Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples: Laura Pepper Wu

How long after your got engaged did you begin planning the wedding?

About 6 months. It took that long to let it all sink in and I couldn’t look at a wedding magazine without feeling extremely overwhelmed. So I eased myself in gently.

How did you keep track of your wedding planning (book, planner, Excel, other?)

We were planning our wedding in England while living in the US and with my in-laws being in Asia it was tough keeping on top of everything. So we used Google docs for things like the guest list and the budget, so that everyone could access them. I also had a scrapbook which I kept notes, inspiration and vendor info inside of.

When you discussed the wedding, what 5 things where most important to the two of you?

  • A meaningful location
  • Having our closest friends and family ther
  • eGood food & drink, (mostly vegetarian since we both are)
  • Making our parents feel special
  • Incorporating our siblings into wedding

Did you register for gifts and was it a good experience?

No, we didn’t. We have both moved around a lot in the last 5 years and we don’t want for physical things. During the wedding planning we moved from Japan to the US and we were actually desperately trying to get rid of stuff! We asked for donations to our three favorite charities instead.

My husband is from Taiwan and his family wanted to give us money in ‘red envelopes’ – it’s an Asian tradition. We reluctantly (!) agreed to accept and that helped pay for some of the wedding. My close friends bought part of our honeymoon – a special surprise they delivered on the day of! That was SO cool. We went to Iceland and they paid for some adventure day trips – riding Icelandic horses, visiting the blue lagoon and seeing some of the natural landscape outside of the city.

Could you share some wedding planning advice for newly engaged couples?

Take it slowly at first. Then plan when to plan. Gosh that sounds brutal. What I mean is, set boundaries for when you are allowed to talk about wedding planning and when you aren’t. We had ‘Wedding Wednesdays’ and generally weekends were for wedding planning. Other than that, I didn’t want our Friday nights to be consumed with wedding details, so we had our regular date night. Wedding talk was off the table. That’s so important for couples, to remind themselves of why they love each other and are going to all this effort in the first place!

Oh and keep in mind that you are planning for a marriage, not a wedding. That helps to put everything in perspective and help you to understand why you go through so many emotional ups and downs during the engagement. It’s a big, life-changing event.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?

We splurged on locally produced, organic (mostly) vegetarian food. We chose to have a band and a DJ since having good music was important to us. I also paid more for my dress than I thought I would!

Saved: My makeup was done by a friend of a friend in a department store – for free! I made my own hairpiece and the favors were made my friends.

Here is the hairpiece I made:

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Image Courtesy of: Tim Smith

And the two sets of favors:

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Image Courtesy of: Tim Smith

One is after-dinner mints wrapped in fabric and tied with ribbons. They are in our wedding colors and made by a dear family friend.

The second was a complete surprise! A friend carried them with her from Japan. Her and her mother had made 200 of these origami, each one a unique combination of colors and patterns. The coin symbolizes ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’.

Did you have to handle any tricky or delicate issues while planning your wedding and how did you cope with them?

There were a couple of cultural differences, where East meets West! Since both of our families are quite laid back, we didn’t have too many problems overcoming them. It was just a question of compromise and understanding the other person’s point of view.

In addition, planning the wedding from overseas was hard. I was lucky that my bridesmaids and family were absolutely superb. I had to rely on them more than I wanted to, but I’ll never forget the hard work they put in to pull it all off. I think that's one of the best things about weddings – it definitely brings people closer (though they can also push people apart too. Brides often comment that they find out who their true friends are when they get married, and I think that's true).

A problem that I think a lot of brides go through (especially younger brides) is friends and families reactions to their new identity. It’s hard for parents to see their kids grow up, and start their own family. Girlfriends feel like they are losing their BFF to the husband. Single girlfriends mourn the loss of crazy nights out and girly nights in. In the book I wrote – Wow! Glowing Bride in 30 Days – I talk about not only health and beauty during the wedding planning, but also well-being. Included in this is a section entitled 'Common Issues for the Bride to Be'. Making the effort to show friends and family that your new identity does not mean that your relationship will change is an important step for brides to take.

Could you share some wedding day advice for newly engaged couples?

Take it all in. Seriously, it just passes you by otherwise. Grab your man, pull him into a corner, breathe and just be, the two of you. We snuck off to the second floor of the country house we had the reception of and watched our guests from the window! Our photographer took this sneaky picture of us, I think he was the only person to notice!

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Image Courtesy of: Tim Smith

Moments like this are awesome and necessary. Otherwise you’ll spend the whole night running around talking to people and not being fully present.

Could you share your favorite photo from the day and tell us why you love it?

Honestly this was so hard to choose!!! Can I choose three? No? Well in that case I have to risk pissing my hubby off and choosing this one!

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Image Courtesy of: Tim Smith

My Dad and I walking down the aisle with my bridesmaids in tow (UK tradition). The church is in the village I grew up in, seats only 60 people comfortably and is 1000 years old. I spent every Christmas there for over 20 years, and even though people kept telling me it was too small and the aisle was too narrow (!) I knew I wanted it to be there.

I love how my Dad looks so happy. When we stepped inside he whispered ‘slow down a bit!’. I just wanted to march up the aisle and meet Brandon, but we had to do the whole slow procession thing. I couldn’t stop smiling.

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Thank you, Laura! I loved your comment about feeling so loved during your wedding and how you look at "wedding health" as both the physical and the mental/emotional.

Would you like to ask Laura any questions about her wedding experience? Leave a comment and we'll try to get back with you! Click here to buy Laura's book, visit her blog here, or follow her on Twitter!

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