Two years ago, we did an open thread on how people fit wedding planning into their busy lives. Re-reading those comments, I noticed that people divided into two major camps. There was the “wedding planning is easy—you just make a list of tasks and check them off” camp, and the “WEDDING PLANNING IS SO HARD” camp. And if it makes anyone feel any better, I was definitely in the latter camp (and that’s more or less why APW exists).
When wedding planning feels like an uphill slog, it’s generally because there are a host of other stressors getting in the way of simply printing out a wedding planning checklist, and slowly cranking through the tasks. Sometimes money is an issue (weddings are expensive, y’all), sometimes family stressors make tasks that should feel simple really complicated, and often wedding planning happens during otherwise intense times in our lives. When we were planning a wedding, we’d just moved across the country, my husband was in law school, I was working a miserable sixty-hour a week job at an investment bank, and the economy was completely collapsing around us. I mean, what’s adding “plan an event for 125 people who all have a lot of opinions” on top of that? NOTHING RIGHT?
And while there is no one tip I can give you to make wedding planning go smoothly (I mean I wrote a book and a planner about it, and also this whole website, and it turns out there are still more things to say), I did want to assemble this list of real-life wedding planning tips and tricks that APW readers have used to make wedding planning easy. Or at least, you know, mostly tolerable.
Here are the best ideas from APWer planners past, to help make your future wedding planning just a little easier.
Tips and Tricks To Make Wedding Planning Easier
Create a timeline (hint: you can use our timeline to get started creating a more personalized version):
I added a “Planning Timeline” tab to my Google Doc with a column for every month leading up to the wedding. I slotted in tasks each month based on what needed to happen when, and filled in the gaps with things that weren’t time sensitive. It helped to visualize how much was coming up in different months so I could move around tasks to keep everything manageable. That way, in slower months I was able to tackle things to get them out of the way before having to tackle things I couldn’t do early, like seating charts. It also ensured I was never worried about missing something. Whenever a random thought popped in my mind I had a place to put it, even if it wasn’t immediately actionable.
I particularly love my column for October. It just says “Get Married” and “Go on Honeymoon.” Those I can handle.
Set up meeting times, like it or not:
We had wedding meetings. We would designate one night a week to scour Pinterest, narrow down choices, read endless contracts and websites, have heated debates about photography… whatever had to be done.
Wedding planning is sometimes hard, especially if your wedding is lower priority than school, careers, your basement remodel, etc. It’s okay if you have to heave a giant sigh before opening the wedding binder (it doesn’t mean you don’t want to be married, just that you’re not a wedding person, and that’s okay).
Do not second-guess yourself:
Once you’ve made a decision (whether it’s food or tablecloths or vases you’re ordering online), STOP LOOKING. Buyer’s remorse helps no one, and it really doesn’t matter that much if you see napkins for eleven cents cheaper the week after you’ve bought them. Do a little research (not infinite research), make an informed decision, and move on.
Don’t worry about being the most unique:
Once you figure out what you want in a venue (or anything else, for that matter), pick the thing that’s the best fit for your needs, and don’t worry about whether it’s clever or unique. Sometimes something is popular because it’s awesome.
Balance your life workload with your wedding-planning workload, so somehow or another you’re both doing half the work:
We were both equally busy during the year of our engagement, and since we were both equally getting married to each other, it was important to us to split the load evenly. But I’m exponentially better at doing things like calling vendors, researching non-traditional caterers, and project managing, and it was creating a lot of tension to try to make him be better/more efficient at things he didn’t want to do (I mean, I didn’t want to do them either, but it took me an hour to do something it would take him four hours to do). So what worked best for us was having him take over my portion of the household duties (grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking, laundry) for a month or two so I could devote that time to the panoply of wedding tasks and errands. We both ended up contributing equally to the time commitment of planning our wedding, just in different arenas.
Hire people to help:
Figure out what’s most important to you and focus on those things. But then delegate. You don’t have to do this yourself. If you can afford it, hire a professional.
But hire renaissance women (and men):
Cut down on the number of vendors wherever possible. If the venue includes chairs, tables, and a place for people to stay, you’ve cut down on the number of other vendors that you need to interact with, contracts to sign, decisions to make, and people who might fuck up. If the caterer does liquor, sign them up.
When you can’t hire, delegate. If you have willing family and friends, delegate decision making too:
DELEGATE!! And not even tasks but just little decisions. At first people would ask if they could help, and we weren’t really DIY-ing anything so I always felt like there was nothing they could actually do. Then one day the light bulb came on and I realized my friends and family could actually make some of the decisions! There were so many things we initially wanted to decide ourselves, but as soon as I got down to the wire I no longer had the brainpower to make choices, but things still needed to be planned. We asked people to help with things like picking the last dance song, to deciding which booze to serve, and even deciding which items to register for. (Seriously—my fiancé’s cousin was so helpful with this. She got our taste and had had a real kitchen for years, so she knew exactly what was worth it). It was so freeing to know that trusted loved ones were making the decision on those things and I could also focus on the details I really really cared about… and OH YEAH my new job I started four months before the wedding.
Lock yourselves into major decisions, so it all flows from there:
After choosing a venue, I immediately purchased the tablecloths. The point here isn’t about renting versus buying linens (although we got a great deal online), but rather that I immediately made a decision about the entire tone and décor for the reception. My fiancé said, “Are you sure you want to commit to that now?” And I said, “That’s the point.” I don’t want to spend nine months hemming and hawing about tablecloths. I picked a theme and now I’ve narrowed the realm of possibility for all future decor decisions.
What about you? How is wedding planning going right now? Are you in the easy camp, or the OMG-make-it-stop camp? What tips and tricks have you found to make wedding planning a little bit more manageable?