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Where Do You Start?


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Sometimes I get questions that are such good, good, real true questions that I know they need an answer, but I just don’t know what the answer is. So, I’m tossing this to you, people who I immensely respect, this question from a bride-to-be:

My question:
I have been engaged since October. We really got into wedding planning around February, and I find that we are now about 6 months out from the wedding. My problem is that I have absolutely no idea where to start. I just feel so lost amongst all of the wedding stuff that is out there. We’re also dealing with some serious bridal party issues, family issues, and a lot of DIY stuff. All of this makes me want to pull my hair out, and I just end up shutting down. That, and I feel that there isn’t a lot to do 6 months out when you’ve covered the major stuff. Am I just crazy?

You’re not crazy. That much I know. But, yes, where do you start? It’s really a philosophical question, in the end. What I can say from experience, is that for us, we started with ‘where.’ Where did we want to have the party? The San Francisco area was the first answer, and then we narrowed from there. Once we figured out where, the how became much more obvious.

The other thing I know is that you start with a step. Wedding planning, like life, is one small step at a time. Watch the path that is illuminated before you, and only think about that. (And six months is plenty of time.)

But you, ladies (and a few gents): Where did you start? Where do you start?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03380946915192765928 Mary Tanner

    Hi I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and really wanted to respond to this post on where to get started. I got engaged in mid-January and our wedding is August 1, 2009 – so not a lot of time!

    Here’s where I started:
    I dumped EVERYTHING from my brain out into my organization system – personally I use MindManager by MindJet for both personal and work project because it works for me (and I’m a super huge organizational nerd). You could do brain dump on paper, in a word doc etc. The reason I started here was it helped me to see everything on paper and to STOP worrying about it in my head. Then I broke out the months and moved my major list into the months – for example: wedding favors. Didn’t need to think about those until June!

    In the end, Meg is right, you just need to pick one thing to get started and see where that takes you. You’ll probably hit road blocks, frustrations but at the same time you’ll find out some neat stuff about your future husband, your family and yourself.

    Good luck, hang in there!!!

    Mary
    http://www.powerofastory.com/posts

  • http://practicallymarried.wordpress.com Leika

    I really think Brandi hit the nail on the head in the post yesterday. It’s all about editing. If something other than people drama is stressing you, modify it or cut it altogether (you might fantasize about doing the same thing with the people some days, too!). I loved the look of tissue paper pomanders, but the thought of making all those flowers was stressing me out to the “shut down” point too, so I modified the look to require less flowers. A lot of other DIY projects got cut in favor of staying sane until the wedding, and I just kept the ones I really wanted to do for me.

    When it comes down to it, the most important thing about the day is celebrating your love and commitment to each other. If that means the “decor” consists of finding a place you love, throwing in a few candles, and calling it done, do that. I have a friend who did just that, and you know what I remember about the day? How she was absolutely glowing with happiness. I don’t remember the decorations, or lack thereof, at all.

    Decide what matters the most to you, and pick a few things that you want to pour your time and energy into – and that will make you happy in doing so – and let the rest go. At the end of the day, what the people who love you will remember are the emotional moments, not the fact that you drove yourself nuts to get those last few DIY projects done! Cut yourself some slack, and concentrate on the things that touch your heart the most.

  • Fraola

    Oh my goodness, I really feel for you. I know, I know. We got engaged in December 2007! And are (finally) getting married in September this year. We were originally getting married in Australia (where we are both from) and struggled to set a date because his manager kept thinking of work related reasons why they wouldn’t work. He then had to move continents for work – which meant the wedding moved – date and continent too – we spent five months apart, we are now in the same place and are just four months away from the big day! We have done barely anything that we need to, (dress, suit (partially), photographer, church, all check, reception booked, but no details) so have a lot of stuff left to do – I’m particularly freaking about invitations at this stage… Goodness, when it gets overwhelming, I just think bugger it, he’ll be there, there’ll be a priest and some family and we’ll get married. But those surges of overwhelmingness are horrible… one of us will go through it making the other one feel guilty and then reverse! But we’ve learnt a lot about strengths and weaknesses and we’ve talked (most of) it through… Hehehe, here’s to your wedding!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10441798371617926431 kaitlin

    I’m with both Leika and Mary on this. I’m sure that since you got engaged you’ve been seeing things that you like or want to include in your wedding. Do a dump of these things (list, brainstorm, map it, etc), and then edit accordingly, makign a list of priorities (important, urgent, urgent and important) and deal with the things you really want to keep and can afford to do so.

    Yup, now I need to listen to my own advice. Also, if I can recommend setting aside time for wedding planning; it becomes really easy to say “I want to talk about the wedding tonight, my love” and then get caught up in dinner/dessert/an episode of House/more dessert (ahem). But if you really need to worry about something, you need to set aside time for it (again, more advice I ought to follow)

    Cheers,
    Kaitlin

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06529652450620062626 K

    We started with the locations and the dress, then we prioritized from there. We made lists, and we BOTH worked on the lists so that one person didn’t feel a burden.

    Can you figure out what is the cause of your shutdowns? Is it just a general overwhelming feeling, or is it specific items that become too much to handle? If it’s the latter, delegate. Call in the reinforcements. Give it to the groom to take of. Get rid of it altogether.

    We planned our whole wedding in a month. In my eyes, if you have more than a month, you have plenty of time. Don’t let the WIC make you feel like the sand is running out. Anything that doesn’t get done wasn’t really all that important anyway.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07672848874200809394 Christine

    I got engaged in February and my wedding is next May. At the beginning I felt the same way. I am one of those people that need to be organized at all times. I got a small notebook to write all my thoughts down. 1 page for each category. I would put all my ideas for color schemes on one page and then wedding cake/dessert ideas on another page. It really saved me the anxiety because I had so many thoughts in my head, I really didn’t know where to start. But then I also referred to The Knot. They have a great checklist that you can refer to. I find that it has helped me out alot with the wedding planning process. I know you only have 6 months left but maybe that will be helpful to you as well. Good luck!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06334711750734877225 amandab

    My two cents, for what it’s worth. I think the “brain dump” these girls are talking about can be good for brainstorming but also dangerous, because there are so many good ideas and cute projects out there!
    My fiancĂŠ and I got started by making separate lists of our priorities. Fortunately, they were mostly the same! Those are the things we’re really going to spend our time/energy/money on. For example, we really care about food and music, so we’re trying to make those things special. On the other hand, neither one of us could care less about favors, so we’re not having them at all. Why waste your time? Decide what your priorities are and also what doesn’t matter to you.
    Then we went searched for wedding timelines and found one that seemed to have all the details on it. Whether or not you really follow their timeline as laid out isn’t important, but it gives you a list of things that need to be done and may help you think of things you would not have otherwise. Be sure to cross off all the things that don’t apply!
    Finally, if you’ve got all the major things crossed off and you’ve hit a patch of slow water, maybe it’s time to just relax and take a break from wedding planning! What’s wrong with that? You do have the rest of your life to live, too, after all.

  • http://www.themaidenmetallurgist.com The Maiden Metallurgist

    We picked three things that were important to us, (Food, Drink, Music) made sure that they were exactly what we wanted and didn’t worry about the rest.

    We planned our wedding in three months and it was beautiful. Remember, it’s just a party, the marriage is the important thing.

  • http://repeatbride.wordpress.com Marisa

    I just typed in a long response and then lost it, argh.

    In a nutshell, I’d say make two lists: things you love and stuff that makes you feel bad. Just those two. Then go from there.

    If you love it, do it, and do it first. Love paper goods? Order invitation paper… it’ll make you happy. Love pretty shoes? Buy them first. Whatever makes you happy when you think of weddings, do that and get some joy.

    If it makes you feel bad, outsource it… even to a friend. I hate, hate, hate choosing from a bunch of options. Makes me feel yucky and lost and like a little kid (yea, I have issues, ha). So for “floral order,” I’d put my friend Jen’s name down, meaning that I will find an inspiration photo and then ask her to do it for me. The problem with being a bride is that you can’t always NOT do the things that make your tummy hurt, so this is a good way to build a community of support while getting it done. And I’m betting someone in your circle loves just the thing you hate.

    So, you get to do the things that make you smile (without judgment as to whether they’re frivolous or not), and you get to use your circle of people to help get the shit done that you don’t like (and I’m betting they have a great time doing it).

    I blogged about it in more detail: http://repeatbride.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/am-am-not-are-too/

  • http://wedlog.jeffandcara.com Cara

    We got engaged last October and our wedding is this October. Right away we decided on a venue (church wedding, reception at our favorite restaurant) to make sure we got the date. Then we *cautiously* consulted a pre-made magazine list. We were careful to nix the things that would make us crazy, but it was a good place to find a basic outline. We decided to focus on stationary, which may sound weird but we both like paper and design and the stationary elements create a natural outline. The save-the-date is the “when”, the invitations are the “who, what, where”, the program is the “how”, the menu (not a necessity but we wanted to print one) handles the food and the rest is mostly details – what to wear, how to decorate, music/entertainment (i.e. speeches, dancing, cake cutting, etc.). I was totally overwhelmed the first few weeks, but then I found this and other blogs that have really helped me realize what’s important and what’s not. Also, I forced my mom to start reading this blog and now she’s much easier to deal with because she’s begun to detach herself from the grip of the WIC, too.

  • http://accordionsandlace.wordpress.com/ accordionsandlace

    We definitely started, as everyone advises, by figuring out priorities. What did we care about the most? We decided it was: food, music and the right ceremony.

    Then we started looking at venues, are tried to figure out if we wanted to do it in the city or in the country. We drew up a tentative guest list to figure out what size space we were looking for. And we tried to brainstorm on the three priorities listed above to figure out which location would suit us best. Because of our priorities, we chose the city; it meant we could get the band we wanted, and we had decided to have a Jewish wedding with a rabbi who would not travel that far outside the city. That made the decision pretty easy.

    Once those priorities were in place and the ceremony/venue were sorted, we kind of knew what we were doing.

    I hope that helps!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00409541531549254367 Tris

    We started with “who” and let that decide the “where” and the “what we can afford to feed them.” Not foolproof, because the guest list was the hardest part of wedding planning for me, but it got us moving. Then figuring out our priorities, budget, things we can actually start working on 6 months out (which turned out to be ketubah, favors, and writing the ceremony) then as it got closer, the things that I thought we could do way in advance, but really needed to wait (the programs, the seating stuff, etc.)

    It will come together!

  • http://www.moderngirlinvitations.com/modernbrideguide Autumn

    I went through the same thing – about 6 months before I felt like I had everything to do, yet since the major stuff was done, I didn’t have *anything* to do.

    When you really break it down, there isn’t a ton to do during this period. You can’t make place cards until you get a head count. You can’t order flowers or food or know how many DIY decorations to make until you get a head count (which is usually a month before the wedding since you’ve got to wait on those pesky response cards to come back). And heck, at 6 month you probably haven’t even sent your invites out yet! :p

    Take a break, relax, and start up again in a month or two. You’ll be fine and you’ve got plenty of time!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05750659066802561501 Erika

    Ah, you are so not alone. I quite seriously came close to canceling the whole damn thing and running off to the courthouse about three times during wedding planning. You can make it, if you want to, but if you don’t, you can still run off to the courthouse and you’ll be just as married at the end of the day.

    It sounds like you’ve already done the big stuff. If you’re totally overwhelmed, maybe it’s time to start asking for more help from family and friends (but maybe not the ones causing the current drama)? The biggest mistake we made was not asking for help. It can be hard to do, and if you’re super independent like me, people might not even think to offer help. So, maybe make the list of things you want to do and have to do before the wedding (and edit, edit, edit, as others have written), and then figure out who can help you with what. And then enjoy the rest of your engagement (I almost forgot to do that too!)

    All the best to you,
    Erika

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01105755263373802813 invisiblyrose

    as has been mentioned above, we started with priorities. once we figured out that the guest list was the most important to both of us, then we had to decide on budget and location.

    one thing i will say is that i often started things way earlier than the books and guides tell you to. i did everything almost ahead of “schedule” and very often my vendors would say, “wow you are so early.” trust me, that is NOT TRUE. there’s no such thing as too early! i started working on my DIY invitations 10 months before the wedding, so that i wouldn’t be overwhelmed at the end.

    it’s your schedule, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18134825296733633815 October12

    I think the rest of the ladies have said it all when it comes to the wedding planning part of the advice. I’d like to put in my two cents where the family and bridal party issues are concerned.

    Whatever the drama is, figure out how to get at it’s roots and deal with it. I think you’ll feel a lot better about the remainder of your engagement. It won’t be easy trying to have *those* kinds of conversations with people you care about, but it is absolutely necessary. Dealing with a bridal party mistake is the one thing I wish I had done before the wedding. It would have made things that much smoother.

    As for the DIY stuff, like I said yesterday, edit edit edit. If it’s something necessary, like invitations, do them but really think about what the essence of an invitation is. We send one piece of paper, no maps, no photos, no hotel information. They were simple, beautiful and everyone who received one made a comment about how they felt they were really invited and were very excited because of a simple invitation. As to rest, my suggestion is keep what makes you smile. Toss what doesn’t.

  • http://katforsythphotography.wordpress.com Kat Forsyth

    I gather from the original post that the bride-to-be has done the “major stuff”? By that I’m assuming booking a venue, DJ, Photographer and other service providers. Because that’s where I started, since you can’t do anything without those big things! Then when it came to the smaller items, I made a list of what had to be done first. Ordering or making dresses can take time, so that came first. The invites had to go out by a certain date, so they came next. All those DIY projects, like favors, table listsings, escort cards etc – do yourself a favor and do those as SOON as you get your RSVPs in. I made as much as I could months beforehand, and once I had the final names, I just printed them out and glued them to the relevant items. You aren’t going to want to do any DIY work in the weeks leading up to The Day, trust me!

    I second the PP who suggested making a list of the stuff you love, and start on that. That will get you into the swing of planning, and make you enjoy it, too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06272654565469914998 sam

    I so feel for the person who sent in this question! I am about 5 months out and for the past month have been going through exactly the same “what now” sort of thing. All the major things (location, who, when) are done. It’s too early to send invites and get rsvps, etc. but close enough to the wedding I feel like I can’t just do nothing.

    Over the past week I’ve finally crossed the hurdle and figured out how to spend this time. I’ve been trying to FINISH one small thing a week.

    This week I made the final decision and ordered the clutch I will carry down the isle. Other ideas I have for the coming weeks: make the final decision on the engraving for his custom ring, select/make earrings for the woman in the wedding, bargain-hunt for centerpiece items, look for shoes, make/order boutonnieres, etc.

    I have a list and each week I pick one thing to decide and finish. I figure anything I don’t get to (like earrings/boutonniers) we’ll just do without, but in the mean-time it keeps me sane to be taking care of one little thing each week.

    Hope that helps!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16098002049319726944 Erica

    Start with your mood: time of day, theme. Then look for venue. Then caterer. Photographer. Pastor. Flowers. Band. Go from the biggest of importance/expense down to the least (favors, guest book, etc). Don’t get weighed down by the small details. You need a place to get married at, you can still get married if you haven’t found the “perfect” DJ… And, don’t be afraid to delegate. Especially to your fiance, he can find a good DJ just as easily as you! ;-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04548578181174543021 Maggie

    I wouldn’t be afraid of a lull in planning six months out, we had one too. It helped me to make a schedule of the day, of what needed to happen (ie, a van to pick up bridal party and take them to the venue, programs to hand out, whatever else you picture as being essential to the day that fits in the schedule.) Say you have time in the day for arranging candles on tables. Or a friend to help. Then buy candles. If not, then don’t!

  • http://bridgettesdetroitwedding.com Bridgette

    We started with a budget and then we thought about where. Where did we want to get married and who we wanted to be there. At first we were thinking we’re get married in Austria on the top of a mountain and then figured that only a few people would actually be able to attend! So we stayed local and a venue that actually has significant meaning to us!

    Dress. ‘Nuff said!

    Then we worked on nailing the vendors down – like photographer, music (dj or band if your choose one or a friend working the iPOD!) and whoever else you choose. Some couples go with videographers, photobooths, etc. It’s whatever you WANT!

    After we booked the vendors, we worked on fun details, like cake tastings, color choices, invitations and all the other fun details.

    Most importantly, your wedding should represent the two of you. Do what you want! And have fun. We make a game out of things like shopping around for rehearsal dinner locations and other little details!

    Good luck and have fun!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13645215857071944428 Chris

    Start with a very, very, very basic idea of what kind of party you want. Elegant and formal? Super casual, garden atmosphere? Or in the middle? (If so, decide what elements from each are important to you.) Once you settle on a general type, it’s easier to go from there. If you decide formal, you’ll probably need to be indoors (or at least in a huge, expensive tent), have a caterer, big cake, lots of flowers, fancy dress and tuxes, etc. If you decide to be a little more informal, you can consider being outside, possibly less fancy catering, different flower arrangements, suits or other less dressy clothes for the guys, etc.

    Then, like Meg said, pick your general area. Then look for a place that fits your broad theme of fancy or casual. Once you have the spot, you’ll know what will fit in with it. DON’T look at a to-do list from the Knot and get overwhelmed. I haven’t done and won’t do half the things on there and I’m doing just fine. I’m an October bride too!

  • Alaina

    Start with whatever it is that is the most important to you or whatever you love. For us it’s our family, so we actually started with our guest list once we had a clear picture of who was going to be there, then we started thinking about a location that was easy for everyone to get to and what the natural atmosphere once all these people were in the same room. Everything else just seemed to evolve from there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08169407356570837365 D-Day

    The first thing we did was sit down and talk about what kind of wedding we wanted, what we envisioned for the overall feel of it, whether we wanted indoor/outdoor, and we let those things (and our budget) sort of narrow down the field of options for venue/guest list/etc.

    I joined WeddingWire.com, which is Super helpful I think. You can search vendors in your area, and they also have a great checklist – and you can add new checklist items, delete ones you don’t need, or edit ones that are slightly wrong for your wedding, or the change the due dates. You can also design inspiration boards from your own photos or ones in their gallery, and enter upcoming appointments with vendors, etc. They also offer free wedding websites and you can add a tool to collect electronic RSVPs, which is perfect for us.

    Another thing I did to help with my brain overload was start a blog. Nothing as awesome as APW, not necessarily intended for the nearlywed community at large, but a place where you can do your brain dump and share it with your wedding party, your MOB and your MOG and your various other acronyms, and they can provide feedback and help you focus. It’s been hugely helpful to me, and it’s fun to go back and read my first couple posts when I was just in this euphoric frenzy with all these ideas, which I’ve since narrowed down to a much more manageable plan.

  • Stephanie

    We did what Tris and other did. Figure out who and then where they would fit. Really, all you need is to be surrounded by people you love, so find a place they will be comfortable and then make sure they have food and drink.

    I wish I had known it could be that was all you really needed. Though, in reality it is always a bit harder, especially on a budget.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04955150741779356135 a.m.t.

    First and foremost, don’t forget to enjoy being engaged. This is a really special time and you need to let yourself revel in it!

    I felt overwhelmed at first, too. I started with so many ideas, and then I would feel defeated and give up. Part of it is all of the commercialism that is out there (WIC) that makes you feel like you need to buy all this “stuff” in order to have a legitimate wedding–don’t pay attention to that.

    Venue is a good place to start. Especially since you are not far out from your wedding. Booking the date will give you an anchor. Try to pick a place that has the tables, chairs, and a few other amenities included so that you don’t have to think about those things.

    From the venue, I continued on to think about the ceremony. I feel like this sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Do you want long or short? Traditional or funky? This will set the tone for a lot of other things.

    Think about what you want to wear. Casual or formal? Are you buying bridesmaids’ dresses in bulk or letting them self-select?

    I found these steps cleared my head in addition to making a nerdy spreadsheet for my budget (with a column for websites, inspirations, etc).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06814302207938982159 Ariel

    We started with prioritizing our budget and location. These two things determined most everything else … how many people we could invite, what kind of decorations we wouldn’t need, what we would wear, etc.

    I think it’s mostly just about picking your top priorities and letting them dictate everything else.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18322614204354706684 Amelia

    We nailed down location, and then food and photos, because those were the most important elements for us.

    It was practical for us, because we’re worriers and needed to have people who book up fast booked for our date.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17468276901563947172 Kristy

    Wonderful post, Meg. Thanks for sharing this question. I’ve been struggling with a lot of this, myself. We have most of the big stuff sorted, but some of the specifics we can’t do until after we have the RSVPs back. Like number of tables and place cards and # of centerpieces and rentals and on and on. Just thinking about it all makes my stomach churn and, like someone mentioned before me, I end up wanting to scrap the whole thing and run to the courthouse. (Until I remember I’ve ordered the invitations.)

  • amy

    Urgh…I feel your pain. We're getting hitched in a week & we ended up planning for 3 mos after 2 yrs of engagement!
    I knew (the only thing, really!) that I would wear red shoes so I started there. A post on Emilystyle inspired me. I put out the word to fam & friends who helped me cobble together some details (cake flowers, napkins, lanterns). I would suggest starting with the "where" & then build on to the place. Or rather, the "feel" you want to nail down (rustic, formal, garden). Figure out what you really need/love whether that is food or music or the ceremony. Just pick 2 or 3. Then DON'T LOOK BACK. There is too much wonderfulness out there, you'll always want to change it. My thinking is: ok, I'll do that for a bday party, that for 5 yr anniv, that for dinner party. There's always a reason to throw a fun, beautifully decorated party! :) Go full force & then if there's time left, work up the "extras," whatever they may be for you (birdcage veil, bouts, or in our case, music). We're throwing together our iPod reception & there probably won't be dancing so I'm just going with the flow. Ceremony was left to the end too but it has turned out pretty good, using these wonderful blogs & the talent of very good friends. Good luck – and stay here (in moderation); Meg & the practical ladies are fabulous!

  • Anonymous

    Amy said:

    “Figure out what you really need/love whether that is food or music or the ceremony. Just pick 2 or 3. Then DON’T LOOK BACK. There is too much wonderfulness out there, you’ll always want to change it. My thinking is: ok, I’ll do that for a bday party, that for 5 yr anniv, that for dinner party. There’s always a reason to throw a fun, beautifully decorated party! :)”

    AMEN!

    The culture tends to make people think a wedding is their only chance to make a statement in their lifetime.

    It is NOT the MOST important day of your life; it is ONE of the most important days of your life.

    If your wedding was the most important day of your life, then that would mean everything was all downhill from there. Yuck!

    Who knows, the most memorable day of your life might not involve any plans whatsoever!

    All those extra ideas that don’t make it into the wedding, can be used for life’s other joyous occasions.

  • bamagirl3525

    My two cents:

    1) Location first. Do you want to get married in your church? A church? A state park? Your parents’ home? Figure out what is most important to the two of you, then book it!

    2) Budget. Some might say budget should come first; I’m inclined to agree. BUT. If you decide to get married in your parents’ backyard, then you might not need the $20,000 you had mentally prepared to spend. (Or you might, if your parents go all Emily from “Friends” and try to re-landscape as part of the “decorations”.)

    3) Attire. You and your fiance’s attire should be comfortable and lovely and evocative of the place and emotion that you are trying to share with your guests. If you’re getting married in December, you wouldn’t wear seersucker, and you wouldn’t wear winter wool in June. Oh, and in your budget!

    4) The rest. Hopefully, your design scheme/theme/agenda/whatevs will unfold from sorting out the first three. And this would be the time to do the “brain dump” to see what ideas you have that work with the three aspects you’ve already firmed up.

    5) Enjoy it! I agree with the other commenters… If it stresses you out, don’t do it. If making wedding favors or selecting centerpieces or auditioning bands is too much… either delegate or cut it. It’s about the two of you and what you want, not your parents or your friends (who may be expecting a blow-out party like mine, and who will be sorely disappointed with the cake and punch!) or your extended families.

    6) Ask for help! People love to help!

    Good luck with everything! If it all gets to be too much, just rendezvous at the court house and call it a day!

  • Amy

    Sorry, let me start again. Jonathon and I started with where, but where meant what state? Since it could have been between 3 states. But after that was mostly about intangible things: what mood we wanted to convey, the words we wanted to speak, the atmosphere. Then, tangibles the people, the food, the decor.

    Honestly, we have revised and revised. My original concept is not my concept now.

  • abby

    i started by reading the livejournal community “weddingplans.” i am not usually into livejournal and its trappings, but i found it incredibly helpful to read the day-to-day posts of these other young women explaining what they had accomplished and what they had found out. it gave me a sense of the order of what to do, and of the possibilities and limitations of weddings. reading that group blog helped me get into the day-to-day stuff of planning a wedding, and made me confident that i wasn’t forgetting something huge (because people are on there all the time worrying about things and explaining how they did this or that, like making baskets of bandaids and hairspray for the bathrooms of their venues, or other such nonsense/essential details).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01739533284860045738 Nicole

    As the original asker of this question, I would like to thank all of you for your answers and ideas.

    I definitely feel better about being in this lull, and now have a better idea of where to start.

    Thank you all so much. You are all such wonderful people!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14757441474371776203 {The Perfect Palette}

    we started with our venue!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09945813943336222370 Luis

    It sounds like you’re totally overwhelmed by lots of things.

    If you’re doing DIY because you feel that you just have to competet with everyone else’s awesome projects, it’s going to drive you crazy. If you can afford to buy it, buy it. If you are doing DIY because of bedget issues, then simplify the things that need to be done as much as possible. There’s a lot to be said for the elegance of simplicity.

    This is “A Practical Wedding.” And practical means many things to many people. If your budget allows, a wedding planner might be just the thing for you! For someone who is feeling so overwhelmed by the process as a whole, the investment in your sanity could be very practical.

    Practical doesn’t mean spending the least amount of money to me, it means not wanting to break down and cry or wanting to pull your hair out, and even then there will be those moments when you will want to do that anyway. Hopefully they will be few and far between.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05974761129296354696 lila u.

    I started getting awfully anxious and jittery around the four-month mark (and strangely, I’m now at the two-month mark and the feeling as subsided into a this-is-no-big-deal calm – a false sense of security?!).

    I’d been doing most everything alone and my fiance had backed out of the planning slightly because his work was out of control. And on my own, it was easy to have all the tasks that couldn’t quite be done (how many people are coming? the printer still has the invitations? farmer’s markets aren’t open to check out local, seasonable flowers!).

    What I found most helpful in starting the “I’ve already started but now what?” phase was actually starting at the very end: I sat down with my mom and a lot of paper and we did a run-down of the whole wedding day, starting with the time we’d depart from the reception and working backward. We went backwards through the whole day in 15 minute increments (awwwful, it nearly caused a panic attack in me to micromanage time that way), then went more broadly through the day before, then the week before, all the way to where we were that day. Alongside the ‘timeline’ we jotted down what would need to transpire in order to facilitate the day coming off as we planned (i.e. right, someone will need to drop off the beer and wine at the site the day before, I’ll need to pack what I need for the honeymoon at some point, there will be people to pick up at the airport every day that week … most of my examples involve hauling stuff. I hadn’t realized, in my inspiration-boards-and-pretty-details-blitz just how much of a wedding is about hauling stuff).

    A run-down seems like an obvious thing to do at some point, and I don’t even know that the specifics of the schedule we determined will matter at all or hold on the day of the wedding, but it made a big difference in doing/planning regimen to have a run-down. An added bonus is that you see, immediately, how much that day is going to be about a whole community coming around, and I was reminded of the obvious fact that I could not and should not do all of this stuff alone. And so just as I was going to need to involve people the week of the wedding, so I could involve them now. It sounds like the DIY-isolation I felt may not be the trouble for you, but definitely by delineating a run down starting backwards from the wedding (or even the honeymoon!) you’ll feel more in control, more “allowed” to relax some and do non-wedding stuff, and more anticipation for how nice that actual day will be. There’s only so much that needs doing! And make sure you go about the four-months-before tasks in a way that is as fun and enjoyable and relaxed as possible; I think of THAT as being the big practice for the wedding – if you can manage to enjoy the looking at flowers or the catering logistics or the stamping little favors several months out without being overwhelmed, then you can also enjoy the RSVP-collection and the hair appointment and the rehearsal dinner the day before. If not — try something different or nix things until it becomes something you can enjoy. I hold out huge hope that you can!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09290722885317049259 BetterBombshell

    I did no “brain dump” at the beginning. The only list I’ve made for my wedding (which is a little over 2 months away) at this point is the guest list.

    I too had 6 months to plan my wedding. Within the first month of my engagement (engaged February 6, for an August 8, wedding) I asked my girls to be in the wedding, bought my dress and reserved my location. I compiled the guest list and reserved tables, chairs, and tableware.

    The next month I sat down with my aunt and discussed flowers and food (you might use a caterer). She probably made a list. We chose food and a color pallette for flowers (I don’t care about the actual flower types). I reserved linens and ordered and sent out STDs (heehee). I agreed that my sister-in-law’s brother could DJ our shindig.

    Last month (month 3) I did nothing. Absolutely nothing wedding-related. Well, I met the groom’s parents, but you know what I mean.

    This month I bought fabric for the bodice alterations I want on my dress and found a seamstress. I chose and ordered invitations (from weddingpaperdivas.com). They’ve arrived now and we’re going to address and mail them later this week and/or early next week.

    I definitely think starting with the big stuff–location and dress and whatnot–is good. After that I just did whatever seemed to come naturally next, or whatever next began to weigh on my mind.

  • http://snpdragn.wordpress.com/ snpdragn

    I'm in this same exact spot.
    I can't even start on anything because I got all the main stuff done so early that I'm stuck with an overwhelming number of small things that matter to me – but I like so many things that I'm finding it impossible to take any steps forward!
    It makes my throat close up – just choosing linen color and table placement is enough to make me want to throw stones around the room on the floor and tell them to put the tables wherever they land…
    Just so I don't have to make ANY MORE DECISIONS!

    so.

    I guess this entirely pointless comment was… I have NO idea.