Plan a Wedding Without Failing Out of PA School

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Wow, it has been too long everyone…and too long for me since I’ve had enough free time to blog! Needless to say, I am thrilled to be back and ready to kick off some more PA blog topics for you!
 
This topic is one of my favorites, and quite honestly I’m so happy to talk about my most favorite day ever: MY WEDDING DAY!
 
So let me begin with the proposal. My boyfriend at the time (now husband–disclaimer I said yes), shocked me with a proposal during my first week of clinical rotations. Now don’t get me wrong, I had all intentions of marrying Sam regardless of when he popped the question…but he had me under the impression for a while that we would get engaged and married prior to his residency in 3 years. So an engagement was the furthest thing from my mind when he was trying to drag me outside to propose under a beautiful rainbow all under the pretense that he wanted to go fishing on the dock. I had a very different idea of how the night was going to go. After finishing my first week on Oncology clinicals– I was ready for a snack and a nap. Sam wasn’t giving up on the fishing thing- our debate of what to do that night went on for 20+ minutes. Finally, I conceded and was planning to run to the end of the dock and right back inside, but Sam blocked my path back to land, got down on one knee, and I left the dock an engaged woman!
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I was all of a sudden pitched into the wonderful world of wedding planning! With all the information and options thrown at you…it can become VERY overwhelming…and then throw in PA school stress on top of that too!



 

So here is a timeline…plus resources and tips I used to stay sane and not crash and burn during my final lap of PA school:




Start of Engagement:
1. Find an App that has a timeline.
  • Lots of people threw wedding planning books at me, but in reality, one more thick bound book was just not up my ally and not realistic to lug around. I recommend The Knot App which is super helpful because it gives you a checklist of things to do by a certain date and has lots of ideas and reviews of wedding vendors. Extra bonus: it is FREE!

2. Set a budget!
  • The sooner you do this, the better off you’re going to be. Then stick to this budget.
 
3. Venue
  • The sooner you do this the better. Venues book up QUICK (we booked ours a year out and some of the places we looked at were already booked 2 years out…YIKES).
 
4. Start exploring vendors
  • Apparently wedding world is very competitive. That means some vendors (like venues) book up pretty quick. If you’ve been eyeing up a photographer or DJ…best book them, like, yesterday!

 

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9 Months Out
1. This is when I started thinking about wedding dress shopping!
  • I knew buying a dress this far out would give me enough time to look for dresses at a few different places while also giving the dress enough time to ship and be altered for the wedding.

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7-8 Months Out
1. Engagement pictures
  • This was a little tricky to plan because our photographer was from out of town + PA school schedule + Med school schedule (Sam). Trying to coordinate a date that worked for all of us took some effort…but taking them around this time gave us the opportunity to review, pick our favorites, have them edited, and get them back in time to send out save the dates!
6-7 Months Out

1. Save the Dates
  • We got ours from: Artifact Uprising 
  • Even before sending out save the dates, we were busy bees gathering up addresses and creating our guest list with our parents. I recommend getting addresses and solidifying your guest list as soon as you possibly can (a harder task than you’d think…it takes a lot of effort to narrow down who you want to invite, especially if your parents are also inviting people)
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6 months out:
1. Find yourself a place to do your wedding dress alterations
  • I did some research around my area and found a lovely lady who did alterations for a fairly reasonable price (she actually did alterations as a hobby)! Don’t be afraid to reach out to family/friends who have been married recently to see if they have recommendations! You may be able to find a hidden gem like I did!
  • I had my first meet up with my seamstress at the 6 month mark and then again at 3 months, 1 month, and 2 weeks prior to the big day!
2. Cake Tasting:
  • We knew what bakery we wanted to go through for our big day, as we were pretty in love with them from previous weddings we had attended…so we booked them back in August. Sam was 2 hours away at medical school so we tried to squeeze a lot in over his 2 week winter break! One item on the agenda being cake testing!
  • I have a passion for anything dessert, cake being at the very top of that dessert loving list. It was hard for me to choose one flavor of cake…so I didn’t. Instead, we opted for doing cupcakes (because choices are the best). We also did a small little cake for Sam and I to cut!

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3. SUIT UP:

  • Sam and I really wanted to keep things simple and reasonable for our wedding parties. Helping your good friends get married is fun- but not when it costs you a zillion+ dollars to do so. Knowing we were getting married in July, we figured chances were high it was going to be hot as balls- so we went with the light and simple theme for both our parties.
  • Guys attire: For our guys we did a simple look of grey dress pants, dress shirts, suspenders, and bow ties…all things that they could rent and they ended up spending right around $100 bucks to do so.

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  • Girls: I had known for a long time what I wanted my chicas to wear. I actually had owned the dress that they wore for a while and was really impressed with how flattering and versatile it was. Most importantly, it was under $100 bucks! I found it here at Lulus

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4. Wedding Venue

  • We had another meet up with our wedding venue just to start narrowing down a few details. I absolutely loved our wedding venue coordinator and she was so great with keeping in communication and making things perfect for our big day

5. Honeymoon

  • Sam and I knew we wanted to go to Santorini on our honeymoon. We ended up booking a beautiful AirBnB! We actually did not plan anything more than the flights and the place we wanted to stay… we figured out the rest of what we wanted to do when we landed over in Greece!

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NOW this is when the PA part of this kicks in. My PANCE was scheduled for the end of May. I tried to push all of my large wedding items into my first 1/2 of clinical year, as I knew the second half was going to be dedicated to studying for PA school. I also knew, if I didn’t pass my PANCE, I was NOT going to be a happy bride. As much fun as wedding planning is (and studying is not), I knew I had to prioritize in order to maximize both of these huge events in my life.

Even while studying, I was still staying in contact with my venue and vendors…but I for the most part kept most of my wedding details at the sideline from mid-January until end of May.


I did have a wedding shower though…


4 months out: Wedding shower: 

  • Honestly, this was all my mom and my two Matrons of Honor. They know me well enough to know what I like and they threw me the BEST wedding shower! Basically all I did was show up!

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3 months out:

  • Wedding invites:
    • Sam’s aunt is a very VERY talented artist and offered as a wedding gift to design our wedding invites. I absolutely took her up on this and all Sam and I had to do was address our envelopes and send them out (which took all but 1-2 hours of our time…WIN)

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  • Food tasting: Sam, Sam’s parents, my parents, and myself all sat down for a delightful dinner at our venue and picked out some really great options for our wedding dinner! Probably one of the highlights of wedding planning if I do say so myself!
  • WE bought Sam’s wedding band (mine was purchased with my engagement ring). We found Sam’s ring at Manlybands

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2 months out: PASSED MY PANCE!!!!!!! (not really wedding relevant…but also was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PUMPED)!!!


1.5 Months Out: Bachelorette/Birthday Bash: 

  • I wanted this to occur after my PANCE, as I knew I wanted to celebrate not only getting married, but also passing the largest exam of my life. Funny enough, my 25th birthday also landed right in this time range. So what better way to spend a weekend than by celebrating all of these wonderful things?! Literally had such a fun weekend with my best friends!

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1 month out:

  • This was crunch time and I had a lot of little things to plan out
  • Decorations:
    • So I had a lot of little things saved on Pinterest and on Etsy of what I wanted, not was simply bringing it to life. I did a lot semi-DIY things. I bought a lot of template off of Etsy and then was able to be creative and shape them to what I wanted at home
      • Programs found here
      • Etsy shop for our print outs found here

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  • I also found a local wood worker in my area who was able to bring a lot of my Pinterest ideas to life. He did a lot of really high quality pieces for a pretty darn low price- basically the BEST combo!

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  • Michael’s/Hobby Lobby- I took a day and just browsed through all of their stuff. My biggest tip: take pictures of things you like with the price. Go home, think about it, and go back. This works much better than just grabbing and buying (never a good idea). You are more likely to stay on budget with this technique!

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  • Venue
    • I once again met with my venue coordinator to get down my seating chart, gave her numbers for other vendors, and tied up loose ends
  • Ordered gifts for parents/wedding party
    • We found gifts for our parents on Etsy
    • I had ordered my gifts for my party back in November (because #blackfriday)- I ended up getting my ladies Toms shoes to match their dresses and my 3 brothers got Nike shoes
    • Sam’s guys- we got them personalized beer mugs and suspenders
      • Suspenders found here
  • Make Up Trial
    • I had a ton of fun with this! My makeup artist was fantastic, and really listened to me when it came to what my ideal look was for my wedding day!

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3-4 weeks out:

  • Self-prep:
    • Facial- seriously had never had one before…but it was pretty bomb!
    • Hair trial- my cousin’s wife is my hairstylist so we were in constant contact throughout the entirety of the wedding planning process. We sat down and did my hair trial at the beginning of wedding month

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  • Met with venue- again
  • Last wedding dress fitting
  • Made lots of checklists so that I didn’t forget anything
  • Touched base with all of our vendors to ensure we had everything paid and in place for the big day

1-2 Weeks Out:

  • Highlighted my hair 2 weeks out so that it could get that “lived in look” prior to wedding day
  • Got a massage
  • Prepped for our wedding rehearsal (as we did a fun, low-key, backyard grill out in my backyard)
  • Tied together any last second details that had to be done
  • Created my place cards
    • I once again found a template on Etsy and did it myself! It was a little putsy- but so rewarding when it was done! And I was able to watch at least 5 episodes of the Handmaid Tale while I was doing it (really got me in the wedding mood, you know? haha)

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Wedding Week

  • Honestly this was kind of a huge blur- but it was basically the best week of my life. I had family and friends around all week long and it was basically just a huge week of parties and celebrating! I don’t think I was stressed at all during the entirety of the week simply because I was having so much fun with all my loved ones—they didn’t let me have anything less than the best time!
  • Rehearsal Dinner
    • We rented a tent and had some of closest friends and family over to celebrate before the big day!
    • We loved the relaxed atmosphere that came with this setting. Everyone could sit back, relax, and mingle as they pleased with who they wanted to!

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Wedding Day

  • The best day EVER. They say it goes fast- and it really does. I got to marry my best friend in the entire world and I couldn’t have imagined a better day.

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There is not perfect way to plan a wedding- especially while you’re trying to juggle PA school as well. Even at times when I felt there was a lot on my plate- I always remembered what the most important thing was at the end of the day: marrying my best friend. Regardless of the details, mishaps, or anything else that came along with wedding planning- I always remembered that in the end all that mattered was that when it was all said and done, Sam and I would be married and get to spend the rest of our life together…and that really made all the difference.

 

Also… passing the PANCE. That also was right up there with important things. haha. As much fun as wedding planning is….remember you busted your a$$ to get into school and do well…keep your eye on the prize, always.

 

-J

All wedding and engagement photos credit to Janimal Photography! Check her out here

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