We went to this beautiful wedding at Atwood Ranch in Sonoma on Saturday and spent much of the night talking to a newly engaged friend. She was already stressed about planning the wedding, and it had only been a few weeks since the engagement! I flashed back to when googling “wedding planning” spit out millions of to-do lists and timelines, and I freaked – where to start? I ended the night promising to send her a list of everything we did in the first few months to minimize our wedding stress. Promise, delivered! My top tips for you too, here…
- Open a wedding-only email account: You are going to get more emails than you ever thought humanly possible (and a lot of spam). Create a new wedding-related account that both you and your fiancé (or anyone else who needs it) can access.
- Open a wedding-only credit card: Paying for your own wedding? You’ll need to stay on budget. The best way to track your spending, besides a tried-and-true spreadsheet, is a wedding-only credit card. My husband and I had not combined finances yet, and we found this the easiest way to manage the “who-pays-what” dilemma. We opened a new card in both our names, and when the bill came, we split it down the middle, each making a payment from our own account. Find a card that gives you maximum rewards based on your preferences. We opened a Chase Sapphire, for its excellent travel rewards, and after the wedding, had over $3,000 in points to put towards our honeymoon travel. Note: Some vendors won’t accept credit card, so be prepared to open that check book.
- Make a lookbook: Do you have a very specific vision? All white, rustic venue, overhead twinkling lights, etc? Make a lookbook to share with vendors or family/friends that are helping you plan. In the first month, I made a 10 page powerpoint with pictures of my ideal wedding, and then I never had to explain it again. You can make a wedding page on Pinterest too, but I found powerpoint was easier to share. (If you’re interested, our wedding deets here.) Potential pages to include:
- Wedding/Bridesmaid dresses
- Groom/Groomsmen looks
- Venue “vibes”
- Get a wedding planner (or day of coordinator): The VERY BEST THING we ever did was hire a wedding planner. This person will keep you on track with to-dos month-over-moth, manage the budget, plus recommend, negotiate and secure vendors (no contracts for you to manage!). If you get a good one, they will pay for themselves in negotiation alone. Look for someone who has been working for a while in the location of your choice, they’ll have the best recommendations and contacts (and through those relationships, get the best deals!) Don’t want someone for the entire planning cycle? Book a day-of coordinator, and let them track down Aunt Mildred for pictures, or make sure the groom gets to the church on time. Stress = GONE.
- Pick 2 things matter MOST to you, and focus on booking those first (your fiancé should do the same): I cared about the hair/makeup, the photographer and food. My husband was obsessed with an open bar and the DJ. Immediately after we booked our venue, we buckled down and secured those top to-dos within weeks. The result? The things we cared most about were taken care of first, so we could relax and take a bit more time on everything else.
- BONUS (DAY OFF) Let it go: The big day is finally here! The good news? Everything is done, and if it’s not, it’s too late now. So, RELAX, and pull an Elsa: let it go. No one is going to remember that you ran 30 minutes behind schedule, or that the DJ played a song you told him not to. You can’t control that is started raining, so why waste your precious energy on fretting about it? Just get dressed, eat a snack and marry the man of your dreams, it’s really that easy!