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Tips for Planning a Wedding While Going Back to School (From Couples Who’ve Done it)

As daunting as it sounds, planning a wedding and going back to school don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It goes without saying that, usually, people choose to focus on one major life event at a time. But every now and then, the stars collide and a couple ends up pursuing two of the most pressure-filled milestones simultaneously.

The tasks associated with both events can be grueling, and the stress can test a relationship.

Fortunately, a few of the brave souls attempting to conquer the aforementioned feat have lived to tell about their experiences. The two New Jersey couples featured below have managed to handle planning a wedding and going back to school to obtain a graduate-level education, and are willing to share their secrets to success. Here’s how they did it:


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Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Most people willing to try planning a wedding and going back to school at the same time are Type A personalities so… giving up control can be an issue. But to be successful at both, you have to quit micro managing. Getting support from family is a big help, says Danielle Isenburg, who wed Ray Isenburg at the Park Savoy Estate in Florham Park on March 26, 2017. Both were completing medical school at UMDNJ Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine. Now, they are starting their new life as newlyweds and beginning their residencies.

Danielle will be a family medical resident at Columbia University in New York while Ray will be an emergency medical resident at St. Joseph’s in Patterson. They both were happy to let family members pitch in; Danielle’s mom worked on organizing a room block at a nearby hotel for wedding guests. Ray’s mom gathered family photos for display at the wedding reception.

Planning a Wedding while Going Back to School
Ray and Danielle Isenburg

Make Time for Each Other

Marni Gliklich works full-time at Lifetime Fitness, and her fiance, Stephen Hill, will be starting his first year at Brooklyn Law School in August 2017. They are planning their July 2018 wedding, which will be held at the Park Savoy. For the first year of school, Hill will be living on campus, while Gliklich lives in River Vale closer to her work. The two are already making a commitment to coordinate schedules. For now, they try to keep Fridays and Saturdays free for each other. Additionally, they choose one night a week to go out separately with friends.

It’s Okay to Take a Break from Planning

When Ray and Danielle recognized they were letting going back to school and wedding planning consume them, they made a change. They decided to block out chunks of time in which they avoided talking about either. For one weekend, in fact, they ditched all their technological devices – aka they took a “tech-cation” – and took a rest from school and the wedding. They hiked, cooked and just relaxed. “We got engaged in 2015,” says Ray. “We started talking about the wedding and school too much. It was exciting, but also ensnaring. We still had to pursue our relationship and talk about our dreams and goals.”

Be Flexible

Planning a Wedding while Going Back to SchoolBoth couples recognize the importance of being flexible. When you are dealing with a hectic school schedule and the stresses of planning a wedding, you really have no choice. For example, Gliklich says she would rather move in with Hill now. But she understands he needs to be on campus for the first year of school. Besides, the commute to and from Brooklyn to her job in New Jersey would be challenging to say the least.

When it comes to spending time apart during the planning process, Hill’s mom offered some comfort. “Steve’s dad went back to law school when Steve was a baby,” explains Gliklich. “Steve’s mom says it’s better to be engaged than already married because you will feel like it’s an investment in the future. When you’re already married, you feel resentful of the missed time together.”

Communicate Your Priorities

Respect is of course, part of the equation. Couples juggling many responsibilities have to learn to prioritize. Sometimes, it takes effort to figure out what’s most important. You both have to be willing to communicate and compromise. “Communicating our needs is key,” says Hill. “If [Marni’s] feeling a certain way, she’s not shy about telling me.” In fact, the two quickly realized they should be mindful of the other’s schedule and need for quality time. “We have limited time together,” says Hill. “So, we can’t just make plans with other people without checking in with each other first.”
Planning a Wedding while Going Back to School

Looking Back While Looking Forward

When one partner starts to buckle under the pressure, the other must come up with a way to get them back on track. Danielle often reflects on the challenges the couple has overcome as a team. While the positive thinking perks her up, it also helps them strategize for the future. These thoughts prompt her to ask, “How can we improve? How can we keep up good habits?”

Perhaps most importantly of all, Danielle suggests keeping the whirlwind of activity in perspective: “Yes, this will be a great party,” she says. “But we’re preparing for a marriage, for the rest of our life.” As far as investments in the future go, it seems marriage and education can be a great pairing after all.