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Simply Stephanie – Our Globe Trotting Belle Bride

stephanie

It’s been a few weeks since we last caught up with Belle Bride Stephanie, and her fiancé Greg, and we’ve got a lot to catch up on!

So, not only have they been finalising plans for their wedding, but they’ve racked up the airmiles on their trip to Greg’s brothers wedding (which included a detour to their own wedding venue). So let’s find out all the details of their trips, and what’s been ticked off and added to the pre-wedding lists… Over to Belle Bride Stephanie:

Well, well, well… here we are again!

Honestly, I am glad we have made it to this point, because the last two months have been quite the adventure, i.e. the ocean was getting quite choppy for a moment there, friends!  

Many late nights with little sleep; many mornings requiring more than the average “hour needed to present my true self to the world.”  The tea companies, at least, should be happy!  A LOT of tea has been involved. And wine.  Oh, and get this – my wedding planning mug is even starting to fade from so much use and hand-washings! Can you believe it?!?  I can.

After my last post, I immediately boarded a plane to Europe.  I am also happy to report that the trip was a success!  It was also incredibly needed – you’ll soon see why.

Let’s begin with the whirlwind itinerary: I flew from Chicago, USA to Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport in Iceland.  Then continued on to Paris, France; took a seven-to-eight hour bus ride to Toulouse; then we drove to our wedding venue (about two hours outside the city) then back. Then we flew out to Barcelona, Spain over to Krakow, Poland for Greg’s brother’s wedding (Which was wonderful, by the way! They weren’t kidding when they said that Polish weddings last all night. We were there until 4am, and that was only because we had to be at the airport the next morning at 8am – it was still going on when we left).  Then we went back to Paris, where I flew out back to Iceland, and then home to Chicago.  All in 10 days.

YES!  It was insane. And YES!  It was lovely, all at the same time.  Why?  Well, because Greg and I were actually IN the same place, at the same time.  But we’ll talk more about that in a moment …

First, since we’ve established we’re HUGE “To-Do List” fans, let’s review the list of things we actually accomplished on this trip – Ready? Set? GO!

  • We visited Bridal Boutiques in Paris & Toulouse to continue the hunt for Bridal Accessories to match my Dress – You may recall in my last post that I mentioned my Dress came in the mail and that as much as I loved it, I was debating returning it. All because of a complicated alteration. It about drove me to tears, people. Okay! I admit it. It DID drive me to tears.
    Well, GOOD NEWS!  I found an experienced Seamstress who was up for the job, so I decided to keep it – YAY!!  Now just keep your *fingers crossed* that all goes well.  My next post will reveal all … well, except what it looks like, of course!
  • We taste-tested our selected meals and drinks that we plan on serving to our Guests – YUM! We gave our feedback so now we just have to make some final decisions on quantities. We also got approval for our “seasonal surprise” at the Vin D’Honneur which we are both so excited about – this took A LOT of negotiation, people!  Just cheer with us for a moment – “YIPPEE!” 
  • We ran all over our venue taking measurements and photographs of everything – including the fire escape floor plans! …Hey, don’t judge! They have been really helpful when assigning Guests to rooms!    They have.

This reminds me, I should probably take a moment to formally introduce you all to our wedding venue now that it has been revealed to our invited Guests!

Ladies & Gentlemen, Château de Mons:

Belle Bride Stephanie Chateau de Mons

Bird’s Eye View of Château de Mons (Photo Courtesy of their “Cover Photos” Album on Facebook)

I’ll admit to the world, Greg found our venue. 

But, I really thought I found it first for a while there.  Either way, we both really liked the look of it during our initial venue search, which we started this time last year – Craziness, how time flies!

Then, in November 2017, we both fell in love with it when we saw it for the first time in person together.  We just looked at each other and said, “This is the place.”  We could see it there. 

We also really liked that it was so reclusive.  Maybe our Disney roots played a part in that.  We were – and still are – so excited at the prospect of having our Guests step-out of their realities and escape into the “magic” that we could – and will – create for them there.

Okay, so see … now I am getting all cheesy

Except this time, I’m actually laughing a little over here… Cheesy CHEESE – MOUSE! – MICKEY MOUSE!!  HA! HA!  – See what I did there?  

Anyway, let’s really get back to that list of accomplishments while in Europe:

  • We found and met with a French baker; had a long conversation about, “What exactly is Red Velvet Cake?” (If you don’t know, you can learn more here) We also received a free mojito-flavored macaron, which was AMAZING!
  • We met with an English-speaking Priest to discuss the Sacrament of Marriage, our preparation, the documents, as well as the Mass that will take place on our Wedding Day
  • We submitted all our legal paperwork and interviewed at the Mairie (Town Hall). We got a conditional approval and then they posted our bans publicly.  Then we found out that our file was formally approved – YAY!  So, we officially have our required French Civil Ceremony date secured.  Now all we have to do is show up on time… in the morning… hmmm… Greg shall have to prepare me a cup of tea! *SMILES* 
  • We asked Greg’s little sister to be our Flower Girl and she (with parental approval) said, “Yes!” How did we ask her, you say? Well, let me tell you all about it…
    We found (on Etsy) these cute, little crayons with letters on them spelling out “Flower Girl” (and “Ring Bearer”) but unfortunately we didn’t have time to have the order shipped to me before my flight. So, we were bummed, but then we were walking in downtown Toulouse sometime after finding our bans … and there, at a chocolate store, they had chocolates with letters on them! So we created our own message spelling out “Flower Girl” in the candy box, and gave it to her.  I really should have taken a picture in retrospect, but at the time we were just so excited to come across them!  It was absolutely meant to be. 
  • We found Greg’s suit and accessories in Poland – I may or may not have teared up at how handsome he looked in it all (I definitely did). Friends, I am going to be one of those emotional brides – I just know it!  
  • We spent much needed quality together time – without wedding planning!

Belle Bride Stephanie and Greg

Us.  Irish Pub.  Paris, France.  It was very late. We should have been packing.
But we always make time for us, and a couple beers. Oh, and for some excellent cheese fondue!

That last bullet point on our accomplished list is really so very important.  Whether you and your significant other are in day one of your wedding planning, or it is literally the night before your actual wedding day, you must maintain that relationship outside wedding planning.  Sit down. Take a breath. Connect. Talk about something besides the color flowers you want.  Separate yourselves from everything, but the two of you.

Greg and I agree that this is ironically the most important part of wedding planning.

This is why we tried to soak up that together time in Europe as much as we could, because we are also really starting to understand that our biggest challenge in this long distance wedding planning business is finding that every-day-him-and-I time.

Think about it.  We’re in a long distance relationship, with a significant time difference.  We already have very limited time during the week to talk – occasionally my lunch hour – then possibly, a couple hours when I get out of work and before he goes to bed.

Now imagine that huge sea of wedding planning we talked about in my earlier post, and try filling ALL of that into those few hours – along with the normal, every-day couple stuff.

There you all have it!  That “extra gust of wind causing waves in our ocean of wedding planning” is most definitely the distance.

I think we both started feeling the impact of this rather recently though. Not so much at the beginning of the wedding planning process.  Perhaps this is because there is so much to do now, and so little time left to do it.  Whereas, at first, it was like, “We can do this wedding planning long distance thing.  We have Evernote, email, Skype, the telephone – and plenty of time!

But now reality has set in.

Now, we’ve seen how beautiful his Brother’s wedding was, but also how they were planning together in-person up until the very last minute… over the past two years of our engagement we’ve only had a sliver of that.

After we heard some of my friends talk about an upcoming friend’s wedding, and how that couple took both their mothers to a cake tasting…  we will never do that.

The reality of having a wedding in France is really starting to hit us. 

I can only dream about receiving a hug from my Love when something goes wrong with the planning in these last few months; in reality, I will stare at a screen.  He’s there, but it’s just not the same.

I can only wish to involve my mother (or his mother) in any part of the planning process in these last few months.

Then there is the tsunami wave of having to explain that reality to our mothers.

All I can say is, “I understand, because I, too, am removed from the physical process.  I am not there in France (yet) to make the checklist smaller with my Love.”  Then Greg would have to translate that into Polish, because his parents and I have a language barrier.  *SIGH*

The reality of having a wedding in France, as it gets closer, stirs up all sorts of emotions that are deep down there, beneath the sea-bed.

And it’s not just Greg and my emotions, but also from our invited Guests.  What seemed like an amazing, awesome idea two years ago at the beginning of our engagement, is now bringing about some harsh realities – such as people’s finances, health restrictions, jobs/school, fears of travel/planes, or just simply taking themselves out of what they’re used to into new territory.

But as my close friends like to remind me, “No matter what you do, someone is going to give an excuse or a complaint. All you can really do is just do you two.”

And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is exactly what Greg and I are doing.  And it is what we will keep doing in this home-run stretch.  There are definitely days I wish we had a normal wedding, but really – what is normal?  Normal for us is us… Together.  This trip was so important to remind us of that.

We fell in love together in France: so that is the beginning of “us.”  And France will be at the beginning of our journey together as husband and wife, too.   And we shall toast to that on our wedding day!

Until then, you are cordially invited to join us for our “final post before our wedding.”  And in the meantime, be sure to check out our updated “To Do” list below.

As always – thanks for reading!

OUR NEWLY ACCOMPLISHED LIST (NOT INCLUDED IN THE ABOVE)

  • “Book Now” Cards were sent A good number of Guests have let us know they have booked their flights. Now we are just waiting on the receipt of all our invited Guests email addresses so that our Formal, Digital Invitations can be sent out to everyone.
  • Catholic Church Marriage File The Diocese in France confirmed receipt of the file from the Diocese here in the U.S.
  • The Grooms Wedding BandHe just received the confirmation and pictures from the jeweler. So exciting!

 

OUR “WORKING-ON-IT” LIST

  • The Wedding Party We officially have all our Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, and the Flower Girl … but we still have something else up our sleeves!
  • The Bride’s Civil Ceremony Dress and Bridal AccessoriesWe may have found a winner! And some accessories, too. Stay tuned!
  • Groomsmen attire – Now that all the Groomsmen have said, “Yes!” It is time to find them some “casual, classy clothing” (I’m a big fan of alliteration, need I say more?)
  • Vendors We have a meeting scheduled with our intended Photographer next week, and Greg met with our intended DJ already. Now we just need a Make-Up Artist/Hair Dresser and a Florist. Will we find them? We shall see!
  • Group Ground Transportation Group airfare did not attract many invited Guests, even with the possibility of lower airfare. Everyone seemed to have their own schedules and places they wanted to visit; understandable, definitely. But!  We seem to be getting a lot more interest in the Group Ground Transportation.  We need to work on finalizing this option for our Guests ASAP.
  • Timeline/Ceremony HandoutsThis graphic design major has her work cut out for her, but it is moving along! Maybe I will enlist some help here.
  • Welcome Gifts/Packets/Maps We had a nice chat with the Office of Tourism near our venue. They will prepare the maps for us!  Now we just need to start welcome gift shopping, and working on the packets.  We did order invitations though for our “Welcome Dinner” the night before, and the “Brunch & Bubbly” the day after.

 

OUR “NEED TO START” LIST

  • Reception Decorations
  • Seating Chart/Table Settings
  • Music Selection for DJ
  • The Readings and Music for Mass
  • And many, many more details!

Thank you Stephanie! You can follow all of her journey here as she shares her wedding planning adventures.

Check out Stephanie’s previous post on where to start with wedding planning here!

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