Planning your wedding will be an incredibly exciting experience. It could also be time-consuming and stressful, depending on your approach. Talk to any former bride, and she’ll have plenty of wisdom and best practices to share, but you’ll quickly start to hear lots of conflicting tips based on each bride’s own experiences:
“Keep it simple.” / “Make it glamorous.”
“Get a wedding planner.” / “Do it all yourself.”
“Splurge on the venue.” / “Splurge on the honeymoon.”
While your wedding will ultimately be completely unique, and a reflection of what makes your relationship special, there are some key wedding planning tips that all former brides agree on. We’ve compiled the list of the seven things every bride must do when planning her wedding. Beyond these seven tips, as long as you’re happy, you can’t get it wrong.
1. Create a Wedding Binder.
Even in today’s digital-first world, you’ll want to maintain a physical binder of your wedding details. As you meet with possible vendors you’ll receive brochures, business cards, flyers, and samples, and you’ll need a place to store them. Create tabs for each vendor category, such as photography, venue, flowers, stationer, etc. for quick reference. Include a list of important phone numbers and a copy of your line-itemed budget, so as you’re meeting with vendors and making decisions, you can always quickly reference your bottom line.
Your financials aren’t the only aspect of your wedding you’ll need to budget. Create a timeline for your wedding planning and preparations with key milestones, such as choosing a date, picking a venue, choosing your dress, and finalizing your guest list. Be as detailed as you can, and work hard to stay on track. The last thing any stressed bride needs is to spend the week before her wedding finalizing last minute details that could have been completed weeks prior.
3. Edit Your List, then Edit It Again.
When you wed the love of your life, you want everyone who matters to you to be there. However, if you’re not careful you can quickly and easily create a list your budget can’t sustain as you start trying to name everyone possible person you’d like to be at your wedding. Work with your partner to set some ground rules that will apply to both sides of the aisle, and that will help you keep your budget in check. Will you both be inviting co-workers? Kids? First and second cousins, or just immediate family?
4. Let Your Wedding Invites Set the Stage.
Your wedding invitations will be the first preview of your wedding event your guests will receive. Work with your stationer to decide on a theme and color scheme for your wedding if you don’t already have one in mind. Whether you go vintage, rustic, traditional, or modern, make sure every other decision you make, from flowers to favors, follows suit.
5. Book Room Blocks at a Variety of Hotels.
One of the biggest factors your out-of-town guests will take into consideration when deciding whether or not they will travel to your wedding, is whether or not they can afford the trip. To accommodate a variety of guest travel budgets, offer more than one conveniently-located hotel option where you’ve reserved room blocks. By offering rooms with a variety of price-points, your out-of-town guests will be more likely to RSVP “Attending with Guest.”
6. Put Your Bridesmaids to Work.
Remember that the role of the bridesmaid is about more than the bachelorette party and group photos. Ask each bridesmaid to help with one or two specific tasks on the day of your wedding. Ask one to be responsible for handing out centerpieces at the end of the night. Ask another to distribute the tips to all of your vendors, and ask a third to make sure the gifts and cards get put into your car and taken home at the end of the night. Your bridesmaids will be glad to help, and distributing important tasks will alleviate some of the burden on you and your husband on the day of the big event.
7. Get it in Writing.
Make sure you obtain detailed contracts from all your vendors. Don’t sign anything until you’ve read each contract, in detail, including the fine print, and are sure you can live with the terms. If any changes need to be made before the wedding, make sure to get those changes in writing too, so that there are no surprises when you’re handed your final invoice.
Remember, your wedding will be a once in a lifetime event, but more importantly, it’s a celebration of everything you love about your partner, and your commitment to spending the rest of your lives together. By keeping that fact in the forefront of your mind, and following these seven tips, your wedding will be everything you’ve ever dreamed it could be.