Start Planning Your Wedding

Okay, the engagement ring's on your finger, everybody's congratulated you and maybe you've even had an engagement party. Fun's's time to get to work on the tough job of planning your wedding. What should you do first?

Our suggestion is to get yourself a Wedding Planner. A Wedding Planner is not a person (those people who help you plan are called Consultants, more about them later). A Wedding Planner is some sort of notebook or file system to keep track of all the stuff you have to do. You could buy a pre-made one at a store (we actually had a premade was a gift from my Matron-of Honor) but it won't necessarily have the categories you need and you can easily make one for yourself for less money.

Buy a looseleaf notebook, a set of dividers (preferably the kind with pockets in them) and some notebook paper. Label your dividers with the categories you need...Catering, Guest List, Flowers, etc. As you get prices from different vendors enter them in the appropriate section along with phone numbers, deposits required (or paid) and anything else you think of. Keep receipts, cancelled checks from deposits, ads you clip from the newspaper and business cards in the pockets. This may sound like a big pain in the neck but you will be really glad you did it! You can also use one of those accordian files to keep everything in. Whatever you choose it shouldn't be too big to carry around with you when you visit the vendors.

Tina Davis sent us another way to get organized...An idea that I had is when you are trying to sort out who is coming to the wedding and who is not, get two recipe card boxes and a package of notecards. Write down the names and addresses of people who are attending and if they are family or friends and put the cards in one box. Do the same for the people who are not coming and put them in the other box. You can do this same thing for the thank you cards that you still have to send out

There are also quite a few software programs to help you with your planning. Some can be downloaded for free off the internet and some can be downloaded as demos that you can try out and then buy if you like them. We tested a few of them and found that they were not particularly easy to use and didn't do anything that we couldn't already do with programs we had. For example, we kept our guest list in Excel which allowed us to sort different ways and made it easy to know who had replied, etc.

Getting back to the subject of consultants, they can be very helpful because they are familiar with vendors in your area but they will also charge you for their services. Provided you have time to do some calling and running around you probably don't need one.

Kristean Thompson, a wedding planner (consultant) shares this information about her profession: I want to point out that not all wedding planners (coordinators/coonsultants) will cost you more money. I specialize in dream weddings on real budgets. By using my tips, resources and tricks my brides are saving 4 and 5 times my fee on the cost of their wedding. I did my own wedding ( 100 quests at the reception) for only $800 total. I do agree that some wedding planners are only out to make a buck, and get kick-backs and commisions from their vendors, but I do not. I do not take any kick-backs or commisions from my vendors even tho they have been offered. I TRULY love helping people plan weddings and save money. My prices prove it, my clients prove it, my reputation proves it.

There are a lot of books on wedding planning out there. A couple of good ones for the penny pinching wedding planner are "Bridal Bargains" by Denise and Alan Field and "How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget" by Diane Warner.

We recently received an email from one of our readers with this tip for parents who are paying for their childrens' weddings: "Tell them you're not paying for it. They will save money and scrimp and budget, then pull through and pay for it with a gift of a set amount of money. That's what my parents did!" (The cost of this wedding was around $2400)

Chuck suggests using Yahoo briefcase and groups to coordinate everything. Since he lives in Pennsylvania and is getting married in Maryland this works well for him. He also has friends in Maryland who are helping by doing the inviations and flowers & decorating as gifts. He plans to set up a wedding webpage with information about local lodging, things to do around the area (for out of town guests), maps and directions, registry info, and a basic breakdown of how the wedding works at a Quaker meeting house. (since most are only familiar with traditional 'church' weddings)