photo by Roy Nuesca Photography
The wedding planning season of your life is such a special time, filled with excitement, anticipation, and an outpouring of love from friends and family. Because this particular season of life is so special and, for most people, fleeting, it’s important to have a plan so you can fully enjoy every single moment. No two wedding planning seasons will look or feel the same for any two couples, but we do have some tried and true tips for getting the most out of your wedding planning season. These will help get you started, keep you focused, and make sure you don’t miss a beat while you’re creating planning the wedding of your dreams!
photo by The Shepards Photo
This is probably a no-brainer, but it’s worth reiterating! After you’ve taken in the rush of getting engaged and shared the news with all your friends and family, you and your fiancé should start talking about ideas as soon as possible. Just jump right in — the water is fun! We suggest starting with the wedding budget, creating a draft of your wedding guest list, and collecting pieces for your mood board. Getting these foundational decisions out of the way will not only help you breathe easier sooner but will set you up for success in when making the bigger decisions, like finding your dream venue!
Write out your timeline
We’ve created this 12-month wedding planning timeline and this 10-month wedding planning timeline for you to use as a guide, but there is something to be said about writing down your exact timeline. Grab a piece of paper and pretty pens or markers or make a spreadsheet on your computer and write out the months, weeks, or specific days you want to plan specific parts of your wedding. Whichever method you choose, be sure to keep it in sight throughout the process so you constantly see it. With so many details that need to be taken care of, it’s easy to get behind schedule or get off track. So, having a concrete timeline you can look at every single day is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
photo by Kristen Marie Parker
Hire a wedding planner
Of all the pieces of wedding planning advice we’ve heard from couples over the years, the most common one is, without a doubt, to hire a planner! We’re not saying couples can’t do it on their own — we’ve seen many beautiful weddings that were planned entirely by the bride and/or groom. But even a lot of those go-getter couples mentioned they wished they’d had a planner for at least part of the wedding planning process to help select vendors, help with their budget, and to bounce ideas off of. There are so many different types of wedding planners, so start by figuring out what type of wedding planner is best for you, and then book one early. If you’re going to hire a full-service wedding planner, we recommend booking them before you make any big decisions so they can give their input and save you time in the long-run!
Create an organizational system (and stick to it!)
This one is huge and, we think, highly underrated! You’re going to be getting quotes from vendors, making and re-making guest lists and seating charts, spending money left and right — so it’s crucial to have an organizational system that you can stick to. Each system will look a little different for each couple, but we promise you won’t regret spending a little extra time in the beginning figuring out how you’ll organize all those receipts and contracts. That could mean simply creating a folder on your computer where you save everything and creating a spreadsheet to track all the money. If you prefer to keep paper copies, get yourself a cute wedding planning binder from Etsy and keep everything there.
photo by The Times We Have
Schedule wedding planning date nights
Wedding planning doesn’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — stressful all the time! This is a time for you and your partner to plan a celebration of your love, which is super romantic and super fun! If you find yourselves starting to get stressed or bicker more than usual, take a step back and turn wedding planning nights into actual date nights. You can set this up at home by making a nice dinner and opening a bottle of wine before you settle into planning mode, or you can take your supplies to a local coffee shop on a Sunday morning and hash out details over brunch. If you take the negative mindset out of the picture, the wedding planning process is quite fun and exciting, and that’s something you two should actively enjoy together!
Focus on the things you both love
Speaking of actively enjoying this process together, one of the best ways to do that is to focus on the things you both love. There are so many wedding traditions and expectations surrounding weddings that it’s easy to feel like you’re planning things because “that’s the way it’s done.” But, we challenge you to not settle for that! In fact, we encourage all couples to rethink wedding traditions that don’t sit right with them and, instead, focus on things they actually care about. Maybe that’s writing your own ceremony or planning a killer cocktail hour. Make sure to have those honest conversations early and check in often to make sure you’re both aligned on what you care most about. We promise this will make wedding planning more enjoyable and you’ll find yourselves wanting to make decisions rather than dreading them.
photo by Fox & Kin
Set a hard stop at least 1 week before your wedding
You’ve spent months and months planning (and stressing), so you deserve time before the big day to properly de-stress, pamper yourself, and enjoy the final days of being engaged. This is the time to circle back with all your vendors, prepare the checks for someone (not you) to hand out on the day-of and give your final guest list to the caterers. Don’t leave any major decisions or big DIY projects to the last minute. We promise you won’t regret taking this time to pack for your honeymoon, schedule a spa day, plan a night out with your friends, enjoy a final engagement date night, and simply take a few days to breathe before the big event! Also, when you have a hard stop date, you have more incentive to stick to your schedule and make decisions.
Make a hand-off plan
When it comes time to hand off wedding day duties to your planner, coordinator, or a trusted friend, you’ll want to be sure everything is organized and easy for someone not inside your head to understand. Print out a copy of the wedding day timeline, a list of all the vendors’ contact information, an emergency contact (not you) in case something doesn’t go to plan, and the envelopes with vendor tips. Organize it all into a binder, schedule a time to walk through everything you’ve put in the binder and answer any questions your planner/friend might have, and then let them handle everything from there.
photo by Stacie Carr Photography
Ask your friends and family for help
One of the best stress-reducing wedding planning tips is to delegate, delegate, delegate! Your tribe wants you to have the best wedding day and they want to be a part of making that dream a reality. You don’t need to do this alone, so ask for help often! Do you have a friend who is a master at graphic design? Ask if they want to help design the wedding invitations. Does your dad have a knack for woodworking? Perhaps he can build a custom ceremony backdrop or reception installation you won’t be able to find anywhere else. If you’re still not sure how to get other people involved in your wedding planning — or how to ask them — here are some helpful tips for how and what to delegate to friends and family!
Take Some Days Off
While this might sound counter-intuitive to “making the most of your time,” hear us out: Wedding planning burn-out is a thing, and it’s so much harder to recover from a burn-out than to prevent it in the first place. You don’t need to be wedding planning every single day for 12 months — or 10 months or even 6 months. That’s not healthy for your stress levels or for your relationships. Set aside a day or two every week when you don’t do anything wedding-related. On those off days, prioritize spending time with friends and family, doing on a non-planning date night with your fiancé, or simply binge-watching your favorite show. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint! Give yourself time each week to rest and recharge so you can hit it hard on the days you’ve designated for wedding planning.
We hope these tips help you feel more confident and ready to enjoy every minute of your wedding planning season! And be sure to check out our 8 tips for feeling your best on your wedding day so you’re prepared when the wedding day rolls around!