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Going to the chapel
New and future brides say savor moment, try not to stress
Meg Fraser
PIECE OF CAKE: Joshua and Meghan Nathanson cut into their tower of cupcakes and feed each other the traditional bite of cake.

Even pros find wedding planning daunting when it comes to them

Kelly Shaw is a pro when it comes to weddings – she’s a bridal consultant at David’s Bridal. But she’s also a novice, since she and her fiancé, Chris Bennett, are newly engaged and in the throws of wedding planning.

Shaw is used to teaching others about wedding planning. So, who’s been teaching her?

“Me, myself and I,” she said with a laugh.

Chris and Kelly have known one another since 2004, but it wasn’t until last year that he popped the question.

The pair has chosen the Alpine Country Club as their venue, and will have their ceremony on site. For them, the country club was a good fit for their budgets and their styles.

The hardest part about planning for Chris and Kelly was deciding on their wedding party. They said it’s important to pick people important to you, without feeling like you’re excluding anyone, something easier said than done.

Though a lot of the big things are out of the way, like a venue and Kelly’s dress, they still have several details to iron out such as the flowers and a cake. Kelly and Chris warn couples that are newly engaged to be careful about cost; little things like place cards and invitations can rack up hefty bills.

“Everything has a fee – a cost that’s 10 times what you want it to be,” said Kelly. “Put yourself on that budget and stick to it.”

As someone who’s familiar with bridal consultation and wedding planning, Kelly is no stranger to the stress that accompanies planning the big day.

“Take your time and enjoy it and be flexible,” said Kelly, who has set a Nov. 2 date for her nuptials. “At the end of the day, it’s one day.”

Cruise to take the stress out of wedding for Caitlin and Dana

Caitlin Shalvey wanted to avoid the stress of wedding planning altogether. Caitlin, a nurse who is very laid-back, said the endless list of details and anxiety that went along with planning her wedding was just too much for her to handle.

Caitlin has been with her fiancé, Dana Traversie, for eight years, and they’ve been engaged for the past two. They weren’t in a rush to get married, and wanted to save their money to pay for their big day.

What they initially decided to do was have their reception at Caitlin’s parents’ house. They put a down payment on a caterer for a clambake and began sorting out other details. But eventually it became too overwhelming.

“It was equally as expensive [as having it at a venue] and the guest list kept growing,” she said. “I found the whole thing to be extremely stressful.”

Caitlin said she “pretty quickly realized that it wouldn’t work,” and so she swallowed the down payment on the clambake (quite literally); they threw a big bash for family and friends at her parents’ home and used what they had already paid for.

For the wedding, though, Caitlin and Dana had a different idea – a destination wedding for their families and a few very close friends.

What they discovered was by having their wedding on a cruise, they could save a lot of money. For a basic wedding package on Norwegian Cruise lines, they only had to pay $1,800. The price was equally similar for guests, who shelled out under $800 each for a seven-night vacation.

It was a dream come true since it was well within their budget and everything was taken care of. The cruise line provides a wedding planning service that helps with all the details, which zapped Caitlin’s stress entirely. Plus, the cruise would travel from New York to Florida and the Bahamas – talk about laid back.

Caitlin’s friends have called her the “anti-bride,” but Caitlin’s not so sure. She wants a day to remember, but one that comes without all the trappings of stress, pressure and anxiety.

The wedding itself will be casual; a short ceremony with light hors d’oeuvres and a piano player, something Caitlin had her heart set upon.

“I’m very simple,” said Caitlin. “It means more to us to have a small group there.”
Caitlin and Dana will bus 35 of their closest friends and family to New York, and they’ll enjoy seven days of tropical relaxation. It’s also a way for Caitlin to ensure she doesn’t blink and miss her wedding day.

Whirlwind wedding worked perfectly for Meghan and Josh

Meghan Richard is familiar with how quickly a wedding day goes by; she just got married to Sgt. Josh Nathanson earlier this month, and said the day was a “whirlwind.”

Josh proposed in March after a relatively short courtship (the pair have been dating since March 2011, but have known one another for about six years) and immediately launched into wedding planning. He signed up for TheKnot.com, a website that helps with wedding planning and registries, and suggested a March 2013 wedding date.

Josh, a sergeant in the Army, was stationed in Georgia at the time of the engagement, and soon after, Meghan had to travel back to Rhode Island for work. In April, Josh traveled to meet her here, but not for long. He told her he not only had to go back to Georgia but was going to be deployed to Afghanistan for nine months in March, the month they were set to wed.

So Meghan and Josh moved the wedding to January, and put their wedding planning into overdrive.

Meghan’s older sister, Jaclyn, had gotten married in 2011, and Meghan said she didn’t want to mimic her sister’s wedding, which was a lovely, warm-weather celebration. Meghan made the decision to have a winter wedding in downtown Providence, and visited several hotels to decide which ballroom she liked best.
She knew instantly upon entering the grand ballroom at the Biltmore that it would be the location for her wedding, ceremony and all.

“The Biltmore was the one,” she said.

The ballroom in the iconic Providence hotel not only boasts beautiful architecture but huge windows with panoramic views of the State House and skyline.
The perk of having a wedding at the Biltmore was getting a wedding coordinator, who helped Meghan every step of the way and made sure the day of the event was flawless.

“Not one thing went wrong,” she said. “It was the best day ever. I couldn’t ask for a better day.”

Meghan said the biggest challenge with wedding planning was getting started.

“I didn’t know where to start,” she said. She also said budget constraints came into play, too. But because she chose to have her wedding in the “off-season,” the venue came a bit cheaper.

Once she decided on the venue, everything else began to fall into place. She said TheKnot.com was helpful in finding great vendors, and would recommend it for future brides.

In retrospect, Meghan said the short engagement forced her to focus on what she needed to get done and not spend as long stressing, but at the time, it took a lot of to-do lists and hard work to ensure everything came together.

Meghan said the support of her bridesmaids was crucial, and they helped her to make decisions, but also to get her mind off of the wedding when she needed a break. She recommends that newly engaged brides try to relax during the wedding planning process.

Of course, her biggest piece of advice is to slow down and soak in the joy of the wedding day itself.

“It flies by so fast,” she said. “I was upset when it was over. All that work for one day; I thought, ‘What do I do now?’”


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