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Hand In Hand: How This Local Couple Planned Their Dream Wedding Day

Caitlin King

A couple of years ago, I got engaged to the man I love, after the celebratory champagne toasts and ring selfies died down, I knew it was time to get to serious about planning the wedding of our dreams.As many newly engaged couples do, we dove headfirst into planning mode. Having written for Seattle Bride magazine for several years, I did what came natural and started gathering research, poring through the list of venues I had seen over the years. Suddenly, my stash of wedding magazines were scattered out all over our apartment floor. My fiancés first pick? A whiskey distillery—gorgeously rustic, but a touch too Americana for my decor and floral vision. Next up, a wall-to-wall cement space with barely any natural light—super stylish, but much too modern for my classic-leaning wedding style.

It was at this moment I realized my partner and I had two very distinct ideas about what our wedding should look like. My childhood fantasies, filled with white and pink florals, were suddenly put on pause. After days of arguing over what felt like a life-or-death decision, we settled on the Rainier Chapter House on Capitol Hill, an architectural nod to my family’s Virginia roots, located in the heart of the neighborhood where my fiancé and I first met and fell in love. One major decision down, so many to go. It was time to put our seatbelts on and buckle up for a bumpy year ahead.

Unexpected and unnecessary fights followed. A few tears and slammed doors later, we stopped and asked what we were doing. This was supposed to be the happiest time of our lives, so why did it feel so stressful? Planning a wedding together is a milestone, and between family drama, planning a budget and selecting every last day-of detail, it’s easy to see how two different sets of tastes can cause tension while planning a wedding.My partner and I have always fallen under the “opposites attract” banner. He’s spontaneous, I’m a planner. He’s more reserved, I’m a social butterfly. Our differences have always been complementary. It’s what made our relationship exciting from so early on. We went from whispering sweet nothings to whisper fights. Something had to give.

Our secret weapon ended up being a skill-based marriage preparation program. Turns out, other couples in the room were experiencing the exact same issues and concerns in one way or another. Taking the time to share our expectations for marriage ensured that we were in this together. We learned that with two competing personalities, communication was key. Our favorite takeaway for whenever things got heated? A quick exercise of sitting side by side, each receiving three minutes of uninterrupted time to listen to the other’s point of view. Turns out, three minutes can go a long way (seriously, try it).  It’s so easy to forget in the midst of planning your wedding that you’re also planning a marriage. First things first, don’t panic. It will all feel pretty overwhelming at first. Share your vision of your perfect day early on. And build on it from there. Give yourself plenty of time. If you know there are going to be points of friction, start the process early so you can relax and live your normal lives in between.

As local wedding officiant Mary Calhoun of Window to the Soul Ministry says, you are more likely to remember the experiences and feelings of the day rather than the details. “Together, prioritize what is most important surrounding the event and write it down. This list will serve as your compass as you navigate the decisions ahead. Planning can be exhausting; listen and speak to your future spouse with loving respect,” she continues.

“As individuals, ask yourself if this issue is going to matter in 20 years. Remember, the wedding is a celebration of your relationship, and marriage thrives on compromise, generosity and love.”  So, what did this look like for us? We still attended all of the same vendor meetings together, but stopped meddling in the actual decisions to be made by the other. It was to be an even split of our strengths. Which, as it turns out, is what many heavyweights in the wedding industry recommend for couples who have bumped heads when planning their wedding together.

Over the next few months, I worked with our wedding planner to select flowers, stationery and day-of design details. Meanwhile, my fiancé, a self-proclaimed foodie, pursued his passion through planning our rehearsal dinner restaurant and menu, refining our reception menu so it was perfectly tailored to his palate and building out our bar menu.  Wedding officiant Annemarie Juhlian recommends that throughout all the planning, to remember to put it aside sometimes and make time for the two of you—a series of evenings, a weekend getaway or short trip. “Put the focus back on your relationship, instead of all things ‘wedding.’ By doing this, you give yourselves an opportunity to be together, to talk without structure and to remember why you are getting married,” she says.This way, romance peaks when you least expect it. Enjoy it. Tasks that I found daunting, such as selecting our music and first dance song, my partner happily took on. 

I was delighted and amazed all at the same time when I was welcomed home one night after work to our wedding-day playlist he had created. We spent the entire evening laughing and dancing in our hallway, where a whole new kind of romance took over. Those moments are just as memorable to me now as the moment we stepped out onto the dance floor for our first dance as a married couple.  In the end, our wedding day was beautiful. There’s no question crafting a wedding together made us better partners. We learned how to make decisions together. And the best thing of all is that we get to do this together forever. 

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