Wedding planning is a long and complicated business. For many couples, it can be a source of major stress. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you consider exactly how many things there are to arrange, and everything that could go wrong.
But planning your wedding, when done right, should be exciting and fulfilling. There’s no need to panic, as long as you stay organised. We’ve made a list of 11 practical and useful tips to help you stay sane and well-prepared throughout the entire wedding planning process.
Throughout everything, try to stay relaxed, and be realistic with your expectations. You’ll have a wonderful day no matter what, and you’ll only have to do this once – so try your best to enjoy the process!
Start Planning ASAP
When it comes to wedding planning, there’s no such thing as starting too early. Well, perhaps ordering your wedding cake before you’re even engaged might be going too far. But for the least stressful experience, start planning as soon as you can. The more time you give yourself, the smoother everything will go.
Ideally, start planning your wedding at least one year before the big day. Even before this, you can start viewing potential venues, creating a wedding planning timeline, and brainstorming ideas (like colours, themes, décor and dresses).
If you’re planning to get married in peak season, book your venue and vendors (such as photographer, caterer and entertainment) as early as possible.
Work to a Schedule
Once you’ve booked your venue and your wedding date is set, you can create a wedding planning timeline. Break down what you need to do month-by-month. Give yourself deadlines for every task, so that you know what’s got to be done by when. This is the easiest way to stay organised and ensure you don’t leave anything too late.
When setting your schedule, always give yourself a generous buffer. For example, aim to order your wedding invitations at least two months before you need to send them out. That will account for potential problems such as printing errors, forgotten guests, or your order getting lost in the post (unlikely, but it can happen). If your caterer needs to know your final head count 2 weeks prior to the wedding, your RSVP deadline should be at least a month before.
Buy a Physical Folder
It might seem tempting to organise every aspect of your wedding using a computer. Obviously, digital files, folders and websites certainly take up less room than physical paper.
But when it comes to planning something as huge and complex of a wedding, you’ll definitely appreciate having something physical in front of you. It’s far too easy to lose digital files and misplace links to websites - especially when you’re trying to organise every aspect of the wedding, from venues to catering ideas and décor lists.
So, we’d recommend purchasing a physical folder, such as a lever arch file, to keep everything together. A simple notebook won’t do – you’ll need space to store things like venue brochures, wedding stationery and fabric samples, as well as all your checklists and notes.
Use Spreadsheet Software
That’s not to say that you can’t use computers for anything. Many couples find that spreadsheets are a fantastic way to stay organised, and we’d agree. Spreadsheet software can be used for almost every aspect of wedding planning, such as:
• Budget organisation
• Keeping track of guests’ RSVPs and food choices
• Drafting your seating plan and table plans
• Tracking which items you’ve ordered and where from, estimated delivery dates, etc
• Making lists of your vendors and suppliers, and their payment deadlines
You don’t need to spend money on expensive spreadsheet software. Free services such as Google Sheets work just as well.
Whatever you choose to use a computer for, ensure you make backups of everything. This is necessary in case of unexpected problems such as hard drive failures. Alternatively, save everything to ‘the cloud’ so that you can access it anywhere, anytime.
Make a Wedding Website
Wedding websites are primarily for the benefit of your guests. However, to make your life easier and to help you stay organised, a wedding website is absolutely invaluable.
If you keep every piece of information your guests need in one place, you’ll save yourself a real headache. You won’t need to field endless emails, phone calls and texts from your guests wondering what to get you as a gift, asking for directions to the venue, or needing a reminder of the dress code.
Even if you include all this information in your invitation suite, pieces of paper are easily lost. That’s why a website, accessible to everyone and keeping everything in one place, is such a fantastic organisational tactic. Simply include a link to your site on your invitations and your social media.
Create a Separate Email Address
If you’ve had the same email address for a long time, you likely use it for everything from work, to online shopping, to newsletter subscriptions. And unless you’re incredibly lucky, you probably receive a decent amount of junk, too. All this means that when you start wedding planning, crucial messages can easily get lost in the flow of your usual mail.
That’s why one of the best ways to stay organised is to create a brand new email address just for wedding planning. Only use this email address for things relevant to your wedding – such as gift registries, communicating with your vendors, and placing orders for stationery and décor.
Not only will this help keep everything together, but it’ll also help you separate wedding planning from the rest of your life. Everyone needs a break every now and then.
Delegate Tasks to Friends and Family
If you’re not using a wedding coordinator, it may be tempting to try and plan your entire wedding yourself. But however much of a perfectionist you are, you shouldn’t try and shoulder the entire burden. Believe me; you will quickly lose the plot if you try to plan an entire wedding without any help.
Your close friends and family will be glad to offer their assistance. Designate specific people to be in charge of certain duties. For example, you might choose one person to be in charge of finding wedding photographers that are available on your chosen date, and within your budget. You might elect someone else to order or make table decorations.
You can still oversee everything, and approve decisions before they’re made. Hold regular meetings to find out how everyone is getting along.
Stick to a Strict Budget
Creating a wedding planning budget might seem like common sense. And it is - but it’s one of the most important organisational tips that you must bear in mind at all times.
It’s very easy to get caught up in finding your dream dress, or venue, or decorations, and end up going over budget. This might not seem like a big deal, but small unplanned splurges can quickly snowball out of control. If you fail to stick to your budget, you can quickly become dis-organised. As you run out of cash, you’ll find you suddenly need to scrap your plans and make new ones.
Before you start booking or purchasing anything, have a strict itemised budget in place. Work out the maximum figure you can dedicate to each expense, and absolutely don’t go over it. Also, keep a cash buffer in place for unexpected expenses that might crop up.
Get All Your Wedding Stationery from One Place
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when wedding planning is using too many different stores, suppliers and vendors for every little thing. There’s no need, for example, to order your save the dates from one site, your wedding invitations from another, and your thank-you cards from yet another.
If you’ve got parcels arriving left, right and centre from a hundred different stores, it’s easy to lose track of things and become dis-organised. To keep things simple, try to get the majority of your stationery, accessories and décor from as few suppliers as possible.
For example, Bride & Groom Direct is a fantastic resource. We sell every piece of stationery you’ll need, from save the dates to thank you cards and everything in between. We also stock miscellaneous accessories such as guest books, decorations, signs, cake toppers and wedding party gifts.
Keep Everything Together
As you get further along on your wedding planning journey, you’ll inevitably begin to amass a lot of ‘stuff’. From the piles of venue catalogues, to fabric samples, buntings, signs, table runners and endless accessories, your house will quickly look like it’s been hit by a wedding-shaped bomb unless you’re careful. And that’s not to mention all of the paperwork you’ll need to keep track of, such as checklists, vendors’ telephone numbers, quotes and invoices.
To stay organised, try to keep everything wedding-related together, in one room. Try to avoid high-traffic areas and rooms that are often frequented by pets, children and visitors to the home. Something like a spare bedroom or a home office works well. Use a filing cabinet and storage bins to keep everything organised, and label everything.
Always Have a Backup Plan
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately, very few weddings ever go 100% according to plan. Chances are, during the wedding planning process, you will be confronted with problems that you may not have envisioned. Whether it’s your first choice photographer being unavailable on your wedding day, your favourite bridesmaid dresses looking worse in person than online, or something costing more than you’d realised.
It’s really important, therefore, to be flexible with your expectations. Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket – in other words, always have a backup strategy. That way, if anything does go wrong, you won’t lose your head.
For example, have a list of backup guests to invite in case you receive too many ‘couldn’t make it’ RSVPs. Organise a pre-wedding hair and makeup trial, in case the artist’s skills aren’t what you’d envisioned. Wherever possible, picture the worst-case scen