Caitlin ran into my life just after the Seattle Seahawks ran over my Denver Broncos is the crappiest Super Bowl ever.
My Monday-after post was a rant of epic proportions. My anger spilled out against everything, not just the trash-talking, bum-rushing team in ridiculous uniforms from the Pacific Northwest. Her empathy struck a cord with me so I checked out her blog.
Chasing Chels is a cool collection of post about running and food.
And it’s much more than that. Caitlin (aka Chels) is a Pink Ambassador, and the kind of fierce and determined girl I see in my own daughters. Thursdays, Caitlin puts out a Thinking Out Loud post that sum up life and offer glimpses into her world.
Today, she’s hear to talk wedding planning.
We fellas know as long as we get the tux, arrange the honeymoon and get to the church on time, our work is done. But a woman’s work? I’ll let Chels take it from here. Give her a warm welcome on the CD, and be sure to visit her space, too.
Hey kids! My name is Caitlin, and I usually write over at Chasing Chels, where I share lots of fun stuff about my life, running, and whatever else comes to mind. I was incredibly honored when Eli invited me to take over his space for the day, since he is a blogger I really look up to in this little world (as I do the guest posters he invites to share his space) and always writes pieces that resonate with me.
I hope the day is treating you well, sir, and I thank you for working with me over the craziness of the past few months!
- My name is Caitlin, and running makes me happy. So I do it. A lot.
My fiancé, Joe, and I have been together for 3.5 years. We met in a bar in 2010, three days before he left for Afghanistan as a member of the armed forces; I swore I would never date a man I met in bar…apparently the universe thought that was funny and decided to make sure I was stuck with one for life.
We clicked right away and kept in touch during nine long months of his deployment (Facebook messaging is still my hero for this), spent most of his two week mid-tour leave together in February of 2011, and the rest is history.
We were long distance even after he came home in April of 2011, since he was stationed in nine hours away from me in Pittsburgh but were finally able to live together after he was discharged from the army in March of 2013. It was glorious….until he left for the PA State Police Academy in May of 2014, where he will remain until November (if you would like to read more about our story, you can do so here and here).
You’d think I’d wonder if he really loves me, since he keeps leaving me, but since he asked me to marry him on a run on April 5, 2014, I think we’re good 😉 After the initial excitement of “OMG WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!!!!” passed (lasted maybe 2 days), we realized we were two wedding planning newbies with no idea what to do and a very short amount of time to figure it out because we knew we wanted to get as much done as possible before he departed for the academy.
Instead of stressing (for once), however, we have followed some simple self-made things, which enabled us to painlessly find our venue, caterer, photographer, DJ, officiant, wedding party, cake, bridesmaid’s dresses (and hair), and my dress in a little over a month. Thus, I thought I would share them with all of you today because they have saved us a lot of stress and kept things relatively easy, which I didn’t think was possible before but can now completely attest is true.
Date night a few weeks ago.
- Ask for help. Joe and I have been to a fair amount of weddings, but planning one ourselves was (and is) a whole other ball game, and we had absolutely no idea where to start. So we asked for help from people who did. In our case, we talked to friends and family for ideas and suggestions for vendors. I also did some research and found this wedding timeline online, which we have been using as a rough outline for staying on top of things; it’s worked very well thus far, and I believe will continue to do so.
- Plan the budget early on, and STICK TO IT. Easier said than done I know (I really had no idea how much weddings cost until I started researching vendors), but it is definitely possible to find things that work within your limits without sacrificing your idea of the day. We had ours set before the end of our first week of engagement (which Joe further broke down into what we could spend on each thing…he’s a genius like that…and also has good friends who sent us their wedding budget sheet to help), and it made it a lot easier to choose between vendors. Can we afford you? No? See ya. Trust me, you will be much happier if you stay within the budgets you set for everything, and that will be a huge stress reducer over the long haul (which will make everyone, especially your significant other, a lot happier).
- Do as much as you can together, so that it’s YOUR day, and not just one or the other’s (or anyone else’s for that matter). It was very important to me from the day we got engaged that we made every decision together so that we were both happy with the outcome. Every vendor from the caterer to the photographer to the DJ to the bridesmaids dresses (yep, he came to that when I asked) was chosen by both of us, and it’s kept us on the same page with the same vision for the day, which has been really good. The only things he didn’t help with were the cake (he was already gone for the tasting unfortunately, but he fully approved of my choice) and my dress (he doesn’t get a say in that…but I think he’ll be happy 😉 ), and I am determined to keep it that way. Our wedding is our day, and everything about it should reflect us.
- Limit your options so you don’t get overwhelmed. I’m a planner. I look at everything. And then I go nuts and can’t make up my mind. I knew I didn’t want to do that in this case, so I didn’t. I did some research on com for local vendors who were within our budget and talked to friends who had gotten married in the last 2-4 years, and then Joe and I narrowed down our options from there. We ended up only meeting with 1 option for each portion (think 1 caterer, 1 photographer, 1 DJ, etc), and we happily signed contracts with all after our initial meetings. It kept me (and thus Joe) from going crazy and allowed us to make decisions quickly and easily, so that we could move onto the next thing. No agonizing=happy Caitlin and Joe, which is important to both of us, since we do want to enjoy our engagement without the added stress of making complicated decisions.
- Have other things going on to focus on along the way. Planning a wedding is fun…until it’s not anymore. We knew even before we got engaged that we didn’t want to spend the next year just talking about and focusing on the wedding, and we haven’t. After the first push to get stuff done before he left, we haven’t done a thing or really talked a whole lot about it in months, and it’s been glorious. Instead we talked about how things are going at the academy, how marathon training is going for me, where we hope to live when he’s done, stuff going on in daily life, and anything else you can think of. I make sure to do the same with our family and friends, too. I don’t want to bore anyone (or myself) with wedding talk 24/7, and honestly, I’d much rather talk about running/my marathon or Joe’s graduation, since both are a lot closer than the wedding (and there are days where I think they’re a lot more interesting, but I’m also a certified weirdo, so take that one with a grain of salt 😉 ). Life can’t revolve around a wedding for a year leading up to it; there’s too much other good stuff going on, and it’s important to focus on that while it’s happening. It’s also important to have outlets to get out any wedding related stresses; I run (a lot), and it always helps me work through anything I’m worried about, as does reading, journaling, and doing things with family and friends. Healthy outlets for dealing with stress are definitely necessary when planning a wedding, and they give you plenty to talk about besides the big day.
- Remember…the marriage is key, not the wedding. At the end of the day, nothing (including the wedding) is more important than the marriage and the sharing of your life together. Joe and I have both kept that in our heads from even before we got engaged. We want our wedding to be fun so that we can enjoy ourselves with our friends and family, but we aren’t particularly worried about it either. We don’t expect perfection, and we know it won’t happen. Nothing will go completely according to plan, and we’re fine with that. We are much more concerned with making sure we’re good as a couple and setting a solid foundation for the rest of our lives together. The wedding is just a party; the marriage is the most important thing. I don’t expect it to be the best day of my life (if anything that came when Joe asked me to be his wife…thus far anyway), and neither does he; we certainly hope and expect it to make the top ten moments, but the very top? Nope. As long as we end up married at the end of the night, everything else that happens is a bonus or a good story. Simple as that.
The day we got engaged. Easily the best day of my life thus far.
So there you have it. Keep things simple, have other things to focus on, and keep the marriage at the forefront of your thinking to ensure a much more enjoyable (and way less stressful) wedding planning experience J Thank you again for letting me take over for a day, Eli! It was a blast!
Have a good one!
Have you ever planned a wedding (or big event) before? What would you add to this list? What do you do to relieve stress?