Do-It-Yourself Wedding Planning
Advice on how to make it work without stretching yourself too thin
In 2011, my husband and I planned every detail of our wedding all by ourselves. We even made our own invitations and I made my own shoes! While it was one of the best days of our lives and the best party we'll ever go to, part of me is happy that it's over. DIY wedding planning takes a lot of energy and leaves you with a fair amount of stress. If you and your spouse-to-be can make it through this-- YOU CAN MAKE IT THROUGH ANYTHING!! I'll share with you some ways to keep it together and be successful. Congratulations and good luck!
Have a Plan
And for every plan have a back up plan. Be sure to have alternate places or items just in case something falls through. Planning is stressful enough, but planning for the unknown can help alleviate unnecessary stress. No one needs a panic attack minutes before the wedding. This goes hand in hand with making lists. For example-- Make a list of wedding shots that are a high priority and put one in your wedding binder and send another to the photographer. This way, if you have time, you can do extra shots, but should something come up, you know the high priority ones should be out of the way. Make sure that your maid of honor or mom (or anyone you choose) is pretty familiar with your back up plans or at least where to find them in the book so that they can do their job should you be unavailable during an issue.
- A wedding planning binder
A wedding planner is organized. If anything in The Wedding Planner was accurate, I'd like to think it was Jennifer Lopez's organizational skills. And since you're doing this without a wedding planner, you've got to stay organized. Besides, what's the point of having a plan if you can't stay organized? Get a binder-- either one specifically for planning your wedding or a plain one of your choosing and use it. Keep everything in it and keep it on you at all times. This might sound dramatic, but it's not. You're going to need info in there and you'll need it at the weirdest or most inconvenient moments-- so be prepared.What kinds of stuff should you have in this folder? Business cards, contact info, copies of contracts, pictures, samples of colors or materials, wedding invitations. When I say everything, I mean everything. My wedding planning binder was thick and I kept it in a bag that was about the same size so I had some comfy handles to carry it around with.
If you don't already have a Pinterest account, it's time to sign up. I didn't jump on the Pinterest train until after I was married, but the amazing power of Pinterest and all that it was to offer can really help you in your wedding planning. Once a member (it's free), Pinterest allows you to save items to boards that you make (think of them like folders). You can make a board called "wedding cakes" and save all of your favorites to that board. This tool can definitely help you see what's out there and hot, while also allowing you to tuck it away in an organized fashion. You can also sign in to your pinterest account on a different computer as long as you have an internet connection. This makes your saved searches portable and enables you to be organized wherever you go.
Asking for and Accepting Help
Planning a wedding is a lot of work but don't try to do everything on your own. Make sure your spouse-to-be does his or her fair share of helping in whatever way you're both happy with. My husband was a huge help-- probably more active and helpful in the planning process than most husbands are and I consider myself very lucky and thankful. If your fiance is too tied up with work during business hours (which is when you're usually doing the brunt of the wedding errands) don't do it all alone. There are plenty of people who can help here and there and they're probably just dying to offer or be asked.
I was blessed to have friends help out with invitations or shopping. If you've got a crazy day that is jam packed with back to back wedding errands, ask a friend to drive you around town. You'll be more relaxed and productive if you don't have to stress out behind the wheel. Driving yourself around may not feel like a chore, but trust me, when you're down to your final weeks before your wedding it's a luxury you will appreciate.
Like any good boss, and you are the BOSS, you've gotta delegate. Figure out which tasks people can help you with so you don't unnecessarily overwhelm yourself. Make a list of a few items that you refuse to let people help you with because you're a control freak (I am too!), and let the rest go. Believe it or not, people will love to help you. Many of our friends offered far beyond what I ever imagined. People love to help plan a wedding, especially when it isn't their own. Many of my girlfriends would blow up my phone with texts just to offer to take me shopping because everyone loves weddings! Well, almost everyone. :)
Meeting with Vendors
Do a fair share of shopping around. Since you're not a pro or in the business, you don't have the luxury of knowing who's who or who has the best deals. We went to five or more florists before picking one that represented themselves and their products in a way we liked and we felt that we were giving our money to a professional who was going to deliver amazing flowers on our wedding day.
Make a list of questions to ask before meeting with a vendor. Make sure all of your questions are answered. For example: ask your florist if all of the flowers you like will be in season and available for the date of you wedding.
Checking out Venues
Take your spouse or a friend and a camera with you when checking out venues. Don't rely on pictures from their business website. You might be in such a frazzled haze of errands that you may not notice things you dislike about a venue when you're actually there. Look at your pictures when you get home and ask a friend or family member to review them with you. You might notice unsightly issues that need to be addressed prior to signing a contract or paying a deposit. In my experience, I wouldn't have chosen the outdoor garden that my husband found online (and where we ultimately got married) based on their business website photos. The garden was much more beautiful than their website showed and if I didn't take pictures, I wouldn't have very good pictures for reference when trying to plan wedding photo shots etc.
Marriage thrives on compromise, so it makes sense that the wedding planning is a perfect learning experience. This is probably why pampered princesses become Bridezillas-- because they have never had to compromise anything, ever! My husband and I were together for 8 years and lived together 3 of those years before planning a wedding and getting married. We had our fair share of compromises, but we're still not experts. Be prepared that somewhere, a midst the planning of your perfect day, you may have to compromise. You'll feel little to no pain if you have made and plan and stayed organized. A backup plan is essentially a compromise and having it on a tangible list makes it a little easier to get used to, especially when your perfect plan hits some potholes. There are things we can't predict (weather, illness, screaming babies, etc). Compromise like a pro. You don't want everyone to remember how you flipped out over tableclothes instead of remembering how beautiful your dress was. Just an example, but you get the idea.
Check out more helpful articles in my wedding series:
- Planning an Inexpensive Wedding
- Do-It-Yourself Wedding Planning
- The Guestbook: Do I Have to Have a Guest Book at My Wedding?
- Using Peacocks and Peacock Feathers in your Wedding Motif and Theme (with pictures)
- Valentine Wedding Ideas
- DIY Martha Stewart Glitter Shoes & Heels
- How to Set up a Candy Buffet Bar at your Wedding- a table of sweet treats for your special guests with pictures
- How to Create Unique Wedding Invitations
- A Disneyland (or Disney World) Honeymoon: advantages for Bride & Groom