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I said what?

Ever since we were young children, we always wanted a Ken doll to accompany our Barbie. We would fantasize and create these lavish tales in our heads and watch them play out as Ken whisked Barbie away in their convertible with "Just Married" dangling in the wind. That hot pink drop-top convertible would pull up to our three-story Barbie dream house. We would have a dog named Skip, cute babies, and live happily ever after.

This dream is what most little girls dream of, and we are conditioned to have marriage, kids, and having an amazing husband on our to-do list. Marriage is something that many of us dream of, but even with all of the fantasizing, once you hear those four sweet words, "Will you marry me?", what's next? Of course, a "Yes" is to follow. However, once all of the hoorays and congratulations simmer down, what is it to do now? As a bride amid planning, I wanted to share my entire process as I go through this journey as a "Bride to Be." Now I am in no way perfect. I do not know every single thing; however, I can share what has been working for me.

When I first got engaged, a popular question I found myself answering was, "How do you feel"? Something that was meant to be, so airy and light always left me feeling completely stuck. I mean, of course, I was happy, I'm freaking ecstatic. The man of my dreams asked me to be his wife in front of my closest friends and family. He has chosen me to start a new chapter with, bare his children, create a legacy, and build a forever life with; But in those moments when asked, "How do you feel?" I almost felt stuck. As always, my mind had created a million things to do that I had to stop myself. I wanted to take time to take it all in, you know, actually feel and be present.

Ladies or men, my first piece of advice to you would be to take in every single positive thing in, take a deep inhale. All of that love and support floating around, excitement, and glee for lack of better words, "Eat that shit up"! This engagement journey is something that comes around once a lifetime. Try not to get so worked up about all that needs to be done; instead, look at it as an exciting project. A project where you can be as creative as you want, and you have one particular day that celebrates you and your significant other. Take advantage of free apps such as Zola, Pinterest, and The Knot. They allow you to put in all of your information, create wedding boards, give timelines, as well as share vendor information. I currently use The Knot, and I also downloaded Zola. One of the things I love the most is the ability to message vendors directly from the app for inquiries. The Knot helps build your wedding website with premade templates, as well as assist with creating a wedding registry. With having the apps on your phone, they're always within arms reach, and you can jump on and off as conveniently as you see fit.

Now I am the queen of being overly anxious and overwhelmed, so I made the personal decision to get a wedding planner. She's fantastic; having someone who can do most of the leg work for you is a significant relief. Especially when you are like me, I become easily flustered and indecisive when I am given too many choices. With Garbrielle, she points me in the right direction, gets all of the facts, and by the time she brings them to me, my only task is saying simply yes or no.

If you are anal, great planner, and can do the majority of the leg work on your own by all means, take advantage of those qualities and plan everything on your own. My sorority sister Chelseaa planned her entire wedding herself in record time. She's always been an anal person, and that's one of her many strengths. Now, on the other hand, I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. Don't get me wrong, I love to plan, but at the enormous magnitude of my wedding, that is something that I proudly pass the baton. It took me some time to be able to let go of control. I am a control freak, I like to be in control at all times, and when I am not in control, my anxiety screams at me. Carrie thinks if she is in control at all times, she can fix things, and if things don't work out, at least she can blame herself. But this way of thinking has done nothing but leave me overworked and just tired. I decided to make the executive decision with the support of my Fiancé that having a planner will allow me to enjoy the process of planning even more. Initially, I was nervous, because you know I am a control freak, but Garbrielle immediately hushed all of my anxiety. I'm not sure if she even picked up on it, but after our first initial conversation, I was able to let out a massive sigh of relief. She was super professional. I could tell she was interested in getting to know Dwayne and I, and everything flowed easily. There were no awkward pauses on the phone, and once I found out through conversation, she was a Soror of mines, it became a no brainer. Dwayne and I both agreed that we wanted to incorporate black businesses as much as possible. Weddings are expensive as hell, and if we are giving our money away, we want to ensure that it is circulated within our community.

One of the things we discussed immediately was budget. The budget is king when it comes to wedding planning. It is not wise to go broke trying to have an overly lavish wedding you can not afford. Most of my friends and family can all agree that I am extra as hell. I won't disagree; however, I would like to live a comfortable lifestyle once I say I do. Dwayne and I both agreed we would not take out any loan to pay for our wedding. Luckily for both of us, my parents have been extraordinarily active in the planning process and have agreed to assist in costs. I am the baby of the family and the first to be married, so I am sure you all can understand their excitement. We are blessed to be in a decent spot financially, no we are not rich; however, with the proper planning and saving, we can pull off a five-figure wedding. Once the budget has been set, you want to take a close look at what you want to allocate your funds. My planner asked me what I cared more about, and a significant bit of our budget is going towards decor. Decorations are essential to me, but let's say you're big on food, or music, you may want to allocate those funds to those areas in particular. The good thing about having a budget is that you can move items around as you go and figure out what works best. For instance, we raised my dress budget simply because I am a plus-size bride, and I understand if I want to find something of quality, I may have to spend a little more. Having a budget allows you to see where your money is going and plan accordingly.

Wedding planning has been such an exciting process, and being able to share it with you all is fascinating. I plan to share more as time goes on, lookout as I go into details on picking my Bride Tribe, venue, photographer, DJ, officiant, and, most of all, my dress. So far, I would like to think I am moving at a steady pace and on track. The majority of all of the enormous decisions aside from saying yes to the dress has been made. So buckle up guys as we all jump on this engagement ride, and I take you along with me.

As always with lots of F*cking Love,


Carrie Sierra


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