It’s been seven months since our engagement and Jason and I are knee-deep in wedding planning mode. After the initial, panicky thoughts of, “We need to hire a wedding planner. We need to elope. We need to not do this at all,” we’re officially (kinda) planning our wedding ourselves. We’re lucky to have an abundance of resources—past and future bride-friends, knowledgeable wedding vendors, wedding planning apps and, of course, the coordinators at our venue—helping guide us along the way.
I never knew what an enormous task wedding planning could be. Regardless of how small or big, minimal or extravagant you want that special day to be, there are so many little details that can go into making sure the whole day runs as smoothly as possible.
We gave ourselves just over a year to pull it off.
So where are we now?
Without giving away too many details… We’ve passed most of our key planning milestones, and have almost everything that’s a MUST in order for this wedding go ahead. We figured out our budget first to make sure we weren’t turning our pockets inside-out for this day. Then we booked our venue. We picked a “theme.” We hired an officiant. Our wedding party has signed their souls away and we have a preliminary guest list. I found a dress.
Aside from those essentials, we placed a huge importance on finding a photographer and videographer. I know the day will be a blur and I think that photos and video will serve as an important visual memento. Booking these two vendors for our wedding day was one of the first things we finalized. Check and check!
Both Jason and I also agreed that food is one of our top priorities for our wedding. From hor d’oeuvres to dinner to dessert tables, we are currently going over the menus with a fine-tooth comb. We’ve done an initial tasting with our chef and are fine-tuning the recipes (we’re lucky that our chef is open to changing and customizing items for us!). We’re also mulling over our “final picks” for bakers and bakeries.
It’s the little things
The rest of the planning is a bit scattered. Not for lack of care or trying, but because of our indecisiveness and pickiness. In fact, I used to be indifferent about the whole marriage/wedding thing so I never thought it would be such a big deal to me. However, I’m definitely feeling an immense pressure to make sure everything is just right. Decisions that I thought were made were reversed; we’re probably asking for a few too many opinions in some instances. I mean, we’re hosting 100 of our closest friends and family, and it’s all going to be documented. I overthink my interactions with the baristas at Starbucks so I know I’m going to be replaying every. single. moment. of this wedding in my head once it’s over. The wedding anxiety is real!
With that said, we have yet to wrap up most of the smaller details and nice-to-haves. We’re picking up little things here and there. But we still have to commit to major design elements, delivery times, day-of schedules, shoot locations, music lists, entertainment, bridal and groom’s accessories, drink menus… oh, and creating a wedding website and sending out invitations. We’re also planning to do some little DIY projects here and there, which we’ll hopefully get to over the coming months. Basically, it never ends.
We’ve definitely reached the point where we realize we can’t have everything we initially wanted. The dream of having a five-course meal, magician, fireworks, and fifteen-piece jazz band have officially flown out the window. (Maybe we were a little unrealistic, yes?)
But we’re also realizing that, if we focus on doing the little things really well, it could make the day just as special as if we give a full-on spectacle. Instead of throwing everything at the wall, we’re trying to stick to spending our time, effort and money on adding some more personal touches in place of the bigger splashes. The little things can say a lot.
Wedding planning tools
Anyway, enough about us! I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the tools we’ve been using throughout our planning so far. To help keep us on track, I’m relying heavily on two tools in particular:
1) The Wedding Wire app and website.
Recommended by one of my colleagues (thanks, Nat!), this website and mobile device app has it all for the “beginner” bride or groom. As I mentioned, after we set our wedding date, I was a bit of a deer in the headlights. I had no idea where to start planning, let alone what we needed to do. Wedding Wire not only establishes an easy-to-follow to-do list with timelines based on your actual wedding date, but has a great budgeting tool that allows you to itemize every expense for your wedding. These are helping us stay on track task-wise and financially (as much as possible, anyway).
(Photo: The Wedding Wire dashboard.)
If you’re just starting out, you can search vendors in your city (if they’ve set up a profile on the site) and add them to a wishlist until you decide on the ones you want to hire. You can also build your guestlist and drag-and-drop them into a customized seating chart. This is very helpful for anyone who’s visual like me.
For those you seeking out some inspiration, you can check out photos of real weddings, ask questions on their forum, and use their wedding dress database to narrow down your style and designer preferences (though nothing beats actually trying on gowns to find what you really love).
If your partner wants to be involved in the planning and organization, they can create their own account and you can link access to your profile. This syncs up any edits that either of you make to your wedding day. Sharing is caring, afterall.
Lastly, if you plan on going digital with any aspect of your invitations or RSVPs, Wedding Wire offers free wedding websites for anyone with an account. This is really the all-in-one tool!
2) The Google Docs “Wedding Planner” template.
If you prefer a more hands-on tool and you have a good idea of what you need for your wedding day already, this is my tool of choice. (Note: you need to be a little savvy with spreadsheets, or you may find this very convoluted!)
When you open your Google Docs, open the Wedding Planner template and prepare to be amazed. This spreadsheet took a little more time and customization our end to begin with. However, once we converted the currencies to Canadian dollars and started filling in the details of our wedding, it quickly became the hub for all of our wedding planning. You can also share this with your fiancé (or anyone else with a gmail account) and work on it simultaneously. (Yes, Jason and I have had a couple late night jam sessions where we hammer out a couple tabs at once together, ha!)
(Photo: Front page of the Google Docs wedding planner spreadsheet.)
Each section here has its own tab within the workbook. In it, we’ve included our all the contact information for our guests and vendors (both hired and prospective). We linked all our vendors’ costs across each tab to our detailed budget sheet, so we can quickly see if we’re over or under budget for any aspects of the big day.
Essentially, this template serves as our wedding address book, comprehensive budgeting tool, and to-do list now. If you have the Sheets app on your phone, you can take this tool with you anywhere too.
Between these two sites/apps, we’re pretty content with our organization but I know there is a wealth of other planning tools online. Feel free to share your favourites below!