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When planning gets personal

By Kirsten Valle

Posted: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010

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Photo by Critsey Rowe

Kirsten Valle is a business reporter for the Observer. She can be reached at kvalle@charlotteobserver.com.

Read more "Getting to 'I do.'"

I'm learning that planning a wedding doesn't exactly happen the way you'd expect. I don't even mean the plans - the time and place, the colors, the flowers, the way it will all look together - because for the most part, they're shaping up precisely the way I imagined. I mean the actual planning process.

Case in point: my long-abandoned wedding-planning resources. Those bridal magazines I flipped through with such intensity in the early weeks? Gathering dust on a shelf in my room. That slim, pink paperback, "Check List for a Perfect Wedding"? Hardly consulted in months. Even my thick, three-ring binder, with its color-coded sections and clear plastic sleeves, stuffed with our first contracts and a mishmash of magazine clippings? Didn't know where it was until I spotted it under a chair in Reese's living room.

I didn't mean for the process to unravel like this. I really am an organized person. (My room is the exception to this, but I blame that on the fact that I have a lot of clothes, a little closet and a strong tendency to rifle through them when I'm crunched for time.) I'd read somewhere that you should approach wedding planning the way you'd approach an important work project, and I really did have the best intentions when I bought the books and put together the binder.

But at times, I've felt like a pretty negligent bride. And the truth is, despite my daydreams about the wedding and my love for clothes and shoes and all things girly, I'm just not one of those women who can think about my wedding all day long.

I think it goes back to my "decide-and-move-on" mantra I adopted early on, which has streamlined the process in many ways. I haven't needed pages of notebooks peppered with wedding dress photos, because I narrowed my search early and chose my dress soon after. I haven't needed to keep brochures and price quotes from 10 different venues or bakeshops or florists, because we had a vision (and some great recommendations from friends, family and our wedding planner) and trusted it.

So maybe it's not that I'm negligent, but just that for me, the wedding planning process hasn't been as I'd once feared: flowery and dense like a rainforest, full of beautiful options and unseen obstacles.

Still, planning our wedding has been like a study in contradictions - disorganized one minute, jotting notes on napkins and hauling out the computer on a whim to knock out some to-dos, and completely in control the next. Say what you will about jotting notes on napkins, by the way. Through the whole thing, I've managed to keep pretty accurate records, keep meetings straight and compile one heck of a guest list, complete with formal titles, middle names and color coding.

The bottom line, I guess, is that every bride - every engaged couple, really - will approach the process differently. Despite all the books and TV shows that tell you otherwise, there's no right or wrong way. You never really know how you'll tackle it all until you're actually thrown in, head first. And so we go, ticking items off our list, getting things done the best way we know how. It might not be by the book, but that's OK by me.

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