Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Step Two: Get Organized!

There are many great websites out there such as Wedding Wire and The Knot to help brides plan their weddings and stay organized. They provide time lines and to-do lists to help you stay on track, a place to create inspiration boards, search for and track vendors, create budgets and much, much more. Both of these sites also offer free personalized websites for your wedding. I utilized both of these sites a lot in planning, however I opted to stay organized a bit differently.

Right after we were engaged and started looking for venues, I put together a "Wedding Binder". That binder quickly became attached to my hip and I did not leave home without it. (Some of my friends even started to know it as my Wedding Bible! - What can I say, I'm a little bit of a control freak, but you just never know when you might need to reference something.) I preferred having a hard copy of everything important that pertained to our wedding on hand so if I needed to access something and didn't have my computer, I had it there at my finger tips.
My Wedding Bible!
I highly recommend putting together something similar for yourself. It's a great way to keep track of all of your vendor contracts, email negotiations, inspiration for dresses, hair, makeup, decor, song ideas, guest lists, budget, "to-dos" and anything else that relates to your big day. Put a copy of your inspiration board right on the front so you can reference it as you go and have it handy when you meet with your vendors.
I also became a big fan of Google Docs during this process. I set up a workbook for "Wedding" with a "Vendor Tracker" spreadsheet that included all of our vendors information with payment schedules, due dates, contact information and any other important notes. (see example below) I then linked that spreadsheet to another called "Budget" which automatically updated anytime we made changes or adjustments to the payment fields. As planning continued, I put our guest list in another spreadsheet and used it to track our guest-count as RSVPs arrived in the mail. Finally, I created one to track all of the gifts that we received and who we received them from. This helped tremendously with writing Thank You cards because we were able to easily reference who gave us what.

Besides our main workbook, I also used Google Docs to house our master copy of our ceremony, schedules, to-do lists for the day and any other documents that needed to be accessed regularly. As we were planning one of our computers almost died which just about gave me a heart attack! We all know that when you're busy, backing up your files is one of the last things that you make time to do, so luckily the most important parts of our wedding were all backed up in "the cloud" and I didn't lose anything when the computer crashed. It also made it so that if I needed to work on or reference something I could do it from anywhere, not just my home computer.

I printed out the "Wedding Checklist" from The Knot and kept a copy of that in my binder to reference every couple of weeks. This was a great tool to help me ensure that I was not missing any important steps along the way.

The point is, it may seem like a lot to put together at first, but taking the time to get organized in the beginning will be totally worth it in the end. What you hear about the last couple of weeks before the wedding being insane is pretty much true, but your sanity can be salvaged by staying organized!

Happy planning!

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