Herald Journal Columns
Aug. 15, 2005, Herald Journal

Who is your planner?

By LIZ HELLMANN

I’m a planner. I like to know what is going to happen and when.

I even like to plan out free time.

I know what you are thinking, and I’m not that boring. It is rather out of necessity that I fell into planning out free time.

I went to an area Lutheran high school, which meant my friends were scattered across the metro area, ranging from 10 minutes to more than an hour away, in all different directions.

Therefore, if we wanted to do something on the weekend, it had to be planned. We couldn’t just wake up and wander across the street.

And now that I have a fiancé who lives an hour and a half away, I must plan my visits to see him.

And don’t think a wedding for what is looking to have a 300-plus guest list just falls into place on its own. Not to mention that my bridesmaids are located in three separate states, including our nation’s capital.

I believe my planning habits have evolved out of a necessity to survive. Much like the ancient saber tooth tiger, who used its fangs to ward off enemies and attack its prey, I am on the hunt in a sea of deejays, florists, caterers, and reception venues. I must use my planning powers to seem confident and organized, not be taken in by scams or overcharged, plucking out the highest quality professionals within my means from the pack of wedding consultants.

Yes, my friends, this is savagery at its best. A working bride-to-be clawing her way against the money-hungry merchants in search of the perfect wedding.

Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous.

Only in my fourth month of planning, I am inundated with solicitations every day.

The wedding, as we know it, has, indeed, become a retailer’s fantasy.

Living in a country where the divorce rate is hovering around 50 percent, it’s no wonder wedding vendors are so competitive to get your business.

There’s a good chance this one won’t stick, which means round two with your pocketbook for them.

Of course, it’s not as if the first time around left them scraping for two dimes to rub together, either.

Throwing caution to the wind, brides-to-be line up to pour thousands of dollars into one, single celebration, with markups to make a grown retailer weep with joy.

If the price seems too high for the discerning bride, the tried-and-true approach, “it is your wedding day, it should be perfect,” easily seals the deal. This said, she leaves the store with his and her brand new, $25 a pair, monogrammed socks to wear the day before the wedding – a must for any couple in love.

It seems brides, barely stopping to glance at their ceremonies, turn their attention to fondant frosting and seating charts faster than you can say “mozel tov!”

Yes, the reception is usually the largest part of the day, but second in importance.

Remember that half-an-hour where you pledge lifelong faithfulness to one person for the rest of your life?

It would like its respect back.

Understandably, many young women want their wedding days to be perfect. The majority of them have been planning this day in their heads, long before they got something shiny for their fingers.

But, perhaps a little more focus should go into prepping the relationship, and less into prepping the flower arrangements.

The groom should not be treated as merely an accessory. (Although wouldn’t it be nice if sometimes they would just be quiet and look nice? Just kidding.)

Each couple is different, and matures at different rates.

However, I have seen many of my friends walk down the aisle to someone they didn’t even know a year ago at that time.

That is not to say their marriage will fail, or to say a long courtship is the magic recipe for lifelong marital bliss.

All the same, the task of making sure the flowers won’t wilt by nightfall shouldn’t take precedence over steps to keep a relationship fresh for years to come.

What those steps are, I cannot answer, definitely. Indeed, they are probably as unique as each couple. But, sadly, they seem to be ignored, if not at the time of the wedding, then through the course of the marriage.

Weddings are indeed grand events that offer a time for a couple to celebrate with family and friends, as the couple prepares to start their own journey as a family.

Receptions, flowers, cake, photographers, and a host of other wedding retailers (who are not all money hungry scavengers) are indeed important elements in a wedding.

But when the party is over, the leftovers eaten, and the $25 monogrammed socks are shoved in the closet, never to be seen again, the memories will live on.

The memory of sharing your day with all of your friends and family members, even if you had to settle for a chicken buffet instead of a plated filet mignon dinner.

Though some of us, especially the control freaks among us, like me, would like to plan our lives as easily as we plan every detail in our wedding, some things are left unplanned by us.

I may have planned to have red roses in my wedding since I was five, but I never planned to meet a 5-foot-7-inch, curly-haired baseball player.

Quite frankly, I was looking to come out of college with a degree, not a fiancé (although getting two out of two isn’t bad).

Being blessed with five bridesmaids, all from different parts of my life and varying backgrounds, along with more family and friends than I can find room for in one reception venue, wasn’t in my plans.

Although I am given some management responsibilities, I am happy that the blueprint for my life was written long before I started planning the details.

Building these details around the ever present strength and focus in my life allows me to worry about the wedding, but confidently enter the marriage.