An organized bride chronicles her journey to the altar
When most women go skating at the Rockefeller Center rink, they’re not anticipating a huge surprise. However, that’s exactly what Shauna received, after her boyfriend of four years, Nick, planned a trip for the couple to New York City on Dec. 29, 2015.
“We were skating at Rockefeller Center, when all of a sudden the session ended and everyone left the ice. The song All of Me by John Legend, which is our song, started playing over the loudspeakers. Nick got down on one knee, took out a ring, and proposed right there, with everyone standing outside the rink, watching us and cheering — it was surreal!” Shauna recalls.
Shauna’s boyfriend had first secretly asked her parents for their blessing, and then contacted officials at Rockefeller Center to help plan the proposal. Shortly after Shauna said yes, the couple went to dinner at The Sea Grill in Rockefeller Center, celebrating with champagne and calling and texting family and friends with the exciting news.
The couple, both Norwalk natives who met in high school and began dating in college (Shauna, 24, is a nurse at Stamford Hospital, while Nick, 27, works as an inspector for Metro-North Railroad), had been talking about getting married for a couple of years. Shauna, who had always wanted a fall wedding (“I love the cooler weather and the foliage,” she enthuses), started the long and often stressful process of wedding planning by purchasing The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer, a comprehensive notebook/binder that includes checklists, a countdown calendar, questions to ask vendors, pockets for samples, and more.
“I found that staying organized and on top of things has helped alleviate the stress,” Shauna explains. The organizer, which she refers to as her “bible,” goes with her to every vendor she visits and is filled with handwritten notes and details, lists, samples, and anything else a prospective bride could need, and she frequently refers to the The Knot app she downloaded for wedding-related articles on beauty, fitness, healthy eating, and stress-relieving plans.
“The book is great,” she continues, “as it contains its own inspirational photos, plus blank spots for our photos — I find a lot on Pinterest — and I’ve found that it’s easier to show people, like the vendors we meet with, photos from the book rather than any I would have on my phone.”
Next, all the couple needed to do was find a wedding venue and secure a date.
“We got engaged in December 2015, and wondered if we would have enough time to plan a wedding for October 2016,” Shauna says. “Once we began contacting various venues, we discovered that the month of October fills up really fast, so we agreed on the following October 2017.”
Nick, who is actively involved in the planning, and Shauna wanted a venue that was pretty, conveniently located, and affordable (both have big families). Friends and The Knot app had suggested the WoodWinds in Branford, and the venue’s on-site wedding planner spent a lot of time talking with the couple, making suggestions, and helping with the logistics, from getting from the church to the venue and when to start the cocktail hour to providing a list of potential vendors and recommending that Shauna and Nick hire a photographer quickly, as they tend to book up fast.
“We booked the WoodWinds and church about two months after the engagement,” Shauna says, “and we decided on King Vincent Storm Photography, out of West Haven, about a week after that.” From there, the couple had some time to sit back and enjoy their engagement before they needed to resume their wedding planning, with Shauna regularly emailing the wedding planner for input and informing her of their selections.
A DJ was hired next — the couple wanted certain songs played, the throwing of the bouquet, cake cutting, etc. — and then Shauna found a hair and makeup artist who would come to her house, and after that, a florist.
“We didn’t have a color scheme in mind at that point, but we thought that we’d like white or ivory table linens and some type of gold centerpiece, which matches the elegant, Old World feel of the WoodWinds, with colorful flowers, possibly roses, which are my favorite flower, and hydrangeas,” Shauna says. “We met with three floral vendors, and chose Flowers by Danielle, a Trumbull florist who specializes in weddings and who would be able to work within our budget.” One detail that Shauna has decided on: Her bouquet will be all white.
Both Shauna’s mother and Nick’s mother have been involved in the planning. “Nick’s Albanian, and we wanted to incorporate some traditional Albanian music and dancing into the reception,” says Shauna. “Both sets of parents have been instrumental in our lives, so we want them involved.” Shauna’s parents live in Fairfield County, but Nick’s parents live in Texas, so he updates them as the plans evolve.
A hotel, located 10 minutes from the wedding venue, has been booked for out-of-town guests, while Shauna and Nick hired Town & Country Transportation, a New Britain-based limo service that came highly recommended.
Guests will attend a cocktail hour and sit-down dinner, followed by a Venetian dessert table and wedding cake (this is included in the venue’s package). The WoodWinds works with three local bakeries and Shauna and Nick are looking forward to going to the cake tastings a few months before the wedding.
“Save the Dates” will be ordered from minted.com, and mailed out about eight months before the wedding, while the wedding invites, which will be traditional in style, will go out three months ahead of the big day. Again, the bride-to-be refers regularly to The Knot calendar countdown, checking off the various tasks as they are completed.
Shauna and Nick wanted to find a creative way to ask their attendants — six bridesmaids, including Shauna’s sister, Julia, as maid of honor and Nick’s sister, Liz, as matron of honor, and six groomsmen, including Shauna’s brother, Matt — to be in their wedding party, so Shauna designed her very own gift baskets for the girls, while Nick had special cards and coffee mugs created for the guys. “We waited until about eight months after we were engaged to ask them,” Shauna recalls, “as we wanted it to be closer to the one-year countdown.”
The Knot app recommended that the honeymoon be planned well in advance, so the couple has been working on that.
And as for one of the most important elements of the wedding (after the bride, of course): the dress! “My mom and I visited a couple of stores this past September,” Shauna recounts. “It was so much fun trying on dresses for the first time, and it was a special moment for my mom and me. It gave me an idea of what I wanted, and served as a good starting point.”
Eventually, Shauna made an appointment, which she attended with several of her bridesmaids, at Bridal Trousseau in New Haven. “The store carried a designer that I was interested in,” Shauna says. “I had a wonderful time with the girls, and ended saying yes to the dress! My experience at the store was wonderful.“
Shauna’s book may be crammed with her wedding information, but her organizational skills don’t stop there. A separate, smaller personal planner for making and keeping track of appointments resides in her purse, while a calendar containing mutual wedding-related meetings hangs near the couple’s home computer. “Between The Knot — both the book and the app — my personal planner and our calendar, we’ve been pretty organized throughout the wedding planning process,” Shauna says. “Being organized has made the experience of planning a wedding much more enjoyable.”
Now all that’s left for Shauna and Nick to do is finalize the details, and get ready to tie the knot.