Confessions of A DIY Ohio Bride

The Proposal

Jessica Meadows
Step 1: It is finally happening: that magical moment when he gets down on one knee and asks the question that every girl dreams about her entire life. It came out of nowhere, someone pinch me please!

But all I could think about in that moment was how bad I felt for being so concerned with how strange he was acting the entire week leading up to that morning: was he cheating? Was he going to dump me? Something was not right. Now I realize his strangeness was not a bad thing, but a very, very good thing. Human nature to expect the worst, huh? And, it’s my nature to make up a million different situations that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Now, back to the moment. Yes, it was beautiful, shocking and I think my hands were shaking the rest of the day (which was wonderful).

And then: all hell broke loose.

“Where’s the wedding? Have you set a date yet? Is my son’s, cousin’s girlfriends, sister invited?” Yes, these questions besides the last (which I exaggerated) were asked of me within 24 HOURS of our engagement. That’s right, HOURS. I had NO idea he was proposing that morning, and generally proposals are a surprise, so how could I manage to secure a venue, date and guest +1 accommodations in 3,600 seconds? Exactly: not possible.

Over the next few weeks I managed to have more “help” planning a wedding than I ever thought would be necessary. And trust me, going into this I knew nothing about weddings or wedding planning. Although I was extremely excited to plan the wedding to the love of my life, I was not exactly ready to embark on that adventure yet. I was then and still am excited to be engaged. There is something romantic and old-fashioned about it to me. It is an important step above dating and step below marriage. It is new and exciting and I wanted to live in the moment and truly enjoy it before handling the stress of preparing for that one day. However, not many people around me seemed to understand that. Their enthusiasm is appreciated and understood (and we love our friends and family to pieces) but what I really wanted was to enjoy our moment and have everyone back up for just a few months. We would begin planning the wedding once we were good and ready.

And, this is my very first piece of advice for any bride-to-be: relax and enjoy your engagement, at least for a couple of weeks before you thumb through one thousand bridal magazines, explain to your mother that her 1980s wedding dress is NOT in style regardless of what is hot on the runway and get completely bombarded with wedding industry junk mail and phone calls. (I will dedicate an entire column to this later). Live in the moment because trust me, once you begin planning the engagement months will fly by, the big day will come and go and then from what I hear, post-wedding blues kick in and you will wonder where being engaged went…because once you have the wedding keep in mind that you are MARRIED. Just from talking to other brides and watching WE TV I think it is safe to say many brides lose sight of the end result of engagement because they are so obsessed with making their day perfect. However, the time in between the engagement and wedding is special.

Engagement is crucial and does change the relationship. I can happily report that in my case it is much more exciting than dating. However, we have learned more about each other and what marriage really means during the last four months of our engagement than we ever knew during a year-and-a-half of dating. I am more than happy that we took control of our destiny and have kept others from interfering by standing our ground.

We enjoyed our newly-engaged bliss for a month-and-a-half. We knew we wanted to get married this upcoming summer and it is generally necessary to secure your date/venue 10-12 months from your desired date. Of course, there are exceptions but if you have a particular location in mind I highly recommend booking it sooner rather than later. Once we secured that, we relaxed for a few months. If you are having the reception catered I advise securing that company 8-12 months in advance as well. But take it easy and have a game plan. Make a list with your fiancé that includes every service you will need for your wedding and then rank them in order of priority (and budget). Plan out when you will work on each item. If you go into this process prepared you will be less-stressed and will know what is being handled and in what time frame. It will also help you keep a firm stance on your objectives when your “helpers” inquire about your plans.

If you’re a wedding budget-conscious couple like us this entire process will be more work than couples who can afford a wedding planner, hire a calligrapher, caterers etc. And, there is nothing wrong with that. It just means that you put a lot of love into making your day special. There are so many ways that DIY can make your day more unique and personalized to your relationship as well as save you a lot of money. I will be providing buckeye state specific wedding advice and DIY ideas for all of you rockin’ Ohio brides over the next several months…stay tuned!