John Albers and Danielle Slaton on their wedding day. (Karyssa Costa Photography, IG: @kcostaphoto_)

Women’s World Cup veteran and Olympic medalist Danielle Slaton is a game analyst for FOX Sports’ coverage of the Women’s World Cup in France. She talks about her experience planning a wedding amid preparing for her role this summer with the network.

By Danielle Slaton

When someone hears that you’re planning a wedding, there’s a lot of expectation that comes along with it because everyone has a different definition of what that experience means. When someone hears that you’re planning a wedding amid preparing for one of the biggest events of your broadcasting career, they think you’ve straight up lost your mind.

Many women, and I’m speaking from personal experience as I used to be a wedding florist, get fixated on the details and stressed out about making every little thing perfect. That’s definitely not me. I kind of joke that I didn’t get that “girl gene.” Sure, there were tense moments, but it was the support system I had around me (shout out to our planner, Marisa) and the extraordinary person who met me at the end of the aisle, that made everything about that day, and the months leading up to it, feel exactly as it was meant to be.

What is the name of that extraordinary person, you might ask? John Albers.

John and I met 16 years ago while I was playing professionally in North Carolina. A friend introduced us at a wedding, and the rest was history. He proposed just before this past Christmas, and you could imagine that having been together for more than a decade, we didn’t feel the need to have a long engagement.

So, when I called Santa Clara University and found out they had an availability at the mission on Saturday, May 11, I said, ‘Sure, it’s totally normal to get married in less than six months. Let’s do it!’ I obviously knew that I had the Women’s World Cup coming up, but we decided we were going to find a way to make it happen.

My goal from the very beginning was to make sure I carved out time and was disciplined in continuing my preparation for France. Around February, I began to block out weeks…so one week I’m studying Thailand, the next I’m studying Sweden and so on. It was important for me to set those deadlines and create a structured plan so that my preparation didn’t get pushed to the side due to imminent selection choices for napkins and tableware – not my favorite thing (insert eye-rolling emoji here).

One area I did take some pleasure in planning was my flower arrangements. As I mentioned, I used to be a florist. It’s always been something I enjoyed, and I knew for the wedding I wanted to do it myself. I wanted something with color, contrast and greenery. I think when you’ve been a florist you certainly appreciate all flowers, but you’ve seen them a lot so you kind of like the stuff that doesn’t get as much of the attention. Baby’s breath? NO THANK YOU!

Now, one would think that learning the correct name pronunciations for players from all around the world or even preparing for the intricacies of each country’s potential strategy might have been the hardest thing to nail down while balancing the preparation and wedding planning. They’d be sorely mistaken. It was in fact narrowing down the guest list that really took the cake.

When you’re getting married at a certain point in your life, you have a lot of different chapters to account for and people you’ve come across to consider. Getting all of those people to be in the same room and blend was definitely one of the most challenging parts.

Of course, it was important for me to have some of my former teammates in attendance and it just so happened that the U.S. WNT had a nearby match against South Africa the day after our wedding – Mother’s Day. Even though she had to leave that night to go cover the team, Leslie Osborne was there along with Cindy Parlow Cone and Brandi Chastain. Brandi lives around the corner from me and to this day, we’re still close friends.

Whenever I needed an escape from balancing the time between the two loves of my life, at moments when I really felt like I couldn’t handle it all, I turned to one thing…working out. This is always my go-to, my brain candy as I like to call it – well that or a good glass of wine. Even if it was at 9:45 PM, a quick trip to the elliptical with some ridiculous music helped me calm me down and refocus.

Now that I have a moment to look back and reflect on that last few months, if I had the choice to change the date of our wedding, I wouldn’t. It felt like it was meant to be on that day. Everything just kind of fell into place. It’s really about getting good people (and vendors) around you and then letting go of the wheel and allowing them to excel at their jobs. I give Colleen Hacker, former U.S. WNT sports psychologist, all the credit in the world for teaching me to control what I can control, and then let go of the rest. That tool came in handy during this time.

Sitting here in France, I’m not thinking about any of the tense moments or late nights where I thought I wouldn’t be able to push through it. I think back to all the family and friends celebrating in the backyard of our new home. I think about how I have a husband to support me on this adventure (honey…I promise we’ll take a honeymoon soon!), and I think about how special it is to call the tournament right now alongside the fantastic Derek Rae. And even though it’s my job to be unbiased as a broadcaster, I also think ahead with hopes of watching the U.S. WNT raise the trophy for the fourth time as this tournament continues to unfold.