I’m attempting to cram college into 5 semesters while also planning the wedding of my dreams. I met my fiancé Drew during my sophomore year when I took a semester off for an internship. His charismatic personality made me fall in love almost immediately; in fact, it was only a couple of months before he had me altering all of my life plans (in the best way, of course). One might think the present conditions make for one Stressed-to-the-Max-21-Year-Old. But I’m not.
In the midst of a generation that is waiting longer and longer to get married, it feels like only the few and insane take on the challenge of trying to earn a college degree while simultaneously planning a wedding. We’re some of the few lucky enough to have found the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with so early which drives and makes us capable of the seemingly daunting. But sometimes things get overwhelming and a little advice comes in handy, so here are the ten most important pieces of advice I can give you, from a bride-to-be who’s in your shoes.
1. Be proactive.
As cliché and obvious as this sounds, I promise this is the #1 thing to do in order to avoid the stress of juggling being a full time student and a full time bride. I know the wedding feels more important in the moment, but starting your life together might be significantly delayed if you’re stuck in college for longer than you planned. Drew and I were in the planning stage before he had officially proposed, and that’s allowed me the freedom of taking care of wedding details when I want to, not because I have to. On top of that, when you book your vendor well in advance, there is no last minute scrambling, which means you likely have a vendor you trust and are happy with as opposed to “I’m out of time, I guess this will do.”
2. If your schedule allows, consider having your wedding a minimum of one month after the semester ends.
I’m all too familiar with the “Can we just be married already?” feeling, but I can’t imagine going through the stress of this final semester AND trying to manage last minute details like RSVPs and making a seating chart, on top of trying to coordinate with my vendors. Being married is going to be one of the best adventures you can’t wait to start, but your future self will thank you if you give yourself a little wiggle room between graduation and The Big Day.
3. Enjoy where you’re at, because (hopefully) this is the only time in life you’ll be engaged.
This is the only wedding you’ll ever plan, so don’t wish it away too quickly! In the midst of the craziness, take a step back and realize that getting married is a blessing and planning is a privilege. One day you’ll look back on these days and reminisce about everything, good and bad.
4. Stop. Breathe. Remember.
Stop freaking out– as overwhelming and pressure filled wedding planning can feel sometimes when trying to plan your “perfect” day, I promise it will be okay. Breathe and take a minute to gain that perspective… There it is. Now be honest with yourself: is this a critical detail of your wedding, or will anyone even remember whether your tablecloths were white or ivory? That’s not to say you shouldn’t have your dream wedding because you absolutely should, but within reason. Centerpieces for $150 per table? Not exactly within reason. This is where the remembering part comes in. Remember why you’re planning this day and what it’s all about. When the day is over, if you end up married to the man of your dreams, what’s there to complain about?
5. Make Google Docs your new best friend.
Once again, planning and organization are the best ways to keep that stress level as low as possible. My fiancé and I share a folder solely dedicated to wedding details. We keep contracts on file, our wedding budget, guest list, a sheet to keep track of gifts, vendor contact information– it’s all in this one spot. Any and every detail that is wedding related can be found somewhere in this folder.
6. Keep Making Date Night a Thing.
Don’t always let your conversation or your relationship revolve around the planning process. Set aside one night every few weeks devoted to the two of you– no wedding talk, no school stress, just have fun with the person you love most in the world.
7. Let Your Opinion be Heard.
I want to clarify, all of the people in my life and all of the vendors I’m working with are super great with the best intentions, but sometimes when they give suggestions, I cringe inside. I cringe inside, but what comes out of my mouth often doesn’t convey that. I’ve learned that the people pleasing side of me ends up stressing me out more than a simple “That’s not quite what I was thinking” would take care of. Other people have or will have their shot at planning a wedding, but this one is not theirs. This is your and your fiancé’s day, so book the venue you want on the date you want inviting the people you want and eating the food you want. Be polite, but this is the one wedding you get. Don’t compromise because of other people’s opinions.
8. Be realistic.
DIY can be super cute, yes. But worth it? Eh…If crafting is your forte, great! If you’re like me, adding a substantial amount of wedding projects would a) make you feel overwhelmed and b) look a little sub-par to say it nicely, hiring people to take care of things you don’t have the time or patience to worry about might be the better route. While we’re touching on the whole DIY thing, I know this is an option a lot of people go with in order to cut costs, and I totally get that! If you fall under this category and have the artistic talent of a kindergartner, put Pinterest to good use and go with a project of a more simple caliber.
9. Include Your Fiancé.
I was prepared to take care on all of the wedding details myself. After all, this is supposed to be the day 5-Year-Old-Bri has dreamed about forever, right? But this day isn’t just about me, and even though I’m lucky enough to be marrying the sweetest guy in the world who wants to give me everything I want, he is getting married too! And in addition to giving input in areas he views as important, he’s also beside me at every step asking if there’s anything he can do to help. Maybe your man isn’t volunteering the help, but I’m sure if you sit down and explain that you’re feeling stressed, he would be willing to help.
10. Take the help.
And finally, don’t be afraid to take people up on their offers to assist you! Chances are, many have offered, but you’re never sure if it’s a real offer or a just-to-be-nice one. It’s likely the former, and it’s also likely they either have gone through all of this before or love you so much they’d do anything for you. The saying is “Many hands make light work,” and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to wedding details! Host your college girls over for a night of stuffing envelopes filled with goodies and wine. Productivity AND quality time… problem solved!
Trying to plan a wedding as a stressed out college student can seem impossible at first, but if you stay focused, always prioritize, and put your relationship first, you can totally conquer a degree and a wedding all at the same time!
Bri is a 21 year old business student at the University of Northern Iowa. She is currently working to balance her academic life along with wedding planning for her upcoming Big Day in August. Bri is a Christ-follower, a family fanatic, and a food enthusiast.
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