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As March 17 fast approaches, Liz Kirk, ’10, and senior Blake Faulkner are putting fin­ishing touches on their wedding plans. The couple has been together for more than two and a half years, over a year of which they have been engaged and planning their wedding.

Between both of their busy lives, planning a wedding has been a bal­ancing act. Kirk, who majored in history and ele­mentary edu­cation with a minor in English, is a full time sub­stitute teacher in the Hillsdale area while Blake is double-majoring in Christian Studies and Speech.

“When he pro­posed, the whirlwind began,” Kirk said. “It has been a lot of work for him to be doing school and planning at the same time. And even though I’m working full time, it’s a lot, but it’s easier.”

Spring break worked out to be the best time for Kirk and Faulkner to tie the knot, a time when family can take time off work and friends will be on break.

The couple agreed that being engaged a longer time eased much of the stress of the planning process. Kirk had expe­rience with friends trying to plan a wedding in six months and did not want to have that expe­rience planning her wedding.

“It was hard, because ini­tially we didn’t know what we wanted. I know a lot of women stereo­typ­i­cally have the wedding planned before they are engaged. They have the Cin­derella fairytale planned, and that wasn’t me. I was not the person that had every­thing figured out and had the scrapbook just waiting for someone to propose,” Kirk said.

The couple took care to work out the larger issues in the planning process before diving into the details including location, caterers, and dec­o­ra­tions. They had to make reser­va­tions for the location the wanted a year in advance.

“The lesson we learned is that if you don’t have the big ele­ments like catering, the reception hall, the DJ…if you don’t have that before Valentine’s Day of the next year, you’re not going to have it,” Kirk said.

Kirk’s search for the perfect dress was one of the many details to be worked out. Kirk would Skype and call her mother, who lived in Cal­i­fornia, after every appointment to discuss the dresses.

Even­tually, Kirk found “the one.”  She recalls sending her mother a photo and calling her right away.

“She started to cry on the phone, and I knew from her reaction and the looks on my brides­maids’ faces, that we’d found a winner,” Kirk said.

“But if there was one most dif­ficult part of the planning, it was the invites, oddly enough. Liz wanted to design them.  More hours went into this than any other part,” Faulkner said.

Designing invi­ta­tions early will force all other aspects to be taken care of because the catering, venue, reg­istries, and schedule all have to be in order by the time the invites are sent, he said.

All these prepa­ra­tions can be dif­ficult to nav­igate, but the couple manages to stay relaxed.

“Every time it gets stressful, we could just take a deep breath and say, ‘It’s OK, we’re going to Florida.’ That’s kind of been our rock,” said Kirk.

Kirk and Faulkner have planned a two week hon­eymoon in Florida.

“It gives you a goal to strive for and a light at the end of the dark tunnel, which is engagement,” Faulkner said.

After Faulkner grad­uates, the couple will move to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he will attend Cincinnati Christian Uni­versity pur­suing a Master of Arts in The­ology.

“We’re ready to be married. We’ll be happier and less stressed,” Kirk said.

“Engagement sucks,” Faulkner said. “The only way you can mediate it is if you spend a lot of time together.  You’re not really dating, but you’re not married, either. You’re just in limbo. If it was a matter of our rela­tionship, we would have gotten married the night I pro­posed.”

Neither Kirk nor Faulkner are nervous about getting married partly due to planning far in advance.

“Even if every­thing we want to happen fails, we will be married at the end of the day, and that’s really all that matters,” Faulkner said.

“Who could ask for any­thing more?” Kirk added. “Sure I’ll be upset if the cake falls over, or the wrong food shows up, but hey, at least we’ll have a good story to tell. I get to stand in front of our friends and family and pledge to God that I’ll stay by his side for the rest of my life. I couldn’t get any luckier, so I’m not nervous one bit.”

       kdrapkin@hillsdale.edu