From booking vendors, to selecting the menu, to coordinating ceremony details, wedding planning can get very overwhelming. So how do you stay sane and ensure your big day goes off without a hitch? These simple tips will keep you organized, reduce wedding planning stress and prevent a dreaded big day disaster.
1. Create a Master Wedding Binder
The secret to stress-free wedding planning starts with a binder. You can purchase a specially made wedding binder, or create your own. Divide it into organized sections (budget, guest list, vendors, etc.), use colored tabs, fancy pens, stickers … whatever your little heart desires. This is where you should keep ALL wedding related documents: contracts, menus, invitation samples, post-its, confirmation emails from vendors, to-do lists, and inspiration from websites and magazines.
2. Organize Your Inbox
Wedding emails can come flying at you during the workday at the speed of light. Keep yourself organized by simply creating a wedding folder within your email inbox. Anything wedding related goes in there, girlfriend. When you’re frantically searching for the band’s playlist in between meetings, you’ll know where to find it.
3. Book the Big Things First
Book the location, the music, the florist, photographer, hair and makeup artists as soon as you set the date. This way, you have all the key players scheduled early and can build everything else around them.
4. Do Your Research
Don’t hire the first florist or photographer you find online or just take someone’s word for it. While great recommendations are important, you need to make sure that you and your vendors click. Take the time to review their past work, schedule a meeting, and determine if their work and personality (so important!) is your style before signing on the dotted line.
5. Enlist the Experts
If your budget allows, hire a planner to do the heavy lifting for you. They’ll take care of all the details throughout the planning, and ensure a seamless event while you dance the night away. Or hire a day-of coordinator to manage all the moving parts and pieces so you don’t have to. Many venues offer facility directors or planners as part of your booking. They know the place inside and out and will see to it that everything runs smoothly. Be sure to ask ahead of time if they do in fact offer that service.
6. Stick to Your Budget
Aside from big ticket items like the band, the booze, the cake, and the flowers, hidden costs for the “little things” can sneak up on you and add up big time. From gift bags for out-of-towners to transportation to the rehearsal dinner, it’s crucial to keep strict tabs on all your expenses so you’re not shocked when the bills come. Use an online or mobile budget tracker for easy organization. If you have an iPhone or iPad try this wedding budget tracker available on iTunes. And of course, the queen of perfect planning aka Martha Stewart has a great budget tool on her wedding website.
7. Find Time for Fittings
Seriously! Don’t buy a dress and leave it in the wardrobe bag until the day before the wedding. There’s no set schedule for the amount of fittings you should have (some ladies have 5, some have just 2), but definitely make time for one last visit with the seamstress a few days before the big day. Brides are often so busy running around before their wedding that they drop a few pounds without even trying (cha-ching!). Save yourself the stress and make sure it fits your body now, not your body 3 months ago.
8. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Shop for Accessories
And speaking of the dress, brides spend so much time focused on it that they forget the little details that complete the look. Take your time searching for the perfect earrings, bracelet, and bejeweled hair accessories. Rushing around in a frantic state of panic the day before is a recipe for disaster.
9. Create a Bridal Survival Kit
There’s no time to sweat the small stuff on your big day. Create a “bridal survival” kit to combat any fashion or beauty crisis with a quick fix. Simply stock a cosmetic bag with travel sized must-haves (dental floss, bobby pins, blotting papers, double sided tape, safety pins, clear nail polish, a nail file, deodorant, breath mints, etc.) to get you through any wedding day beauty or wardrobe malfunction, stress free. Or purchase a ready made kit like this Bride Mojuba Emergency Kit. Everything you could ever dream of is in one super organized bag.
10. Don’t Get Wasted
You don’t want to look back on your wedding day and have any regrets about your behavior. You spent the whole day primping to look perfect … and getting sloppy drunk will destroy that red carpet couture faster than you can say ‘I do’. Plus, for the cost of that wedding … you better remember it! Enjoy some bubbly, but keep the alcohol in check and stay hydrated!
Jessica Solloway is a Washington, DC based writer and producer. From wedding planning to work, dating to dieting (and everything in between), she enjoys writing about women’s lifestyle topics. Jessica received her degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Check out her blog, The Savvy Mrs.