Wedding Planning 101

Coming up on our two year wedding anniversary, I realized that I’d never shared a blog post about my wedding planning tips. Let’s just say I learned a thing or two from watching all my friends get married, being a bridesmaid, a maid of honor and having my own wedding. Here are my most helpful tips and tricks to keep you organized and cool as a cucumber. You definitely don’t have to be bridezilla. 😉

Ps. see our wedding photos here by the very talented Trevor + Allison.


1. Get help. You can’t plan a wedding on your own. Enlist your most trusted friends, mom, grandmother, aunt, sister, whoever. But make sure they are people who have your best interest at heart and understand that it’s YOUR wedding. If someone isn’t being helpful or kind, kindly ask them to butt out. You don’t have to a hire a wedding planner, but definitely have a day of wedding coordinator (that can be a friend or professional). Give the wedding coordinator a list of to-dos for the wedding day and things you don’t want to have overlooked. Then, let it go. If people you trust offer to help, let them. I’m a highly Type-A person and get anxious often, so having trusted people by my side was crucial for my sanity.

2. Establish a budget and stick to it. The most stressful part about weddings is the money part. If you know what you’re working with from the start, it makes things easier. Know from the start that unless you’re  a trust fund baby or independently wealthy, you’ll have to sacrifice in some areas. That might by the number of people that can attend the wedding or the dress or the venue. Just be flexible and realize that sometimes our dreams have nothing on reality…and that’s often a very good thing. At the end of the day, a lot of these little stressful wedding details aren’t actually that important (*gasp*).


3. Create specific to-do lists. For my mom and I, I made a master wedding to-do list of all the things we had to do. I categorized them by what needed to be done each month before our wedding. My mom’s tasks were highlighted in pink and mine were in black. I stored this list in the Google Drive and it pretty much streamlined everything. After that, I had a specific wedding weekend to-do list and other lists. Also, pinterest boards are really helpful to get a visual of what you want and share it with those helping you plan.

4. Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen an info sheet for the day of wedding. This was SO helpful when a friend did this for me when I was her bridesmaid, and my bridesmaids said the same thing. Essentially, I emailed them this document (so they could pull it up on their phones) with addresses of all wedding locations, picture times, hair appointment times, what to bring and phone numbers to call for day of wedding emergencies. It’s every question answered on one sheet of paper. See my post here on how to be a good bridesmaid.

J&S Post-69

5. Dealing with family feuds and guest lists. Oh boy, this was the second most stressful part of wedding planning for me. You’re the pride and joy of your family, so naturally they want to share your day with those they love. Sometimes that gets out of hand and before you know it, so-and-so from second grade and your great grandmother’s dentist have found their way to your guest list. Be firm about your guest list number, kindly explain the situation to relatives and at the end of the day, don’t worry about it. You will likely hurt feelings due to guest list cuts and people will get over it. If they don’t, that’s honestly their problem. If it’s stressing you too much, designate a family member to be the one to explain to relatives why you can’t invite Great Uncle Bobby or your aunt’s best friend from college.

6. Don’t worry about a seating chart. I am under the firm belief that adults can act like adults at a wedding. You don’t know all of your guests personal issues, so even if you spend hours trying to get certain people not to sit near each other on a seating chart, you still might miss something. When I attend weddings, I actually prefer to pick my own seat and I think most people do. I really think seating charts are a waste of time and unneeded stress. I like to have a few reserved tables for immediate family, but other than that, let people sit where they’d like. If you must do some sort of seating chart, stick to assigning people to tables rather than a specific seat. That still gives them some flexibility and lessens the work load for you.


7. Plan to do first-look photos and family photos BEFORE the ceremony. I realize some people want to keep with tradition and not see each other before the ceremony, but I am so glad we did all of these photos before the wedding. Matt and I had a first-look session that was so special. Then our families, bridal party and close friends joined us for photos before the ceremony. This is wonderful for several reasons. First, everyone is more put together before the ceremony. Second, it gives the bride and groom more time together on their wedding day. Third, it calms any nerves of the bridal party or family. Fourth, it allows family to go straight to cocktail hour and no one has to track down Great Uncle Al because he got lost somewhere after the wedding. You’ll be glad you did it this way too!

8. Make a photo list. Make a list of each photo you want to have taken and with which family members. This sounds tedious (and it is) but on the day of the wedding, your coordinator or a friend can just call out each group of people in the photos. That way, you won’t miss a single photo and you won’t realize months later that you forgot to get a photo with grandma, grandpa and your aunt.


9. Pack a bridal wedding day bag. This bag should be separate from your honeymoon bags and should have everything you might need. You can even put your MOH in charge of this. Pack safety pins, thread, needle, bobby pins, granola bars, water bottle, medicines, lotion, hairspray, extra makeup, ballet flats (incase your feet hurt in your wedding shoes), etc. Have this bag follow you from the ceremony site to the reception site and make sure someone always knows where it’s at. On that note, designate someone to be in charge of your phone and snap a few pics for you with your phone.

10. Consider a travel wedding registry. One of my favorite registries that I came across while wedding planning is the Traveler’s Joy wedding registry. It essentially allows your guests to gift you with money that goes toward your honeymoon. We had a lot of home items and wanted to go to Italy for our honeymoon, so this was such a sweet gift and our family members loved giving toward our trip.


11. Plan for wedding day food and water. This probably goes without much explaining, but dehydration is a pretty big issue with brides or grooms. People get busy, forget to eat or drink too much alcohol and pass out. Don’t let it happen. Just drink a ton of water leading up to the day, stay hydrated the day of and eat a huge breakfast. You will likely be getting ready all day, so appoint someone to get lunch for the wedding party. Request that it’s a pretty clean, healthy and easy to eat lunch. You don’t want dresses getting ruined or someone having issues with food.

12. When making dress decisions, don’t listen to everyone. For the bride’s gown, it is her gown…so don’t let others varying opinions sway you. And if for some reason you have buyer’s remorse like I did about your wedding dress, I hear that’s actually common. You’ll get over it! Now looking back at photos, I’m happy with my gown but I definitely wasn’t for a while. The gown doesn’t make the wedding and the wedding doesn’t make the marriage. For the bridesmaid’s dresses, just be considerate of your wedding party and don’t ask them to buy the most outrageously expensive Vera Wang gown out there. Having them pick their own dress is a great option but so using the same David’s Bridal or JCrew gown, because there’s a store in almost every city and they’re affordable.


13. A great photographer and videographer are worth the cost. From my experience, I think it’s worth it to have both photos and a video of your wedding. I still get all the feels every single time I look through our wedding photos (and I do that a lot) and watch the video. We decided we’ll watch our video together every year for our anniversary. After everything is over, you have your memories, your commitment and the photo documentation…so definitely go with someone that you love.

14. Don’t sweat the small stuff. My makeup artist got arrested a week before my wedding. It was blistering hot in April on my wedding day so pretty much all our photos had to be inside. But, ya know what? That day couldn’t have been more perfect. Someone gave us this piece of advice and it kinda became my wedding mantra, “Your wedding day is the one time in your life when everyone you love will be in the same place.” At the end of the day, what matters is that you meet your groom at the end of the aisle surrounded by your family and friends. The wedding is just the beginning of a lifetime of adventures and it should be fun rather than a bundle of stress. So, delegate, relax and just enjoy your day.


If you’d like me to pass along my wedding lists and info, please send me an email! :)

Cheers xx