Christi Barth's Heroine Ivy On Planning For Love

Christi Barth's new contemporary romance, Planning For Love, treats readers to a tale of unsuspecting romance when wedding planner Ivy Rhodes falls for handsome videographer Bennett Westcott. But after a one-night stand leaves Ivy thinking Bennett is afraid of commitment, the two are thrown together to work on a wedding reality TV show. Now Ivy and Bennett must decide if there's any future for their own "I dos."

We love the idea of a wedding planner finding her own HEA. And we were curious to know what Ivy has learned about marriages and romance after all of her time spent planning other people's nuptials. So we went to Ivy herself to debunk commonly held perceptions about The Big Day. We now leave the blog in the capable (and expert!) hands of Ivy Rhodes:

Thanks to my reality television show, Planning for Love, many of you know that I’m Chicago’s premiere wedding planner. Which means you can trust me to kibosh some stale wedding traditions.

How many weddings have you been to where the bride and groom don’t know half the guests? Parents tend to treat weddings as networking events. But it’s a celebration of love, not your parent’s sole chance to impress their friends with over-the-top centerpieces. Don’t start lusting after that twelve piece china service that only your Dad’s boss — whom you’ve never met — would be able to afford. Here’s my updated rule on wedding guests: only invite people you’ve had drinks or dinner with in the past year. Drinks cover your own colleagues, and dinner covers all those relatives you only see at Thanksgiving. Everyone else is off the list. Tell your parents to throw their own party!

Let’s stick with the family problem. Your bridesmaids should be your closest friends, or tried and true family who helped you sneak back in after curfew. Second cousins you’ve never met who want an excuse to dress up should NOT be automatic choices for bridesmaids. You want women who will tell you that you have lipstick on your teeth during the photo shoot, and remember all the details of your first magical date with your fiancé. If an unknown relative has to work to remember your name, strike her from the bridal party.

The whole it’s bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony superstition is as silly as being scared to leave your house on Friday the Thirteenth. Would you miss an important business meeting because the calendar says it’s an unlucky day? Of course not. So why would you give up the chance to chat with all your guests flown in from far and wide during the cocktail reception? It is your best opportunity to mingle (and sample all the amazing appetizers you deliberated over for months). Sometimes, a fantastic crab cake is worth thumbing your nose at Fate. Take all your pictures before the ceremony. Your groom will still be blown away by how amazing you look in your dress, whether you’re coming down the aisle or just smiling at him in a courtyard.

Reception lines — ugh. Let me refer you to my previous comment about not wanting to miss the fantastic crab cakes. Why force your friends to make stilted chit chat with your in-laws? You still haven’t figured out how to talk with them. Just let everyone mingle with a cocktail in hand and chat organically.

The archaic custom of the garter toss originated way back in the 1500s. All the wedding guests used to crowd into the honeymoon suite and wait for proof of consummation of the marriage to emerge from behind the bed curtains. Then they’d take the bride’s garter for good luck. Remember, back then they also thought it was okay for twelve year olds to marry. Do you really want people watching— and cheering — as your husband sticks his head up your skirt? Trust me, the answer is no. The guests are celebrating your pledge of eternal devotion, not how much of a sex machine your true love is in the bedroom.

As a bonus, I’ll give you a dating rule, which I unfortunately broke. Don’t be in a hurry to introduce your friends to your new guy. I work with all my best pals, so Ben got to meet them before we even started dating. (Well, they technically met after our blisteringly hot one-night stand, but that’s a different story). It led to buckets of unsolicited advice on how to deal with a guy they all agreed was hot, charming, and totally wrong for me. Hopefully they won’t mention that during the wedding toasts!

- Ivy Rhodes

You can download a copy of Planning for Love, available digitally now. And for more contemporary love stories, visit our Everything Romance Page.