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When my wedding date arrives, I’ll have only been engaged for six months. I say “only” because in the wedding world, six months is a millisecond. Need an example? According to WIC-generated checklists, I should’ve sent “Save the Dates” out about six months ago for our May 2013 wedding. Whoops.

But despite the wedding industry telling me I have no time, I don’t feel rushed. I’ll admit, it helps that we got lucky with our first-choice venue, Glen Echo Park, which miraculously worked out for us despite its nearly full 2013 schedule. Also, our caterers, Main Event (recommended to us by our venue), have been super awesome. Not only did they assure us we weren’t doing something horribly wrong by not waiting a year or more to get married, but they’ve also been a rational voice amid the chaos, making a real effort to listen to us and understand what we want opposed to assuming what they think we want. Sadly, I get the feeling this is much less common in this industry than it should be…

In any case, while I think we lucked out with our vendors so far, I think the key to keeping things calm, even on a “tight” timeline, is accepting that nothing is ever gonna be perfect. Our venue, as much as I love it, is not without flaw. We can’t have hard liquor on the premises because it’s a National Park, nor can we have candles or open flames. Originally, we had envisioned having fire pits scattered about the reception. Ahhh well… We’ve dealt with it.

And our caterers, while exceptional in food quality, are pricier than anticipated. Of course, after starting to learn more about the wedding industry, I’m beginning to think we’re getting a great deal… Still though, it means that to pay for the menu and service we want, we’ll be cutting costs in other areas. Luckily, most of those cuts are nice coincidences, as I don’t care for wedding cakes and I abhor elaborate centerpieces. For my table decor, I’m going to spend a few afternoons scouring secondhand shops for cheap vintage vases that I’ll fill with local weeds wildflowers or whatever’s on sale.

The point is, if you want to get things done both promptly and practically, the first thing to let go of is that everything is going to go exactly as planned in your imagination (especially if your imagination is filled with $30,000 dresses and Kardashian-style ridiculousness). Remember, it’s a wedding, not life-saving surgery. If something goes wrong, it won’t kill you. Plus, isn’t it the marriage that’s important anyway? Who cares whether your fiance’s friend’s girlfriend thinks your dress is fancy enough. (Why is she there, anyway?)

And so, to remain stress-free, I think I’m gonna keep my wedding goals simple (i.e., my goal is to be betrothed by the end of the night). The rest is just a creative challenge, and luckily, I love creative challenges.

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