Tips to Plan Your Wedding

Plan your wedding like a pro

Planning and creativity are essential to a successful (and affordable) wedding ceremony.  Contrary to popular belief, planning your wedding doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult.  The key is to start planning early, stay organized, and don’t be afraid to include your friends and family for support, advice, and additional creativity.

stress-free wedding planning

Planning a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful.

Setting a budget

Setting a budget is the first step. Remain realistic, don’t put it on a credit card (high interest rates), and keep your fantasies under control.  Work together with your partner – obviously (hopefully) you should be flexible with each other’s wishes, and compromise on pricier items, or find a creative way to do what you want for cheaper.  If family members are offering funding, don’t be afraid to discuss specifics and their limits.  If you have something specific in mind that is over their budget, be honest and prepared to cover the gap.

Plan ahead

The more time you have, the less stressed you are going to be, and the more time you will have to find sales and come up with do-it-yourself options for decorations, centerpieces, flowers, invitations, dresses, food, music, etc.  Focus on completing one task at a time and pace yourself so you’re steadily making progress.  Also, venues often need to be booked far in advance.  Try to have several options in case your first choice is not available.


Organization is key. One of my former roommates had a 5 inch binder, with color coded tabs for each area of planning.  She was definitely the least stressed bride I’ve known.  You can also use wedding software, planning apps, wedding websites, google docs, etc., but try to keep your records confined to one program or system, so that information doesn’t get lost or missed.  If you plan one area at a time, you can check off your tasks so that you are confident and aware of your progress.

Be Flexible

You might have had your dream wedding planned since you were young, but you are not the same person.  Life has changed you, and that’s a good thing.  You’ve learned and adapted from what life threw at you.  Learn to adapt with your wedding plans.  Just because one idea doesn’t pan out doesn’t mean that things are ruined, try and replace it with an even better idea.  Be creative, read, look at pictures, get advice from friends and family, and you can turn your wedding into the fantasy that you haven’t even imagined yet.


Wedding Budget Tips

Memorable wedding without breaking the bank!

Making your wedding memorable doesn’t mean it needs to be a painful memory for your bank account.

wedding on a budget

Budget wisely for your wedding day.

Limit your guests -

The number of guests is an individual preference, but you should take an honest hard look at who you’re inviting, and ask them to RSVP early.  Inviting your entire facebook family may sound like fun, but how often are you in contact with them?  Maybe invite the ones that you know would let you crash on their couch if you were stranded in their city.  Or maybe invite the people that you drunk dial at 2am.  Or just invite the ones that would actually pick up the phone when you drunk dial them at 2am.  If they aren’t an active part of your life, and make an effort to stay in contact with you over the years (or you haven’t with them), then maybe they don’t need to be there to congratulate you on one of the biggest days of your life.  If they’re offended, they’ll probably get over it in a year.  If they’re still offended, you can invite them to your next wedding (but hopefully not!)

To drink or not to drink -

An open bar can be one of the biggest expenses.  It would be worth it to consider how important it is to you to get the dance floor going, and get your bridesmaids puking.  Another option, is to limit the options to beer and wine, or give out limited drink tickets.  Maybe you have a friend with an extensive wine cellar collection that you could buy off and ask them to bartend (Joe I’m looking at you!).

The dress -

Wedding planning on a budget

Develop a plan you can live with.

Wedding dresses can cost all the way from free to millions of dollars (I’ve never personally seen a million dollar dress, but I’m 99.99% sure one has existed at some point), and it is definitely possible to find ones that fit your personal style and keep it reasonably priced.  Ebay wedding dresses made and mailed from Asian countries advertise $200 with designer-like designs.  The reviews are mixed, from “amazing” to “terrible,” but if you’re willing to take a chance, (or have a seamstress in the family that could alter/fix it for you), it could be a good deal.  Pinterest is also great for dress searching.  If you find an expensive style you like, learn the key-terms of the style, and search, bookmark, search, and stalk.  An expensive dress can be caught on sale if you look around and often.  Take advantage of websites’ wish-lists, and watch for items you like, or “related” items to go on sale.

Photos -

Find a friend who is a photographer.  If you don’t have a friend that is, go make some friends, I’m sure you’ll find one soon.

DJ -

Pandora.  iTunes.  Make your wedding party pool their music collection, and submit a few playlists for you to judge and select. Warn them not to be offended if you turn them all down!

Catering -

There are ways to save on food without needing to do an all-out potluck.  You can pick a course instead of a full meal: appetizers, finger-food, salads (you can make huge salads yourself with Costco purchases), deserts; distribute a casserole recipe among family for each to bake one (lasagna goes a long way), or have the wedding on a Tuesday so everyone can get $1 tacos.

Flowers -

I once attended a wedding where the flower arrangements were scheduled to arrive the day after the wedding.  The bridesmaids and friends (myself included) scoured the bride’s family’s yards for hydrangeas, and other blue flowers, and designed the bouquets and aisle pieces ourselves with just some ribbon, and I might add that they looked pretty.

Decorations -

Get crafty, stalk pinterest and google images.  Most things can be designed yourself for very cheap with a little vision and creativity.

Honeymoon -

Now with all that smart budgeting you can afford another star on that hotel!

Creative Wedding Gift Ideas

Wedding Sashes are gaining popularity

Embroidered pageant sashes for bridesmaids

Embroidered satin pageant sashes with rhinestones for the bridal party.
Photo provided courtesy of The Sash Store.

Attending a wedding is an honor, and being asked to be part of one is even more amazing…but how do you give the happy couple a gift that doesn’t say “I ran out of time so here’s some change and lint I dug out of my pockets…” You’re probably a pretty good friend, otherwise they wouldn’t have invited you! So how do you find something personalized, meaningful, and characterizes your friendship and thoughtfulness better than the wacky apron that was the last unpurchased item on their registry?

Wedding Sashes -

Many brides are buying custom pageant sashes to give to their bridal party. These bridal sashes often include the name of the girl, and can be customized to the colors that will be used in the wedding.

Bachelorette Sashes -

Another growing trend is for the bridal party to order a bachelorette sash for the bride to celebrate the festivities before the big day.  These embroidered pageant sashes often include “Future Mrs. …” or “Bride to be.” The choices are only limited to your imagination.

Registry -

I know I just knocked it earlier, but an item from the couple’s registry is always a safe bet. They chose it, so you know they like it. And 100% better than that porcelain trinket you think is so cute.

Gift cards -

If you have absolutely no idea, and you are at the gas station 5 minutes before the wedding, waiting for your girl/guy to finish their hair, it’s hard to go wrong with a gift card…unless it’s for Trader Joes. Try to stay classic, and a little upscale. As a lady, I would never be unhappy with Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Express, Nordstrom, DSW, but it helps if you know where they would shop if they were out to spoil themselves. Electronics are a pretty safe choice but stay general (i.e. Best Buy) because you might not know which side of the Mac vs. PC war they’re on! Or to be very safe, pick a restaurant gift card that they can use together (Darden gift cards cover a nice range of chains).

Jewelry -

Gifts not to give a bride

The gift you should NOT give the bride-to-be.

Personally I can never say no to jewelry, wait…actually I can say no to these: The ones that look like all the beads from your 5 year-old’s craft drawer were tied together with a clear stretchy glitter string. If you don’t know their jewelry preferences, check Forever 21, or snoop through their facebook photos.

Staycation -

Trying to plan a day trip for one of the couple or the bridal party can be a fun trip – but please only do this if you’re pretty good friends (i.e. see each other more than once a year). Otherwise you might be in store for a long and awkward day of nothing to say to each other. Ideally you should know their hobbies and what they like to do, some ideas are a spa day, a sporting event, wine/beer tasting, craft activities – maybe working together on a scrapbook of pictures of the couple and bridal party, or an outdoor activity like hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking, white water rafting, or learning the flying trapeze.

Lingerie -

Lingerie can be fun (at a bachelorette party), but it can also be risky. Do you know your friend’s bra/underwear size? Always get a return receipt. Otherwise (again only if you’re really close friends!) you could plan a lingerie shopping trip with a budget, and you can have fun trying on things together.

Board Games -

We are in the tech era, but everyone has fun with a game of Apples to Apples with a side of Apple-tinis. Plus, this ensures that the couple will (hopefully) have a game night so that you can hang out with them and break them out of their newly married bliss cave.