But even encouraging people to attend the wedding proved to be a challenge. “I have relatives who are out of a job that might not be able to come to the wedding,” Hillary said. “It’s an added pressure. You think: Will people feel obligated to come? Is there anything we can do to make it more feasible to come?”
One idea was to market the wedding as family weekend. Hillary’s family has a reunion every two years, but this year the family was unsure who would be able to make it.
“My mom turned [the wedding] into a reunion weekend,” said Hillary, who included pamphlets for St. Louis attractions with the save-the-dates.
Fitting all the wedding essentials has forced the couples to get creative. Alyssa’s wedding favors double as place cards. A friend who is a graphic designer will create all the stationery for their wedding. Alyssa and Zach just have to provide the paper. Hillary and Jeff are going for signature cocktails rather than a full bar.
“We’re trying out different drinks that are local to the cities that have been important to us,” Hillary said. They’re working on a drink for St. Louis and for Chicago, and Hillary said she hopes to have a purple drink for Northwestern.
THE SECRET LIFE OF A COLLEGE FIANCÉ
Both Hillary and Alyssa like to keep their wedding planning and student life separate. Hillary knocked off most of the planning over the summer. Alyssa found her dress before school started and will look for a caterer and photographer at home over the holidays.
Alyssa said fitting her wedding into a tight budget has been stressful.
“We have to step back and look at the situation we’re in,” she said. “He’ll be 23 when we get married and I’ll be 22 ... we still have college loans.”
But getting married now, even within her budget, just feels right.
“Every girl has a dream wedding with an image of having a wedding planner and a beautiful, huge wedding,” Alyssa said. “We could be over the top, and I’m just not that person.”
Hillary said it’s both easier and more difficult being engaged and trying to find a job. “Because Jeff graduated first and accepted a job first,” Hillary said, “he’s made the decision of where we’re going to live.
“It does make it more difficult I have to look in such a concentrated area. But come April, I do have someplace to live ... it takes the pressure off.”
But being away from Jeff has made wedding planning more complicated, too. Jeff wants to stay involved, but since he can’t make it to meetings with Hillary, she just takes good notes. “It’s hard being apart,” Hillary said. “But the next time we’re together we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives.”
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