Today marks the first post of my DIY Wedding Series, a topic near and dear to my heart. My hope is that my experiences help you in some small way as you navigate through wedding planning. With that in mind, I couldn’t think of a better place to start than laying the groundwork for your big day. *NOTE* I recommend enjoying engagement for a few days or a week before you even begin to consider these things–start off with the mentality “enjoy the process” and don’t let it eat your nerves alive.
I’m going to be brutally honest. About a month before you get to say, “I do,” you’ll start wishing that you never have to think through or decide on another detail again. For that reason, it may be tempting to jump right into the fun stuff but without making these essential decisions you won’t have any place for those fun things to go. However, it’s hard to know where to begin. Especially if you’re trying to be budget friendly and doing mostly everything yourself. So sit down with me, take a breath, grab a cup o’ Joe, and let’s walk through this together.
First things first, go out and buy yourself a big, beautiful PLANNER.
When it comes to details and organizing I know that not everyone is an “OCD organizing freak of nature” like myself. That’s not a bad thing. Everyone has their own opinions on how much organization is needed, some of us need to plan every detail while others would rather someone else make the plans. There is no wrong or right way to be. But there are times in life when we all need to be a little organized, and that time, my friend, is now.
Before anything else, go out to your local Target or online to Amazon and buy yourself a pretty planner that you like to look at. Because you’ll be looking at it a lot! Trust me, it will hold all of your thoughts when your brain turns to mush and it’ll start to go everywhere that you go. I know a good planner when I see one and I love these options:
“The Daily Hustle blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that allows me to share the products that I love while earning commission through referral by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
In this instance, you can’t beat this gorgeous Kate Spade wedding planner. Complete with tips, timelines, budget guides, and all those other little details that you won’t find in a standard planner. It helps to consolidate your thoughts and keep them in one place.
If you know what you need wedding wise and just need a place to jot down dates and thoughts, I recommend this classic Rifle Paper organizer:
Or maybe you’re trying to keep it low maintenance and want something on the smaller or more simplistic side:
But what would wedding planning be without washi tape and stickers! If you’re a creative planner, you’ll appreciate these:
I know it may seem like an extra expense when you’re already spending bookoo bucks, but it’s so worth it. You’d be surprised what you might forget from one day to the next–so make sure you have something to consolidate it all, you won’t be sorry.
Next thing, print off a WEDDING CHECKLIST by month.
TheKnot.com is perfect for this!
Granted, you won’t need everything that they list and your timing might be varied, for those of us who get hitched in under a year. But for the most part, the list gives you an idea of what you should be doing and when. It’s handy, because there will be so much information crammed into your noggin that you can’t remember every little thing.
Also, you should probably accept the fact that not everything will get done or be the way that you want it when it’s all said and done. That’s OK! Unless you’re superwoman, you can’t do it all–don’t try to kill yourself over it. With that said, give yourself plenty of time to accomplish what you want to get done. Assume that DIY’s will take 3x’s longer than planned, that you might have to redo a thing or two, or you might not find something that you need that fits your budget. So start early with what you can–not everything can be done early, but most DIY’s, invites, and wedding party things can be. Start early so that you’re not stressing about it later when you’ll have other, time sensitive things on your mind.
To top it off, theKnot’s services are free. You can even opt to do most of your planning through this website with it’s inspiration boards, online checklist, popular website listings, make a free wedding site for your guests, and 360 universal registry capacity. I personally didn’t bother with everything that they offered but it’s free and professional so take advantage.
Set up a PINTEREST board.
I utilized the crap out of Pinterest and not just because I love it so much. It was the place that I dreamed up a vision for our wedding and corralled all of the helpful links into one spot. I was able to share that same board with my photographer, planner, florist, and bridesmaids so that they could better understand what I was hoping for. I’m going to set you up with my slew of Pinterest wedding boards, it’s where I kept all of the helpful tips and printables.
Now you’ve got to pick a DATE & TIME.
This will determine how long you have to prepare, which venue may be available, the season you’ll decorate with, and how many guests may be able to come. Now this may seem daunting but it’s actually simple if you can make the tough calls and prioritize effectively.
A fairly popular, budget friendly trend is to host your wedding on a non-typical day of the week. Friday evenings or Sunday mornings as opposed to the ever popular Saturday. The huge benefit is that venues are more available and less expensive–meaning your dream venue might actually be a possibility. The not so beneficial side is that people become less available, especially on Friday nights when they might have to get out of work due to travel. I’m not saying that you have to exclusively choose one over the other or if you decide on Friday night that you must hate people. But you do have to know that you may not be able to have the best of everything. Here are a few principals that may help you in your decision:
- Understand that no matter what date or time you choose, there will always be someone who can’t make it whether the reason is travel or timing. The people who really want to be there will do their best to make it work (and no, it doesn’t mean they don’t care if they can’t come). Just do your part to be reasonable and give them enough time to make plans. If it’s during a busy time of the year, send out “Save the Dates” six months in advance. When you pick your time, remember that people (and kids) will have to travel there and back–give ample time for them to do so. You can’t make it work for everyone but you can still be considerate.
- Know that there will always be potential obstacles to deal with but it’s all doable. You can definitely have an outdoor summer wedding, but prepare a plan B just in case it rains. Your favorite flowers may not be in season, but you can appreciate the positives of whatever season you chose and amplify those beautiful aspects. The list goes on and on. Weddings are a lot to plan and there will always be something unexpected that pops up, but that means you can get creative and make it uniquely your own.
I had originally planned to have a spring themed, May wedding. For a few different reasons, including what worked best for us logically, we pushed the wedding back to August. I knew that a lot of people vacation in late summer, that thunderstorms & heat could interfere with an outdoor setting, and that I didn’t want to wait any longer than six months. But in the end, it was the best move for us personally. Because of the venue that I chose, timing didn’t effect my cost and it was important to me that the wedding didn’t inconvenience our guests. With that priority in mind, I chose to have a Saturday evening wedding after dinner time. They wouldn’t have to worry about spending an entire day at our wedding when they are juggling weekend plans and being that it was dessert only, would be able to eat first. And you know what, it all worked out beautifully. Be open to the possibilities and do what works best for you.
Finally, it’s time to decide on your BUDGET.
Grab a notebook (or Excel sheet or wedding app) along with some coffee and let’s make a budget plan. This is huge for DIY, budget friendly weddings–don’t skip it. Talk it over, crunch your numbers and decide on the grand total that you have to abide by. Then you MUST prioritize where you want your money to go so that you avoid frivolous spending or end up spending too much money on one thing and not enough left for what really matters to you.
For me, it looked like this:
- Wedding dress
- Wedding Party Gifts
- Hired Companies (food, DJ, planner, musicians, etcetera)
- Invitations/Save the Dates
- Miscellaneous Expenses
Don’t underestimate the variety and cost of miscellaneous expenses–anything with the wedding tag on it is extra. Make sure to account for spots in the budget for rentals, thank you gifts, and beauty supplies (the little things we forget about until later).
I will say that with the budget friendly mentality, the majority of the remaining money was spent on the materials to make our decorations, favors, etc. When it comes to that, the greater cost is your time. Therefore, you must also figure what is really worth your time or what you should splurge on to have things done for you in exchange for your sanity. You can see all of the tough decisions over time frame and budget. In the end, talk to your close family and friends for advice and help but ultimately trust your gut decisions because it’s your wedding day and you know what you want the outcome to be.
One last word on planning, even with the grueling details–HAVE FUN!
Invite your bestie over and do this together over dessert and laughs. Go out for breakfast with your parents when deciding budget. Take an afternoon to walk around and “shop” for ideas. Don’t stress yourself out by polling for too many opinions. When it comes to decision making, involve only the people who are nearest and dearest–the people who know you and will steer you in the right direction. Do what feels right for you. Enjoy this time, because it’ll be over before you know it…and yes, this is coming from a bride that did all of this just last year.
Make sure to check back next Monday where we’ll actually get into the fun stuff like theme, colors, and venue.