Our Bride on the Brink for today is Stacey Campbell, who’s longer-than-usual engagement resulted in virtually stress-free wedding planning—but there was a slight bump or two along the way!

NAME: Stacey Campbell

LOCATION: Rancho Las Lomas in Silverado, CA

DATE: April 16, 2010

THEME: Spring Surprises

COLORS: Turquoise and deep-cranberry red

GUESTS: 200

Q. Tell us a little about your wedding (reception location, theme, color scheme, number of guests, etc.)

A. We are getting married on April 16th, 2010 at a place called Rancho Las Lomas in Silverado, CA. The wedding is in the spring so in some ways we are having a ‘spring wedding,’ though it is not really our theme. We want our 200 guests to experience a unique, modern simplicity filled with unexpected surprises and laughter throughout the celebration. We are using turquoise as the main color for a bright fun feel with deep cranberry red florals and accents to bring in the touch of romance and elegance. The venue itself is the most unique aspect of the wedding as it is a private estate with many different levels and large lush landscaped grounds for the guests to wander around. The highlight of the property? A private zoo featuring two Bengal tigers, two white tigers, two baby zebras, llamas, wildcats and exotic birds throughout. So fun for the kids as well as the adults!

Q. When did you start planning?

A. We officially got engaged on December 25th, 2008 but had already begun looking at venues and engagement rings in November, 2008. As soon as we were officially engaged, I began booking vendors and researching and planning for all kinds of elements of the wedding.

Q. What’s the most important thing on your mind right now?

A. Right now, I’m thinking about finalizing the little details that I have prepped and planned for months ago but couldn’t really finalize or handle until the last weeks leading up to the wedding. We just sent off the invitations and as responses roll in, we can begin to put together our seating charts, favors, escort cards, programs, etc. Now I’m working on final planning meetings with my vendors, finishing up the ceremony details with our officiant and getting the alterations handled on my gown and the bridal party dresses.

Q. How’s the stress level at this point?

A. I don’t tend to experience any stress really since I chose to have a long engagement and took my time purchasing things and making decisions for about a year. What I do experience is a lot of anxiety and nervousness about all the details coming together the way we’ve been planning and hoping for. I feel like, with so much that has gone into all the planning, there’s a lot of expectation on me as the bride to impress all of our guests and create this big huge extravaganza that they are anticipating. I’ve had a few wedding-related dreams but nothing major or disturbing. When I tend to feel anxious about anything wedding related, I find myself focusing on my fiancé, John and remembering that he relaxes me and makes me laugh and that this day is really about us declaring our love for one another for all eternity. I also selected family and friends as my bridesmaids that I knew would be able to make me laugh, pray for me and just keep my mind off anything stressful as the big day nears. They are stress-relievers in and of themselves!

Q. What’s been the most difficult part of your planning process?

A. It is definitely difficult trying to find ways to incorporate both mine and my fiance’s taste and personality. We have so much in common, but when it comes to opinions on colors, favors, flowers, etc., we can’t seem to find very common ground. My fiancé has an opinion about anything that I bring up wedding-related, but it is usually opposite of what I have been hoping for or planning. Therefore, I have found it best not to bring up too many of the little details with him and rather focus on the bigger elements of the day that he really wants to be involved in. He had a huge hand in designing our invitations and is even constructing the stand for the cake we want to have made.

Q. Knowing what you know now, is there anything you’d change if you had the chance?

A. There’s really not much I regret or wish I had the chance to do differently when it comes to the wedding planning. I have enjoyed every single aspect of the process. I think the one thing I would have changed was how many Save the Dates I sent out to guests. We mailed these out about 9 months before the big day to almost every guest we planned on inviting. However, as the months went on, we found family and friends who we didn’t think would originally be able to attend who we had to add to our guest list at the last minute. This put a lot of stress on us having to stick to the 200 people that our budget and venue could comfortably allow. If I had to do it over, I would have held back on many of the Save the Dates we sent out so that I had more flexibility with our guest list just before the invitations were mailed.

Q. Tell us about the most rewarding part of your wedding-planning process.

A. I am not great at keeping surprises to myself. I usually will tell at least one or two (ok, maybe a handful) of people about ideas I have for the wedding or things my fiancé and I have come up with to entertain or surprise our guests. We have a very special, fun and personal video I am creating to play at our ceremony which tells the story of our lives and our relationship. I showed it to a few members of our bridal party and they loved it. I showed my do-it-yourself project for our table numbers to some friends and they said they were beautiful. Getting to share the plans with friends and family has been the most rewarding part of the process. Everyone keeps telling us how excited they are about our wedding and how fun it will be. Knowing that we have so much support and anticipating all of our loved ones coming together on the big day has kept me focused on getting through the planning and being excited about the wedding itself…the relational part of it.

Q. Wedding Planner—yes or no?

A. There’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s really good to hire a planner. However, I had done this a few times for friends/family in the past. I’d also had plenty of time to research and read up on everything I could to educate myself about vendors and to find lots of choices for things like invitations, décor, favors, etc. Therefore, I knew I didn’t need a planner. However, our venue does not provide anyone to assist you on the day of. And I knew that I did not want a friend, family member or God forbid, me having to deal with running the rehearsal, ceremony, coordinating vendors, setting out favors and place cards, packing up gifts, toasting glasses, etc on the day of our wedding when we wanted to be relaxed and enjoying all of our guests. Therefore, I hired a “Day Of” Coordinator. Even though I hired her for the day of and the rehearsal the day before, she agreed to assist me at some florist meetings and the walk throughs with our caterer and such so that she knew what was going on and what was needed to make our vision a reality.

Q. You sound as though you’ve got everything well covered. Any last minute details?

A. With two-and-a- half months to go, I can honestly say that the planning is complete. We are fine tuning some details like the cake design, song choices for the bouquet/garter toss and cake cutting and we still need to get some gifts for the guys in the wedding party and pick out some shoes for the flower girl, but other than that, it’s totally done! Of course, we still have to put together favors and print escort cards and things like that.

Q. How as the economy affected your wedding plans?

A. We gave up two things due to finances being tight: 1) We originally wanted to include rented gaming tables (blackjack, craps, roulette) as part of our reception but decided the extra $1500 – $2000 was not in our budget. 2) We originally wanted to take private dance lessons and have a choreographed swing dance as our first dance, but after feeling overwhelmed by unexpected financial issues and some stressful family related issues, we decided the time and money were better served saved.

Q. What life lessons did you learn from planning your wedding?

A. My fiancé and I have different tastes and opinions on things. Though we have always had great communication and conflict-resolution skills in our relationship, the wedding has taught us what it truly means to give and take and how to figure out what’s really important to one of us when there is a difference of opinion. Relationships truly are about compromise.

Q. What’s the best advice you would give your friend who was planning her wedding?

A. Where do I start? I could talk about knowing what questions to ask your vendors, being sure your florist lets you see a mockup of your centerpiece before the wedding day and many other little details to make your life easier. But I think my best advice relates to the length of your engagement: Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to research, plan and implement all of your ideas so that you can have the wedding of your dreams without a lot of stress. Though most brides and grooms want to rush into their wedding within 6 months or less after getting engaged, I have found that longer engagements are much better served for couples to enjoy the process. First, figure out an estimated budget for what you think you want to spend. Then figure out how much money you think you can set aside for a wedding savings account each month. Divide the total budget by the dollar amount you can save each month and that is a good estimate as to how long your engagement should be. After determining that number, you can look at things like living arrangements/plans, how school or jobs may affect when you should get married and just how long in general the two of you want to wait to take this big step. My suggestion is to take at least a year to plan and just be engaged. I mean after all, you’re only in the phase of an engagement for a short period in your life; the marriage will last forever. So do everything you can to relish the engagement!

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