Guest Post: Caitlin of Chasing Chels, on the Stress of Wedding Planning

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc
photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

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.

photo credit: cuegalos via photopin cc
photo credit: cuegalos via photopin cc

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!


  1. 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?



  1. Great advice and after planning our wedding over 10 years ago here, I will say that as much stress and craziness as it is to planning this one day – it is just one day! I know and believe me we had our fair share of these types of moments, but just remember to breathe and stay calm. In the end, just enjoy your day and don’t sweat the small stuff. Also, enjoy the honeymoon and try to give yourself a buffer from the wedding day to the actual honeymoon, because we left not even 24 hours later and will admit it was just too much and we were exhausted. We should have waited a day or two, and then went, because we fell asleep the first night in paradise instead of being able to enjoy each and every moment of it. That said huge congrats and thank you for sharing your story with us today 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      There should be a new tradition for weddings – nap time. For everyone. Even going to a wedding can be exhausting. I wish it was like on TV, when the whole thing takes like 37 seconds.

      1. Eli, nap time for weddings would be perfect. Seriously, you need to market that one, because it is genius!! 😉

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        In general, all events are enhanced by inclusion of naps and snacks.

    2. chasingchels says:

      Aww thank you Janine! Keeping in mind that it’s just one day is definitely of utmost importance. I’ve heard it will fly, too, so I’m trying to enjoy the process as much as possible 😛 That’s awesome advice about the honeymoon, too! I don’t think we’ll be able to take one till next fall, so that will leave plenty of time to rest up for it 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Rebecca at Frugalista blog wrote a post that you might like about her lost bouquet:

  2. ksbeth says:

    glad you ended up together, you are right, sometimes the universe conspires to bring people together. my daughter met a boy/man from australia while traveling in london and they have been married now for years and have given me two small grandsons. anything is possible when the right people meet each other. love your wedding planning story and i know it can be a whirlwind for everyone involved, i used to do a lot of catering back in the day, and weddings are never dull, no matter how much you plan for everything )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You had me at “catering.”

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        Everyone has you at catering Mate. *Hmm, can be bought for food.*

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I’d make a horrible guard dog.

      3. laurie27wsmith says:

        Mate I can only imagine. “Hey Burt, did you bring anymore sausages, this Doberman just scoffed all of mine?”

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        Burglars could have the run of the estate for the price of a dollar cheeseburger.

      5. laurie27wsmith says:

        You’re a cheap guard dog Mate.

    2. chasingchels says:

      Thank you so much 🙂 I could not agree more that life is crazy at times and seemingly impossible things work out. We were talking about it this weekend…how much had to happen for us to meet and stay connected, and while it boggles my mind to think about it, I’m very glad it did (as I am to hear that it’s worked for your daughter and son-in-law!). That’s definitely my view on everything that goes wrong, too…it’ll just make the stories about the big day more interesting 😉

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        I don’t think anything went wrong on my wedding day – except for that the man who married us called me “Ellie” when he announced us at the end!

  3. ProteanMom says:

    I’d add *delegate*.
    Moms/families will want to help, so be sure to give them realistic and appropriate assignments – otherwise well-meaning relatives could throw a wrench in your plans. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Chels’ next post should be – the Dangers of Wedding Planning. Or maybe you should tackle that one, Kim!

    2. chasingchels says:

      Ohhh good one! We haven’t had to do much of that yet, but I know it’s coming. My mum has been awesome about letting us do our thing, but I know she’s itching to do stuff, too, so I will happily bring her in on our next project (save the dates) and then from here on out! Thanks for the addition 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Dad was my best man. Still is, actually.

  4. Kim says:

    What a fun post to see over here!!
    I think that above all it is important to remember that even with all the planning, something will more than likely not go according to plan and it is OK – at the end of the day if you are married then it’s all good. (I own an event venue and work with lots of brides – I always tell them that the actual wedding day should be fun and stress free!!!)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Do brides ever need a pill, Kim?

      1. Kim says:

        HaHa – yep!!!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Maybe they should spike her punch, too.

    2. chasingchels says:

      YES!! That is what I say to everyone when they comment on how I’m one of the least stressed brides they’ve ever seen (HUge compliment in my book haha). I’m marrying my best friend, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me. Yes, I want everyone to enjoy themselves and have a good time and to look pretty and have everyone else look great, too, but I know it’s not going to be perfect, I know things we want/plan to have won’t be completely there, and that’s ok. Just makes for some entertaining stories later!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Maybe even some blog posts.

  5. Caitlin, hi! What a nice surprise to read a good love story on Eli’s blog – doesn’t happen every day around here. Last time it was about Shelley, I believe.

    I think you’ve got it all figured out, I especially like how realistic you are about “it’s just a party” – because it is. And the day goes by so very quickly! I wasn’t even hungry and missed the dessert buffet altogether. So when is it, your big day?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      J-Law hasn’t made an appearance lately, but Ingrid Michaelson has …

      1. J left me her glass of wine, didn’t she?

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        She left in a hurry, that’s for sure.

    2. chasingchels says:

      Hi Tamara 🙂 Thank you for the kind words about our story! We like it…but we’re pretty bias 😉 I think we’ve been pretty level headed about everything thus far, which is nice, and I definitely hope it continues to stay that way, which should be possible (as long as I don’t let myself get too tired or hungry….then all bets are off 😉 ). I’ve heard that it flies just like you said, so I’m trying to just enjoy what I can now, and let the rest go (although if I miss dessert, I will be incredibly put out…I have the biggest sweet tooth known to man haha). Our big day is April 18, 2015! Still have a ways to go, but it’ll be here before we know it 🙂

      1. Looks like we have a couple of things in common:

        cranky when tired and hungry,
        sweet tooth

        Still, I wasn’t hungry on my wedding day, and I really did miss dessert. Strangest thing. I’ve been catching up on my sweets though.

        7 months to go, huh. I’m following you on Bloglovin, so I can keep up with your progress 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        They should put Caitlin’s wedding on TV like they did Princess Diana’s.

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        Your boy has some time to get a tux!

    3. laurie27wsmith says:

      Eli’s just a romantic at heart Tamara, I’m sure he’d never miss the dessert buffet though. I know I wouldn’t.

      1. So am I. Can you imagine my wedding party with you and Eli as guests? SO.MUCH.FUN!!!
        It was a gorgeous buffet, my mom took pictures.

        E, do you think Caitlin is going to invite us? What else would Colin need a tux for? He could be the ring bearer, how cute!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Attending an event like this would be a violation of some of my readers’ probation.

      3. laurie27wsmith says:

        Between the dessert buffet and the microphone I tend to enjoy weddings. Now taking pictures of the buffet is great, reminds one of how much they could have eaten on the night.

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        That’s the beauty of buffets, mate. No pictures. No counting. No guilt.

      5. laurie27wsmith says:

        What happens at the buffet, stays at the buffet.

      6. Eli Pacheco says:

        There’s enough for both of us, mate.

      7. laurie27wsmith says:

        Are you sure, are you really sure?

      8. Eli Pacheco says:

        one way to find out.

      9. laurie27wsmith says:

        I’ll fuel up the mower and be there soon.

  6. Lady Lilith says:

    Lol. I wish I read this post earlier. I just helped my close friend plan her wedding.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s not too late – tell her do-over.

    2. chasingchels says:

      Hahaha what Eli said 😉 I bet your friend is very grateful she had someone like you on her side. Good friends in wedding planning are life savers as I have quickly found out!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Mostly the groomsmen just want to know about the bachelor party and which of the bridesmaids are single.

  7. 1jaded1 says:

    Best Wishes to you, Caitlin! Your happiness shows in your pictures. :0)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She’s doing pretty good, isn’t she?

    2. chasingchels says:

      Aww thank you 🙂 It’s been a good year, for which I am incredibly thankful!

  8. laurie27wsmith says:

    I’ll leave wedding planning to the experts Caitlin, women. It’s not a place for even the most hardened war veteran, there are too many booby traps *not those boobys* and differing rules of engagement that change with the weather. My advice to men, stay sober, nod your head at the right moments, smile on cue and try not to roll your eyes and if you do don’t get caught.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      And don’t get arrested the night before.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        Getting arrested adds to the mystique, as long as it’s not in a Thailand prison.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Please tweet that out, mate.

      3. laurie27wsmith says:

        It would make an interesting tweet.

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        Just do it, and see what happens.

      5. laurie27wsmith says:

        Not today and no double dares, okay.

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