Post # 1
I’m new here — just stumbled upon the site a few days ago. I got engaged to my boyfriend of six years this winter, so we’re just starting the wedding planning process. We have a general idea of who we’d like to invite and what the wedding might look like, but we’ve run into some scheduling problems (as in, how to pick the actual date of the ceremony itself). So I’m hoping to get some perspective and advice from people here who are in my particular line of work and who have navigated this themselves.
Basically: I’m starting a PhD program this fall that will probably last 5-7 years. I’ve been working towards this for some time — getting research experience, doing a Master’s degree, etc — and my partner has always been supportive of my decision to enter academia, so we’re both thrilled about this new professional chapter. But in my discipline, PhD programs typically involve mandatory travel to research sites around the world for two summers (so summer 2016 and 2017) and then 12-24 months of overseas research at these sites (don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about this, and we’ve done the long-distance thing before with no real issues). Add on top of this the fact that my PhD program runs on semesters, so the winter and spring breaks are about a week each. We plan on getting married before I go away on long-term research (so before fall 2017), but between the mandatory summer travel, the intensity of the term-time schedule, and the short winter and spring breaks, we’re at a loss as to when, exactly, we can schedule our wedding. My partner works in a more traditional office environment where accruing vacation time for weddings is no big deal, but it’s my impression that this is less acceptable in PhD programs, law school, med school, things like that. I don’t want to directly ask my program about this right now, because I feel like it’s unprofessional to bring my personal life into the workplace right off the bat, but on the other hand, I know weddings take a while to plan and venues book up far in advance, so we need to set a date relatively soon. If everything were up to us, we’d be married in summer or fall 2016.
So: people in PhD programs/law school/med school, how did you schedule your wedding around this? Did you do the ceremony on a weekend and then a honeymoon over the winter or spring break? Did you ask for a few days or even a week off for your wedding?
My thanks in advance to anyone who responds!
This topic was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by Pupster2016. Reason: Spelling
Post # 2
I got engaged this past fall, halfway through my program, and we’re getting married in September, the beginning of my 4th year. This works out for me because there’s no field work at this time, I’m done with classes, and I won’t be teaching. I know someone who started our program engaged, and got married the summer between our first and second years. It depends what works for you.
If you are going into a program engaged, it’s okay to talk to your advisor about when you’re getting married. This is a HUGE step in your personal life. Discuss the time off. You won’t be getting married again during your program. I would start by getting an idea from your advisor of what your schedule will be like for the next year or two so you can pick a date, then let them know that this is when you’ll be getting married and will need some time off.
As far as our honeymoon goes, we’re spending a couple extra days at our destination, but taking a vacation the following summer as a severely postponed “honeymoon.”
Post # 3
Thank you so much for the prompt reply! It’s looking more and more like we might have to split up the ceremony and the honeymoon, which we’re actually okay with since we’ve been on vacation together before (although the honeymoon will probably feel a little different/special).
Despite my professional misgivings, I tentatively tried to broach this subject with my supervisor in a post-admission phone call (she also interviewed me when I was applying, so it wasn’t as if we were meeting for the first time). She congratulated me but then said something along the lines of ‘Well, we can discuss all of this later, once your research plans are clearer.’ But I kind of need to make things a little more concrete now! Should I try broaching this again with her? She’s away on research this summer so I don’t know when we would interact again until the fall.
And maybe this is ridiculous, but I worry about scheduling a wedding immediately upon return from fieldwork. My research sites are largely in non-industrialized countries (I’ve been to some of them before), and I know that the odds are really good that I’ll get ill while overseas (as I’ve done before and was even once medivaced) and I don’t want to look gaunt/unhealthy in my wedding photos. I realize that is an incredibly shallow and privileged thing to say. But I confess it’s still in the back of my mind… and if I can’t be honest on an anonymous board, when can I be?
Post # 4
Have you thought about a spring break wedding? Or a week after your spring semester is over/before you have to leave for the field? If your wedding is local, you might not have to take much time off at all. It also depends on how big of a wedding you’re planning on having.
I understand where your advisor is coming from… if you don’t have a research plan quite yet, it can be difficult to predict where you’re going and when you’re going. Do you know if you have to complete the field work at a specific time of year? I.e. May/June vs. June/July?
I suggest if you want to try to solidify a date sooner than later, make it a low-impact wedding. Don’t put so much stress on yourself to plan it, so make it either small or hire a wedding planner to take care of it for you. My peer who got married had a lot of stuff she did on the weekends, and had her wedding planner take care of most of the details. For my wedding, it’s going to be intimate with little focus on detail, so I haven’t been doing much for it either.
I would say, contact her before she leaves for field work and say, “I was thinking about scheduling my wedding the weekend after finals (or whatever), but I won’t need much time off for it. Does this work with the possible field days? Or do you suggest I try to plan it sooner?” Maybe schedule it in the middle of spring semester, but only take a few days off. That way, it’s not a concern to field work whatsoever.
Post # 5
We’ve thought about winter and spring break weddings — who knows, they may just be our best option! Our wedding is likely going to be fewer than 100 people — if my partner didn’t have a massive family, we would have made it even smaller — so once the date is set, I don’t envision spending too much time or energy fussing over every little detail (I say that now…). We might look into a wedding planner as well.
My supervisor is actually away on research right now (she left right after the admissions cycle ended), but basically my coursework/fieldwork schedule looks like this:
Fall Semester 2015, 1 week winter break, Spring Sem 2016, 1 week break, fieldwork early June-end of August, 1 week break
Fall Sem 2016, 1 week winter break, Spring Sem 2017, 1 week break, fieldwork early June-end of August, 1 week break
Administrative pre-fieldwork stuff at the start of Fall Sem 2017 that I’m not sure how long will take, but basically Fall Sem 2017-Fall Sem 2019 is the maximum fieldwork I would do. Then writing up back in the US. I’m hoping to be married before the long-term fieldwork.
The way I see it, I’m probably getting married and heading straight to the field, or getting back from the field and heading straight for the alter. Neither is really ideal — but this is a professional choice I made, and I acknowledge that it comes with drawbacks. So maybe breaks are the way to go!
Post # 6
this post is really relevant to me and my fiance since we JUST decided on our date finally! My fiance is currently in school and we were debating whether to get married after he’s done which is in 2 years or next year. We are doing long distance due to his committment to school schedule (4 days of classes). We decided to go with next year because starting next year August he will be placed in hospitals where he prefers. He will be putting his preference around the area where we will live. He has two weeks off next August just like this year and he has a rough idea of when in the month of August it will be. Since the dates of his summer break is not for sure we are putting our wedding date on a sunday in the beginning of August so we will be ahead of the summer break whenever in the month of August it will be. I also agree that it’s hard for you to directly ask your school about the future schedules as I know it was for my fiance. My fiance was hesitant about asking but he will be asking for the rough estimate when he sits down with one of the advisors for his upcoming rotations. He said that the advisor is already aware that he is engaged which he thinks will be a plus in easing the conversation into next year’s summer schedule. I hope this sort of…maybe helps!
Post # 7
- Wedding: May 2018 - City, State
Fiance is in pharmacy school getting his pharmD. We will be getting married between his 2nd and 3rd year on a weekend then postponing our honeymoon until after his graduation as a honeymoon/omg you’re a pharmacist yay! type trip (lolol). Unfortunately he has summer work every year in between terms except his first year but that just seems too soon for us.
Post # 8
It is definitely nice to know that I’m not the only one dealing with this! And yeah, it can be tough asking directly about these things, especially in professions like academia, law, and medicine where work is EVERYTHING. One of the reasons I’m so hesitant to delve further into this with my PhD program is that I did my Master’s at a high-powered research university where it was really frowned upon to bring up personal stuff like this, even when it was necessary for basic scheduling purposes (and I’ll be doing my PhD at an even better university). I know two PhD students whose supervisors flipped out when they announced they were pregnant and would be taking time away from their research, and I wonder if one day that will be me…
tobelee0627, I hope it goes well for you and your partner! Do you mind if I ask how he is planning to frame the conversation about engagement/weddings to his supervisor?
Post # 9
Your advisor sounds reasonable so I’m sure she will work with you to find a way to work around your personal stuff. I think it would be worse if she said you have to do it at X time and X time only, since that suggests she is more rigid. And I agree that it’s hard to say when is the best time without having more concrete reserach plans.
If you need to start booking things now, I would just do it and then move your reserach obligations around it. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to find the perfect time, since it doesn’t really exist. I would suggest waiting until after you’re done with coursework and exams before getting married – this was most definitely my most busiest/stressful time and when my schedule was the least flexible. I wouldn’t worry about splitting up your honeymoon and wedding – plenty of people do this for other reasons and while is nice to have them back to back, try to think about it as spreading the fun. My fiance’s parents actually did their honeymoon before their wedding because his dad was started med school right after the wedding. And my close friends got married at the end of the summer and then did their honeymoon during winter break and loved having something to look forward to during the grind of first year medical school.
Post # 10
I second the recommendation to try and schedule it after you’ve finished coursework and exams. Your time will probably be more flexible when you are writing, but I understand that comes after your long extensive fieldwork and you would like to be married before then.
If it matters it might be easier/cheaper to try and plan a wedding over your winter break rather than a summer break. This happened to a friend of mine. Both she and her husband work at a university, and a summer wedding would have been too stressful (they do a lot of work with incoming students and move-in). So they got married in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Post # 11
He is meeting the advisor who solely schedules everyone’s clinicals beginning of May. He will be suggesting his preferences to where he wants to do his clinicals and will also ask the academic work load and also clinical work load for next year starting August (which is the new year of school). He also reached out to the class before his and asked them on the tightness of all schedules for next year so he has a good idea of what hes dealing with. He is going to gently ask the advisor if she has a good idea of the timing around nextyear’s summer vacation. I told him that if she has a good idea/sense of next summer’s schedule there’s no need for bringing up our wedding but if she doesnt it’d be a good idea to bring up our plan. He also told me that she has a good standing relationship with his class which makes it a little easier for him to approach her. I hope this helps! and good luck with everything! I realized if things are going to work out they always find a way to work itself out!
Post # 12
I’m not sure I can speak to your specific situation, as Darling Husband and I are both doing humanities PhDs, which I think are a bit more flexible. But I’ll tell you what we did!
We got engaged the year before we started our PhDs and got married during winter break of our first year. We have a much longer winter break (about 5 weeks), but I think a week would be plenty of time. I did a lot of the planning the summer before we started our programs, and I didn’t take any time off for the wedding. We had a short honeymoon–I don’t think there’s any way I would have taken time off for a wedding/vacation. I kind of reserve time off for emergencies–don’t want to use up any goodwill!
I generally avoided talking about my upcoming wedding at first, but then when it came up, my advisor and professors were super nice and excited! It worked out well, and I’m glad we didn’t wait longer, honestly. Planning a wedding wasn’t THAT hard, for me at least. It was fine to do it while in coursework.
Post # 13
Thank you so much, everyone! It’s great to hear all of your stories and suggestions. It’s reassuring in particular to know that a week would be more than enough time to have — and to really enjoy — the ceremony. Please keep sending your views my way!
Post # 14
Scheduling your wedding for during your break sounds like the safest option. I just started my PhD this past September, but I’m doing my PhD in the humanities and in the UK, so it’ll only take me 3-4 years. I’m from NYC where my SO lives (we’re VERY long distance), so we’re planning the wedding for inbetween dissertation submission and the Viva at the end of my 3rd year (they are pretty flexible here with scheduling the Viva). That way, I can change my name before graduation and the degree.
Post # 15
- Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL
I got engaged after the first year of my PhD program and got married like 7 months later I think? It’s super do-able in grad school. I would recommend getting married either after your classes are done or over a holiday. I was done w/ classes when we got married and my advisor let me take a week off directly after. IMO grad school is actually pretty laid back, I wouldn’t stress about it.
I just read your comment about advisors flipping out about pregnancies, and that is the case at my uni too. Actually the first words out of my advisor’s mouth when I announced my engagement were, “I hope you don’t plan on getting pregnant within the next 5 years.” Ouch. Pretty sure that’s illegal to say, but it’s definitely a sentiment that is present in academia… so be prepared for that.