Scroll to the end for a Free Wedding Planning Sheet download!
"Wedding Planner? Or no Wedding Planner?"
This is one of the common questions a bride will debate upon, especially once she's waist-deep in wedding plans and overwhelmed. For many people, a wedding planner is a great investment! For thrifty brides, however, it's usually not an option. Especially since starting prices are around $2000 and can be as high as $10,000 for a full-service package.
When I took on the task of planning my own wedding, I found that there were really only 4 things I needed to do it all myself (without losing my mind).
1. A Working Timeline
A working timeline is a 6-month schedule separated into five categories: 6-month, 3-month, 1-month, 2-week, and Wedding Week. It lists all the important tasks that you'll want to have checked off at each milestone. For example, when you're at least 6-months out (more like, right when you get engaged) you'll want to set your date, determine your budget, and lock down your venue, among other things but these are the top priority. When you're 1-month from the wedding date, tasks to check off will include putting down deposits for flowers or catering, and doing final fittings for yourself and your wedding party. At the end of this post, you'll find a link to download the same timeline I, my sister, and my brother used to plan our weddings!
2. A Day-Of Timeline
A huge benefit to having a wedding planner is having someone who knows the exact timing of every event planned for the big day, and knows where every person and vendor needs to be and when. By creating a Day-Of timeline, and distributing it to each vendor, parent, and member of the wedding party, you can all be that person! If you're still a ways away from your date, you can start by making a rough sketch of what you want the day to look like (when to start the ceremony, how long to make the reception, how much time to block out for photos) and then you can tweak as you go along. Your can also ask the event coordinators at your venue how much time couples usually use for a reception, or a photographer how much time is needed for portraits, and the the DJ for recommendations on the order-of-events for a reception.
3. A Budget Sheet
If you're on a limited budget, you already know how important this is. The budget sheet included in the downloadable spreadsheet below has a list of all the items you're likely to spend money on for a wedding, from Venue to Party Favors, which you can adjust according to your preferences. Fill in the "Quote" column as you're getting estimates from your vendors and BEFORE you put down any deposits. Additionally, as you're finding things you want to buy online, lighting or decor or accessories, plug in those costs as well with the URL you found them at. And wait to actually make the purchase, just to make sure all those extras are still within budget, and just in case you change your mind about what you want, or find them somewhere else at a lower cost!
4. Family & Friend Support
I can't stress this enough - Ask. For. Help. If you're not sure about what to do, throw your question out into the Facebook realm, or call up friends that have gotten married, or might know some wedding professionals. Better yet, find out if anyone in your current network IS a professional photographer, videographer, baker, or florist that you didn't know about, and (without fishing for a freebie) see if they provide services that will work with your budget, or if they know someone who can. Invite your mom, your future-mother-in-law, your sister, your cousin, your aunt, your friends, anyone who you are close to if you need to run flower arrangements by someone, or need help picking out a dress, or just need emotional support.
Then, as the big day approaches, if your venue doesn't include a day-of event coordinator, split up all the little tasks of the day (putting up centerpieces, setting up the welcome table, handing out bouquets, managing vendor payments, arranging transportation, putting out cupcakes) and delegate them to your family members and bridal party. Yes, the bridal party can do work, too. They are there because they love you and support you, so why wouldn't they be glad to help you out on the most important day of your life?
To get all the timelines/sheets I mentioned, plus a few extra, just fill out this form and I'll send it right over!
Best of luck to you all! Happy planning!