Can you have it all? That’s the question of the day gang. Everyone wants it all…I know I do. And I’ve lived long enough to know better! I would like to have a perfect & productive day at the office, connect with happy brides and grooms who are always in love with no troubles, have a full to overflowing bank account, have time for my hobbies and my friends, spend extra time with my two wonderful & charming daughters, have a clean house, cook dinner on time, and enjoy stress free, loving time with my wife…every day please. Who’s with me?!?! But the reality is that I think I’ve got it pretty good when I get…even just a few of those things.
Every day I have the distinguished pleasure of meeting newly engaged couples and almost all, without fail, sit in front of me with eyes the size of dinner plates wondering what in the hell they got themselves into when they entered into this wedding planning jungle!! And every single one of them come with a life already brimming with responsibility: they’re in school, they have jobs, they’re buying a house, they’re keeping up relationships, they have friends & family obligations…the list goes on and on. So, where does wedding planning even fit?? Now we plan weddings for a living…and we know that the process for planning just ONE wedding, especially for the first time, is damn near a part time job!
So, imagine my intrigue when I met with Cortney. I was SUPER excited about this consultation because we had photographed Cortney’s sister’s wedding several months before this, and I sincerely loved their family! That evening, Cortney and her lovely mother Sheri came to visit about photography. And during our chat I found out that, while planning a wedding, she was also finishing her last semester at UTSA and student teaching. Oh, and Cortney’s fiancé, Chase, was in Wichita Falls…so, much of the weight of planning this wedding was on Cortney.
As I listened to all of the responsibilities that filled the hours in her day, I made a mental note to stop complaining about my own workload! She explained all of this to me with a positive attitude and determination that made me feel sorry for anyone who tried to get in her way. I was impressed, but…if I’m being totally honest, a little worried about her expectations. Could she really keep all of this up?? Could she really pull it all off??
Let me skip to the end and save you the suspense. She did keep all of it up. And she did pull all of it off. She is now a college grad, full time teacher & wife. And we were honored to have played the small part in her wedding by photographing her bridal session, her boudoir session, and her wedding. I would like to introduce you to her in order so you to be encouraged. Most of the people I work with are similar to Cortney – very, very busy. And, when you feel as though you bit off more than you should chew…know that plenty of other people have done the same, and succeeded. And the moral here, as you will see with Cortney, is not that you have to face it all yourself, but with the right people around you – you CAN have it all!
OK, I’ll shut-up now…here is my interview with Cortney :
Derek : “Cortney, thanks so much for being a part of this. Let’s start with talking about the two of you…where are you guys from?”
Cortney : “Chase and I are both from San Antonio. Our parents actually just live a few neighborhoods over from each other.”
D : “Is that how you met – from being in the same area?”
C : “No, we actually I met on the beach one summer during a July 4th beach trip, thanks to a mutual family friend. This friend invited both of our families on their yearly trip and let’s just say from that point on, sparks flew. We didn’t actually start dating until a couple years later, but the beach trip became a tradition and every summer I sure looked forward to seeing Chase again. Five years ago, on the last night of the beach trip, we shared our first kiss as the sun came up and we’ve been together ever since.”
D : “Wow, and how long did y’all date?”
C : “We dated for 4 years before we got married.“
D : “What attracted you the most to him?”
C : “Oh my goodness…his smile (it’s so contagious),“
D : “When did you know he was the one you wanted to marry?”
C : “I guess I knew that I wanted to marry him from the moment I told him I loved him. You see, I told him I loved him the same weekend of my 22nd birthday after I took him skydiving. From that day on, I knew he was as crazy as me and I wanted him in my life forever.“
D : “Whoa, skydiving!! You guys sound like you know how to have fun! So, how does a guy like Chase go about proposing to a girl like Cortney??”
C : “He proposed on New Year’s Eve. When it was close to midnight, we went outside below the balcony at his Uncle’s house and set off our own firework display. After lighting the last few, Chase and I ran. When we got a safe distance away, I turned around and saw he was on one knee with a small box in his hand. It’s funny how I can remember exactly what he was wearing. This proposal was so special because it was just us, no family or photographers. His family was up on the top balcony watching fireworks from over the hilltop. The proposal was a surprise for everyone, including his parents.“
D : “Beautiful – sounds like a Fairy Tale! But then…you actually have to plan this wedding. And I know you were a busy girl during this time, so what were the biggest challenges you faced during the planning season?”
C : “One of the biggest challenges I had was planning a wedding and going through Student Teaching all at the same time. However, I’m a planner so I loved every minute of it. It’s pretty safe to say that I love being busy! Also, Chase and I were planning a wedding long distance. He was here in Wichita Falls, while I was stuck finishing my last semester at UTSA. It became important for us to communicate constantly. We used Skype to help with the wedding planning at least once a week. This way we could connect on budget and style, and I could show him ideas or things I had purchased.”
D : “Did you have any other friends or family help you locally in San Antonio?”
C : “My mother helped me financially, since my dad isn’t really in the picture. I paid for the two biggest vendors, the venue/reception area and the photographer and asked my mom to help pay vendors that were less expensive. We split the cost of my dress and then when it came to buying décor and such for the wedding, my mom made all the vases, while I purchased anything I saw that was necessary for the big day. If I couldn’t afford it at the time, I would put it in my planner to purchase sometime in the following weeks.“
D : “So, you were able to pull this off even while you had a very full plate…what advice would you offer other couples planning their weddings?”
C : “Don’t procrastinate!! My goal was to get everything done as quickly as possible. This way, you can relax during your final weeks before the wedding. Everything should be good to go by the day of for sure. The last thing you want is a stressed out bride. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed…get a wedding planner if you don’t already have one and take a deep breath.“
Don’t procrastinate!! If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed…get a wedding planner!
D : “Agreed – excellent advice. And one of the KEY points in a wedding coming together smoothly is the team of vendors you have hired to work the wedding. So, how did you do it? What was your decision making process for finding your vendors?”
C : “Well, for the venue, I looked around and when I stumbled across The Lost Mission I just knew it was the one for us…kinda like when you finally find your dress. I wanted a venue that had the church and reception both on site because as a guest, I always hated traveling from church to reception. So this was something I tried to avoid for ours. Also, we both come from rather large families and needed a church/reception area that could accommodate about 200 people. The Lost Mission provided this, as well as a beautiful venue.”
C : “Choosing the photographer was easy, since my sister had previously used Moments and Milestones for her wedding. *Editors Note : You should totally contact them…I’ve heard those guys kick ass!* After seeing how beautiful her photos came out, my mind was made up. The same applies to the DJ. I went with Time of Your Life DJ, as did my sister. The DJ’s name is Pete. He is so sweet and plays the best dancing music. He’s honestly just there to make you happy. Chase and I didn’t do a traditional first dance. We created a mix with Pete and came up with a routine instead (he even let us practice at his house). Pete went along with the whole thing and at the wedding we pretended like the DJ had messed something up…the whole crowd was shocked when we busted out the real dance moves!
C : “Choosing the caterer was easy too. I went with Willies Grill and Icehouse (I used to work there). They started us off with a Mediterranean salad before we moved into the main course (grilled chicken with white wine sauce, green bean/squash/carrot mix and mashed potato bar). They made something completely off menu for me and made me feel special.“
D : “Now that it’s over, we can all see that you chose the right team because your wedding was smooth and stunning. But, how did you know where to start??”
C : “The first thing I did was make an appointment to try on dresses. The dress process actually takes longer than most expect. You have to choose a dress, then they order one for you (which takes a couple months to get in depending on how busy they are). Then you have a fitting to try on your dress to make alterations, which takes another month or so before you have a final fitting. You don’t want to wait until last minute for the dress because the entire process took me about 5-6 months and you want to have time to take your bridals before the big day. Keep in mind that you will take your bridals and then also wait for those pictures to come in before for you to choose which one to have displayed at your reception (if you choose to do so). Like I said, you don’t want to be scrambling everything last minute. You really want to be stress free that last month. I then chose my venue, photographer, caterer, florist and DJ. “
How did you know that you were choosing the right vendors?
D : “It’s so hard to narrow it down and make decisions. How did you know that you were choosing the right ones?”
C : “Each one of my vendors went above and beyond my expectations. They were so friendly and would do anything to make my husband (at the time fiancé) and myself happy. I guess this was when I knew they were the vendor for us. They treated us as friends or family instead of just another client.“
D : “Cortney, this is such wonderful information. I am so, so grateful to you and Chase for allowing us to be a part of this time with you both. And thank you for letting me dig into your experience a bit – I know a lot of brides will be encouraged by your story. Cheers to many, many years of joy together for you both.“
I hope found something you can relate to in Cortney’s story. Listen, I know the circumstances are always different. Some couples have family support, others don’t. Different couples have a big budget and others a small budget. Many are students, some have full time jobs. Some have PERFECT personalities for planning and others have a hard time making decisions and organizing dinner! But, no matter your circumstance, I promise there are plenty of wonderful people who would be very excited to help and serve you during this time in any capacity. Don’t be scared of reaching out to vendors in the industry just to ask questions and make sure you are on the right track. You may be surprised how cathartic it is to talk things out with friendly people who can relate.
And I can personally assure you that Moments & Milestones is happy to guide and give advice – we want to see you succeed in making your dream wedding a reality. Feel free to go through some of our resources on our blog, sign up for our newsletter, listen to the podcast. And check out our WEDDING PLANNING page…or, just reach out and CONTACT US at any time!
Thanks for taking the time to read this…hope you got a bit of info and some encouragement as well. Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts or questions. Cheers everyone…