Planning wedding bliss through semester stress

By Catherine Bennett

Photo Illustration by Delayne Locke

When finding a wedding planner, a caterer and a dream-like honeymoon destination are thrown into the mix of turning in final projects and studying for finals, schedules get hectic. Still, hundreds of USU future brides and grooms are finding ways to stay balanced and unleash their event-planning creativity.

“It has probably been the most intense situation I’ve ever been in for lack of a better explanation,” said Cami Jones, who is ASUSU Graduate Studies vice president. “A wedding is something you dream about, but you have all these expectations that keep you from being able to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Sometimes it feels like I am more of a student than a bride.” Jones will be married to Kyle Haderlie May 12, a few days after graduation weekend.

While planning a wedding may be stressful, it’s important to have fun with it and find the summer style that best fits the couple’s personality, whether it’s casual, elegant or artistic. To make sure a couple’s wedding day is what they always hoped it would be, they need to put away their books for some time and do some research. It could also be dangerous to rely entirely on parents to make decisions, since style has definitely evolved since the 80s. “My mom wants me to try and wear her dress,” said Courtney McCann, a senior and USU Ambassador. “I will put it on for her, but I don’t think that’s going to work out.”

Though parents can be bothersome, they are the missing link when planning a wedding, maintaining a job and attending school, said Heather Foster, a junior majoring in public relations, who is planning a wedding for May 11. When feeling stressed, engaged couples need to ask for help. McCann said her mother and sisters have been looking at reception locations in Las Vegas while she finishes her spring semester. Her wedding is scheduled for August 4, which will give her enough time this summer to perfect her plans. “It definitely makes things easier to get married at the end of the summer,” she said. “But I would have married him any time of the year, obviously.”

Pinterest can be a bride’s saving grace, said Emily Buckhannon, who relies on the website along with her family members for creative ideas. Buckhannon, a Utah Valley University student, will marry USU student Jackson Cozzens in Arizona late August. Search colors, centerpieces, food displays, photo poses, invitations or extras – and hundreds, even thousands, of ideas will appear. After looking through many ideas in the posted photos, Buckhannon said she may use an idea she saw to serve cotton candy or rent a photobooth where guests can take fun pictures to remember their wedding day.

Foster said she highly recommends that those who are overwhelmed by their wedding to-do lists let a wedding planner intervene. Many wedding planners organize more than just decorations. They can help with flowers, the cake and even greeting guests at the reception.

Popular colors among the four girls are shades of blue and green, evoking the feelings of cool and lively summer nights. “I have always wanted my wedding to be in the summer,” Buckhannon said. “People are naturally more relaxed. Summer just has that feel, but I’m having my reception in Arizona, so I’m pretty sure everyone will want to kill me because they are so hot.”

For this reason, Buckhannon will hold all of the wedding festivities indoors, and said the location at the top of her list is the Arizona Museum of Natural History, complete with dinosaur fossils. Her colors combine many shades of blue, and she imagines purple lights will be placed in the reception hall to accent the blues. Her centerpieces will be large with pearl accents.

Jones is taking a different approach, setting up a lighted tent in her family’s backyard that will be lined with poster-sized pictures of her and her fiancé, similar to an art gallery, she said. Her colors are turquoise and coral with hints of grey. She said she is particular about what she wants at her wedding, and this has made it even more challenging to plan with her schoolwork and campus duties. At the food table, her guest will find a variety of candy in separate dishes and cupcakes, as well as veggie and fruit trays, and kebabs. Jones’ friend and USU student Kaho Fiefia will perform in his family band all night, and guests can entertain themselves by filling out specially created Mad Libs cards meant to provide uncanny marriage advice. “I think people will be more likely to stay,” Jones said. “It’s going to be really open and homey- feeling. I wanted my wedding to be different than other weddings.”

Like Jones, McCann wants her wedding and reception to feel casual and inviting. Though she hasn’t decided on a location for her Las Vegas reception, she knows what she wants. “We aren’t exactly the fanciest couple … my family was wanting it in this big country club, and that’s too extravagant,” she said. “The wedding has to fit you as a couple and we are more chilled and laid back, but we are still putting a lot of effort in to make it beautiful.”

McCann’s colors are blue and yellow, and she said serving lemonade would be a fun way to tie in the yellow color and the summer season. She sways more toward the classic look, both in engagement photos and the cut of her wedding dress — mermaid-cut dresses and dresses with high collars are out of the question. Like Buckhannon’s Arizona wedding, McCann said she knows she will need to work with the Las Vegas heat, taking early-morning photos and renting an air conditioned building for the reception. Though August can be the hottest month for Las Vegas, McCann said the timing will be perfect for her and her fiancé, Mike Winn. “It will be easier to move in together right before school starts again,” she said. “And I can have the summer to plan with my family. I don’t have a creative mind to come up with all these cute things, so I like their input as long as they still accept our opinions too. Mike and I think a lot alike.”

Guests at Foster’s wedding reception may wonder why they feel like they are at Disneyland. Her May wedding is in Salt Lake City, with a reception at the Bella Vista, a venue with large windows that work well with the princess feel she looked for. “I spent a lot of time in Disney parks and I loved their weddings,” she said, “so I am trying to bring some of that in but not make it tacky at all.”

Chinese lanterns, like those shown in the Disney film “Tangled” will hang from the ceiling, while a single rose will stand at the center of each table reminding guests of “Beauty and the Beast.” Foster said her shoes remind her of Cinderella’s slippers, and she calls her wedding gown her “princess dress.” The rest of the decorations will fit her colors — black, white and aqua with accents of lime green. Her guests will cool down with soft serve ice cream and do-it-yourself toppings.

Foster’s loved ones who have passed on or who won’t be able to make her wedding have a special place at the wedding reception. “I have a candle tribute to our family members that have died,” she said. “My grandma died and since we were really close, I was upset she couldn’t be at our wedding … my best friend is on her (LDS) mission, so I am putting her picture up too.”

When the last song ends, the bouquet is tossed, the garter flung and the rice thrown, there is only one thing left to do: Take a deep breath and enjoy a relaxing honeymoon far away from school and work.

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