just a girl living her best life in the upper lefthand corner

Wedding Planning Part 1: Getting Started

source: Katelyn James Blog


Since it’s almost our one year wedding anniversary, I thought I might share some wedding planning 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 used to 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 searches, I ended up stumbling upon the perfect 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 is no longer available. HOWEVER: because it doubles as a keepsake, I still have every one of those amazing pages to share with you all! I just have to say that while I fully appreciate the SW founders’ decision to pursue another avenue, I really wish that they could have found a way to continue producing these binders for future brides! They were so perfectly curated for wedding planning!

I highly recommend, no — I INSIST 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 looked the most like the Southern Weddings option and you can personalize the cover! Other similar options are this one which also looks a bit like the SW planner and this one which is more modern and even doodle-friendly — 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 official planner, they are still [currently] providing their free printable downloads which you can put into whichever binder you choose!


  1. First Things First: Master Checklist(s)/Timeline
  2. Gathering Inspiration: Brainstorming Worksheet, Visual Inspiration/Mood Board Paste-In, Tips for Building Inspiration Board
  3. Budgeting: 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 When Planning Your Ceremony, Ceremony Inspiration, Vows, Vow Library, Vow Brainstorming Worksheets, Plans for Ceremony, Ceremony Starter Timeline
  7. Planning Your Reception: General Tips, Reception Traditions, Toasting Tips, Music Brainstorming, Reception Design Inspiration, Reception Layout Brainstorming
  8. The Gracious Bride: Planning a Wedding Full of Southern Hospitality, Writing Thank You Notes, Thank You Note Tracker, Wedding Gift Planner, Wedding Gift Tracker, Bridesmaid and Groomsman Tracker
  9. Logistics: 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 extras to hold color swatches in the 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!)

I will be writing posts that work through each of the aforementioned sections to help you best plan your wedding and stay organized doing it, so stay tuned!! If you have any specific questions, leave them for me down in the comments!

Congratulations again on your engagement!

xx, Natalie


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!!!




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Tips & Tricks, Wedding


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