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Newly engaged? Here’s how to start planning your nuptials with less stress

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You get the ring, or finally get your “yes!,” and then what? How do you begin planning? Where do you start? Is there a way to set yourself up for a stress-free wedding planning experience? According to the Woosah Bride, it just might be possible. 

As couples around the globe take full advantage of the holiday magic and finally put a ring on it, Shonté Parrish-Norgriff, founder of the Black bridal wellness and stationery brand Woosah Bride, sat down with theGrio to impart some wedding planning wisdom. She discusses how newly engaged couples can get started with their planning and, most importantly, how they can keep their mental health in check in the process. 

Woosah Bride, Black bridal journal, Black bridal brand, Black wedding planner, Black bridal assistant, holiday engagement, engagement season, wedding planning advice, Black brides, Black weddings, theGrio.com
Whether planning an intimate elopement or an elaborate, massive bash, planning to get married can become overwhelming, stressful, expensive, and a doozy on one’s mental health. (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

Whether planning an intimate elopement or an elaborate, massive bash, planning to get married can become overwhelming, stressful, expensive, and a doozy on one’s mental health. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are common pitfalls many newly engaged couples make that Parrish-Norgriff advises against if you want an emotionally balanced experience. 

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The first major pitfall she sees couples make is getting started with planning too soon. In fact, the first thing she tells newly engaged couples to do is nothing at all. 

“Don’t do anything,” she said. “Take a moment and bask in the present. Just enjoy the present with your partner, with your family, and just celebrate.” 

Shonté Parrish-Norgriff, Woosah Bride, Black bridal journal, Black bridal brand, Black wedding planner, Black bridal assistant, holiday engagement, engagement season, wedding planning advice, Black brides, Black weddings, theGrio.com
Shonté Parrish-Norgriff with a planner from the Woosah Bride collection. (Photo courtesy by Shonté Parrish-Norgriff)

There’s no hard and fast rule on how soon you should start planning after you get engaged. Couples are advised to take their time. When it is time, though, Parrish-Norgriff said couples, especially brides, should first determine what type of bride or couple they are going to be: elopement, frugal, destination, modern, etc. Nailing this crucial element down in the beginning “will help you realize what you might need to prioritize,” Parrish-Norgriff said. 

Knowing what type of vibe you’re going for will help you more organically begin to formulate everything from the budget to what you’re wearing to who you’re inviting. 

Next, Parrish-Norgriff suggests couples decide on a date and a budget, which she said “will definitely play a part in how quickly you plan.” When deciding on a budget, she stressed that couples should remain “open-minded” to the fact that many couples make their dream weddings happen on a variety of scales. 

“Google will probably tell you the average wedding is like $30,000, but it really just depends,” she said. 

Another common pitfall of couples planning weddings that can lead to stress is letting social media build the wrong kind of expectations. Parrish-Norgriff said couples see things like elaborate decor, luxury dress-fitting appointments, and cinematic-quality wedding photos and videos all on social media without knowing how much any of it costs.  

“So you can kind of set yourself up for disappointment just by not doing the research,” she said.

However, as planning really gets underway, Parrish-Norgriff said the stress can come from “all angles.” 

“It can come from your family because they might feel entitled for you to have a certain kind of wedding for them,” she said. “It can come from friends who feel like they should have a certain place in your wedding. It can come from your partner feeling like you should give them what they want.”

She added, “The stress can come from you, honestly, not understanding boundaries; not understanding how to prioritize yourself, and letting people guilt you.”

Parrish-Norgriff is, unfortunately, speaking from experience. She said her own wedding experience, fraught from her overspending her capacity, is what led her to launch the Woosah Bride in the first place. 

When planning her own wedding in late 2020 through early 2021, while her fiancé, friends, family, and planner were all great sources of support, Parrish-Norgriff said she experienced a lot of stress and trauma. As she began to struggle with depression, anxiety, and stress, she sought resources but couldn’t find quite what she was looking for. 

“I couldn’t find any resources that literally talked about mental health, particularly for planning brides,” she said. “Everything just talked about how to spend money, decor, or guests.”

She also couldn’t find any planning tools like journals and planning binders that featured Black brides or spoke to the Black wedding-planning experience. 

“And so I decided I’m going to try to found a business that talks about mental health and wellness as you’re planning your wedding, but also bridges the gap [for] representation of Black and brown women in the wedding industry,” she said.  

Through the Woosah Bride, Parrish-Norgriff is bringing awareness to the importance of balancing wellness during a wedding-planning journey and empowering Black brides to prioritize themselves during the planning process. Woosah Bride offers wedding planners, journals, and notepads that feature Black brides on the covers and health advice from licensed professional therapists and wellness advisers, including dermatologists, within the pages. 

The Woosah Bride also offers something Parrish-Norgriff highly encourages: professional assistance. Through a bridal assistance arm, the brand can help the newly engaged at any stage of their planning. Most clients reach out in the early days, and Parrish-Norgriff will help them narrow down ideas, do research on options, and even help match couples with a professional planner. There’s even an in-house stylist couples can consult with about engagement photos, wedding events, and of course, the big day. 

“Really, the point is to save you time,” she said. 

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