Kristin and Colin's first photo together, circa 2000.
I met my fiancé, Colin, in high school. By the time he proposed in October 2008, we had already been dating more than eight years, and I had often dreamed about our wedding day. I even knew when it would be, because for years we joked that we would wed on the 10-year anniversary of when we became a couple.
No, I didn’t have a thick binder filled with all the details of how our wedding would be. I’ve known those types of girls, and I’m not one of them. But I thought I had a pretty good idea of the types of things I liked. Still, once the engagement became real, and people started bombarding me with questions—”Where are you getting married? What kind of dress will you wear? What colors? Who is in your bridal party?”—I was completely overwhelmed. Realistically, the hard part was over. I found the perfect guy (for me) and was 100 percent sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. The rest should be easy, right? Maybe for some people.
First things first
Because Colin and I knew exactly what date we wanted to get married, and we weren’t willing to budge on that, we wanted to get our ceremony and reception site booked right away. Our goal was to find somewhere we could have an outdoor ceremony followed by an indoor reception at the same location. It would eliminate unnecessary travel, and our guests wouldn’t have to figure out how to fill in an odd gap of time between the ceremony and reception.
We looked at a few places around town, and finally decided on what we thought would be the perfect spot. By this time, it was early December 2008, and the location wasn’t accepting 2010 reservations until 2009. We were told that since Jan. 1 was a holiday, the soonest we could pay a deposit to reserve the site would be Friday, Jan. 2. After making sure we had the deposit money ready, I called to reserve the spot on the morning of Monday, Jan. 5 (the place was closed on the weekends). You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that “Beth” had already reserved the space for our same wedding date.
At 18 months before the wedding date, I thought I was ahead of schedule. How could there be another bride out there more OCD than me? The space was only available to book for 2010 weddings for a day and an hour. What are the chances that someone would want that exact same date? I was devastated and shocked.
A year later, I’m able to look back and laugh. If the weather cooperates, we’re planning an outdoor ceremony with an indoor cocktail hour and reception to follow at a beautiful
public golf course with a recently renovated banquet room. It has large windows that let in tons of natural light, and there’s easy access to the patio if guests want some air.
To be upfront, I’m horrible at making decisions. When I’m going to buy something (especially something that costs a lot of money), I need to know without a doubt that it’s what I want. I spend hours researching products and comparing prices, even for the smallest purchase. You can imagine, then, what an ordeal the wedding dress shopping experience could have become.
A little over six months after we got engaged, I went to the first shop with a file folder of dress styles I had pulled from the dozens of bridal magazines I spent months poring over. For once, I had a very clear image of what I wanted. I wanted something simple with straps and a deep-V neckline.
While I tried on many styles that fit that description, I didn’t rule anything out. I agreed to try on any dress my mom, my sister, my bridesmaids and the store associate suggested. (As a joke, someone put the frilliest, poofiest dress in the bunch, just to see my reaction. For the record, I tried it on graciously and even let them all see me in it, though I firmly ruled that one out.) I approached the situation with the outlook that there’s no harm in trying, and often dresses look much better on a body than they do on a hanger. Thank God I did.
It quickly became clear that the dress I thought would be the most flattering didn’t really flatter me at all. My top two favorites ended up being strapless dresses that I never would have picked had I not tried them on. I had an inkling which one I liked best, but in fear of making too rash a decision, I decided to think about it.
For me, that meant going home and spending hours looking through photos and videos of myself in the various dresses, and then hours more obsessively asking everyone what they thought. I even solicited Colin’s opinion, but he refused. Knowing that I likely wouldn’t drop the subject until a decision was made, my friend suggested we check out another dress shop the next day.
We went through the same scenario, frantically grabbing any and every dress we could find. Right before we went to the dressing room, my friend grabbed one last dress and asked, “What about this one?” I thought it might be the same as another in the pile, but said “Why not,” just in case it was different.
A few dresses into the process, nothing was working. The associate then pointed out the last dress we had grabbed and suggested I try that one. She left the room so my friend could help me into the dress, and once it was on we both instantly realized it was my favorite dress from the day before.
We were so giddy at the revelation that we could barely contain ourselves, but we opened the door to get everyone else’s opinion. The minute I locked eyes with my sister, I knew she realized it was the same dress. But you could tell my mom had no idea! She got very excited, though, and just shook her head saying, “That’s the one.” We left the shop and explained the coincidence to my mom in the car.
That was just the sign I needed. I had found my dress.
Other plans were much easier to decide. Our ceremony/reception site has a chef on staff, so that determined our caterer. From the beginning, we knew we didn’t want conventional wedding food, so we’re opting for a pasta bar and a taco bar. Most people love Italian food, and our first date was at a Mexican restaurant, so it fits perfectly. The chef has even agreed to make Colin’s corn salsa recipe!
We already have a favorite local bakery and florist, so there was no question where to go for cake and flowers. Because it’s a spring wedding and I love Gerbera daisies, we’ll definitely incorporate them in the bouquets and when decorating the cake. Two more items checked off my to-do list.
For me, 2009 was a year full of (other people’s) weddings, which turned out beneficial because it gave me a chance to get ideas and see vendors in action. In July, I had the privilege of being a bridesmaid for a close friend (who will also be a bridesmaid in my wedding), and her DJ did such a fantastic job that Colin and I knew we had to book him for our wedding. He was energetic, really engaged the crowd and played a great music selection. I’ve been to so many weddings where couples were disappointed with their DJ, so it was comforting to be able to see how ours worked ahead of time.
I recently booked our ceremony musicians (a violinist and cellist) as well. And now that we have our guest list finalized, it’s time to secure chair rentals and order the invitations. Most of the major decisions have been made, and vendors secured. More than anything, I’m really excited for Colin and I to be married and to celebrate the occasion with our closest family and friends. At just six months until the big day, I’m feeling pretty stress-free. Here’s hoping I’m still this calm come May...