Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Welcome to the second installment of Sam & Sarah's wedding series! If you haven't read the first segment, make sure you hop on over to meet the gals, read their proposal stories, and get a feel for their wedding visions. This week, these lovely ladies are discussing getting started with the wedding planning process, sharing how much they've progressed and what tips they've picked up along the way. As a reminder, Sam is getting married in October, while Sarah is tying the knot in March, so their progress correlates with how much time they have left to plan. Read on for their updates and firsthand advice!

1. How are you staying organized? Do you have a notebook? An Excel chart? A wedding planner?

Sam: I have a 16-tab Google spreadsheet that includes date availability, guest list, predicted RSVPs, budget, deposit and payment dates, venues, photographers, and vendors, in addition to a separate Google calendar (shared with my fiance and mom) that includes all of our appointments, payment dates and other wedding plans. I have a special "wedding" label in my inbox so I can easily see all my wedding emails, and I've made sure that I've saved my vendors as contacts in my phone and grouped them into a wedding group. I also have my Pinterest boards and a secret dress board for inspiration.

In addition to all of my online planning tools, I have my favorite Rifle Paper Co notepad and Post-Its with daily task lists. Crossing them off makes me feel great! Physical lists are a great way to keep track of what you've done, because as you progress with your plans, it gets more and more difficult to remember what you've done. Lastly, I have a coordinator - not a wedding planner. Her role is more logistical and comes in around the last month and on the day of. I felt I didn’t need a planner and am happy I chose to do it on my own.

Sarah: My mom gifted me a wedding planning binder that helps me stay organized. It has tabs that include everything from the reception venue to photography, and everything in between! It is extremely helpful to have it all organized in one place. I keep everything from sample invitations, to copies of contracts and receipts in it. I also have a reception venue coordinator who has been a huge help! She will assist me up until the wedding, as well as the day of. I have a wedding Pinterest board, as well as a moodboard, where I display pictures of my potential dress, bridesmaid dresses, sample bouquets, and color palettes. I am a very visual person, so it helps to be able to see how everything will look together as I continue to come up with ideas.

2. What have you planned so far?

Sam: At this moment, I have the venue, photographer, dress, caterer, florist, videographer, pastor, maids and men, hair & makeup gal, and a 99% finalized guest list.

Sarah: I have booked the church I will get married in, as well as the reception venue and photographer. I have a preliminary guest list compiled, and have asked my bridesmaids as well as my matron of honor!

3. What's next on the list?

Sam: Designing the invites, booking the DJ, working on the day before/day of timeline schedule, booking a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests, and planning the wedding shower & bachelorette with my best friend and maid of honor, Ariel.

Sarah: Next on my list is purchasing my dress and the bridesmaid dresses, and deciding on a florist and videographer.

4. How are you feeling? Any tips?

Sam: I am feeling really great! Organization (read: OCD) is my middle name, so I am on top of everything. I am loosely going by The Knot’s timeline, but I am knocking out things as quickly as I can. I could really use a massage or facial though. That would be nice.

Here are the tips I’ve given my plethora of recently engaged friends:
-- Scour the Blogs: Begin with Style Me Pretty -- you can search the gallery by categories, tags, colors, style, or season. Next comes Green Wedding Shoes, Grey Likes, Once Wed, Ruffled, 100 Layer Cake, Rustic Wedding Chic, Snippet & Ink.
** I looked through a ton of posts and if you find a venue you like - search "(venue name) Style Me Pretty" and more likely than not, a couple of real weddings at that venue will come up through the blog, so you can see it without having to visit a bazillion places.

-- Utilize Wedding Wire: It's not a wedding blog, but it's extremely useful when looking for venues. It compiles information that is presented in a consistent format, so it's easy to compare multiple venues.

-- Pin Pin Pin: If you haven't yet, create a Pinterest board and pin as much as you can. A lot of vendors will ask for your board to see what you're liking, so if you already have what's in your mind on your boards, it's super helpful. Maybe even make a new account that you only use for wedding planning and make each board specific, with topics like dresses (keep that one secret!), flowers, and specific photo shots so you can send that exact board to each vendor. This is wedding planning of the 21st century - gone are the days of magazine tear-outs.

--  Sign Up: Make an account on The Knot! It's so much help, as they are a wedding authority with tons of resources and a great timeline to follow with options to customize it.

-- Buy This Book: It was lent to me by my friend's mom and it is the wedding planning Bible. It has advice for every situation! I am really not kidding - buy it.

Sarah: I'm feeling really happy and excited! I have some major things checked off my list, so that is a great feeling. I would suggest either getting a binder or utilizing some other organizational tool to keep track of everything. For wedding inspiration, I love blogs such as Green Wedding Shoes, The Lane, Bash Please, and 100 Layer Cake to name a few. I would recommend making an account on The Knot as well. They have a lot of resources and great templates for your personal wedding website!

Where are you in the wedding planning process? Make sure to check back in two weeks for the next installment of the series. And if you still haven't seen the girls' first post, wander on over to for some truly adorable proposal stories!