After my fiancé got down on one knee and placed the ring on my finger, there was about a 24 hour time lapse before I felt the world closing in on me. I had already over-committed to extracurricular activities and I had both my NBDE and clinical entrance exams to prepare for this year. How was I going to manage planning my dream wedding on top of that?
In the face of these challenges, I began a two-year long process of coordinating my special day. It’s 1am and I’m knee-deep in notes on oral pathology, but I still can’t help but daydream about peonies, cake toppers and the satin ribbon I plan to use for my chair ties. I believe that dental school should not stand in the way of your wedding day. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
Note: Our parents did not plan to contribute financially, so we had to plan smart.
- Be Realistic
Many of us are financially supported by loans large enough to purchase a sizable house. Additionally, our busy schedules mean that we simply do not have the time to plan a wedding like that of Kim Kardashian. Attempting to set aside 3 hours a day to do spin-lift-yoga-repeat is unrealistic and forget about that juice cleanse – you don’t want to pass out while treating your patient. You can relieve pain for your patients, and still rock your wedding dress. But, you must be practical with all your decisions. I started out by laying out ideas of what I wanted and prioritized what was most important to me. With that in mind, I began my search.
- Budget appropriately
Rule of thumb: keep it simple. Avoid bridal shows that will try to convince you their $10,000 videographer is better than the $4000 videographer that did a great job documenting your friend’s wedding. Also, remember that the length of your guest list is yours to decide. I kept my wedding under $30K for everything, including dress, venue, food, gifts, drinks, flowers, etc. Depending on your finances, this amount may or may not be sufficient to plan the wedding of your dreams.
- Pick a Venue
Consider a venue that is a one-stop shop. Many venues offer robust and customizable wedding packages that cater to busy couples. I had initial reservations about wedding packages, but after hearing great reviews and visiting a few venues on my own, I realized it was perfect for me. My venue included the outdoor ceremony, the reception, day of coordinator, the flowers, tables and chairs, on-site food catering, a cake and even pre-marital counseling. I was in love. The venue was beautiful and had everything I hoped for.
- Set a Date
This was the hard part. Is one year too soon, two years too long? I recommend having a heart-to-heart with your significant other to discuss what your partner’s ideal timeline is and find gaps in your schedule that will work with theirs. It is easy to get wrapped up in having things follow your busy schedule, but remember that this day is just much your fiancé’s as it is yours.
There are several time-sensitive items that need to be taken care of, such as setting a date. I made sure to set a date with my wedding venue a year and a half in advance, but even then, the dates I had initially wanted were already taken. Don’t get disheartened if things fall through. Keep your head up and keep searching because these setbacks are just another bump in the road.
- Create Your Bridal Party
For me, this was absolutely key. When choosing your bridal party, choose people you truly want to be there to support you. With a busy schedule, it’s easy to feel pressed for time when you need to pick the color swatch or go bridesmaid dress shopping. Your bridal party will need to be self-sufficient, able to help you make decisions, and also able to take initiative.
- Delegate Tasks
Make task lists for yourself, your fiancé, your maid of honor and anyone else in your life who is willing to help. Planning a wedding is a true test of your leadership skills. Don’t be afraid to delegate, but remember to always show gratitude. No one needs to help you just because you are getting married–they do it because they love you. A simple thank you note can go a long way.
- Have fun!
Looking at swatches, picking flowers and following bridal Instagrams made for a nice study break during those long school days. I had friends in my class who were also planning their weddings and it was nice to to be able to bounce ideas off each other. Ask your married friends for their opinion on what they loved most about their weddings and what they could’ve skipped. Consider making a creative hashtag for yourself and have your friends post pictures from your engagement party and wedding with it.Get creative, start a Pinterest page for inspiration and get excited. Your enthusiasm will be contagious and remember, the wedding is more about the people who come and spend time with you than the floral arrangement on the sign-in table. Enjoy the journey!
~ Diana Liao, WesternU ’18
About Diana Liao
Diana Liao is student at Western University of Health Sciences. She is the current ASDA Chapter President and Vice Chair of the Student Delegation for California Dental Association. She is passionate about organized dentistry and believes in life-long service. After graduation, she hopes to start a vibrant career in general dentistry in Southern California and continue to be a active volunteer with California Dental Association and the local component.