Has daydreaming about your engagement ring at work turned into dress shopping, registry browsing, planning, organizing and – face it - stressing about the details of your upcoming wedding? This Wedding Wednesday, hyper-organized newlywed Talia Tugman of Bite Size Wellness issues a wedding plan of attack without the anxiety attack.
By Talia Tugman
Love is in the air. Okay, let’s face it… it is in the air because it is all you can talk about and think about. Suddenly Facebook is replaced by wedding dress websites on your work computer, your home computer is overflowing with bookmarked pages that include everything that has the word “wedding” on it and your fiancé needs to pull you away from the magazine aisle as your frantically browse through a wedding mag that is showcasing your colors. Wedding planning is a glorious time, but it can completely take over your mind if you don’t come up with an organized plan that leaves you centered and sane. You want your love planning experience to be stress-free as you add yet another to-do to your agenda.
Being recently married myself (my one year anniversary is just around the corner!) I know about all about planning woes that come along with arranging your day of love, but for the most part, my planning experience was amazing. How did I manage to make my planning a memorable and happy undertaking? Use these simple tips to stay on track as you plan your big day that without being a harried whirlwind in a white dress.
1. Become a List Person
If there is any time in your life to pick up the list habit, the time is now. Checklists, to-do lists, electronic lists, hand written lists… any and all of them should become a part of your wedding planning ritual. Not only will the lists keep you on track, but you will want to reference them as you move forward in your plans. Lists were an important part of my wedding planning ritual because they helped me rank what was important to me, were the home of late night reminders or and the spot where I shared what I liked or didn’t like about my test tasting extravaganza or vendor searching. At some point everything starts to blur together and you need lists to keep things clear. Plus, what was the point of your hours of internet stalking for photographers if you end up forgetting the names of everyone you like. Put them on a list! My favorite list ended up being WeddingWire’s checklist that was customizable and helped me manage my tasks, appointments and to-dos. There is a mobile version too which was great for the on-the-go bride like me.
2. Embrace an Excel Sheet
I was a bride on a MAJOR budget, so keeping track of my expenses and payments was a major part of my planning process. We were paying for our wedding mostly on our own, but even if you are lucky enough to have a family member helping you out they will definitely appreciate your attention to detail when it comes to their dime. Money can be one of the biggest worries of your otherwise stress-free experience, so keeping the budget component at bay leaves you cool, calm and collected. My Excel expense sheet made it so that there were no lingering costs on the day I said “I do” and helped me prioritize my important charges. WeddingWire and The Knot have similar budgeting options, but my excel sheet was always my trusted go to!
3. Folders are your Friends
There are many books about staying organized while planning your wedding that have a couple of pockets included in the binder, but for me, separate folders kept me most organized. I had one that was full of initial ideas, pictures and inspiration. And, as the process moved forward I had additional folders for vendors I visited, contracts I had signed or receipts of payments. On that note, keep copies of everything you sign and all payments you make. During the planning process you will want to reference what negotiations you made in your contracts so that everything you expect on your wedding day is set in stone per your vendor discussions. Or, you may need to remind a vendor of an edit or change and you want to have proof of this. After I was married my photographer forgot about a “deal” we had made and I was glad to have kept my contracts folder so that I could discuss the terms we had agreed to. How fun will it be to get folders in your wedding colors?? Too much?
4. Utilize Pinterest (or other sources of inspiration)
If I would have known about the wonders of this electronic pin board I could have saved a ton of money on my wedding magazine obsession (which would have led me to save a tree or two from all the ripping and cutting I did). There is even a special wedding category for you to browse through! Pinterest is a great space to put all of your ideas out there and save what you would desire if your wildest wedding dreams could come true. You can easily edit your thoughts down by adding a “Realistic Wedding” pin board or simply hitting delete on a link that really isn’t feasible to your budget. If you are more of the hands on type you can make your own inspiration board at home. I did a lot of printing, gluing and cutting and have no shame about my marriage masterpiece! A visual understanding of how your day will look can bring a sense of calm to an otherwise dream-like day that is 365 days away.
5. Find a go-to sound board
Planning a wedding is not a solo project. Although ultimately the day is all about you there is no reason you should keep your planning a secret or not seek the advice of your friends and family. A lot of decisions will be made along the way and it is healthy to bounce ideas off of your bridesmaids and fiancé rather than internalizing your worries and having haunting nightmares about the wrong cupcake flavors bouncing around to your do-not-play song list. For me, my sound board was a friend who had recently tied the knot. She had been there, done that and it made sense to have her expertise and advice on an otherwise unfamiliar experience. This is what bridesmaids are for!
6. Hire a Day-of-Coordinator
Like I said, I was on a budget so having a full blown wedding coordinator was out of the question in what we could afford. However, as our wedding day approached I started getting anxious about the little things I would not be available to take care of while, say, I am in the middle of smiling my face off for family photos or getting jiggy with it on the dance floor. Hiring a day-of-coordinator was a true blessing and saved me from embarrassing cry sessions if the DJ didn’t show or if it decided to snow a lot on the day of your outdoor wedding (true story… this did happen to me!). Luckily I had the fabulous help of my day-of-coordinators to deal with any day-of mishap or forces of nature that can make even the most organized and prepared bride a hot mess. And, because I originally thought I had to do everything on my own, my coordinators were in awe of my organization skills which made me one of their favorite brides to work with (small brag, but had to do it!). You can be a favorite too!
7. Turn the Wedding Switch Off
It is so important to set a time limit on your wedding agenda where you take a step back and focus on other aspects of your life. If you need to literally set a timer where the wedding website is put to sleep, than do it! Your social life should still be retained sans wedding where you have a girl’s night out, a date with your fiancé where the wedding magazines are left behind or quality time with your family members (who love their bride-to-be, but may miss their daughter). Your busy wedding schedule can afford a night off where you keep in touch with those you love. Letting your life be overshadowed by wedding planning is a disastrous aisle to walk down (no pun intended).
8. Your Health and Wedding Plans should go Hand-in-Hand
Don’t neglect your gym schedule because you’re too busy with cake flavors and table décor. Make sure you schedule in your work outs just like you do your wedding appointments. This is important for your overall health, but more importantly your sanity. Need another checklist to keep your bridal body on track? Try the 6 month fitness makeover by The Knot.
9. Remember yourself Outside of your Wedding Planning
Pat yourself on the back for staying insanely organized throughout your wedding planning and then sign up for some well-deserved pampering. A trip to the spa, a bubble bath or a long walk with your furry friend is the perfect “me” time you should squeeze into your busy schedule that will leave you feeling great and looking radiant on your big day. DJs, flowers and dress fittings are significant for the look and feel of your wedding but none of that will matter if your well-being isn’t intact. If you are finding it difficult to save room for other activities besides wedding planning it may be necessary to reevaluate your schedule. When you treat yourself well and relax, your big day will be nothing but beautiful (just like the bride!).
See… it is an easy feat after all! Organization is key to a beautiful, well thought out day but it is also the most important way to being a blushing, stress-free bride from beginning to end.
Talia Tugman lives in New York City with her nearly new husband. In an effort to be in touch with living a healthy lifestyle in a new city, Talia is sharing enlightened wellness living information with others served in bite size portions on her blog BiteSizeWellness.com.