Sometimes I suspect that if a scientist looked at a cross-section of my brain, things might actually be divided up into neat, color-coded, size-ordered, alphabetized compartments in there. As I've said before, I am a compulsive organizer; it really helps me think, and keeps me from getting stressed. Wedding planning can be quite a beast when you think about aaaaalll the things that need to be planned, done, and coordinated, but I've had a pretty smooth time working through it all so far. The tools I've used to stay on track have been super-helpful, and I've felt mellow about the wedding about 90% of the time (which is a pretty good track record, I think!). So, I thought it might help anybody who's getting a little bit swallowed up by all the STUFF involved in wedding planning if I shared some tips on the organizational things I do to keep myself sane.
I only use my binder for information from and contracts of vendors we've already booked. I like having one place to keep all my set-in-stone, binding documents. You can prepare this way before you actually sign with anybody--I did! I bought a bunch of el cheapo dividers at Target, labeled them with the vendors I knew we would need to book, and have been filling them in with the contracts of the people we've chosen as things move along.
This is what the inside of my planner looks like--I recommend the Savannah College of Art and Design line sold at Barnes & Noble, mostly because they're pretty. (Source.)
I carry this thing with me everywhere. I picked one with lots of room and wide-spaced lines, so I can list appointments, my daily to-do list, and jot down a little note if I exercised (part of my new accountability plan for wedding fitness!). I also break down some of my big tasks into smaller, more manageable daily stuff. It's also really helpful to remember all the appointments set up for our periodic trips to Pittsburgh.
I made my own budget tracker in the Google Docs version of Excel. I plugged our overall budget number into the tool on Martha Stewart's wedding website to put together a basic budget plan, which I then customized based on costs I already knew about or thought I could reasonably change. My budget spreadsheet is divided into the various categories where all the money's going. Once I come up with the totals spent for each item, I color-code the expense according to who paid for it. The over/under column helps me keep track of places where I went over the planned expense, or under it.
Giant To-Do List:
I have a master list of things that need to get done between now and our wedding in September. Like my budget spreadsheet, it's also a Google Doc. I used my favorite (and only) wedding-planning book to come up with a basic idea of tasks that would need to be done as the months go by, and I add my own notes as they come up. I keep it updated several months in advance, because I like knowing what I've got ahead of me.
My Favorite and Only Wedding-Planning Book:
Miss Scissors already told you all about this one, but I've got to throw my weight behind it too. I don't own any other wedding planning guide at all. This book is so comprehensive and helpful--whenever I've got a dilemma or am wondering about something, I just flip straight to the relevant chapter, and Mindy's usually got a good answer. I have used the suggestions in this book to make a lot of wedding decisions.
This type of organization and preparation is probably not for everybody. I totally get that for some people, this kind of stuff might be intimidating or cause feelings of anxiety and pressure. But I LUUUUURRRRVE it, and if you do too, I hope these ideas were helpful!
How do you keep your wedding planning in order?