Planning a wedding is rarely (never?) easy. But it’s extra hard when you and your partner live in two different cities — and you’re both professional track stars.
That’s the situation for Olympians Will Claye and Queen Harrison, whose public proposal generated buzz when they got engaged last summer.
Claye, 25, a USA track and field athlete, launched into the stands after winning the silver medal in the triple jump at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and got down on one knee to propose to Harrison, 28, his fellow track star.
The two, who have been together since 2012, are fully enmeshed in planning for their big day and share what they’ve learned so far
1. Take your time.
People might tell you that you have to lock down a venue, or even the outline of a guest list, in those first few weeks after getting engaged.
But Claye and Harrison disagree. “In the weeks after the Olympics, we were both just shocked [by the proposal, and by the Olympic win],” Claye says. “So instead of jumping right into planning, we took a couple of months just to enjoy the moment, enjoy each other, and enjoy being affianced, with no wedding planning stress.”
That doesn’t mean you should sit back and do nothing — Claye and Harrison say they did start thinking about what their wedding day might look like — but the pressure to take action immediately is B.S.
2. Have perspective.
One upside of living in different cities — Claye lives in San Diego, while Harrison recently moved to Phoenix from South Carolina — and planning a wedding is that it’s harder to have a big sleep-on-the-couch fight when you both disagree about, say, how many people to have in the bridal party.
Sometimes, being long-distance can keep those disagreements from feeling so massive. “We’re lucky to have a similar vision,” Claye says, “but [living in different places,] we can also stay pretty laid-back. The only thing we’ve had to really negotiate is location. Queen is from the East Coast, and I’m from the best coast, so we had to decide what would work best to fit our vision.”
Harrison agrees that living apart can go a long way toward making wedding planning less stressful. “Honestly, I think the planning doesn’t get quite as overwhelming or as serious since the two of us are not sitting in it all day, every day,” she says.
They were able to avoid arguments and drama by pro-conning it out over the phone. “That helped us make concrete decisions,” Claye says. Harrison adds,
“We’ve settled on May 2018, and we decided to have an outdoor wedding. After some back-and-forth, we also made the choice that even though we both have large families, our ceremony is going to be really small — we’re just inviting our closest family and friends.
Then the reception can be bigger — we’re thinking hundreds of people, which I know is a lot! — so it’s just a huge party and celebration of our love.”
3. The internet is your friend.
Obviously, it’d be difficult to plan a wedding without going online. But because Claye and Harrison are long-distance, they say the internet is their lifeline even more so than it is for most couples.
“The internet has become my best friend,” Harrison says. “It’s been a struggle to find the time at night to get any of this stuff done … but Pinterest helps.” Claye adds,
“Every other day, she’s pinning something and then calling to ask what I think. That helps her share everything with me and it makes the process feel more collaborative — less distant.”
4. Get help.
While not everyone can afford a wedding planner, Claye and Harrison say that hiring one can be worthwhile when you’re planning and are not only apart from your fiancée, but also from your venue.
“We’re still looking for a really good planner,” Harrison says. “I can tell that we’ll need their help to help us execute our vision.” “The hardest part is not being able to just go look at venues or whatever when we’d like to. We can’t just say, ‘Hey, this venue looks nice, let’s go check it out,’ ” Claye adds. “We have to make a whole trip out of it.”
It can be tempting to avoid talking about your wedding when you’re long-distance — who wants to waste your precious time together discussing the guest list?
But Claye and Harrison agree that communication is what makes both a long-distance relationship — and long-distance planning — work.
“Long-distance wedding planning and relationships are the same in that they’re both really hard!” Harrison says. “But we try to be positive always, and I’d say that since they both require a lot of communication, we wind up learning more about ourselves than a lot of couples.” “Also, go on FaceTime dates!” Claye adds. Need to finally nail down WTF your color scheme will be? Set a FaceTime appointment and just bang out those decisions.