LOCATION:  Carnival Glory  |  DATE:  August 22   GUESTS:  About 20

Our first Bride On The Brink for July will set sail August 22 for a Caribbean cruise with her groom-to-be, a few wedding guests—and it’s also her groom’s family reunion! Talk about a family affair!

Q. When did you start your wedding planning?

A. I became engaged in March 2008. We had already planned since last March to go on a cruise for my fiance’s family reunion in August 2009. I wasn’t sure when I was going to set a wedding date, what type of wedding I wanted to have, and whether it would be in Mississippi, where I’ve lived for the past 12 years, or New York, where my sisters and I grew up, or North Carolina, where my parents live. I actually started planning in May 2009. (Wow! Talk about waiting until the last minute! S) Once we decided the cruise would be a great place to have the wedding, it was a matter of [making arrangements.] We’ll set sail for a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and the Bahamas.

Q. So what’s the most important thing on your mind right now?

A. Right now, I’m just hoping we have good weather and no hurricane. Oh, and I hope the H1N1 flu doesn’t strike.

Q. What’s been the most stressful or difficult part of preparing for your wedding.

A. I like to think I’m “too blessed to be stressed.” Fortunately, the stress is minimal since the [cruise line] is taking care of all the details. The most difficult part was trying to coordinate with my fiance’s family members who had been booked on the cruise for months, since it’s their family reunion. I’ve had to work with the airlines to rearrange [our] flights, which we booked in January. Luckily, I got a sympathetic airline representative in customer service who was happy to help.

Q. Would you have done anything differently?

A. I would have booked [the cruise] earlier.

Q. What’s been the best part of your wedding planning?

A. My fiance is a stickler for being on time and setting deadlines. And he’s great with finances. With that in mind, I knew I had to set a budget and stick to it to keep the harmony. I’m happy that my fiance was okay with having a wedding during his family’s cruise.

Q. You really waited until the last minute to start your wedding planning. Do you have any last-minute details to take care of?

A. My sisters and I are still shopping for bridesmaids dresses. I ordered my own cute cake topper…and plan to order some gifts for the wedding party, like personalized candle keepsakes and mints. I’ll also want to order personalized napkins and a few other favors.

Q. How has the current economy affected your wedding plans?

A. The economy has had an impact on my wedding in a number of ways. This is the second wedding for both of us. We both lost our spouses several years ago to cancer. As far as the wedding, neither one of us was trying to recreate our first wedding experience. So we’ve saved a lot of money by not having a traditional wedding with dozens of guests. Originally, I wanted to go to Hawaii for my honeymoon. But, I’m happy we get to turn a family cruise into our honeymoon. By deciding to have a shipboard wedding, we’ve been able to pay cash for everything in advance and won’t have any credit-card debt when we come back from our honeymoon. I’ll still have a few more bells and whistles, like a limo to take us to our ship. My parents and 13 of my fiance’s family members will go on the cruise, but because of the tough economic times, my sisters and aunt will not be able to come on the cruise. But I’m happy they will be part of the wedding ceremony and reception. I still plan to have an informal celebration/reception when we return for other friends and family who weren’t able to attend. I am having a knock-off designer wedding dress made for under $300, but I won’t know if I’ve made a good choice or not until I receive it. (I’ve secretly fantasized that, as a back-up plan, first-lady Michelle Obama will let me borrow her inauguration gown.)

Q. Any words of wedding-planning wisdom for your best friend?

A. I would tell my friend that, at the end of the day, it’s YOUR WEDDING. If you can afford to have the wedding of your dreams, go for it. If money is a concern, there are always less-expensive options to make your wedding a memorable one without breaking the bank.

Watch for the next edition of Brides On the Brink…30 Days and Counting! It’s for brides, it’s about brides, and most importantly, it’s by Brides On the Brink who are one month away from walking down the aisle.

Become One of our Brides On The Brink!

If you’re about one, two or three months from tying the knot and would like to be a featured bride, please click here to e-mail your contact information and wedding date. I’ll send you the questionnaire to fill out and return. For passing on your wedding wisdom, featured brides will receive a $25 gift certificate* for MyWeddingFavors.com, where you’ll find fabulous wedding favors, wedding accessories, bridesmaids’ gifts and so much more!

* For shipping only within the US and Canada.
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