Staying organized while planning a wedding is no small feat. Forty-seven percent of engaged and newlywed couples said the process was so stressful they considered eloping or getting married at city hall, according to a 2018 survey of 500 engaged and newlywed couples by Zola, a wedding planning and registry website. Fifty-six percent reported elevated anxiety, 37 percent difficulty sleeping, and 10 percent loss of sex drive because of wedding planning stress.
Clearly, wedding planning can be a mentally and physically taxing job, which may explain why one in three couples (29 percent) who married in 2018 hired a professional wedding planner, according to The Knot.
Of course, not everyone can afford a professional planner, whose services cost, on average, $2,002. But by implementing a few smart organization strategies, you can plan your own wedding without losing too much sleep.
Get rid of paper contracts and go digital.
Though many wedding vendors still use paper contracts, wedding planning binders are outdated, said Alyssa Meeks, a Houston wedding and event planner. A better way to keep track of contracts, invoices and other important paper documents, Ms. Meeks said, is by storing them on Google Drive or iCloud. This way you’ll be able to access the files from your smartphone when you need them. If you don’t have a scanner at home, you can upload papers using a mobile app like Scanbot or Genius Scan.
Leverage Pinterest, but don’t go overboard.
Pinterest can be a treasure trove of ideas for invitations, cake design, table centerpieces and other wedding needs. A survey commissioned by Pinterest and published two years ago noted that its user base conducts 378 million wedding-related searches on the website each year.
Megan Hiltbrand, a wedding and event planner in Syracuse, suggests that instead of pinning a ton of photos to a master board (which many people do), you should curate your favorite photos by creating boards for each wedding category — like hair and makeup, flower arrangements, specialty cocktails. By having your photos organized in this fashion, and selecting no more than six photos for each category, Ms. Hiltbrand said, you’ll be better prepared to present your ideas to vendors. Photographers, decorators, florists and other vendors can also gain a better understanding of your vision for the wedding by viewing your pared-down Pinterest boards.
There’s one caveat. “Many of the images shared around on Pinterest are either from high-end events or styled photo shoots, where it’s really cost prohibitive to replicate for a 200-plus- guest wedding,” Ms. Hiltbrand said. “By looking at the individual attributes of the images, you can single out elements of them — a certain flower, gold flatware, wooden chairs or taper candles — to incorporate that gets you closer to the image you pinned without blowing up your budget.”
Use this fast and easy way to collect guest addresses.
Rather than spending hours texting and calling wedding guests to get their mailing addresses, you can save yourself time by using Postable.com, Ms. Meeks said. The website will create a customized link that you can email to your guests that allows them to add their mailing information directly into a digital address book that only you can access. The site will also let you export the addresses to Excel, which is a nice feature considering a number of wedding invitation companies require couples to provide addresses in an electronic spreadsheet.
Create an email account for wedding-related communication.
“You will send and receive an unbelievable amount of emails with regards to your wedding day during the planning process,” said Alyssa Thomas, a wedding planner in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio. She advises couples create an email account that’s strictly designated for wedding planning (like JohnandJaneWed2019@gmail.com), such as email correspondence with vendors. “Having one inbox solely dedicated to this project will save you time and unwanted stress,” she said, meaning that email chain with your caterer won’t get lost in your personal or work email account.
“You can take this one step further and also create specific folders in this email account related to your wedding vendors and design elements, so you can file and find all communication quickly,” Ms. Thomas added.
Design your seating chart online.
Deciding where everyone is going to sit can be overwhelming, especially when planning a large wedding. Ms. Meeks says one way to simplify the process is by creating a seating plan online, such as on All Seated. The website offers a free seating-arrangement tool that lets you choose from a wide range of table arrangements, or upload a customized floor plan. In addition to assigning seats, the site lets you log each guest’s meal information, giving you a seating chart that you can then provide to your caterer.
Set up automated payments with vendors.
Many caterers, photographers, bands, florists and other wedding vendors use a fee schedule, where couples pay a deposit upfront and then pay the remainder of the balance closer to the wedding (say, 30 or 60 days out). However, when you’re juggling dress alterations and finalizing the wedding menu, among many other tasks, it’s easy to forget when payments are due.
Instead of setting calendar reminders (and risk late payments), you can give vendors permission to keep your credit card or bank account information on file and process payment when it’s due. (Most vendors will offer this option, because it insures they’ll be paid on time.) Note: Some vendors charge additional service fees for credit card payments, so find out if there are any surcharges in advance and adjust your payment method if needed.
Create an inventory checklist for the big day.
After months of planning, your wedding day is finally here. It’s a joyous occasion, but there are still a lot of moving pieces that have to be assembled to make everything run smoothly. Rachel Slauer, a wedding and event planner in Atlanta, suggests creating a “day-of inventory checklist that shows what supplies you need to bring to your wedding and who is responsible for bringing each item” such as wedding programs, photo booth props, and other essentials. She offers an inventory list on her website (slauerevents.com).