You know her from ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” but Jen Schefft is about to officially become “the bride.” Engaged to trader Joe Waterman since September, the couple are planning an intimate spring wedding in Chicago surrounded by 100 of their closest family and friends.
We had a chance to talk to Jen yesterday about finding the perfect wedding dress, planning a Hawaiian honeymoon, what she thinks will make her wedding day memorable and more. See the in-depth interview below.
What part of wedding planning did you spend the most time on?
Probably picking the venue. We wanted to make sure it was the best possible place to have our wedding. We wanted to do it in Chicago, so we did a bunch of research in terms of planning for where we actually wanted to have it. It’s not going to be a big wedding, and a lot of places in Chicago are huge. We wanted to find something very pretty and elegant but on a small size rather than being a big ballroom or hotel ballroom. We decided on a restaurant in Chicago that is one of our favorite restaurants. Everyone will be able to get there at a certain time and stay for the evening. It will be indoors, because in Chicago you never want to risk doing anything outdoors. It could be snowing.
Have you used any online resources when planning the wedding?
Yes. I go on WeddingChannel.com and The Knot. I’m always online looking. My biggest thing right now is how to do my hair. I’m all over the place looking for hairstyles. With my dress I feel like I should wear my hair up, but I like my hair better down and I feel more like myself. I may wear it half up and half down, but I don’t know yet.
Are there any celebrities whose wedding style has given you inspiration or ideas?
Every celebrity wedding is so beautiful. It’s kind of cliché and they aren’t together anymore, but I loved Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s wedding. I loved how she looked. She looked very much like herself with her hair down. I feel like a bride should look like herself or a better version of herself. Sometimes people get caught up in different hairstyles and the dress and all of that. They don’t look like they normally look. Every celebrity wedding is beautiful, and they also have lots of money to spend.
Speaking of money, did you follow a budget and how did you find ways to cut costs?
I definitely followed a budget.
1) I wanted to make sure we weren’t going overboard with anything. I wanted to pay attention to the small details but also not go overboard. One thing I got to do was work with M&M’s and use the MyM&M’s shimmer collection. We used a picture of Joe and my face on the M&M with little sayings like I Do, We Do, Jen and Joe. I thought that was a great way to personalize things without spending money.
2) We hired a DJ instead of a band, which saved a bunch of money.
3) We went as simple as possible with the invitations. We didn’t go overboard and do letterpress versus digital printing.
Your wedding dress is from Ultimate Bride in Chicago. Can you describe it?
I don’t want to give away too much about what it looks like, but it’s a little less traditional than I thought I was going to go for. It’s a sheath, and I originally wanted something more supportive in terms of holding me in a little bit more. It’s kind of flow-y and pretty, and I think Joe will really like it too.
Any tips for finding the perfect wedding dress?
I had been to a million different places with friends where they had tried on dresses at 10 different shops around the city. I just wanted to go to Ultimate Bride, because they have everything. I was open to letting the girls there just kind of guide me and try a bunch of things on. I wouldn’t try anything on that was over my price point, because I didn’t want to fall in love with something that I wasn’t willing to pay. I took that temptation away. When I tried on my dress, I knew pretty much right away. They say that’s the case, and it was definitely true for me.
Have you seen what Joe is wearing?
He has his own tuxedo, but he’s only worn it once. I was with him when he bought it. I’m excited to see him in it. I’ve never actually seen him in it.
What do your bridesmaid dresses look like?
They are from Jenny Yoo. They are little black dresses with pencil skirts. They are strapless and go to about knee length.
Have you picked out bridesmaid gifts?
I have but I don’t want my girls to know. I will say that it’s jewelry.
Are you using a black palette for the entire wedding?
No. My colors for my flowers are purples and pinks. I chose black for my bridesmaid dresses, because everyone looks great in black and it’s an easy dress. We’re going to be putting colors throughout the wedding, with the flowers and M&M’s, which have the shimmer colors of platinum, pearl and gold. I’m also going to incorporate pink and purple M&M’s with our faces on them.
Are you doing anything else unique to add personal touches to your wedding?
Joe’s favorite candies are M&M’s, so I thought that would be a great thing to incorporate into the wedding. We’ve tried to keep our wedding as small as possible, and we’ll have about 100 guests. It’s all going to be personal. We wanted to keep it private and simple, and invite those we are closest to.
Are you following any wedding traditions?
I want to do something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I think I have everything covered except something old. My mom suggested maybe I wear my grandma’s diamond ring when I walk down the aisle. I’m still working on that.
For something blue, they are sewing a blue “J” for Joe and my initials into the dress. For something new, the dress is new. The shoes are new. For something borrowed I’m going to borrow the cake cutter from one of my girlfriends.
Will you and Joe spend the night before the wedding apart?
Yes. I’m going to stay at our place where we both live, and Joe’s probably going to stay with friends. We’re still trying to figure out where he’s going to stay, but I know I’m going to stay in my own bed.
Have you had your bachelorette party yet?
Yes. I went away for St. Patrick’s Day, and Joe stayed in town with friends. One of my friend’s in-laws has a place in Fort Myers, Florida, so we had a great girls weekend. I made them cute little goodie bags. There were seven of us, and we had every magazine imaginable. They each had a nail kit and the M&M’s with our faces. I gave the M&M’s away throughout the wedding process at the shower, at the bachelorette party and will again at the wedding.
What about your wedding cake?
We are having a red velvet wedding cake. There was no personal reason for it. I just tasted it and I loved it with the cream cheese frosting. It’s a four-tier, and the tiers are circles. It’s plain and not too embellished.
Have you picked out wedding day jewelry?
I’m going to be wearing little hoop earrings with pave diamonds, along with a pearl drop and a pearl bracelet.
Will you wear a veil?
I’m not going to wear a veil, but I’m going to put some sort of hair piece in my hair. They are taking pieces from the dress when they altar it, so they’re going to make a little something I can put in my hair and maybe put one side up.
Have you picked out wedding bands?
Yes, we took care of that pretty early on. Joe got a platinum ring and he’s trying to wear it around to get used to it, because he’s never worn any jewelry. I got an eternity band with diamonds all the way around, and it’s going to be exciting to put that on too.
Have you discovered any stress relievers during wedding planning?
Joe and I have decided to make it as stress free as possible, but now that its getting closer, I’ll be my own stress and I’ll figure out what those tips are. We know we’re going to get married, and it’s going to be a great day no matter what. Just thinking about the honeymoon will help.
Where are you going on your honeymoon?
We’re going to Hawaii, so we’re doing a tropical honeymoon. I’ve never been there before, and we’re really excited. If Joe had his way, we would be doing something a little more adventurous, but I think we’re pretty safe with Hawaii and I think it will be fun. I think we’ll definitely do some activities for Joe because he’s a lot more adventurous than I am. That will good for me, and then I’ll help him relax with some spa stuff and just laying by the pool.
Did you find ways to cut costs when planning your honeymoon?
We splurged a little bit more on the honeymoon. We saved a little bit more on the wedding, so we could splurge on the honeymoon. We’re going for 10 days rather than two weeks, so we’re cutting it down. Actually with the economy like it is, traveling is a little less expensive than normal.
What has been the most memorable wedding you’ve been to?
The ones that have the personal touches are what make me remember them. One girlfriend I have didn’t want a wedding cake. She just wanted milkshakes so she set up a milkshake bar after the wedding. There was no cake and everyone was just drinking milkshakes. That’s totally her, and I thought that was really cute.
What do you think people will remember most about your wedding?
I hope that they have a good time, and I just want it to be a great night for everyone. As they leave, we’re going to be handing them MyM&M’s with Joe and my face on them. I think that will be a really great thing for everyone to take home and a great way for people to remember the night.
What part are you most looking forward to?
Just walking down the aisle and seeing Joe for the first time. And having my dad give me away will be a great moment.
What is your biggest piece of advice for brides to be?
Remember that you’re getting married, and that you’re going to have a marriage. It’s not all about the wedding day — it’s about being married to the person you love. While you’re going to plan a great wedding you need to make sure that you keep that in perspective. Enjoy it rather than stressing out about it. It’s going to be beautiful no matter what.