Hello! Last month I found out our wedding has been selected to be featured on TheKnot.com towards the end of April. I can’t wait to share our story & pictures with you! I did a lot of DIY projects for my wedding to personalize it to our style so I thought I’d do a few posts on my Wedding DIYs leading up to the big reveal day on The Knot. I didn’t really take pictures of my step-by-step process because I wasn’t doing a blog at the time of my wedding prep but I’ll do my best to describe everything and maybe re-take some pictures of what I can! The first post of this wedding series on my blog will be some tips that worked for me for wedding planning. I hope it helps you for your big day!
1. Get a separate wedding email address
I didn’t do this because I saw the tip after I already had a bunch of emails going with wedding vendors but if I could go back and do it over I would follow this tip. So, my suggestion is to create a new email address on gmail for your wedding stuff from the beginning to keep everything in one spot and organized. Because I didn’t do this I just set up a separate folder in my current email called “Wedding”. I have a Mac and use the Mail app so you can set up a smart mailbox to have all your vendor’s email addresses sent to a specific folder or you can just move the emails as they come in to your Wedding folder. Trust me, you’ll want all these emails in one spot down the road. I found myself wanting to look back at old emails a lot and was happy that I didn’t have to scroll through all my emails or remember their email addresses to search for.
2. Make a budget
It’s hard to say how to do this exactly because everyone will be different. But, my advice is to think about what the most important thing to you is and allocate a decent chunk of your budget to that. For instance, photography was very important to me but having a super expensive designer dress was not, so I allocated more money to the photography and less to the dress. I’m not going to go through everything you need to budget for because there are already a ton of sites out there that help you with that. The way I did it was I wrote down everything I was wanting for my wedding. Then, I emailed/called several vendors for each category to get some general pricing so I knew what the going rate was in my area. I then adjusted everything to fit into my budget. Also, unless you are super strict about your budget make sure you allocate some extra money for wedding stuff because you WILL go over! There will be random things you will want that you won’t think about until down the road. (*Don’t forget to add in an alteration budget for your dress – mine was $300!)
3. Off-season Rates
Be sure to check your venue’s off-season rates. If you aren’t particular about having your wedding on a specific date I’d ask about the pricing. I originally wanted to have a mid-October wedding but my venue’s winter rate started on November 1st. It saved us $1,000 switching to the November 1st date which was worth it to me because that money was able to go to other things! Also, keep in mind having your wedding not on a Saturday can save you money as well but that wasn’t a good option for us because we had a lot of out-of-town guests (3 were actually in the wedding too!).
4. Stay Organized!
I got a folder/notebook combo to keep EVERYTHING wedding related (business cards, contracts, brochures, etc.) in one place. I also created a Wedding document on my iPad’s Numbers app that has my budget (with a pie chart breaking down the percentage spent for each category), all my vendor’s contact info, payment due dates, things to do checklist, and pricing notes that I took down at the beginning when talking to different vendors. Having this app was VERY helpful! I was able to take my iPad with me to meetings so all my information was there and I was able to store pictures on it to show vendors my ideas. If you don’t have a tablet you could do a similar thing with an excel spreadsheet on your computer and store pics on your phone. But, having that app helped keep me organized. I liked having a checklist and being able to check off what I completed and seeing what I had left to do.
5. Keep an Open Mind
Before I went dress shopping I thought I had my whole wedding figured out from colors to the style. I wanted a lace dress and more of a vintage theme. But, when I went dress shopping I wasn’t loving any of the lace styles on me. I wasn’t even considering a satin-type dress but my sister had me try one on for her and that is the one I ended up picking! I didn’t really think the dress went with the things I had picked out so I had to start all over again with my wedding’s style. It all worked out and I loved the end results. Just giving you some advice to make sure you keep an open mind 🙂 Also, if you live in the Cincinnati area, I highly recommend checking out Something New, Borrowed, & Blue for dress shopping! They stock sample designer dresses that are way cheaper than buying them new. They are still in top condition and will save you tons of $$$! My dress is a Maggie Sottero if anyone is curious 🙂
6. Pinterest will be your best friend or your worst enemy
Pinterest is AWESOME for ideas but it becomes an issue at a certain point because there are TOO MANY ideas!! You’ll have to make decisions of what kind of look you’re going for on your wedding day and then stick to it. I kept having an issue of deciding on one thing and then seeing something else I liked more on Pinterest but not really being able to change it at that point. My advice is to search for specific things that you are looking for (like cake ideas) instead of looking at the general Wedding board so you don’t keep seeing stuff you’ve already decided on. You’ll keep finding more and more ideas that you like but you can only do so much before it starts to become complicated and you don’t need that extra stress! Another tip is, I kept my wedding board secret and shared it with my bridesmaids, mom, & MIL so no one else could see what I was pinning – it kept everything a surprise for everyone else!
7. Make a Mood Board
From Pinterest I gathered my favorite pins like colors, flowers, styles, etc. and pasted them onto one document. I was then able to print this out or email it to my vendors so they had an idea of what I liked. Everyone LOVED that I had this as it helps them out greatly to get a sense of your style. Also make sure to print out a picture of your dress to give to your florist so they can make sure the bouquet will go with your dress!
8. Start Early
If you are doing DIY projects make sure you start as early as possible. You’ll keep thinking you have a ton of time to do everything because it’s so far away but it creeps up on you fast! And keep in mind when it gets closer to the date you’ll be even more busy! I was definitely guilty of starting late and I had a ton of stuff to do.
9. Make a Wedding Website
I love the idea of a wedding website. It gives guests a chance to get to know the bride & groom or the wedding party if you have information about them on your site. It also keeps all the information they need to know about the wedding like location, hotels, & your registry list in one, easy-to-find, place. There are a ton of options for a wedding websites like from Wedding Wire or The Knot but being a graphic/web designer I wanted something that looked more like I designed it myself but still had the functionality of an RSVP list. I found this site called AppyCouple.com which fit my needs perfectly. It has a wonderful user interface that has a ton of themes to choose from. It even creates an app for you & your guests that you can download on your phone! I found the site easy to use and I loved the RSVP function. I didn’t use mail-in RSVPs to save money on stamps/extra envelopes and everyone was able to figure it out, even the old folks :P. You can import your guest list from an excel file and are able to send emails to your guests directly from the site! It isn’t free but it’s not very expensive and well worth the money!
10. Hire a Day-of Coordinator
Our venue had a day-of coordinator included in the all-inclusive package. I HIGHLY recommend this service. They help everything go smooth, make sure everyone is where they need to be, and help coordinate with vendors. Mine even brought us drinks at the reception! It just helps cut down on the overall stress of the day. Our venue also included all the cleaning, set-up, and even helped bring gifts to our parent’s car to take home for us. It was very nice having a venue do all this stuff for you.
If you are currently wedding planning, I wish you good luck and let me know if you have any questions! Also, if anyone has any other planning tips leave them in the comments below! Be on the look out soon for posts on my DIY wedding projects!