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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Newly Engaged!

Over the past thirteen years, I've watched Elizabeth Wiggs grow up. Not in person, but over the Internet thanks to her mother, Susan, who shared some really great stories about her beautiful and remarkable daughter. In March, Elizabeth accepted her beau's romantic proposal! As soon as I heard about Elizabeth's engagement, I asked if she would mind answering a few questions about her wedding planning experiences and, fortunately for all of us, she agreed.

Grab your favorite beverage of choice, sit back and read what newly-engaged Elizabeth Wiggs has to say about her journey to the altar so far. I think you'll enjoy this!

1. Did you decide to go with a big wedding or a smaller one? Why?

One thing that I've begun to realize about weddings is that everyone has a different opinion about what constitutes an over-the-top event. According to the more neutral Internet sources, my guest list (which, right now, should yield about 150-200 people) is in the mid-range…but some have heard that number and gasped in horror at the "HUGE" wedding I'm planning, and others have commented on how "simple and intimate" the day will be. So, rather than thinking too concretely about numbers, I simply want to invite everyone who is important to me, to Dave, and to our families.

2. What has been the most difficult part of planning a wedding?

The most difficult part – this early in the game, anyway – has been realizing that planning a wedding isn't all fairytales and rainbows. Sure, I've seen reality shows about monstrous brides, bridesmaids, and family members, but I suppose that I've always thought of stressful wedding planning as a phenomenon specific to spoiled divas and their emotionally imbalanced mothers.

This is why it was a shock to me when I had my first wedding-related tussle with my mom. I thought to myself, "This shouldn't happen to me! I'm not a bridezilla! My wedding should be a breeze to plan! Everyone should be on the exact same page as me and be super-duper thankful that I'm not crazy or demanding!" The truth is, you can be the mellowest bride of them all, with the most laid-back family in the world (no, I'm not suggesting that the Wiggs clan fits the description), and you're still going to face some, ahem, challenges. Look at it this way: you're planning an event that is more than likely going to involve a slew of out-of-town guests, a large chunk of money, and, oh yeah, it's also a genuinely important, emotional day for you. Even a Zen-master yogi trained in conflict resolution and transcendent meditation isn't gonna avoid getting a little frazzled during the planning process.

So here's how I've been dealing with the less sparkly, giddy parts of planning my wedding: Dave's aunt told me, when she heard about our engagement, that our wedding should reflect who Dave and I are as a couple. I've made that my mantra. When I get stressed, I remind myself that the details – the food we serve, the color-scheme, where we have the event – will melt away over time, and what remains will be the memory of a celebration with loved ones. Over the years, when our marriage hits rough patches (and it will), we can look back on the day and remember exactly why we decided to be partners in crime.

That's not to say that I'm going to be level-headed for the rest of the engagement. Sometimes I'll sweat the small stuff, and there will be hectic moments along the way to our marriage. But I'm realizing that the most important part of planning this wedding isn't keeping the road smooth – it's learning to address the challenges with grace and compassion. It's remembering to honor the love and support that Dave and my family give me. As soon as I remember that it's not all about me, I return to my newly engaged bliss (sometimes let loose a couple of banshee screeches before I get there, though).

3. What has been your favorite part of planning your wedding?

My favorite part so far has been sharing my excitement with Dave. In the last couple of weeks, I have watched both of us settle happily into the idea of spending forever together. Just before he proposed to me, Dave whispered, "We've been married for a long time now." Of course, we aren't married in the literal sense of the world, and that's not what he meant; he was simply saying to me that our wedding isn't going to change the course of our relationship. Our marriage has been formed over the past couple of years, and our partnership will continue to deepen for the rest of our lives. The wedding, on the other hand, is a blessing, an opportunity to invite everyone who cares for us to share our love for one another. And that's where the joy is for me: planning a day, with Dave, that will bring together our families, friends, and relationship.

Some of the best ideas for the wedding have actually been Dave's. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than getting an email from him in the middle of the day with a link to a quirky, cool venue or a touching thought about an officiator. I'm continually reminded that, more than ever before, we are each other's support, and everything we do for our wedding is a combined effort.

4. How did you make this wedding celebration uniquely yours? (And unusual or interesting touches you chose to go with)?

Growing up in the Northwest, Dave and I both deeply value the pristine landscape that we once took for granted. Before attending college in Los Angeles, neither of us realized what a gift it is to live in a community that hasn't leeched away the health of our land. That's why I'm committed to making choices for the wedding that don't unnecessarily damage our environment. And no, I'm not saying that I'm going to serve my guests organically harvested tree bark, wear moss in my hair, and replace the reception venue's toilet paper with fallen leaves – I'm just going to approach each element of the wedding by asking myself whether there's a (plausible) way that I could be less demanding on the environment.

For instance: I've never seen flowers as a vital, defining part of a wedding. In fact, they don't much matter to me either way. So, aside from my bouquet, which I will pick from my parents' back yard the day before, I'm not going to have any floral arrangements. Instead, for table centerpieces, I'll use simple, beautiful pieces that don't drain the landscape, like smooth beach rocks, soy candles, and painted driftwood.

5. How many attendants do you have? Describe the dresses you've chosen (or would like to choose).

In the interest of keeping my girls comfortable, I'll have them wear tea-length, A-line dresses, hopefully with a number of options regarding the neckline and sleeves. For colors, I'm considering a universally flattering shade of soft gray or creamy aqua. Most importantly, I'll keep the cost per frock under 200 bucks, since I don't want to force any of my ladies to go broke over my wedding.

Here's what I'm not doing: I'm not kidding myself that my gals will re-wear their bridesmaid dresses. Sure, if I do end up finding a dress that all of them love and would wear outside of my wedding, fabulous. And I want each maid to feel beautiful. But if I'm going to pick what they wear, then I need to be clear-eyed about the fact that they might not be as in love with the design as I am.

6. Any favorite songs you'd like the wedding band to play?

Here's what I do *not* want the band to play: YMCA, We Are Family, Celebration, Macarena, Locomotion, The Joker, Electric Slide, Freebird, I Will Always Love You, Shout, Who Let the Dogs Out, or the chicken dance.

Actually, we're not going to have a wedding band – just an iPod and a playlist that guests will vote on via our website (mind you, I say this only weeks into the planning process, with no knowledge whatsoever of how complicated this can and will be). We're keeping our "first dance" song secret because we want our guests to have an "AWWWWWWWWWW" moment when they first hear the melody.

7. If you could go anywhere you wanted to, describe your perfect honeymoon location.

When Dave proposed to me, he had already been thinking about this and suggested Thailand. I also immediately looked into Iceland honeymoon packages.

In reality, though, we're not going to have a month to spend on our honeymoon. Realistically, we'll have a week or two. So I'd rather not lose two days of that time to travelling to our destination, and two more days getting over jet-lag. We're going to find somewhere exotic and fun near our own time-zone, like Alaska or South America, so that we can maximize our time cuddling and practicing the terms "husband" and "wife."

8. Have you received or requested any unique wedding gifts? What are they?

Because we've lived together for almost two years, we have acquired a lot of extremely nice items for our home – so we can be a little less traditional with our registry. The "big ticket" item that we're considering putting on the list is a large, flat computer monitor that we can hook our laptops up to. To be honest, it seems unnatural and a bit uncomfortable to have a registry at all, and I've been wrestling a little with my conscience over it. But every couple that I've spoken to has given me two pieces of advice that I keep repeating to myself whenever I start fretting that it's presumptuous for me to create an in-depth list of the feathers I want for my nest:

a) Your guests are going to get you gifts no matter what, so make it easy for them – and avoid getting ten toasters that you have to run around and return.
b) Don't go cheap out of guilt. Register for what you want – and trust that your guests will spend what they feel comfortable with on your gift. Plus, many places give you a discount on items that you register for but don't receive, so this is a great way to save money on something that you would end up buying anyway.

9. If a millionaire dropped by and offered to pay for the wedding of your dreams, what additions/changes would you make?

I would have much more extravagant décor, with lush fabrics draped from the walls and stunning centerpieces that fill the reception venue with twinkling light. I would consider holding the ceremony and reception at a well-known venue, like the art museum lobby or the aquarium. And I would spend more money on my guests and wedding party, giving them unique gifts that represent how grateful I am for their support and love.

As it is, my guests are getting signed copies of my mother's books, we're leaving the walls bare, and I'm making my own centerpieces. And I still think it's going to be beautiful, personal, and memorable.

10. Have you chosen any interesting/different places for wedding photos?

At the moment, we're considering splitting the ceremony and the reception between Bainbridge Island, where my parents live, and Seattle. Because of this, there will be a ferry ride in the middle of the day, and I'm looking forward to taking over the boat with my wedding party and new husband, reenacting the "I'm flying!" scene from Titanic, and having a true Seattle experience that will forever remind us of the vibrant city where Dave and I set out on our life together.

11. A wedding is a bride's opportunity to act out a fairy tale for a day. What stands out as the most special part of your wedding?

The most special part of the wedding will be the ceremony. When I imagine the day, every other element seems in shadow compared to the moment when Dave and I meet at the end of the aisle and promise, in front of everyone we love, to spend forever with each other.

Elizabeth Wiggs is the daughter of writer Susan Wiggs, so she knows a thing or two about romance. She now works in marketing at a sustainable design firm in Seattle.

Elizabeth attended Pomona College outside of Los Angeles, California, from where she brought home more than a B.A.: when she moved back to Seattle in 2006, she was joined by a 6'4", olive-skinned Canadian with a mane of flowing blond hair who looks like he stepped off the cover of one of her mother's novels. His name is Dave.

On a random Friday last March, Dave surprised Elizabeth at home with flowers duct taped to the wall, a diamond ring, and a weekend "Engageymoon" trip to one of Seattle's nicest hotels. They are moving to Chicago this summer, where Dave will begin law school and Elizabeth will apply to business school. The pair plans to return to Seattle for their wedding on July 25, 2009.

All of us at The Wedding Planners wish Elizabeth and Dave our best for stress-free planning over the thirteen months and a beautiful wedding next year. May the love that brought you together today, only grow stronger and deeper over the years!

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Blogger Dru said...

Great interview and I wish the happy couple all the best in the world and especially on their wedding day.

June 12, 2008 at 6:42 AM  
Blogger Anne Stuart said...

Just lovely. As for music -- it's really quite easy to come up with playlists and pump it through a speaker, both for the ceremony (if you don't have someone live) and the reception. And fun.

June 12, 2008 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger kimmyl said...

What a nice surprise. "Lifting a wine glass to the happy couple."

June 12, 2008 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Ellen said...

Wishing Elizabeth and Dave all they wish for in a wedding and a wonderful and long marriage.

June 12, 2008 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Sarita Leone said...

What a wonderful interview! Sending good wishes to the happy couple. :)

June 12, 2008 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Tori Lennox said...

Best wishes to Elizabeth & Dave! She's grown into such a beautiful young woman. :) (Though it hardly seems like she's old enough to get married! *g*)

June 12, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Best Wishes and Blessings to a truly loving couple!

June 12, 2008 at 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. It sounds like it was a very remarkable day.

June 12, 2008 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Lynn Kerstan said...

It sounds wonderfully romantic. I'm already looking forward to the wedding pictures and stories.

June 12, 2008 at 2:08 PM  
OpenID thelyonsden said...


June 12, 2008 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Linda Goodnight said...

What a lovely couple!
Best wishes for a wonderful life together.

June 12, 2008 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger catslady said...

She makes it all seem so simple - and she sounds very level headed - congratulations.

June 12, 2008 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Lily said...


Weddings seem so complicated to prepare!

June 12, 2008 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Nathalie said...

I just love to hear wedding stories... that must be why I am hooked to the bridal shows on TV!

June 13, 2008 at 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Cactus Chris said...

I can remember when Elizabeth's mom regaled everyone with Elizabeth's Christmas list! All my best wishes to her and Dave. Be happy!

June 15, 2008 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger robynl said...

All the best to Elizabeth and Dave.
What a nice surprise proposal.

June 15, 2008 at 2:37 PM  

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