the expectations about weddings weren’t quite so gendered; Most people expected all the planning to fall to me, which was irritating both to me and to John, who was grumpy to have his part go unrecognized. There were a lot of gendered aspects to the whole thing, which flies in the face of the fact that this is meant to be an expression of equal partnership (in an ideal world). I also wish the “wedding” labels didn’t drive the price of anything up about 400%. It seems so mercenary and gross that something as simple as a cake or a dress should cost so much more just because of the special “weddingy” quality of it.
Helen: Since we are all joined, as you said in the book, “…in this matrimonial bond of Occasional Utter Cluelessness,” do you have any parting words of advice for all our engaged pals out there?
Lucy: I think all affianced peeps know more than they realize— if something seems ridiculous to you and your partner-to-be, it’s probably ridiculous, and don’t let the industry or a family member insist otherwise.
About Borrowed & Blue:
Co-founders Adam and Christin Healey created Borrowed & Blue so that couples would have access to a resource they wished they’d had when they were planning their own wedding: a website that made wedding planning easy and enjoyable, and was tailored to their location. Now, Borrowed & Blue is on a mission to help couples imagine, plan, and share their dream, locally inspired weddings. They are focused on providing accurate local business listings, savvy editorial content, and smart discovery tools for couples at every stage of the planning process.
Borrowed & Blue is chock full of cool, beautiful features that allow couples to discover vendors directly through their work. The site also features comprehensive vendor listings (with reviews from couples whose weddings are featured on the site), plus the only vendor-voted industry awards, the Best of B&B. The company supports 66 local wedding communities around the country, including Chicago! Add in their stunning iOS app and you’ve found truly the most trustworthy, inclusive, and empowering online planning resource out there.
Abbreviated rules for Sweepstakes:
ABBREVIATED RULES Something New Borrowed & Blue Sweepstakes NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding the province of Quebec) who are 18 and older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete entry at https://fiercereads.typeform.com/to/G1foiw beginning at 12:00 AM Eastern Time (ET) Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 PM ET Saturday, May 07, 2016. Void outside the United States and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules below. Sponsor: First Second, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.