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What It’s Like to Plan a Wedding in College

We all know that college can be stressful. Papers, tests, group projects, internships, and tons of reading—it’s a lot of work. But what happens when you throw in planning your wedding?

Half of you just shuddered at the thought of being so busy, and the other half just cringed at the idea of getting married in college, but when you live in Utah, it’s not such a foreign concept. I know, it sounds crazy, but when you’ve found the right person and you’re ready, everything else turns into background noise. That is, until your dreamy fall wedding is sandwiched between midterms.

My wedding is coming up in a little more than a month, nestled with a honeymoon in my school’s weeklong fall break. When I got engaged, I was in the middle of this past spring semester, and I studied for finals next to bridal magazines and venue brochures; I read essays on Plato with photography blogs open in the background. When my fiancé and I chose our October date, we were extremely confident that we could get everything done with time to spare, so we decided against hiring a wedding planner in order to use that money elsewhere in our budget.

Our engagement would be just over 7 months, as compared to the typical 3-month Utah engagement, and we’d already been living together, so we really didn’t think there would be any sort of stress or hustle. I decided that I’d start with the big stuff and then focus on the finer details. It was actually during the first week of our engagement when I was the most productive, as I was still coming down from that proposal high and had ideas spinning around in my head.

The first thing that I decided needed to be done was booking a venue. My fiancé thought I was crazy for wanting to do this so early, but I was extremely worried that all of the places I was interested in would be completely booked up around the date we’d chosen, so I spared no time. I followed the sage advice of Martha Stewart’s wedding website and set aside 40% of my budget for the venue space. I then did a quick google search of popular venues in my area, and I stumbled upon TheKnot.com, which was an invaluable resource in my search because it allowed me to view various venues side by side and compare based on capacity, price, customer satisfaction, and quality. After narrowing it down from the site, I sent off messages to all of the venues my fiancé and I were interested in, inquiring about their policies, pricing, etc., until I eventually found a place that fit within our budget and our desired feel. I was relieved once we had booked a place, especially since the greenhouse aesthetic of our venue requires very little decoration. Little did I know, that feeling would not last long.

The next order of business was the dreaded guest list. My fiancé and I both wanted a small, intimate wedding, so we didn’t think it would be very difficult to figure out who would come and vowed to keep a very calm, collected composure throughout the whole ordeal. However, once we started writing down the names, it was clear that we were wrong. For example, I wrote down the name of an uncle, but then it became clear that I had to invite all of my uncles, and if I were to invite all of my uncles, then my fiancé would need to invite all of his as well to avoid any hurt feelings. The same thing happened with cousins and friends and their families, and by the time we’d finished, our “small” ceremony was made of nearly 100 guests. We shrugged, trying not to let it bother us too much, but once we’d shown our parents the list we’d made, we were given nearly twice the amount of people to add.

We talked and argued and rearranged until we decided that there was simply no way we would be comfortable with a wedding of that size. So, we had to find a compromise. Our ceremony, though still not as intimate as we would have liked, was narrowed down to about 70 guests, and the rest of our list would receive invitations to the reception only.  Of course, there was a bit of criticism at our decision, but in the end, we had to do what was best for us. After all, it is our wedding.

Once we’d taken care of those two major checkpoints, we took a well-deserved break from planning, assuring ourselves that just 6 and a half months was plenty of time to do everything else that needed to be done. About a month later, I found myself in a panic that I hadn’t even chosen bridesmaids, and quickly did so and sent off links to several coordinating dresses that they were to choose from and order. I then booked a wedding dress appointment for a month later so that my parents could attend, and luckily found the dress on the first try. My mom is an incredible cake decorator, so she offered to make my cake, and my fiancé and I had booked a photographer together. My veil was ordered from Jannie Baltzer, an incredible designer I’d been following on instagram, and my hair and makeup was set. We designed our invitations online, and messaged several florists about their availability. It felt as though everything was coming together perfectly. That is, until school started up again.

I’d taken a few courses online over the summer, so I thought I could balance school and planning, but since I was just attending part time over the summer, it wasn’t as intensive as one of my typical semesters, so as fall semester approached, I was growing more and more concerned. This semester, I have 17 credit hours and a 15-hour a week internship, so my free time, or rather, my wedding planning time, has withered down to almost none, so my stress is at an all time high. However, in the past few days I’ve realized that even if you don’t hire a wedding planner, you’re not truly left to your own devices. My venue has been extremely helpful in helping us determine the timeline for the big day, and so many friends and family members remind us on a regular basis that they’re here to help.

Although we still have quite a bit to do—the groomsmen’s attire has yet to arrive, our centerpieces are still undetermined, and my dress needs to be steamed and fitted for our bridal photos, which are in two weeks—we’ve already had so many incredible people come to the rescue.

If I had to suggest anything to anyone else getting married in college it would be to stay really organized and keep track of your progress either in written form, or using a wedding planning app. like The Knot. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You’re planning a wedding, and it’s going to be stressful, so needing help doesn’t mean that you’re selfish or disorganized or that you are incapable of doing it, it means you’re human.

 Trust me, I understand the control-freak need to be involved in every aspect of what’s going on, but you need to know when to let go and trust someone else to carry out some of the little things for you. The one thing I would change about my wedding planning experience would be to hire a wedding planner, or at least be more comfortable asking for help. Maybe if I hadn’t had such a busy schedule I would have felt more comfortable doing it on my own, but for the most part, I could have used someone else keeping track of things and acting as a liaison between all of the vendors.

Though I’m a little stressed right now, that stress is overshadowed by my excitement to marry the love of my life. I don’t regret planning my wedding during the school year, and I don’t regret having a 7-month engagement. I don’t even regret the time we spent procrastinating, because we spent that time together making incredible memories. In the end, the best advice I have to give to anyone planning a wedding is to enjoy the process. There are so many beautiful moments along the way, and you don’t want to miss out on them. Despite all of the stress, late nights, and the endless strain of emails and phone calls, the decision to get engaged has been the best decision of my life, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Madison Adams is a feminist, a tea enthusiast, a friend to the animals, and a lover of words. Mostly, though, she's a young woman who's still trying to figure things out. 
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