COLUMN: Engaged? 5 tips for planning a wedding in college

Wedding rings. Photo credit: Jadree Farmer

Planning a wedding can seem stressful and overwhelming — especially for college students who are simultaneously trying to succeed in their classes and balance other daily tasks. It’s hard to know where to start in the planning process. As someone who got married in 2020 during the coronavirus and had to adjust wedding plans a lot, I totally get it.

With the peak of wedding season approaching — typically late spring to early fall — here are a few tips to help you stay organized and reduce as much stress as possible for your big day.

Set a budget

One of the first things you should do is set a budget. Determine what costs will be covered by you and your fiancé and what costs will be covered by your families.

Along with deciding who will cover specific costs during budget planning, it’s also a good idea to make a list of top priorities for your wedding. Decide as a couple things that you definitely want included in your celebrations, like a specific photographer, cake, florist, caterer or honeymoon location.

When it comes to solidifying your plans for payment, if you end up spending a little more money on one of your top priorities, be willing to accept that this means you may have to adjust plans in other categories and spend a little less. This will still leave you with a feeling of satisfaction knowing that your top priorities are just as you hoped they would be.

Do research

The next tip that goes hand in hand with budgeting is research. You should reach out to different venues and see what deals or packages might be offered to you based on your wedding dates and needs. Communication is key here, so prepare a list of questions and thoughts you have for your ideal venues. You could ask what each venue is willing to do to negotiate and work with your unique vision.

When planning my own wedding, getting photos that I loved was one of my top three priorities. I had various friends and family members who had nice cameras or their own photography businesses, but after some research and networking I ended up finding the perfect photo business that met my desired style. Unfortunately, it was slightly higher than my originally planned photography budget. However, because great photos were such a high priority for me, I compromised by renting rather than buying a wedding dress to compensate for the additional photo cost.

It’s highly unlikely that a venue or designer will change their style to fit yours, so it’s often better to do your research, find something you love and spend a little more to get the quality you want when it comes to your priorities.

Create a wedding notebook

One of the most helpful things I did during my wedding planning was keep a wedding notebook. I bought a cheap spiral notebook from Walmart and designated a page or two for each category so that all my research and planning was in one place.

This notebook contained pages of personal research notes and reminders about temple sealing appointment details, reception venues, floral plans, wedding party attire, cakes, reception playlists, local dress rental shops, invitations, to-do’s, photography ideas, registry information and guest lists. While this notebook tip may seem overboard to some, I felt it kept my thoughts and ideas extremely organized.

Don’t be afraid to delegate

Wedding planning can seem like a lot, so don’t hesitate to delegate tasks to other family members and friends. For example, if you’re addressing envelopes by hand, you could create a document of names and addresses then pass it off to someone else. That task is very straightforward and requires little to no personal opinion about how it should be done.

In the case of my wedding during the coronavirus, I had to plan two separate receptions in order to accommodate both families while also keeping group sizes down. I trusted my mother-in-law and ended up delegating plans for my pre-wedding day reception with my husband’s side of the family to her. That allowed me to focus on the more formal reception on our wedding day. It may seem nerve-racking to delegate if you are a perfectionist, but it will alleviate a lot of stress in the end if you choose to do so.

Remember your relationship comes first

Above all else in the wedding planning process, remember that your relationship with your future spouse should come first. In the few months to weeks preceding your big day, you may feel like all you talk about is the plans and preparations. In those moments, it’s important to take a step back and remember what these plans are truly about — the celebration of your commitment to each other.

Take time to go on dates with the rule that you aren’t allowed to discuss wedding planning. Get to know each other and serve each other. Above all, love each other and don’t allow the stress of wedding planning to get in the way of your relationship and happiness.