Monday, November 8, 2010

Staying Organized While Planning a Wedding

As many of you may recall, last month I posted about my wedding planning website to help my wedding party keep track of various ideas that I have and the vendors that I have booked. Now it's time to discuss what I do at home to keep the bride (me!) organized.

Wedding planning can be a hectic time, and there is nothing more stressful than needing a phone number or a copy of a vendor contract and not having it readily available. Or, for that matter, trying to explain the exact shade of your wedding colors. For all these little things, I created a wedding binder.

It is possible to purchase a pre-made wedding organizer for $40 or so at most bookstores, I personally found this to be a waste of money. Yes, the pre-made wedding organizers offer plenty of helpful tips, but these tips can also be found online for free through various websites such as The KnotGet Married, and various other sites. I have an account with The Knot and it has a customizable checklist that I can access from my phone, a guest list manager that is connected to my guest website, a budgeter, and a seating arrangement designer; and those are the toys I have found so far! I digress, as I was saying, yes wedding organizers have helpful tips, but these tips are readily available elsewhere. Another thing I did not like about the pre-made organizers is that they are not customizable to your specific needs. Every wedding is different, so why pay for something else that has sections you will not use and is missing sections you need?

I created my binder this past summer. I took advantage of the Back-to-School sales and made the whole thing for just under $10. Although, I admit that I am quickly outgrowing this binder and will likely be replacing it in the next couple of months.

My shopping list:

  • Binder (look for a 3", 1 1/2" is too small)
  • Pencil Case designed to go in a binder
  • Set of Dividers (I'll be buying a second set shortly)
  • Clear Page Protectors
  • Notebook Paper
  • Pen
  • Post-It Notes
  • Pocket Planner/Calendar
  • Small Calculator
I'm not going to give step-by-step instructions on assembling a binder, it's really quite self-explanatory. I use my pencil case to house my pen, pocket planner, post-it notes, calculator, paint chips in my wedding colors, and business cards for all my vendors. The front pocket of my binder contains coupons and post cards from local bridal shows, the back pocket contains honeymoon information. My dividers are currently labeled: Attire, Ceremony, Reception, Flowers, Catering, Music, Photography, and Stationary. I keep copies of every contract, as well as receipts from all payments. I also keep brochures for vendors that I haven't booked yet and any other paper that has anything to do with the above categories; such as pictures of everyone's attire and a copy of our wedding ceremony. My stationary section contains mock-ups of my programs, invitations, and save-the-date cards, as well as some free samples that I ordered from an invitation catalog. I also have notebook paper in each section to jot down notes when I talk with a vendor, or to write down shopping lists, etc. When I upgrade to a larger binder, I am also planning to purchase another set of dividers so that I can have a section for the honeymoon, guest accommodations (room blocks), the guest list, the budget, and wedding party contact info. Like I mentioned before, the joy of making your own organizer is that you can continually improve it to better fit your needs. 

Whenever I meet with a vendor, my binder comes with me. I like having the ability to show versus tell. For example, rather than describing the shade of purple or green I am looking for, I simply show the paint chips. I can also show the florist what my cake looks like, give my reception coordinator the phone number to my DJ, etc. As far as wedding planning goes, my binder is my brain. 

I also have a digital planning binder on my computer. In my documents folder, I created a folder called "wedding planning" where I keep all the templates for stationary that I've made, inspiration pictures, and anything else that I find and want to save. I also set up a wedding folder in my e-mail where I save every message that I have received from my vendors. 

Finally, I have all of my DIY projects packed away in a plastic bin that is stored in a back bedroom to protect them until my wedding. I fully intend on taking a picture of my wedding pile, but I want to wait until it gets really out of control first. Or maybe I'll start doing monthly pictures so I can watch it grow over the next 10 months... we'll see. 

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