As you can tell from the title of the post, I have some big news to share:
The boyfriend (now fiance) proposed back in January. We are getting married in October (of this year). Fall is his favorite season and I did not want to wait. So exciting!
Anyway, I hope you will forgive me for not having blogged for MONTHS.
And if you don't, here's 10 pieces of wedding planning advice, since that is all my brain is immersed in these days.
1. Enjoy your engagement.
I had repeatedly gently reminded/hounded/bushwhacked the fiance about timing his proposal so that we could get married in the fall of 2017. I let him know that weddings take at least 6 months to plan and that I wanted to be able to enjoy being engaged briefly.
In January, I gently reminded/hounded/bushwhacked the fiance about the timing of my life. Between inpatient service time and no upcoming vacation time, things were starting to get stressful. I asked him to please consider proposing before I went on service and before Obama left office. He acquiesced and proposed on Martin Luther King Day, the day before I went on service and the week Obama left office.
After the proposal, I spent about 2 to 4 weeks just basking in the glory of my ring...I mean our love. I allowed myself to buy one wedding related Etsy item from this shop, beautiful flower earrings I had had my eyes on for years. And then I just ran around telling people I was engaged and then running away. It was fun.
Beware: People will immediately ask you when you are getting married, if you have a dress yet, what your colors are, and all sorts of crazy questions you absolutely don't know if you just got engaged and were trying to wait until it actually happened to start planning a wedding. And by people, I mean family members, co-workers, and friends you thought knew you weren't insane.
2. Buy this book: A Practical Wedding Planner.
This book has kept the fiance and I on point. We came up with our wedding thesis statement (sorry, PhD drawing to a close), "a chill fun party that borders on raucous". And then we picked the things that were important to us and the things we did not care about, individually and together. We reference the book whenever we don't understand something or whenever we get into fights about petty things. It has been INCREDIBLY helpful for every aspect of wedding planning: venue choosing, save the dates, guest name wording, and 80 other things I never thought about when I was RSVPing to someone else's wedding and dreaming about my own. I also bought a more traditional wedding planner to write things down in, that I never use because its not electronic on my phone. I don't print things out or carry things around anymore, so if its not on my phone, it's not getting used. I created a Wedding folder in my email and google drive accounts, which the fiance has access to as well, to keep all of the emails and contracts between me and the vendors in one place.
3. DON'T cut your guest list based on your budget.
Write down the names of the people you must have at your wedding. Count them. Make it work without going broke. We are inviting over 300 people to our wedding. We're kinda old and have amassed a lot of friends over the lifetime. Oh, and my family is enormous. Every single venue and caterer we spoke to initially said to get within our budget, we needed to cut our numbers by a ridiculous amount. And then we started doing our research. There are so many ways to have a big wedding without going broke: non-traditional venues, Friday or Sunday weddings, morning weddings with brunch and mimosas. All sorts of options. We eventually chose a venue that we could rent for the entire weekend, have all of our events there, and have our immediate family stay there as well. They also said on their website that they work with all kinds of budgets and showed us catering options that would work for our budget as well. They were willing to WORK WITH US and MAKE IT WORK the way we wanted it to.
Just to be clear, we hope that 300 people don't actually show up to our wedding. We can't afford that and we will call people and uninvite them.
4. Online resources.
There are a ton of wedding planning related resources online. Limit yourself to 1 or 2 and don't look back. I started with WeddingWire for planning, because I liked their checklist and budget tools. The app is fairly straightforward, the vendor organization is great, the reviews are useful, and the forums are hilarious. After looking at The Knot, WeddingWire, and a few other options, we settled on Appy Couple for our wedding/guest website. We liked the interface, chose a theme we liked, and the price was right. I wish the guest list was more...user friendly and intuitive, but we are happy with its functionality and it is helping us stay organized.
Which brings me to my next suggestion:
5. Split duties.
Your fiance doesn't care about the 8 billion choices you have to make for a wedding. He may say he cares about the save the date font or the tablecloth color, but he doesn't really care enough to do the legwork you did in narrowing it down to three options for him to reject. So split duties and bring each other in for the final choosing with veto power. You can run a few options by him before delving into stuff, to get an idea of what he likes, but it will just be a waste of time (because he won't really like what he says he likes when it comes time to choose) and take your focus away from what you really like, because its your wedding too.
I assigned the finance to his and the groomsmen's attire (duh), obtaining addresses from his side of the family (really, his mother did this), creating address labels for the save the dates and invitations, and the wedding website. He has done a good job on each of these tasks, equally as good or better than I would I have done. He tries to help me with my tasks, though it seems like that is happening when he is trying to avoid doing his own tasks. He still complains about the time that everything is taking, even as he apologizes and acknowledges that I am doing way more work on things than him on the wedding. We recently starting having a "You Do You Day", where we each go our separate ways and do what we need to do. For him, this means working in the basement on his guitars. For me, this means working on the blog, playing football, having dinner with my girls, and yes, still working on wedding stuff. Because that's how things get done.
6. Have a wedding buddy.
Whether this is your best friend, close friend, mother, or wildebeast, you need someone to help you make decisions (since the fiance really doesn't care), tell you if you're being stupid, and keep you focused on the goal. I chose one of my closest friends (who is now going to be our officiant) and bribe her with wedding planning meals. None of my wedding party are local and she is one of my best friends here in Baltimore. She is also a Baltimore local, born and raised. She organized a venue shopping spreadsheet and went to most of my dress shopping experiences. She is LOVELY, in a word.
She is also keeping me from being that girl at work that "only ever talks about my wedding as if its all people care about". I do love asking people about their weddings, as it is fascinating and informative all in one. But yeah, I don't expect people to all want to hear the details all the time. I probably still talk about it too much, but, hey, no one's perfect.
7. Venue shopping.
Figure out your priorities and then find venues that match those priorities. Aside from our huge guest list, I really wanted a wedding on or near water (I'm a South Carolina girl by heart, guys) and the fiance really wanted a venue with no time or sound restrictions so he could party all night with his friends (that's really going to be a problem on our wedding night, guys). The wedding buddy and I narrowed it down to 5 options on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that seemed good on paper and were within budget, and then the fiance and I went to visit them one weekend in February. I really liked the venue we eventually chose from the start, an old inn at the edge of an island, based on their website, pictures, and reviews, but another venue, an old inn near a river, was a close second place as they had a great winery close by that we could have our welcome reception at, had a number of excellently priced hotels nearby for our family and friends, and had these amazing rooms with working fireplaces and porches. We will definitely go back there and stay there occasionally, but again, we chose our venue based on water views/location, flexibility on party length/ability to rent space for entire weekend, price, and the genuine awesomeness of the Inn owners.
8. The Pinterest Hole.
I fell into this one, big time. All I can say is, drag yourself back out, friend. While that thing you saw on that girl's wedding in Nova Scotia was so cute, is it really right for your wedding? Do you have time to do it and the other 10 million things on Pinterest that are so awesome? Can you really afford to do all of those things? Will it really look that cool along with the 27 other things you're trying to fit on the table that you found online? Just take a breath.
I came up with a theme for the wedding based on my favorite pins: Harvest Glam. Then I trimmed my Pinterest down quite a bit based on what worked and what didn't work with the theme. Worked: Glitter, spray painted pumpkins, and sparkly veils. Didn't work: The other 500 pins. Done.
This is a hard one. I have reset the budget about 3 times. The first was when I realized there was no way we could get what we wanted for the price the we wanted. So then I just started putting in random numbers based on google searches to see how much it might actually cost. The second was when I sat down and did the math about how much money I could realistically save before the wedding and how much I was willing to put on credit cards (and dig myself out of in a reasonable amount of time without ruining my credit) for the wedding. The third was when I got the numbers from our parents of what they were willing to pitch in.
Even though I am using a budget tracker from WeddingWire, I am still over budget (initially by $10K, then $3K, now $5K). I really won't know how much things cost until I have a final guest count, which will be about 2 weeks before the wedding. Until then, I'm doing what I can, such as writing this blog post in between patient calls from the hospital I work extra shifts at. It will be worth it in October. Until then, I'll be...at work.
10. Accept help.
From anyone who offers it. Immediate family, future in-laws, married friends, unmarried friends, talented friends (for sure!), not so talented friends. Anyone and everyone. Find something they like to do anyway and ask them to help you with it.
I have my wedding buddy who is helping with everything. I have my brother who helped me get everyone's addresses and is helping with music. I have a friend here who recently got married giving me great advice about less expensive but still awesome wedding alternatives (Vistaprint, BBQ catering). I have a friend from residency who is helping with wedding day styling - she found me THESE FANTASTIC EARRINGS from Nordstrom's. I have my bridemaids' planning the bachelorette. I have my future sister in law helping me with the kid's wedding party options.
And I have my Dad, my rock, keeping it real.