Since it’s almost our one year wedding anniversary, I thought I might start a series that includes wedding planning tips, tricks and advice for any future brides!
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT!
It’s such a wonderful feeling to be moving on to the next stage of your relationship with your beloved and I’m so excited for you! Admittedly, I’ve pretty much been obsessed with weddings for as long as I can remember (so, basically since birth…). Over the years, my best friend and I would spend HOURS scouring Style Me Pretty, Pinterest, Martha Weddings, The Knot, wedding dress designers’ websites, etc. for inspiration and knowledge even though we weren’t even in relationships at the time! I am by no means an “expert”, but I was able to plan our wedding by myself and I’d love to share how I did it so that you feel confident planning your wedding too!
I knew right away that I was going to need a way to stay organized… weddings have SO MANY moving parts, it would be impossible to keep track without some method to keep everything in one place. Yes, most things are electronic these days, but having a physical planner came in handy for me SO MANY TIMES (that being said, I definitely had a dedicated “Wedding” folder in my Google Drive to house all electronic documents).
In my search for the perfect wedding planner, I ended up stumbling upon the keepsake planning binder by Southern Weddings and immediately snapped one up. Now, before I totally get your hopes up, the company has decided to discontinue their wedding planning in lieu of focusing on their newest venture so this exact planner can no longer be obtained.
Although the Joyful Wedding Planner by Southern Weddings is no longer available, the brand (which is now “Cultivate What Matters“) has released a digital version of their wedding planner, which you can download instantly here for only $25!!!
I found this planner / guide to be invaluable in the months leading up to our wedding so I absolutely recommend printing these beautiful pages out, using a three hole punch, and keeping them in a three-ring binder (also love this one, this one, and this one) because there’s really nothing like having a tangible collection of everything wedding-related at your fingertips for all of your vendor meetings (and hey, sometimes cell service can be spotty)! The PDF contains 160 pages of wedding planning goodness, so this low price is SUCH a steal! I definitely paid at least 3x this amount for my binder! *Bonus: having the digital version is awesome because you can reprint any pages that you may want to replace or have multiples of!
I highly recommend, no — I INSIST — that if you decide to purchase a different planner that you use a 3-ring binder model because I promise that you WILL want to rearrange, remove, and add items within your planner and this function will make your binder fully customized for your wedding’s needs!
I found some cute planner alternatives that fit the bill: this one and this one looked the most like the Southern Weddings option and this one, which is more of a modern style, is even doodle-friendly so you can customize it — the best part is that each one is under $50! (That means you can save that extra $$$ to put toward other wedding-related items! 😉)
Even though Southern Weddings no longer offers their physical planner, they are still [currently] providing a few free printable downloads which you can print out and use in whichever binder you choose!
Wedding Planner Chapter Overview
1.) First Things First
Master Checklist(s) / Wedding Prep to Wedding Day To-Do’s Timeline
2.) Gathering Inspiration
Brainstorming Worksheet, Visual Inspiration / Mood Board Paste-In, Tips for Building Your Inspiration Board
The Budget, Our Priorities, Contributions, Wedding Vendor Pricing Guide, Tips on Tipping, Budget Spreadsheet, Payment Tracker
4.) Working with Vendors
General Tips for Finding / Negotiating / Hiring Your Vendors, Vendor Contact Sheet, Working with Venues and Rentals, Comparing Venues, Venue Possibilities List, Caterers / Bar Services / Bakers, Caterer / Baker Brainstorming, Planner Brainstorming, Working with Your Florist, Floral Inspiration Board, Florist Brainstorming, Working w/ Your Photographer / Videographer, Photographer Brainstorming, Videographer Brainstorming, Wedding Day Shot List, Musicians, Musician Brainstorming, Working with Your Stationer, Sample Wording & Host Lines
5.) The Look
The Bride, Bridal Style Inspiration, Dress Shopping Journal, Hair & Makeup, Hair & Makeup Brainstorming, Bridesmaid Style, Bridesmaid Dress Inspiration, Bridesmaid Tracker, The Gents, Menswear Inspiration, Groomsmen Tracker
6.) Planning Your Ceremony
Ceremony Structure, Questions to Ask Regarding Your Ceremony, Ceremony Inspiration, Vows, Vow Library, Vow Brainstorming Worksheets, Plans for Ceremony, Ceremony Starter Timeline
7.) Planning Your Reception
General Reception Tips, Reception Traditions, Toasting Tips, Music Brainstorming, Reception Design Inspiration, Reception Layout Brainstorming
8.) The Gracious Bride
Planning a Wedding Full of Hospitality, Writing Thank You Notes, Thank You Note Tracker, Wedding Gift Planner, Wedding Gift Tracker, Bridesmaid and Groomsman Tracker
Building a Wedding Day Timeline, Planning Your Wedding Morning, Wedding Day Packing List, Navigating Logistical Challenges
10.) Marriage Planning
Engaged Doin’s, Fun Questions, Helpful Hints, Hints for a Happy Marriage, Newlywed Tending List, Anniversary Gift Guide
While all of these pages of advice and worksheets are absolutely superb, I would have been lost without being able to add all of our vendor details and contracts to my planner. I used these sheet protectors as well as these business card pages (I also used the extra card pages to hold color swatches in my Visual Inspiration section!). It doesn’t matter how many sections you do/don’t want, but if you find that your planner doesn’t come with enough (or frankly, you just want to label them yourself) these binder dividers are perfect! I also recommend rearranging the sections and pages so that they make sense to you.
Lastly, regardless of things being mostly digital / electronic these days you’ll still need to sign contracts and fill out forms and worksheets in the planning process… to that end, these are my absolute favorite pens and they come in so many fun colors (so you can keep to your wedding color scheme if you’re Type A like me! 😂)
I will be writing a ten-part series of posts that touch on all of the aforementioned topics with my wedding planning experience / advice along with small snippets from the planner to help you best prepare for your wedding and stay organized doing it, so stay tuned!! If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave them for me down in the Comments section!
Congratulations again on your engagement!
P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure, I know these posts may seem like I am partnering with The Joyful Wedding Planner / Cultivate What Matters group, but this planner is seriously a head above the rest and was indispensable to me and planning our wedding! I just believe in it SO strongly and want to share it with you!!!