In 2010, Stone Fox Bride founder Molly Guy, back then a copywriter at a cosmetics company, found herself engaged with no idea where or how to start planning. In that pre-Pinterest era, it was harder to find cool alternatives to the traditional, princess-y wedding. Guy typed "bohemian bride" into Google, and just a few blurry photos from the '60s popped up; hardly the inspiration she was looking for. She ended up patching together a beautiful, meaningful, soulful, wedding, but she wasn't thrilled with every element. "The process of creating it was frustrating and lonely," she wrote in her new book Stone Fox Bride: Love, Lust, and Wedding Planning for the Wild at Heart.
If this sounds different from any wedding-planning experience you may have heard of in recent years, it's partly because Guy decided to take matters into her own hands. (Type in "bohemian bride" now, and you'll go down a lace-and-wildflower rabbit hole.) Three weeks after her engagement, she was sitting at a restaurant with a friend and said, "I have an idea for a wedding-dress store that's mellow and curated." Guy, then in her early 30s, had a background in writing and editing but no business experience. She drew up a business plan anyway.
Eventually, Stone Fox Bride was born, a non-frilly, no-BS boho-bride antidote to plastic-princess wedding culture with the motto "Fuck Weddings" and Jemima Kirke in its photo shoots. After the dresses came a blog, and now Guy has written Love, Lust, and Wedding Planning, an anti-guide guide to weddings out this week.
The book gets real about everything from body dysmorphia to the post-wedding "what now" feeling. It's much more than a planning tool or style lookbook (although it is those things as well), and it's for anyone looking for a different perspective on weddings — and these days, more couples are striving to make the event anything but cookie-cutter — and some solid relationship tips.
Guy's philosophy about weddings has pushed the envelope when it comes to the concept of a "chill bride." In our cultural mindset, it's evolved from the opposite of bridezilla, a loaded and sexist term that should be dead, to someone who approaches her wedding with authenticity and soul. But, just as we've debunked that persistent concept of the "cool girl" — you know, the one who chugs beer with the guys and is down for whatever — the chill bride, according to Guy, is now one who is strong about expressing her opinions.
"I think we're moving a little bit out of the flower-child phase" when it comes to wedding trends, Guy tells Refinery29. While the brand is rooted in a bohemian aesthetic, the book is more about spiritual growth than any particular look. "We're going to start seeing a shift to spending time creating meaningful ceremonies that explore the idea of true partnership and spiritual growth."
She weaves personal essays with stories from married couples, on everything from choosing a wedding dress to parenting, with nods to celebrity stone foxes like Solange and Yoko Ono. Mary-Kate and Ashley make an appearance in '70s-style caftans. The narratives are interspersed with practical tips on rings, flowers, and keeping your friendships intact. Of course, there are many gorgeous photos. And, there's a whole chapter dedicated to crafting your ceremony.
That question plagues many a couple: How exactly do you make your ceremony authentically you? Guy's answer: Curate it to death or stick with tradition, but do whatever you're comfortable with. And, perhaps, think of it as a piece of theater. "You're restoring [your guests'] faith in romance, in the miracle of two people finding each other, and falling in love," she writes. "So own that. Today you stand for everyone else's new beginning."
In the Stone Fox philosophy, challenging staid wedding norms is about so much more than creating a unique ceremony — because, if putting that part in the "fuck-it bucket" and going to city hall feels more true to you, why overthink it?
Making your wedding your own is also not necessarily about being aesthetically different. Guy tells us that during her journey with the brand, she's discovered that her customers care less about looking different from everyone else than about feeling understood at this bridge in their lives.
"Initially, I thought that women who resonated with the brand would want to walk down the aisle in a punk-bohemian, nontraditional wedding dress, but I was wrong," she says. "Most brides-to-be who walked through the door wanted a beautiful white dress, but they didn't want the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the shopping experience. Instead, they were eager for someone to acknowledge the fact that getting married was a huge mindfuck, a complicated life transition rooted in an identity shift — and an examination of self, finances, family, and future."
This is where the book resonates the most — that "mindfuck" part. In the last chapter, Guy delves into the actuality of being married, which, unlike popular culture would have us believe, is not an ending, but a beginning. And now, the stakes are higher than who's invited or which centerpieces you chose. Marriage doesn't make you complete. There are no fireworks. It's hard work.
There's a section of the chapter called "12 tips for surviving the first year of marriage without going insane," and they include: Give each other solo bathroom time, "fuck" (it's as simple as that), and recognize that infidelity doesn't mean the end.
It turns out, being a chill bride has a lot more to do with embracing your flaws and the fact that reality's not perfect than it does with wearing a groovy flower crown. Perhaps part of it is about reclaiming a traditional, historically sexist institution for ourselves, knowing that marriage today may not look like it did for our moms and dads. But it's also about knowing love can hurt. Although the flower crown helps, too.
Guy, who has two daughters, says she's now working on her next book, Stone Fox Mama.