October 5, 2016

#22 Wedding Planning

by Surprisingly Awesome

Background show artwork for Surprisingly Awesome
This week: It's awesome in the sacred sense - but stressful in the practical sense.


Surprisingly Awesome’s theme music is by Nicholas Britell. Our ad music is by Build Buildings.

Additional music came from Kyle Morton, Sex Life, and Xolo

We were edited this week by Annie-Rose Strasser, and produced by Rachel Ward, Christine Driscoll and Rikki Novetsky.  Our field producers were Sylvie Douglis and Nick Fountain.  

Production Assistance came from Jacob Cruz, Emily Kennedy, Melanie Kruvelis, Jessica Langley,  Sarah Melton, and Sarah Stodder.

Thank you to Meg Keene at A Practical Wedding, Erin Boll, proprietrix of the Instagram account Pisces Bride, Stevie Lane who designed our wedding invitation, and for helping us find Sue and Austin. 


Source for the inverse relationship between the cost of weddings and duration of marriages: ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration. At one point this was the most downloaded paper on SSRN, the database we found it on.

Here's the link to Tamara Sniezek's paper, Is It Our Day or the Bride’s Day? The Division of Wedding Labor and Its Meaning for Couples. You'll never look at invitations the same way again.

Several years ago, Slate did a great, concise post about wedding averages and how they're reported, The Wedding Industry's Pricey Little Secret.

Rebecca Mead's book is called One Perfect Day, and you can check it out at the library, like we did, or get it... you know where. (Amazon, you can buy books on Amazon.)

Where to Listen


SUE: Oh, did we tell you about the moshpit?


AUSTIN: We think we’re going to close the night out with a late-night moshpit at like 10 - .

SUE: 10 o'clock. We asked two friends to make a moshpit playlist for us.

AUSTIN: Because by that time your clothes are all messed up anyways. It doesn’t really matter.

SUE: Yeah.

Sue and Austin were never going to get married.

SUE: We’d been together for almost 7 years and neither of us really wanted to get married until – like, for me, I didn’t want to get married until I met him. And then I was like oh I want to have this experience with you. But we were both a little hesitant because our parents are both divorced.

And yet.

SUE: We are a little under three weeks away from the wedding on September 17th. That's crazy.

We picked Sue and Austin out of more than 200 couples that volunteered to have us come record their wedding. We were looking for someone having a standard, secular American wedding. Vows, dinner, friends, family.

Sue and Austin’s wedding is exactly that, and they’re doing it all themselves. They’re writing the vows. They’re picking the taco bar menu. And they’ve got friends helping them put the whole whole thing together. And family?

SUE: Our families are very different. Very very very different.

RACHEL: Your family is from Pennsylvania, Sue?

SUE: Yes.

RACHEL: And how would you characterize them?

SUE: German.


That’s the other reason we chose Sue and Austin - they’re really funny.

RACHEL: And how did you guys meet?

AUSTIN: We met at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

RACHEL: And how did it become a relationship?

AUSTIN: I tried to be cool but I guess I was very clearly flirting with her for a long time. Like I would bring her breakfast in the morning and then I was like of you're like a yoga instructor right, we should go do yoga together some time and you can help me with my practice. And then I thought that would be a fail safe in case she wasn’t into me. It could still be a friendly thing, to just do yoga together. But it turned out she did know I meant it as a date. We went and did yoga together after the class we started holding hands and it's been on ever since then.

Flash forward almost seven years later. It’s August 2016. And even if neither of them planned to get married, it is happening. In a month.

RACHEL: What happened?

SUE: I think it was a gradual thing where like over time I would just get jealous to other people's wedding. I’d be like, ugh, that bitch, I hate this. Why is she opening her presents? And then I was like oh, it's because I want to have this as well.

AUSTIN: Uh, and my answer might be equally as romantic as that one. And it’s from going to therapy and I think just working out my own issues about commitment. Because I don’t think it was anything about us and our relationship that was keeping me from wanting to get married. I think I just grew up a little bit and realized that this will be fun. Even the idea of a wedding sounds super stressful, but I went to a wedding last weekend and it was so nice picturing that it's going to be us doing that in a month. So, I think it's going to be awesome.

Excuse me. That is for me to decide. Because THIS is Surprisingly Awesome, from Gimlet Media.


I’m Rachel Ward, and in this episode we’re talking about WEDDINGS. This is the first of two episodes. This week, we are talking about PLANNING a wedding. What does it take to plan a wedding? At what cost? And what does the way a wedding is planned tell you about the couple who plans it?

Ok, so right off the bat, two things. First, we could only go to one wedding, because weddings are exhausting. So you are going to be hearing about one, very specific wedding, where a woman and a man get married, in a not really all that religious ceremony. In America. Out in the country, in a barn full of chandeliers and Christmas lights.

We know this is just a small sliver of all of the types of weddings that there are in the world. But if you’re about the age I am, and you follow the Instagram accounts that I follow, this kind of wedding is super ubiquitous.

Second: There’s a big chunk of you who are saying to yourselves right now -- or maybe you’re saying it out loud, I don’t know what your deal is -- Weddings ARE awesome! What are you talking about? What’s even up for debate here?

OK. Here is what I will concede to that point: The idea of two people binding themselves to each other for eternity -- that is awesome, like in the most Torah, Bible, Koran sense of that word.

And weddings themselves can be pretty awesome, like if you get the right combination of DJ, crowd, food, alcohol. If you’ve had a wedding, you probably think your wedding was really awesome.

But come on. Weddings can wear on you. If you’ve been to, say three weddings, you’ve kind of been to all weddings. There are lots of variations in execution, but the bones of the secular American wedding -- those don’t change very much. The script for the event is pretty set: ceremony, dinner, party, shuttle bus, hotel.

Even Sue and Austin’s OWN FRIENDS are tired of weddings:

ALEX: I feel like I haven't seen wedding pictures that did not have some set of flower crown element recently.

ALEX: Also it's really funny to me, like, whenever just the bridal party wears them because they all sort of look like Manson sisters.


ALEX: And they're like "Hey we're just here wearing flower crowns, and writing letters to Charlie."

JESSE: It is uh, it is a social…. watermark. Right? There is some expectation that to grow up, you get married.

ALEX: One time I went to a wedding and the end of it was "I'm going to be a proper jewish wife to you." And I was like, "The fuck does that mean?"

CARLY: Was it a religious wedding?

ALEX: Like, ish? But it took a left turn

CARLY: What does that mean?

ALEX: I don't know, and I'm JEWISH.

RYAN: Like the whole formality, I mean, I grew up of Irish Catholic descent and had to deal with a lot of church weddings. I don't believe in god, it's fucking terrible. I don't believe in ghosts, either.

CARLY: I mean, I like to say I spent the whole wedding getting mauled by people older than me, to be like, gimme your youth. But it was, it was fun, regardless.

CARLY: I almost put it on my LinkedIn that it was like, worked on my wedding for like 11 months. even with a planner.

STACY: I have seven weddings this year. [laughs] Yeah.

RYAN: And you're like, laughing like it's funny. No, you're hemorrhaging money. You're like the fucking National Debt over here just hemorrhaging fucking money to go to these goddamn weddings.

And yet, despite this chorus of voices being like “what is even the deal with weddings,” Sue and Austin are in love, and they want to do this thing. They want to plan a wedding. Even if the idea of what a wedding is … keeps changing.

AUSTIN: it started as we were going to have a little party and get some pizzas.

SUE: City Hall ...

“It started as.”

SUE: And now it's like a real thing. I don't know, I think it's like when we got the venue it all started to snowball.

The moment it stopped being City Hall and pizzas was the moment that they booked the venue. Because once you’ve got a big, beautiful empty room -- in this case, a converted barn -- you have to fill it.

SUE: But it's like I didn't originally thinking - I was like oh I don't need flowers or anything and then I started thinking about it and the caterer introduced us to a vendor and I started talking to her and I was like oh my God I can do this and this and this, I need it all.

So a big wedding wasn’t the ORIGINAL plan. But Sue and Austin have been really excited about this part of the planning: All the choices they get to make, to show the world who they are. It’s kind of a fun challenge, to express your style as a couple, in a way that your friends and family haven’t seen before at other weddings. It’s a chance to be creative.

AUSTIN: The candy bars are gonna be exciting.

SUE: Oh God.

RACHEL: What's the candy bar?

SUE: It's like bulk candy

RACHEL: Why candy?

SUE: He was in charge of this, this was his job.

AUSTIN: I was very excited to be in charge of that. first one is going to be a little upsetting to some of you maybe, licorice all sorts, any licorice all sorts fans out there?

SUE: It's only you and your grandmother

AUSTIN: Well if my grandmother is making her trip out there then she deserves some licorice all sorts. We're talking Cow Tails. I mean we got ten others coming at you. Jellybellies

AUSTIN: Swedish fish, peanut M&Ms because you need some chocolate. And then we got little buttons with our cats faces on them that says “happily meowried.”

SUE: “Happily meowried.” I thought of that

AUSTIN: Yes, yes weddings. See what I mean? Surprisingly Awesome

SUE: Yeah.

Okay, these are the awesome things about planning a wedding -- piles of candy, doing something special for your grandma, cat puns. But you know what’s not awesome?

SUE: I'm about to go to bed, it's August 26th so I'm getting married in 3 weeks I think. I'm stressed about money because I've just been working my ass off to try to pay for this wedding and I know that like no matter how hard I work it's just - I'm just getting deeper and deeper into debt

Sue booked that venue, opened up that whole can of worms, 12 months, 150 invitations, and $24,000 ago.

SUE: When we first got engaged, I had a couple months where I was having a lot of panic attacks and feeling really overwhelmed at the thought of planning a wedding and doing this big thing and incurring this huge cost and expense.

All of those choices that you get to make, to show the world who you are as a couple? They cost MONEY. Every element of the wedding -- flowers, dresses, invites, napkins! -- it all costs real American dollars. And these costs can just mount and mount and mount in ways you do not expect.

SUE: This week is candles. Okay you would not think that that is such a big deal, so like our venue's not supplying candles, right, so we have to bring them ourselves and they're like, expensive. I got in my head that I want little votives, right, and then I want pillar candles of different heights on every table. Just to look cute. And we have 20 tables, so to do that on every table - I don't know, I went to Michael's today and I spent 100 dollars.

That’s how the costs start to pile up. 100 dollars at Michaels here, a 100 dollars at Michaels there. But what does it all add up to? So on this, I’m bring in our trusty numbers woman, producer Christine Driscoll. Hello Christine


RACHEL: So Christine, at this point, listening to the amount of money that Sue and Austin are spending on things like candles, I am wondering… how much does a wedding cost?

CHRISTINE: Well I looked at a few different sources, and found slightly different numbers, but people spend somewhere between 26 and 32 thousand dollars on average is what people spend.

RACHEL: Oh ok. So basically like put a down payment on a house and then get married

CHRISTINE: But there actually is more to the numbers than that.

RACHEL: Go on…

CHRISTINE: Do you remember in middle school when you learned about mean, median, and mode?

RACHEL: Mostly?

CHRISTINE: So median is the exact MIDDLE VALUE of a bunch of numbers, if you line them up in order. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - 3 is the median.

The Mode is the number that occurs the most frequently.

RACHEL: In a set of numbers?

CHRISTINE: Yes. So if you had like one 1, 1, 1, 1, 5 - 1 is the mode. And then the mean is the sum of all the numbers divided by how many you added.

RACHEL: Oh, mean is just like the average.

CHRISTINE: Yes, exactly. But averages are tricky. So for example if we each had a wedding and you spent a dollar on your wedding and I spent 99 dollars on my wedding, then the mean would be 50 dollars, right?


CHRISTINE: But in reality I had a much nicer wedding.

RACHEL: That’s probably true

CHRISTINE: So the mode would be better to report. You’d get a much better picture of what’s being spent.

RACHEL: OK so do you have a mode of what people are spending on weddings?

CHRISTINE: Well so that’s the catch -- so Big Bride, big bridal magazine, they don’t want you to know what’s normal, they want you to be ready to spend a bunch of money. And I found a report from a company called The Wedding Report which is made specifically for people in the wedding industry, who are marketing to brides so it has a much better picture of what is actually happening. And what I found there is that almost half of weddings are actually less than $10,000.

RACHEL: That’s actually not that bad, that’s like an okay number.

CHRISTINE: Right, exactly, but those big averages that we talked about like $26-32,000 - they’re misleading because the survey sample is people who are subscribed to Bride Magazine or are on The Knot and are really into planning this wedding kind of spending a lot of money

RACHEL: So it’s exactly the kind of people who are already into the idea of a big, expensive wedding who are being represented in these surveys.

CHRISTINE: Right and so the results are a little bit skewed. And that might be deliberate, certainly advantageous. Because if you are thinking like oh if I’m gonna have a wedding it has to be $26,000 like you’re primed to be ready to spend that much money.

And so the New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead actually wrote a book about the whole wedding industry and she wrote about how this number is really great for the industry that it’s so high because people are expecting to pay more

RACHEL: So did find out the total cost of weddings in America, like how much is spent for people to get married in this country?

CHRISTINE: Well, it’s hard to track. But Wedding Report reported that in 2015 about 57.89 billion dollars was--

RACHEL: 58 billion dollars.


RACHEL: B as in Billion?

CHRISTINE: B as a in boy. And I have one more thing to share with you. I found a study about -- people are spending all this money on weddings. So two economists looked to see. If how much money you spent had any relationship with whether your marriage lasted.

And what they found is that it’s inversely correlated. So the more you spent the higher risk for divorce. And for women specifically if their wedding was between $5,000 - $10,000 they had a higher chance of their marriage lasting than if they spent $20,000.

RACHEL: So, if you spent more than $20,000 dollars, you’re screwed.


RACHEL: OK thank you Christine thank you so much.

CHRISTINE: No problem

So this makes sense to me -- with all the money being spent on weddings, that there would be a backlash. A DIY backlash. And so there are people like Sue and Austin who are trying to SAVE money, it’s a good reason to have a DIY wedding. It’s not just that it’s trendy to get married in a barn. It’s cheaper to get married in a barn. And maybe better for your marriage!

So we wanted to put this idea to someone with a sociology background, so we spoke to Tamara Sniezek, the chair of the Department of Sociology at California State University, Stanislaus. Because it seemed like the idea of a DIY wedding was a particularly recent phenomenon.

TAMARA: I would argue that people have been doing DIY long before that, that that's only -- that the middle class suffered during the recession, but um, people of color, and lower income folks, always did DIY weddings. So that's only a new experience for middle class white women. And I see it now, I see it in my more diverse couples, they have whole systems for DIY. Probably, actually better prepared than middle class women. They’re really creative. Like, the Mexicans I interviewed here, family members would all pitch in and take responsibility for certain things and it would spread the cost amongst the larger family. So like, Uncle So and So would pay for the band. And this auntie would pay for um, the dress. And someone would pay for the hall.

The catch is, when you do a DIY wedding, you have to DO the wedding YOURSELF. And that’s creating a lot of work. Especially when you don’t have a whole community of support set up.

AUSTIN: Hi, it's Austin and the wedding is 17, 18 days out. What stressed me out - today, what's stressful is the bar, so I literally went through and deciphered how many drinks I thought each person would have and then on average how much a drink would cost to figure out if it was better to do per consumption or open bar. I know there will be some drinkers at the wedding that could easily send us over that $3000 mark. So we'll see. It's a very stressful thing.

A very stressful thing, that you are not getting paid to do. Coming up, after the break, what happens when planning a wedding becomes a second job.


Welcome back to Surprisingly Awesome. I’m Rachel Ward. This week, part one of our two part WEDDING EXTRAVAGANZA.

SUE: Today is Tuesday? … Next Saturday.

AUSTIN: Less than two weeks?

SUE: Oh my God, yeah

The wedding is getting closer.

And Sue and Austin are managing A LOT of STUFF.

AUSTIN: So I went to a wedding a couple weeks ago and they had ice coffee, I was like this is friggin’ genius, how did we not think of this?

SUE: She’s going to charge us two more dollars a person to do that.

AUSTIN: Think so?

SUE: I mean I can ask, I’ll ask.

AUSTIN: I’d pay a dollar a person for it.

SUE: You would? Alright. We got our final invoice on Friday from the caterer.

SUE: We originally told her like $25 a person. And she was like well you can spend that at burger king. That’s what she said.

AUSTIN: She doesn’t pull punches.

The wedding is two weeks out, and you can HEAR how tired Sue and Austin are.

TAMARA: Really, it represents a ton of work.

That’s Tamara Sniezek again. Another reason we wanted to talk to her is because she wrote a paper about WEDDING PLANNING. It’s something she fell into when she was planning her OWN wedding.

TAMARA: I was surprised by some of the tensions and conflicts that you have to deal with that come up during planning, I thought that was, was really interesting and wanted to explore that more.

RACHEL: So the veil kind of fell off of your eyes and you were like wow there's a lot more going on here?

TAMARA: Yeah, I love that. The veil. Good metaphor right?

RACHEL: Terrible pun. Ok metaphor.

Tamara says realizing how much unseen work was happening in her own wedding made her want to dig into it. The result was a paper she published in Qualitative Sociology in 2005: Is It Our Day or the Bride’s Day? The Division of Wedding Labor and Its Meaning for Couples. She’d ask the couples she was studying, how do you divide up the work?

TAMARA: And they would even say specifically they're very egalitarian in the wedding planning. Oh, we both work equally hard at planning this wedding. And it wasn't really true, at least um, for when I would go and compare that to actually looking at their planners and, you know, recording step by step, ok, who did this, who did that, who put the work into this, that -- and almost -- in every case, it was never equal on any of the couples. The women always did more. And even the ones where it was more close to equal, the woman was the manager. So she did extra work to make sure he was doing more. Which is extra work.

We know this, intuitively, from our jobs. Managers have the work of managing people. That’s a job. But we don’t notice that labor so much outside of the workplace.

For Sue and Austin, Sue is the manager:

SUE: I was designing the save the date and sending out the save the date and talking about the guest list and he’s like you’re not including me in anything. And I was like oh you can do the food.

AUSTIN: I think she gave me the more – what I thought would be the fun task. Knowing that that might help me get into the planning. Because the planning stressed me out… pretty bad and the fun tasks that I've taken on, i.e. the food and the music, have turned out to be not so fun.

In her paper, Tamara writes about this bride, Sarah. Specifically, about how Sarah’s wedding invitations were chosen. Sarah presented a few options to her fiance, and they “chose the invitations together.”

But behind that “together” there was a whole bunch of work. Tamara says Sarah was leaving out a lot of backstory.

TAMARA: Oh well, I compared these different, the prices, I looked at the fonts and I went to this place and that place, yeah, and by the time he actually got involved, she had done tons of work.

There’s another element of wedding planning work that people don’t talk about: Making decisions is hard work. It is ACTUAL work. This work is not only unacknowledged. It’s unpaid. And honestly, it’s worth a lot. Christine! Come back. More numbers.

CHRISTINE: Hello Rachel.

RACHEL: So can you tell me, how much does an hour of work planning a wedding cost?

CHRISTINE: Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for professional event planners is $22.52 an hour.

RACHEL: And how long does it take to plan a wedding?

CHRISTINE: According to a 2010 survey by Forbes, a woman spends almost 10 hours a week, working on her wedding. And the average length of an engagement that year was 14 months.

RACHEL: Ok, so 14 months, times the number of hours women spent planning a wedding, is…

CHRISTINE: Almost 550 hours.

RACHEL: So the dollar amount -- if you’re going to pay yourself like a wedding planner -- is…

CHRISTINE: More than twelve thousand dollars.

RACHEL: More than twelve thousand dollars!

So that’s $12,000 that a person should be making to plan a wedding. Except most of them make nothing. And...

KATIE: Unfortunately usually it is women doing this wedding planning.

This is Katie Wannen: Wedding planner, and advocate for GET YOURS GIRL.

KATIE: And that’s a whole other podcast probably but I think that women tend to undervalue their time and they don’t think about how much time and how many hours it takes to actually plan a wedding.

Think of it this way: Katie has monetized all that work that other women are doing for free.

KATIE: So, I actually used to live in New York City and I produced theater on the side and also assisted a Broadway producer. So I was kind of a theater nerd. And I realized that producing an event and producing theater, a show, were actually very similar and required a lot of the same skills.

Katie can attest to exactly how much work goes into wedding planning. And how it deserves to be recognized as a JOB.

KATIE: There’s no reason why someone who just got engaged should suddenly have all the skills necessary to produce a really large event. It just makes no sense. Even if they worked their butts off and spent over 100 hours over the year planning their wedding, they may never use that knowledge ever again. It’s not like parenting where you don’t know what the hell you’re doing but you’re then able to apply that knowledge year after year after year. So why not hire someone who has done many many many weddings over many years and has that knowledge and has those resources and can help you through it.

So when women DIY their weddings, it means they wind up effectively paying themselves NOTHING for a ton of labor.

KATIE: I think that a lot of women feel guilty if they don’t actually want to do this. It’s like society is telling them they should want to take this on and do it all themselves. And you know, I just don’t think that’s right.

It just ain’t right! And it doesn’t stop at whether or not the labor that goes into planning a wedding is paid or unpaid. Tamara, our sociologist, she’s noticed that how you PLAN your wedding can have ramifications for how your marriage plays out.

Remember how planning labor was almost always distributed unequally? Tamara found that even when couples weren’t sharing wedding planning labor equally -- THEY WOULD ACT LIKE THEY WERE.

TAMARA: Our ideology tells us that we’re supposed to be modern, equal couples. So yeah, I think it is threatening to the relationship.

RACHEL: It’s the worst, because not only do you have to do more work, you also have to do the work of pretending you’re not doing the work.

TAMARA: Yes, yes. Can you imagine?

RACHEL: I can. It’s very realistic.

TAMARA: And one of the things I argued in the paper, is it sets her up for taking on a larger burden in other similar work. Cause I compare wedding work to like, housework, and what we call kin work. Kin work is the work that largely women do to maintain family relationships and family ties. So for instance, women are the ones who organize funerals, not men. Women organize, reunions and birthday parties and brises or whatever. Women are the backbone of family. And wedding are a microcosm of kin keeping, and housework, and clothing and feeding and hosting, Which is fine, except they don't necessarily get credit for it. I think wedding is the foreshadowing of that future role that she's gonna have, as the kin keeper.

RACHEL: Wow, that's so dark. [laughs]


When you look at some couples, how the division of kin work breaks down, it CAN be pretty dark. But it’s not for Sue and Austin. They talk all the time about who does what - they’re actually really open about it.

AUSTIN: I have very defined things that I’m in charge of.

SUE: He’s on a need to know basis.

AUSTIN: Yup. Exactly.

So that’s a positive thing. If you’re not actually dividing the work up equally, it’s good to acknowledge that it IS work and not just pretend that everything is equal. It’s healthy for your … NOMOS. Here’s Tamara again.

TAMARA: Nomos is a word to describe a joint reality that the couple holds. When you're with someone long enough as a couple, you come to see the world in very similar ways. And almost so much to the point that you wait to talk to your partner before you decide on the reality.

So let’s say that you think someone you meet is a total jerk. You say to yourself, I THINK this guy is a total jerk. But let me check in.

TAMARA: You talk to your partner, like wasn't he a total jerk, yeah what a total jerk, and then together it confirms your reality, and it becomes a joint reality, which is stronger sometimes than your own sense of reality. So it's this little joint reality, that the couple shares. Boy the wedding really puts that out there, and makes you firm that up, and really makes it harden.

But what Tamara’s really worried about is not just couples failing to share work equally. It’s that when they TELL themselves they did do everything 50/50. When they do that they’re inserting a lie into their nomos from the very start. They’re making inequality part of their bedrock. And that pattern will just replicate itself over the life of a relationship.

That’s not the only example of Nomos, though.

Nomos is a sociology word for that thing you see all the time -- where a couple stops being two people and starts being A COUPLE. Here’s an example, from one of the bridesmaids, Anna:

ANNA: They're just so cute, they really care about each other. I feel like one of the biggest things about them is that when they moved in together Sue has two cats and Austin is not a cat person and now Austin is a cat person. Like maybe even more than Sue now. That's a really big thing to change someone into a cat person

RACHEL: It's the power of love.

Austin doesn’t care about cats. But Sue AND Austin - they LOVE cats. Nomos is stronger than your own preferences.

When you’re planning a wedding, you’re working on your nomos -- whether you know it or not.

Nomos can make you a cat person. It can establish how you approach problems, how you divide up work. It is the reality from which you operate, when you are facing times of STRESS and STRIFE

And what is a wedding … if not stress and strife?

AUSTIN: Hey guys, I thought you might want to know that I got into a bike spill last night.

The wedding is on Saturday. Sue and Austin both sent us messages separately, just days before the wedding.

AUSTIN: I hit a rock on my way up the Williamsburg bridge and landed on my handlebars and the pointy end jabbed into my pelvis. And it hurt a lot and - and I am still in a lot of pain and walking funny.

SUE: He doesn't like doctors and stuff and I'm the same way but it seemed like he might have bruised some organs so I was worried and I kind of told him to go to the doctor and he didn't want to and

AUSTIN: So I'm a little worried about what that means for like - I don't know, any weekend activities or dancing. I don't think it's the kind of thing where I need to go to the doctor, But I really don't want to spend the money or time on it. But it's a thing we're dealing with before the wedding

SUE: It was really scary because I've never seen him injured that badly. You know, it's a lot right now.

Next week on Surprisingly Awesome: Sue and Austin part two.


Surprisingly Awesome’s theme music is by Nicholas Britell. Our ad music is by Build Buildings.

Additional music came from Kyle Morton, Sex Life, and XOLO.

We were edited this week by Annie-Rose Strasser, and produced by Christine Driscoll and Rikki Novetsky. Our field producers were Sylvie Douglis and Nick Fountain. Hire Sylvie! Listen to Nick’s Fenway Park story on Planet Money!

Production Assistance from Jacob Cruz, Emily Kennedy, Melanie Kruvelis, Jessica Langley, Sarah Melton, and Sarah Stodder.

Thank you to Meg Keene at A Practical Wedding, Erin Boll, the proprietrix of the Instagram account Pisces Bride, Stevie Lane who designed our wedding invitation, to us find Sue and Austin.

Also, one final note: PEOPLE. There are A LOT of voter registration deadlines coming up. If you want to vote, CHECK YOUR REGISTRATION STATUS, and if you’re not registered, DO IT. You can find out how at vote.usa.gov.

Surprisingly Awesome is a production of Gimlet Media.

SUE: I was like oh I don't need flowers or anything and then I started thinking about it and now there's gonna be a station where people can make their own flower crowns and it's gonna be cute and adorable. I'm leaning into this, Rachel. I see your face and you're like really? I'm leaning in to the farm thing.

RACHEL: This is exactly what Sheryl Sandberg was talking about when she said lean in.

SUE: Yes, she was talking about a woman's right to have an elaborate wedding.

AUSTIN: There's a whole chapter on flower crowns if I remember.

CHRISTINE: She's wearing one in the author photo.