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Simply Stephanie – Our Belle Bride Diving Right In!

Belle Bride Stephanie and Greg

We have the enormous pleasure today of sharing with you the first post from new Belle Bride Stephanie, where she and her fiance Greg are starting their wedding planning journey with a splash!

Over to Stephanie:

Let’s dive right into Greg and my wedding planning adventure, shall we?  *SPLASH*

Okay, so I’ll be the first one to admit the dramatic “splash” above is a bit corny.  However, when reflecting on our wedding planning journey for this first post, and after reviewing everything Greg and I have accomplished up until this point, the first thing that came to my mind was the vast, magnificent ocean.

Yes, you read that right: ocean.

Maybe this is because I used to live in Florida, USA (Shout out to my Orlando people!).  Or maybe it’s because Greg and I have spent A LOT of time and money crossing the ocean to see each other every few months. Or maybe it’s just because it makes sense to me in my mind, and here’s why…

The ocean is incredibly appealing, right?  It is so big and beautiful! But at the same time, it is very intimidating. Well, so is wedding planning.

Now, this is coming from a couple who chose to brave this journey alone without a proper captain, aka a professional wedding planner.  So here we are.  Two beginners, who have basically set themselves out onto the high-seas of wedding planning.  This is what we have uncovered since we started this quest in November 2016:

We have found that both the ocean and wedding planning can be rather cold at times – i.e. we feel like vendors just want our money; looking at you, salesman at that one bridal dress boutique!   But both can also be warm, calm and – for a lack of a better word – perfect, on other days – like the first time we visited the venue we eventually selectedSo magical!  Of course, both can be rather choppy at times – enough where we both get sea-sick and want to jump ship … a.k.a. “Let’s just elope!”

Of course the swimming lessons we remember, i.e. all those weddings we’ve been to as guests.  We also are well aware of the “proper form/techniques” taught to us by our swim coaches, i.e. what tradition/society dictates.  We hear “wave after wave” of opinions from our families, friends and coworkers.  And some days we float through these “waves” easily.  On other days we’re threatened to keel over due to the sheer power and force of them as they crash their way to the shore – not to mention the gale-force winds, i.e. the disagreements that follow.

Sometimes we’re holding on so tight to something – something that we’re so convinced we need or want, and then that thing ends up pulling us down, quickly, underwater, and it threatens to sink us and/or our budget.

Not surprising, and perhaps one of the most amazing things about this entire process, is that through all these ups and downs, through these tides and currents, we have both learned how to be each other’s lifeguard.  They say if you make it through wedding planning, you can make it through anything – and here we are doing it despite the long-distance between us!  So it’s awesome when we get to save each other when we start to drown, i.e. get overwhelmed with the process.

Then, of course, there are the days when we both find ourselves treading water, and that’s when we both recognize we just need a “life saver for two,” i.e. a break from it all!  This is also incredibly important to recognize as a couple.  After all, this event is only going to be the first few hours of the rest of your married life together.  That means your ship, i.e. relationship needs to be maintained through all of this planning business, as well.

So yes, there you have it!  My analogy in full detail – why wedding planning is just like the ocean.  Makes sense right?

Let’s throw in a fun photo of the two us by the sea for emphasis:

 Belle Bride Stephanie by the oceanSelfie taken in Barcelona, Spain.  Just ignore my wind-blown hair. Thanks.

In addition, I wanted to address something that may (or may not) have crossed your minds during our introduction.

As you may recall, Greg and I got engaged in November 2016.  Why such a long engagement, you might have asked yourself?
(Laura – To find out the answer, you’ll have to check out Stephanie’s second post next week!)

Also where does one start with their wedding planning?

A big shout out goes to my sister, Victoria, who gave me the cutest congratulatory engagement gift basket for Christmas!  (I wish I had taken a picture of the whole thing back in 2016)  Inside she included a multitude of little gifts.  One was a handwritten tea mug that says, “This is my WEDDING PLANNING mug.”  See below:

Belle Bride Stephanie and Greg wedding plannig mugMy very own wedding planning mug

Most days I fill it with tea (Like right now); other days, let’s be honest – it’s wine.  This mug plays a huge role in starting my wedding planning process each and every day.

Now, ironically Belle Bride Victoria (Not my sister) already discussed this subject in her post here. So a big “thank you” goes out to her from me. ** Pssst** I can absolutely relate to being “very organized (and a bit of a control freak).”  Seriously, the amount of information Greg has to review in our Evernote at any one time is ridiculous. Evernote, again, is the main tool Greg and I use to organize our thoughts and coordinate with each other over seas.  It’s great!  I seriously recommend checking it out for anything that requires organization in your life, not just wedding planning.

There is only one additional resource (aside from this blog) that I would really recommend you use when starting your wedding planning journey, because honestly it changed my world.

I was sitting in my local Public Library one Saturday afternoon, and I thought, I wonder if there is a book that could help us with planning our wedding?  Oh, was there…

How to Have the Wedding You Want (Not the One Everyone Else Wants You to Have) by Christine Egan.

A few pages in, and I came across the following blunt, yet honest sentence:

“There’s incredible social pressure to do this “the right way,” and you just have to say, “To hell with it.””  (Egan, 2014).

Loved it.  Still love it.  This quote has given us all kinds of motivation on the tough days.  And there will be tough days (The choppy ocean, remember?).  Yet, it is also important to keep all the planning days in perspective as well:

“This part – the planning – lasts way longer than the wedding, so I suggest you start having fun now.  Really, you can’t just be a bundle of stress for months and then expect to relax and glow because the calendar says to.  It doesn’t work that way.  Now’s the time to run those silly clichés through your head: “This is my wedding.  It will only happen once.  It’s happening now.” So don’t let the bastards wear you down.  …  This is your day, as everyone is so fond of saying.  Make it last for a few months.”  (Egan, 2014).

Completely true.  Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy this time together as well!

Also, remember to stay true to who you are as a couple.  Which finally, brings me to say: Greg and I have always been true fans of lists.  So as my first post as a Belle Bride comes to an end, please read our lists below on our progress thus far:

OUR ACCOMPLISHED LIST

  • Catholic Pre-Cana
  • Our Guest List
  • Visited the local Mairie (To see what I, as a U.S. Citizen, need to do/present at my interview)
  • Researched venues
  • Visited our top three venues in November 2017
  • Selected our venue (contract still pending) and menu
  • Catholic Church selected and confirmed by the Diocese of Auch
  • Bridesmaid Dresses purchased
  • Bride’s “Welcome Dinner” outfit, Wedding Day “getting ready” robe, and Disney Ears purchased

OUR WORKING ON LIST

  • The Bridal dress hunt
  • Wedding Band hunt
  • Vendor research (i.e. Florists, Photographers, DJs) and contacts
  • Document gathering and collection (i.e. for Catholic Church and for Town Hall)
  • Bridal Party selection (Only a few more individuals left to ask!)
  • Wedding Website (90% complete)

OUR NEED TO START LIST

  • Groom/Groomsmen attire
  • Save the Dates/Invitations
  • Group Airfare for our Guests
  • Ground Transportation for our Guests
  • Welcome Gifts/Packets/Maps
  • And much, much more!

Thanks again for joining me on my first Belle Bride Post and on our wedding planning adventure.  See you next Wednesday!  Until then… Geronimo! *Jumps back into the ocean*

A huge big welcome hug from us all at FWS to Stephanie! You can follow all of her journey here as she shares her wedding planning adventures.

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