Altar Ego: A crime reporter plans for September wedding

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2014

I guess you could say I’m a planner. I make “to do” lists constantly. I plot out the family vacation itinerary. My meals for the week are planned ahead. Schedules are my friend.
It should be no surprise to anyone who knows me that when I recently became engaged, my wedding planning would be no different. I can’t help it. It’s who I am.
“Oh my God, you already have so much done,” my co-worker Emily Ford told me right after my November engagement.
Before I tell you about my engagement and about the man who won my heart, let me explain a little about this column.
Post columnist Mark Wineka suggested I chronicle all of the ups and downs of planning my wedding. This is the first of a monthly series.
The series — Altar Ego — will give you a glimpse into the process of planning the wedding of the year. (Doesn’t every bride-to-be think her wedding is the wedding of the year?) Mark came up with the name as a play on words based on what I do and where I’m headed. I am a reporte, covering breaking news, crime and nonprofit agencies for the Post and, well, in less than eight months I’ll be headed to the altar.
I met my fiance, Vanzie Lee Walker III, in 2006 through his mother while attending a church picnic at Dan Nicholas Park.
I first noticed how tall he was, as I am only 4 feet 10 inches tall. He is 6 feet 2 inches tall.
The other thing I noticed was that, although he seemed like a quiet guy, it was easy to talk to him. He’s a Salisbury native who grew up here and attended school here. I’m a South Carolina native who moved here in late 2005 to take a job at the Post.
As with some relationships, we parted ways during an eight-year period, but we always found our way back to each other.
We became engaged on the weekend of my birthday, which is Nov. 17.
Vanzie had asked me how we should celebrate my birthday. Simple was best, so dinner at my favorite restaurant, Chili’s, and a movie won.
I was completely unaware that night would be unlike any other. We’d talked about marriage as a step in our relationship that would happen sometime in the future. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary about our little date night, but Vanzie was keeping a secret. In hindsight, he was pretty calm and collected for a man who was about to make a huge life-changing commitment.
I was clueless when he reached into his pocket, and what happened next didn’t feel real. I heard the four words every little girl dreams of — “Will you marry me?”
The meal was shortened by excited squeals on the phone to family. By the next evening we’d picked a date, our colors, our bridal party, wedding site, a tuxedo style and potential reception sites.
Before the weekend was up, we had registered for a bridal show, started a reception song list, estimated a budget, created a guest list, picked flowers and his ring, made wedding registries, had a planner, made a pact to shed some pounds, created a Pinterest wedding board and researched the Knot.
Ask any woman who has ever been engaged or had a friend, daughter, cousin engaged, and she’ll tell you to sign up for the wedding website, The Knot. It features every wedding related article, forum and picture imaginable.
I have a confession. I’ve actually been signed up and planning my wedding via the Knot since my sophomore year in college. I began planning my wedding around the same time I chose my major.
I signed up, listing my fiance as Jason Doe, because John Doe didn’t feel right. I wanted something believable.
The funny thing about signing up for a wedding site and not having a real man was having to change my wedding date often as it drew near. The site requires you to set certain parameters, and listing your wedding date is one.
Over the years I probably changed Jason and my wedding date four to six times. I made the last change before I moved to Salisbury. I just plugged in a random date — August 16, 2014. Ironically, I wasn’t too far off from my actual wedding date. Missed it by just six weeks.
The biggest jaw-dropping part of our wedding is our 23-person wedding party. Yup. We know. Does it help that the number includes two flower girls, ring bearer and two children to announce the arrival of the bride? Didn’t think so. We each have nine attendants not counting the children. I have two maids of honor — my sister De’Nitra and my best friend, Jessica.
“You only get married once,” my pastor’s wife said.
Her words are what urged me to be unique, to choose what we want and remember this is an outward show of our love. The most important reminder, and we both firmly believe what the Bible says about marriage should hold true: “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” This is it. There will be one marriage.
Any bride-to-be out there who is currently planning a wedding or has ever planned a wedding knows it can consume you. I tried to prevent that. Vanzie and I placed a moratorium on wedding talk in December. I must confess. Although I didn’t bombard him with the wedding talk, I chatted with my co-workers, my cousin, friends, my sister, my mom and my hairdresser.
The funny thing is, all of those people have embraced my incessant chatter about my wedding and some even have said “tell me everything.”
Hopefully everyone won’t tire of me talking because we have less than eight months to go. By the time you read this it will be 215 days, according to my wedding app.
I’ve long been out of school but still find myself with wedding-related tasks and pulling “all nighters.”
My sister has been a big help, but she gives me regular homework assignments. I’ve had to find a photographer, book a DJ, block off hotels for out-of-towners, register for bridal shows — the list really does go on and on. The weekend I became engaged she had already planned certain goals month by month.
She has taken her job as maid of honor quite seriously and regularly checks to see if I’ve done my homework.
We routinely “pin” each other through the online photo-sharing, pin-board style website called Pinterest. If you haven’t discovered it, you need to get on “board.” The site allows users to pin images onto boards they’ve created. My wedding board has nearly 900 pins. There are plenty of websites devoted to all things wedding, and I think I’ve pinned most.
We are in an age when technology fuels most if not everything on a daily basis. Wedding planning is no exception. My phone has an “Our Wedding” app, which electronically tracks our budget, guest list, to-do list (my favorite part), and our vendors. The app syncs with email, allowing us to email our guest list to anyone or import email contacts into our guest list.
Evernote is another app I’ve used to plan my wedding. In addition to being able to jot down notes with the electronic notepad, it also gives me the ability to email a note, sync it to my computer, voice record a note or insert a picture. All of my wedding-related notes are grouped together to make them easier to find.
I can’t leave out Facebook because with the social networking site I’ve set up a “secret group” for all of my bridesmaids. It’s a way to introduce themselves, share ideas they may have for the wedding and for me to post updates since some of them live in South Carolina, my home state.
I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit for my wedding to Jason, I mean Vanzie. Sorry old habit. Seriously, so far Vanzie and I are right on schedule. Next stop — the dress.
Shavonne Potts is a reporter with the Salisbury Post. She can be reached or 704-797-4253.