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First Things First.

May 4, 2010

Now that I’ve made the biggest announcement of my life, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has expressed their love and support in the last couple of days via Facebook, Twitter and my blog. I am truly appreciative of all the wonderful thoughts and congratulatory messages that Erik and I have received. And I completely agree: the ring is lovely. (Oooh shiny!)

I thought I would follow up my post by answering a couple questions that I have received in the last couple days that you also might be wondering about.

Do you have a date?

I think about every other person I have talked to has asked this question. The short answer: No. The long answer: Well, kinda. Since I knew the engagement was coming, Erik and I have had a lot of time to discuss and figure out when we would want to get married. I have it narrowed down to April or May or September or October of 2011. Not this year. I am not that fast. Beyond that, I think I would prefer a spring wedding, namely because my birthday is in August and Erik’s is in October, and I would like to spread out our celebrations. The weather is also the best in the spring on the East Coast (less of a chance of a surprise thunderstorm), though weather is never a guarantee. But I’m trying to move the odds in my favor.

As for an exact date, we will know more about that once we nail down a venue.

Are you getting married in Oregon or New York?

New York. For the last year I have flip-flopped between wanting to get married in my homestate (really really wanting to get married there) and being absolutely petrified of planning a wedding across the country and/or not having any say in what happened. We decided that if we wanted input in our wedding, we would have to do it in New York. It’s a bit overwhelming, since I know so few people who have married in the tri-state area, and since it’s rather expensive, but I know we can do it.

Are you totally excited/happy/over-the-moon?

Yes. That’s an easy question. I’m very happy.

I’m also slightly freaking out. Although I’ve spent awhile looking at various websites, reading magazines and watching WEtv like they are going off the air next week, I have only been to two weddings in my whole life. I don’t have that many girlfriends who are married, so I haven’t watched the process unfold. Most married women I know were married when I met them. I’m a bit at a loss as to what the hell I’m actually supposed to do now. I know I get to wear a pretty dress. I know there is yummy cake involved. I know that I need a photographer and someone to entertain my guests. I know I need to feed my guests and I know that I need to find a way to tell my guests when and where to be. That’s about as far as I’ve got, though. Oh, and flowers. Those too. Is it too soon for a wedding anxiety attack?

If you are married or also planning your wedding…

HELP! I’m engaged… NOW WHAT?!

  1. May 4, 2010 12:27 PM

    Not married. Not planning my wedding. But have helped friends. Check out Coolest website EVER!

  2. May 4, 2010 12:35 PM

    Well, not to add to any of the anxiety, but it’s May of 2010 – if you’re planning on getting married in New York (and “New York” is a lot of things as far as prices and places go) it is honestly never too soon to decide on the feel of your wedding – formal? indie? glam? relaxed? – so you can start looking at venues and getting a general sense of how much you can budget. There are so many people here that a lot of venues are booked a year in advance…

    All that being said, we went from engaged to a rather indie/guerrilla wedding in 5 months – I’m happy to field NYC questions! (Married here September 2008)

    • May 4, 2010 12:41 PM

      That’s what I tacked on the “September/October” option as well as “I don’t have a preferred date in mind.” If we have to go with fall 2011 because our dream venue is booked, that is fine by me. April/May is just a preferred time of year, but September/October is really nice as well (if not nicer, what with the fall foliage).

  3. Arielle permalink
    May 4, 2010 12:40 PM

    As someone in that small group of people you know who have planned a wedding in NYC, I have a lot of advice, but I think the most important is not to get overwhelmed by choice. There are probably 300 places in New York where you can get a perfect, delicious wedding cake, probably 1000 where you can buy a gorgeous dress. You’ll make yourself nuts if you go into it with a “no stone unturned” mentality, thinking you must sample them all before deciding. Also, I got my wedding dress at Birnbaum and Bullock and they provided the most amazing, personal, fun experience. Definitely check them out.

  4. May 4, 2010 12:45 PM

    Best advice I can give to you is make a budget and STICK TO IT!!! I have several friends who are still paying off their wedding by their 2nd anniversary. It will be a splendid day, but not worth going into debt for.

    Our total wedding costs came well under 5 digits. It was a beautiful ceremony and our closest friends and family were there. That’s all we needed. No matter the budget, you can do a beautiful wedding.

    Also, don’t try to completely makeover yourself. I don’t have to tell you that crash diets (especially for diabetics) or getting orange in the tanning salon are bad for you. The best advice someone gave me on how to look on my wedding day was “be the best you that you can be, because your fiance’ loves you, not a magazine cover”.

    Wow! That all came out very opinionated. Sorry ’bout that. I’m just a big proponent of conservative weddings and putting more preparation into the marriage. But the #1 rule is it’s your day, and you can do whatever you want including ignoring me. 😉

    • May 4, 2010 12:48 PM

      I think you gave great advice, Holly! I agree with the budget… not sure how much it is exactly right now, but I know it’s not a lot. Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

  5. May 4, 2010 12:50 PM

    I’m engaged as well. We’re doing a destination wedding, so I can’t help much there, but I can help with the reception. I stopped by Barnes and Noble a few months back and picked up a couple books on DIY weddings. There’s a ton of different ones to cut costs and make the wedding feel very “you” with reception, save the dates, wedding, and various other ideas!

  6. May 4, 2010 1:02 PM

    I am soooo happy for you and Erik – congrats again! While I dont’ know the NYC area very well, I have not only planned my own wedding but countless others as well (it’s my dream job!) I write ceremonies, suggest phtographers, halls, DJs etc (easier to do here in VT). So lemme know if there’s any way I can lend a hand. I am more than happy to help in whatever way I can (and I won’t be hurt if you don’t ask for my help either). Congrats!!!!

  7. Lesley permalink
    May 4, 2010 1:03 PM

    Yay!! Congrats! SOOOO exciting!!
    (sorry, I know I’ve said it a few times but I wanted to say it again.)

    First bit of advice – get the book the Knot makes that’s a whole lot of checklists. My mom and I use it like its our Bible as we’ve been planning my wedding. She calls me every week to read off things on the checklist as a reminder. It gives you a great time frame in terms of when you need to figure out certain things. It has a blue cover but I can’t remember the exact name…

    I would also recommend registering at or one of those wedding websites. They send lots of fun emails about wedding dress trunk shows, hot honeymoon spots, pretty flowers and when they’re in season, etc. Its just fun to poke around there to get ideas.

    We can chat weddings at our next meeting — yayyy 🙂

  8. May 4, 2010 1:31 PM

    It’s going to be okay!

    I did the same thing. I got the ring, and the next day, I freaked out. Within two weeks I was panicking that nothing was going right and we were behind and nothing would look good…etc. That was in January ’07, and we were married 10/20/07. Yes, I had to be “bridezilla” a few times (especially when the tux rental place mis-measured my husband for his shirt – who’s name is also Erik, spelled the same way – and it didn’t fit right for the wedding.) but it went fine in the end.

    I would start by reading bridal magazines and looking online. You can get great ideas from lots of places. My sister-in-law got a book from David’s Bridal for me that helped out a lot.

    Just remember when all is said and done and when it seems to get too stressful, you will be married to the man of your dreams.

  9. Colleen permalink
    May 4, 2010 1:34 PM

    As someone planning a wedding myself, I’d love to pass on some tips/ideas! Not a lot of time at the moment (I’ll try to write you a longer email alter this week), but a couple things come to mind initially:
    Decide the “feel” of your wedding. Casual/formal/indie/DIY/glam/etc? This will help you rule out lots of locations and zero in on places that will help create the type of feel you want.
    Choose a couple things that are most important to you and plan on splurging on those–everything else, budget budget budget. I’ve heard this advice over and over again. For me/us, the most important things were food, location, and my dress. While we’re very lucky to have our parents’ help and aren’t as restricted budget-wise, it helps to keep in mind what the most important things are and remember that other stuff isn’t worth going all out for.
    BLOGS. Oh my the wedding blogs are prolific! A few of my faves, as of late: (what eye candy!)
    Always remember: planning your wedding should be FUN!! I’ve been very stressed of late in the planning, but that just means it’s time to take a step back, take a breather, and remember the wonderful man you’re marrying and that planning that very special day should be a very fun experience.

  10. May 4, 2010 2:26 PM

    I’m totally excited for you!! If you ever want to chat about planning I’m your girl! And a NY wedding is going to be SO AWESOME!!

  11. tmana permalink
    May 4, 2010 3:01 PM

    Most of my married friends married on relatively tight budgets. (Most of them didn’t do traditional weddings, either — but that’s another issue.) Some of the things they did to lessen the costs included: making or renting the women’s gowns, self-catering, garden or community-center weddings/receptions, buffet receptions instead of formal meal service, canapes instead of a meal, making their own table decorations and favors, and having friends/relatives do the catering and/or the photography.

    Some of the costs you incur will depend on the officiant. Some congregations require their ministers to conduct weddings only within the church sanctuary (or in a community room in the church), and may have catering and decorating restrictions (you may have to use their providers, who may be expensive, and their options). On the other hand, some congregations may have the appropriate decorations in storage, and available for use along with the room(s) in question. You may be able to get a good rate on a hotel-based reception if you can guarantee that a certain number of out-of-town guests will be willing to rent rooms at that hotel for a couple of days around the time of the wedding. (OTOH, the hotel will require that you use in-house catering.)

  12. Autumn permalink
    May 4, 2010 3:47 PM

    My own wedding was a relativly cheap affair. $5,000 for everything. Decide what is most important to you and go from there. I knew that my top 3 things were making sure my family and closest friends could come, a great photograher who understood my unease at being the center of attention, and keeping costs for my bridesmaids as low as possible. If you and Erik agree on the top 3 must haves, the rest of the planning will be easier.
    Also, you’ll be getting a TON of unsolicited advice on how to do your wedding. Start practicing a response to the well-meaning advice givers that is polite but firm. “That’s an interesting suggestion. I’ll have to think about it.” “That sounds great, but its not in our budget.” etc etc.

  13. May 4, 2010 6:00 PM

    My advice would be first: STOP and enjoy being engaged for a few more days before you make yourself crazy with planning. It can be an overwhelming process, but only if you let it. At the end of whatever day you choose, you’ll be married, and if nothing else goes as planned that day, you’ll still be one lucky woman!

    My other advice is to decide what it’s important to you and spend on that. If something is not important, don’t waste $$ on it. For example, we wanted a fantastic band so we spent $$ on that, but didn’t do favors or a ton of flowers because those things weren’t high on our list. Whatever is important/special to you guys, do it, and don’t do other things just because you think you’re supposed to/have to.

    Have fun!!

  14. May 4, 2010 6:20 PM

    No wedding advice here, except don’t stress 🙂 I just wanted to offer my belated congratulations. The ring is absolutely beautiful. I tried to comment yesterday, but technology was not on my side. Any who, good luck with all this awesome wedding stuff! It sounds so exciting and you’ve barely just begun!

  15. May 5, 2010 12:16 AM

    I definitely agree with using We just got married last June and it was SUCH a help! And gave me tons of inspiration to do unique and inexpensive things. There are so many ways to make a wedding cute and classy without spending a ton of money.

    Definitely try to decide what your priorites are for your wedding day. For example, photography was really important to me so I searched high and low for the perfect photographer who fit my style. But my dress wasn’t really all that big of a deal to me. I ended up going to David’s Bridal and getting a cute dress on sale after only trying a couple on. No biggie. 🙂 It really helped ease some of the stress.

    I also think it’s awesome to try to personalize your wedding as much as you can. Make it match your personality. Do what you think is fun and what you think is cute. 🙂 It will all flow naturally the day of and you’ll be much more comfortable.

    Good luck!!!!! ❤

  16. May 5, 2010 2:10 AM

    My husband and I got a permit to marry in a national park, and it was only $50.00. We spent a majority of our money on the photographer (who rocked) and since we just signed up for an officiant online to come to the vows, as it was a sort-of-elopement with only 4 other people there.

    The only thing I could suggest, is don’t find an officiant online!! This guy was weird, and we didn’t meet him before the wedding so that part was something I wish we had done. I think its best to meet the person who will be officiating the ceremony before it happens. The church I attended at the time required that you do pre-marital counseling before they marry you, and they only do it at the actual church and since we wanted an outdoor wedding, well we decided to consult “google”.

    That is all the advice I have because our wedding was so small.

    Oh wait- When you buy your bouquet and you put it in the refrigerator make sure you put tissue paper over it!! I just stuck mine in there and they were all shriveled the next morning 🙂

  17. Melissa permalink
    May 5, 2010 6:45 AM

    Hi Allison! I totally agree with Arielle. When you’ve found something turns you on, confirm it through discussion with those whose opinion really matters, commit to it (deposit/contract) and move on. Another thing off the list! Now I have a few tactical bits of advice….

    1) Cut out pictures and articles you like from wedding magazines and print things you find online. Put the pages into clear plastic page protectors, organized into a binder with tabs (“flowers”, “cake”, “dresses”, “bridesmaids’ dresses”, “budget advice”, etc., etc). In the first few weeks of planning my wedding I got confused about which magazine said what interesting thing or had what picture. Sorting the information also helped me figure out what I really gravitate towards. For example, all the bouquet pictures that I collected looked virtually alike. I wrote a list of the flowers that I liked best out of them and was better able to communicate my ideas with the florist.

    2) Google spreadsheets. I will share my “Festivities26January2010” workbook, which began life as an Excel workbook on 9 Jan (about 2 weeks after we got engaged), with you so you can see it. If you want to ‘borrow’ it as a template you’re welcome to.

    Being able to share the spreadsheet securely with Richard was awesome when we needed to compile the big list of addresses for save-the-dates, which we will also use for invitations & thank-you cards (eventually). We were also able to avoid duplicating entries for our mutual friends and to color-code people whom we know are unable or unlikely to make it, but whom we need to invite anyway. Being able to keep a tab for the people who are being invited to our second reception in Virginia has been a huge help. When I’ve had an “did I remember so-and-so?” moment, I haven’t had to check with my mom (she is doing most of the organization for the Virginia event, thankfully!).

    Capturing vendors’ quotes in a spreadsheet also made it easier to negotiate. Within a few seconds I could play around with the amount of discount I wanted to ask for on a percentage basis. I made a separate spreadsheet for our invitation order, which I’ve shared with our stationery guy as our order has evolved along with the guest list. We’re doing coordinated/complementary invitations for the US and UK events so we’ve been able to cut costs by rationalizing which items really need to be printed on a separate print run and which can be printed all on one run. Between the stationery guy offering me a discount for volume and my suggestions for rationalizing our order, we have saved $500 versus my initial estimate!

    3. Amy Vanderbilt if you don’t already have a copy –

  18. May 5, 2010 7:36 AM

    With my wedding just over five weeks away, I sure have loads of advice! And I’ve learned from planning alongside my brother, who just got married in California, that for the most part it doesn’t matter where you marry, the basic planning principles will be the same.

    My first tip is to think about your guest list. The number of people you want to have there can dictate the whole style of the wedding, and especially the venue. A big 200 guest list will rule out plenty of venues, but so will an intimate close family and friends do if you won’t meet minimum spend or will rattle around inside a huge space.

    Once you have the venue and style, think about colours and start looking at dresses! I think you need a venue before a dress, but a dress before flowers or any other details! And dress shopping is loads of fun!

    Oh, and once you have a date, send save the dates. They don’t have to be printed. Email or even Facebook can do the job, but if there are people you really want to come, make sure they know when and where!

  19. May 5, 2010 10:57 AM

    I think you definitely made the right decision planning the wedding where you physically are… I’ve had lots of friends try to do the distance thing, and trust me… it is a pain in the arse! 🙂

    Congrats again!

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