By Maddie Haynes
Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now, welcome to your Wedding Planning! I’m sure you’re experiencing a mix of excitement, nervousness and stress. Don’t panic, you’re not alone and you WILL get it all accomplished.
Before you can begin the exciting process of venue and dress shopping, you must start with the basics. You will need to create a Wedding Planning Timeline for yourself and your fiancé. If you try to “go with the flow” without any form of a written checklist, you will end up with double the stress and you won’t get to fully enjoy the wedding planning process. There are several ways to accomplish an organized planning timeline. Check out the suggestions below for inspiration on the best means of organization for you!
Hire a Wedding Coordinator
If you are the type of Bride who finds herself getting overwhelmed by the details and you’re already short on time as it is, you might benefit from hiring a full-time wedding coordinator. As someone who has worked with a full-time wedding coordinator before, I can attest to the convenience of working with someone who has vast wedding knowledge and nothing but time to dedicate to your wedding planning needs. A full-time planner is also an ideal option if you feel somewhat clueless to all things wedding. A planner can help break down the details and be a guide in the right direction if you aren’t sure where to start or what to focus on next.
Now, if you feel pretty confident in your ability to plan the basics but you wish to have guidance on the most recommended vendors to check out, someone to help book your appointments and be a listening ear when you need to sort through options, you are likely going to benefit from a part-time wedding coordinator. This option is perfect for Brides who are comfortable with planning and keeping themselves organized but enjoy the benefit of someone who can assist with the scheduling of venue tours, communicating with vendors and contributing thoughts to the trends and “must haves” that can be overlooked if planning completely solo.
Read and Follow “The Knot” Wedding Guide Book
This guide book is a personal favorite of mine. I am using it (as well as The Knot’s website) to keep track of my wedding planning. I am that Bride who loves a good old-fashioned checklist so The Knot’s layout on the website, as well as in the book, works best for me. I’m also guilty of being somewhat of a “control freak” when it comes to planning so this method is ideal if you believe you fit this description. Having this mindset allows me to feel comfortable handling all of the planning leading up to the big day without a full-time or part-time wedding coordinator.
As I mentioned above, I have also had the pleasure of working with a full-time coordinator in the past (I’ll explain this in a future post) so I must credit her knowledge for providing me enough guidance to where I feel confident handling it myself now. The most important part of committing to planning with this method is that you must know yourself well enough to know whether or not you will truly follow the steps. If you often need a nudge to get started or to complete a task, this route may not be for you. This is obviously the most cost-effective option, as you will not be paying for anything besides the book itself. Keep in mind however, it is important to base your planning decision on who you are as a Bride and what you want your big day to look and feel like.
Track Spending and Booking
An additional planning tip that I recommend to all Brides is to keep a list on your phone or in a notebook to track your spending and booking. For instance, I have a note in my iPhone strictly to keep track of what has been purchased/booked and the cost associated with it.
This was an incredibly helpful tool for myself and my (now) husband to monitor how much we have spent and on which parts of the wedding. I’ve been told spreadsheets are another great method if you’re familiar with budgeting through one.
Speaking of handy dandy spreadsheets… if you have not already began saving addresses for your Save the Dates and invitations, it’s never too early to start gathering this information from your guests. My recommendation for keeping this information organized is to create yourself an Excel or Google Spreadsheet. Google is my personal favorite for this step due to the ease of multiple users having access to edit. Since this is a large task in and of itself, you will thank yourself later if you request your fiancé to assist on this one. One person needs to first create the spreadsheet, add all of the names from the handwritten guest list (you don’t have to do a handwritten guest list but I’m old-school and found this to be helpful) and from there, choose one color to highlight each guest you are responsible for and another color for each guest your fiancé is responsible for. If you do not feel the need to color code, you certainly do not have to. In my experience, this method is effective for large lists that exceed 100 guests. For instance, on our current list all of my guests to gather information from are in pink while my husband’s are in yellow. This way, if we believe we are finished with this step but we go through and see an empty highlighted space, we will know whose guest still needs to be contacted or followed up with.
I hope all of this information has provided helpful insight to my fellow Brides and Grooms! The best part of getting engaged has historically been the engagement day and the wedding day, with the in-between being the “stressful” part. The truth is, planning your wedding doesn’t have to be filled with stress and frustration. In fact, I believe the planning should be considered one of the most fun and happiest experiences of your life! For more wedding insider info, please continue checking out these blog posts. We’ll be with you every step of the way!