As I’m sure you saw on my Instagram stories, Adam and I spent this past weekend in Charlottesville planning our wedding. From rehearsal dinner tastings to hair and makeup to flowers, we walked through every single aspect of the weekend.
You may be wondering how we’re still working on wedding planning when the big day is just 2 months out. Well, we booked most of our vendors when we got engaged last fall and, of course, I’ve spent some time over the past year thinking through my vision, but most of the planning actually happens in those last few months – particularly when you’re doing a wedding in a popular wedding market. But, that’s not what we’re here to discuss today. I want to talk to y’all about the reality of planning your own wedding.
IS PLANNING YOUR OWN WEDDING POSSIBLE?
You’ll hear again and again that planning a wedding is a full-time job, that you absolutely need to hire a planner, that it’s too big a venture to take on by yourself. And, sure, if you have a large wedding budget, go for it. Hire a planner. The experts will take your vision and make it come alive.
That wasn’t the reality for us. We are planning a wedding on a small budget and hiring a planner was absolutely not in the cards for us. I couldn’t afford to spend a third or more of our entire budget on paying a wedding planner. So, I was left to figure out the planning on my own.
And you know what? It’s totally doable. Of course it helps to be Type A whenever you’re planning a detailed event, but this isn’t rocket science. It’s a one day (or, okay, one weekend!) event over the course of a lifetime. Yes, you’ll hear that it’s the biggest, most important day of your life. But, it’s one day. One event. If you’re organized, decisive, and have a clear idea of what you want – or at least which vendors will get you to what you want – then you’ve got this. You’ll only be stressed if you make yourself stressed.
PREPARE AND RESEARCH
Last fall, I did a post about how essential a wedding Pinterest board is, and I still stand by that. It’s so important to see patterns emerge as you pin images of weddings you love and it’s a must whether you’re planning your own wedding or hiring a planner. You need to know what you love and how you envision your day.
So, the first step in planning your own wedding is pinning. Pin images of venues, flowers, hair styles, dresses, details. Pin it all. Start to narrow down similar images and explore the possibilities for your own wedding. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can begin to research vendors in your area. The feel of your wedding determines the vendors you’ll use. Different photographers have different vibes, as do florists, hair stylists, and musicians.
Equally important to figuring out the look you want? Nailing down your budget. Nothing can happen without a budget. And the last thing you want is to plan the wedding of your dreams…and find out you can’t afford it. Set that budget early – and stick to it.
Research other’s experience’s with planning their own wedding, but don’t go overboard. It’s so easy to find amazing resources online from women that have planned their own wedding – and it’s equally easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole of wedding forums. So, read their advice, take to heart what works for you, and don’t spend hours on page 15 of a WeddingBee wedding band forum.
STAYING ORGANIZED WHILE PLANNING YOUR OWN WEDDING
The most important part of planning your own wedding is, not surprisingly, staying organized! If you don’t stay organized, this event isn’t going to happen. Or, it will, but it’s not going to go according to plan. I’ve found it’s not terribly difficult to keep things in line – you just have to have a few systems in place which, for me, include an email folder, a Google Sheets doc, and, of course, Pinterest.
There’s one folder in my email dedicated to “Our Wedding.” This is where I file and save EVERY email pertaining to the wedding. You can even include subfolders if that works for you. More than one almost crisis has been averted because of the saved emails in this folder. While I’m a believer in chatting on the phone to hash things out, get everything in writing.
I also have a Google Sheets doc (so that Adam can access a live version, too) with tabs that include: Budget, Vendors (with contact info and links to contracts), Payments and Balances, Timeline, Day of Timeline, Guest Addresses, Details, and To-Do’s Remaining. Every single note goes in this Google Sheet so that absolutely everything lives in one place.
Additionally, that Pinterest board I’ve raved about keeps me on track when I’m feeling anxiety about how everything is going to come together.
IS PLANNING YOUR OWN WEDDING A FULL-TIME JOB?
Not to knock anyone’s theatrics, but, seriously, those people who scare you into thinking wedding planning is a full-time job? It’s just not true. Yes, I’m planning a small wedding, but all the same decisions still have to be made, the same vendors have to be booked, and, if anything, it takes more time because I’m doing all the legwork on my own. You can 100% handle this.
Wedding planning does not have to consume your life. You can plan a wedding during your free evenings and on weekends. Most vendors realize that their clients likely have day jobs, so they’re willing to chat with you before work or after. Plus, email is 24/7! I may not respond to a vendor’s email until 9 PM, but that’s fine! They’ll get back to it the next day and the planning process will go on. Yes, there will be some later nights in those last weeks, but planning a one weekend event should not become a full-time endeavor.
Also, those time-consuming DIY favors that could take over your every waking hour in the weeks before the wedding? No one’s going to take them. So, don’t make them. Save yourself the stress and devote that time to something that actually is beneficial for your marriage – like spending time with your future spouse or taking some time for self-care.
LASTLY, BRING IN WEDDING WEEKEND HELP
All this being said, you do need to bring in help for the weekend of the big day. You can’t coordinate all the vendors you’ve booked, make sure your vision is brought to life accurately, and get yourself ready for your walk down the aisle. It’s just not possible to be all places at once and you want your day of to be as stress free as possible.
Hire a day of coordinator early on so that you can keep them looped into the planning process. They’ll be familiar with all your vendors, understand the mood and ambiance you’re hoping to create, and make sure that all flows smoothly while you’re enjoying a relaxing last day as a Miss.
ONE FINAL NOTE
I didn’t dive too in depth on any one topic here, but please reach out if you have further questions about planning your own wedding! I’m happy to chat about my experience or to write a post that discusses the details of any part of the planning process.