“I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That’s getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition.” George Banks (from Father of the Bride) perfectly sums up the reality of weddings that many Northwestern students are coming to find out. Although wedding boards on Pinterest and bookmarks in bride magazines are helpful, it takes much more to organize that special day.
Heidi Gritters got engaged to Ed Rodriguez on July 26, 2014, but she had started planning long before that. She had started researching the bigger parts of a wedding, like the venue and photographer.
“I knew we were getting engaged,” Gritters said. “Lots of people do it; the venues and photographers go quick.”
Gritters and her fiancé will say “I do” on May 30, and until then, they have a lot of planning to do. Though she is juggling classes and wedding details, a month-by-month schedule has helped her stay on track.
“It makes it way more manageable,” Gritters said.
She limits herself strictly to one month and does not look ahead. Her fiancé and mother have also been helping with whatever they can.
Another difficult part of planning a wedding while still attending college is money. According to costofwedding.com, the average U.S. wedding cost $25,000. A typical couple will spend anywhere from $18,900 to $31,500, but many are finding ways to keep the cost below $10,000.
For Gritters and her fiancé, the most expensive parts of the wedding are the food and the photographer.
“Ed and I love, love, love food,” Gritters said. “It’s an essential part of our relationship.”
Both are fans of craft beer and were willing to splurge.
“We really want good food,” she said. “We know the caterers and got a good deal.”
According to theknot.com, the average cost of a wedding photographer starts around $2,500. Gritters and her fiancé are having a friend take the pictures, so the price is discounted.
“It’s worth the money,” Gritters said. “Pictures last the longest time. If you cut costs enough, it all evens out.”
Heidi and Ed were able to cut costs on the wedding invitations. “Lyric (Morris) helped with the design and we found a “Save the Date” free online, so we just paid for postage,” Gritters said.
These days, DIY weddings are becoming more and more popular. Gritters admitted that although she is not “crafty”, the wedding will still be unique.
“I have eclectic taste,” she said. “So we bought fabric, but we’ll set it up ourselves. We also bought a lot of flowers, and we’re arranging them.”
Callie Buske has also been able to put her artsy side to good use preparing for her wedding. She and her fiancé, Drake Vant Hul, got engaged on Aug. 8, 2014 and will be married this August on the same day.
“Not being at home with my mom is hard,” Buske said. Planning the wedding includes many text messages and photos of options.
“With nursing, school is stressful,” Buske said.
Most preparations happen on break or whenever she is able to go home.
“Christmas break there was a lot of stuff being made,” she said.
The reception package is the spendiest wedding component for this couple, but Buske was able to find inexpensive bridesmaid dresses.
“I’m a bargain hunter,” she said.
For other engaged college students, Buske suggests having a longer engagement. “It’s nice to have the time spread out,” Buske said.
More time to plan means less stress for this nursing major.
On New Year’s Day, Joslynn Roth got engaged to Brandon Clark. This newly engaged couple has started some planning, but no details are yet set in stone. Roth has spoken with her mother about hosting the wedding on their farm in Nebraska, has began a guest list and has looked at colors for the wedding.
“It’s a challenge,” Roth said. “People come up and ask when the wedding is, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t know!’”
Although the details haven’t been planned out yet, Roth has already been browsing Pinterest for ideas that are inexpensive.
“I’m definitely a thrifty person,” she said.
Brooke Folkers on the other hand is relying on her creative friends and family members for handmade decorations. She and Cody Hughes were engaged on February 17, 2015 and will be tying the knot on July 24 of this year. They are planning a simple, classic style wedding.
“Neither one of us are extravagant,” Folkers said. “The wedding will reflect our personalities.”
So far, the priciest part of the wedding is the church, where they will also be having the reception.
“The photographer cost a lot too, but pictures are important,” Folkers said. “They last forever.”
Folkers’ advice to engaged college students is staying organized.
“Getting organized is difficult, but it’s better to do it sooner than later,” Folkers said. “Don’t dilly-dally but don’t stress.”
Kaela Prachar and her fiancé, Josiah Bartlett, have the same idea of bringing the element of simplicity to their wedding. Engaged on December 11, 2014, the couple will marry on July 12, 2015.
“By personality trait, I am a planner,” Prachar said. “I really haven’t done a lot of planning though.” The date and location are set and the invitations completed, but the other details will come later. She and her fiancé are planning a simple wedding ceremony and reception. The wedding will include no more than sixty people.
“Both of us are trying to live minimalist lives,” Prachar said. “We want to be true to who we are.”
As part staying true to who they are, Prachar will not partake in the traditional bouquet toss, nor will she be wearing a white dress.
“I don’t like white,” Prachar said. “I spill on white a lot. I found my wedding dress for $58. It’s cream and gray with a gray flower vintage pattern.”
The wedding industry has also troubled Prachar with how many elements of weddings are produced in sweat shops. She decided against incorporating lace due to the ethical issues of how it is made.
Kaela and Josiah are also being earth-friendly with their decorating.
“We’re doing a lot of reusing,” Prachar said. “My mom used to collect antique vases, and we’re using wildflowers from our garden.”
Prachar also commented on the amount of money people pour into weddings.
“We’re trying to be financially smart,” Prachar said. “We don’t want to put ourselves backwards with this.”
From flowers to food and from the dress to the reception, a whirlwind of details will all come together for that special day. With organizing, creative friends and a smart budget, it is sure to be a day these couples will remember forever.