With only a couple months to go before my big day, I’ve learned a lot about planning a wedding since Canada Day 2014 (i.e. the day Colby and I got engaged). Being organized will help you focus on the day instead of stressing about things going less than perfect. Here are 10 tips for wedding planning (and how I learned these lessons).
1. Get yourself a wedding binder.
I found my binder especially helpful for scheduling things, writing down ideas and keeping track of our budget. Check out my how-to for making your own wedding organizer!
2. If you are considering DIY anything, decide as early as you can and get to work.
I made all my centrepiece bouquets from paper. I started making these soon after becoming engaged almost a year ago. I just finished them last month! And we’re only having nine tables at the reception. I also made my own table garland, cupcake topper, ceremony aisle decor, mad libs game, bridal bouquet, tinted bouquet jars, hacky sacks, a game board and doodle books for the tables. I still have to make a few minor items but I’m honestly getting exhausted at this point. I love the things I’ve made in the past year… but I’d really like to get back to novel writing at some point.
2½. When making stuff, a glue gun will be your best friend. Until you burn your f***ing finger real bad. Then it will not be your friend so much.
I burned my finger semi-bad once and REALLY bad once. My best advice is to get the glue off your skin as soon as possible, even if that means dragging it along the edge of a desk or something.
3. Decide on wedding guest guidelines early and stick to them.
This is practical for keeping guests content as well as watching your budget. We decided that only family members could bring children and only adults could bring dates. Just stay consistent with this rule, just in case a friend or a family member gets hurt feelings.
4. Lists. <3
Aren’t lists the best? I have two running lists of wedding tasks I have to do before the big day: “Things to Buy” and “Things to Do.” Pen and paper works just as well, but I always have my phone on me so my lists are always with me. An app that lets you arrange tasks by due date or importance is extra helpful.
5. Pinterest responsibly.
I will admit it: a lot of my wedding decor and activities were inspired by things I’ve seen on Pinterest. Lawn games? I would never have even thought of that if I hadn’t seen it on Pinterest. Pinterest can be a bride’s saving grace… or it can be a curse. The weddings on Pinterest are a thing of beauty, class and perfection. Keep in mind, a wedding that is 100% flawless does not exist. Take inspiration from Pinterest but don’t try to duplicate what you’re seeing on the website. Make the day your own, not just a recreation of a photo fantasy.
5½. If you find you’re collecting a lot of wedding pins, do your followers a favor: make those boards secret.
I have a Hair & Makeup board. I have a Wedding Decor board. I have a Wedding Plans board. They’re all secret boards now but they weren’t originally. Sorry, followers. My bad.
6. Find out when your venue needs the final headcount. Make your RSVPs due 2-3 weeks prior to this date.
What is it with people and not wanting to return RSVPs? I’m glad I gave myself a few weeks prior to deadline to chase my guests to find out if they’re coming or not. I thought by making my RSVP thing an online form that people would respond right away. Nope. (Sorry, friends and family. I’m just telling it like it is.)
7. Weddings are a tradition. Your wedding doesn’t have to be a traditional tradition.
Do you know how many times I’ve heard “But you have to…” during the wedding planning process? We’re not having a head table. (“But you have to have a head table.” “No, we don’t.”) We’re not having a guestbook. (“But you have to have a guestbook!” “No, we don’t.”) In fact:
- I’m not throwing a bouquet
- Colby is not tossing the garter (that sounds truly horrifying for both of us)
- I’m keeping my maiden name
- We opted to go without a best man and bridesmaids
- Colby is probably going to see me before the ceremony (we haven’t confirmed this yet)
- We’re paying for the wedding instead of my parents
- I’m walking down the aisle with Colby at my side (We’re going for more of a “We’re in this together.” sort of symbolism.)
Just because there are wedding traditions, doesn’t mean you have to do them if they a) make you uncomfortable, b) are not really your style or c) are not as good as the idea you come up with to replace it. This is your day.
8. Don’t feel guilty about stuff you want to do on your wedding day.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve prided myself on being original. When I began thinking about planning my future wedding (as a teen, probably), I knew I wanted a candy buffet. And then my brother and sister-in-law had a candy buffet at their wedding. I actually considered not having one because people might think I was copying them and copying people is the worst. But then I realized that that is not what my guests will be saying when they see the candy buffet. No, they will be all, “OMG CANDY BUFFET BEST WEDDING EVER. #WINNING”
I also want to go swimming on my wedding day after the guests have left. We’ll see. ;P
9. When budgeting, just remember that nothing wedding-related is cheap. NOTHING.
And I do mean NOTHING. I tested this theory on Etsy. Items labelled as “wedding” or “bridal” were at least double the price for the exact same item. It’s insane. Even for small things, you are better off looking for them in party supplies than in the wedding aisle. (We had a hard time finding scoops for the candy bouquet and spent a stupid amount of money on them. Ugh.) Ebay has some good deals, just watch the shipping costs.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This is probably the most important one, and I am still struggling with it. Of course, I’ve always struggled with asking for help. I’ve always been a big believer in “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” But as the special day gets closer and closer, I’m finding that letting family members help hasn’t just helped me, but makes them feel more involved in creating something special.
Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a hoarder of podcasts and a history enthusiast. Learn more.