How to be Your Own Wedding Planner 

 Originally Written: January 3, 2011

By  Hanna Trafford

Last Updated on January 3, 2011 by Hanna Trafford

Who would have thought that you saying “Yes” to that ever important question would lead to so much organization and work? You are now possibly faced with making more decisions that you ever did before. So – where do you start? I have put together a list of steps that will help you to stay organized and arrive at your special day relaxed and happy

Set Your Style

How do you do that?

  1. Consider your personalities and envision your dream wedding. Include a consideration of things that make you happy and what you and your fiance like doing for fun
  2. Think of your history – think back over the course of your courtship
  3. Factor in your guests – it is your day, but if you were to decide on a black tie event while most of your guests are on the “casual” side, they may not feel comfortable and that will take away from the enjoyment
  4. Find a happy medium – when discussing the wedding plans with your partner, you may have different visions. Your job will be to do your best to combine them.

 Home or Away?

There may not be a clear cut spot to pick – especially if you and your fiance are from two different locations. So –

  1. Figure out the logistics , considering how many of your guests will not be able to attend if you plan the wedding at a faraway location for most of them. And don’t forget the consider your budget – that can play a huge role in your decision.

Figure Out Your Finances

Gone are the days when it was pretty much an obligation for the bride’s parents to foot the bill. Average wedding these days can cost $30,000 and as much as there is usually a contribution from the families of both partners, it is important to set out a reasonable budget based on as many known expenses as possible.

  1. First, figure out how much you and your fiancé can set aside for your special day
  2. Next – sit down with each side of the family and openly discuss what their plans and abilities to help you out are.
  3. Finally – make sure your wedding dreams will fit your budget. As you start pricing out the details, you may need to prioritize and fund the key ones while scaling back on others.

Pick the Date

Now it’s time to pull out both your schedules and figure out which date will work the best.

  1. Look for potential conflicts like vacations, holidays, football schedule, family events – consider as many potential conflict days as possible before you pick your special date.
  2. Also consider your climate –  this is a little bit more than just considering what flowers will be in bloom. You may want to consider possible winter storms if you are planning a white event, or if you are in a possible hurricane prone area – you may have stranded guests, etc. I know that you cannot predict the weather  – what you need to do is have plans in place that will deal with possible situations.
  3. Think about switching from the traditional Saturday – think about the facts that there are only 52 of them in a year and thousands of brides are after them. If you consider an alternative – Friday or Sunday, you may just find planning your wedding a whole lot easier, not to mention that your choice of vendors and suppliers will be indefinitely broader and your prices will also be different.
  4. And most importantly – give yourself enough time to plan your wedding – be realistic. There are a lot of details to cover and trying to get everything done fast will cause you stress and without a doubt – missing some pretty important details.

Get the Groom Involved

Keep remembering that planning a wedding is a team event – and you and your fiance are the team. Here is how to best go about it:

  1. Make a list of what you plan and think about and hand it to him. Include details like the names of your wedding party participants and who you are planning to pair up with whom.
  2. When talking about the wedding, keep referring to it as “his” wedding as often as possible – it will make him feel more involved and stress the point that it is his wedding as well as yours.
  3. Let him make some decisions – like tuxes for himself and his groomsmen. Discuss it with him and make sure he knows all about the surrounding details like bridesmaids dress colours and styles, type of flowers, etc.
  4. Think about things he enjoys in getting him involved – if he likes to cook, take him to your bridal registry with you and let him pick out pots and pans. If he likes music, involve him in selecting DJ or the band and favourite songs, etc.

Get Organized

Remember that all the wedding details will come with tons of information – from fabric swatches to menus to samples to contracts and clippings. It is important to keep everything organized.

  1. You can start with a binder that you divide into relevant sections.
  2.  If you have the space, small filing cabinet is a very good idea.
  3.  If you don’t, even accordion style expanding file will do a great job for you.
  4.  Basically – you need something that will help you keep all information in one spot.
  5. Of course there is also the techno way to stay organized, using your computer. That is not a bad idea when you think about storing information, site pictures, etc. But you will still need a place to file information you will gather as you move through getting brochures, samples, etc. – so perhaps a combination of both is the ideal one.

Prepare Your Guest List

  1. Since you have already prepared your financial plan and that includes what each guest is going to cost you, you now know how many people you can afford to invite. Not an easy thing to do, since you have no idea how many people will accept your invitation.
  2. And you will need to stay realistic – don’t feel obligated to invite a cousin you haven’t seen in 10 years just because you used to play together as kids.
  3. Best way to trim your guest list is to cut out the “and a guest”. Only if your friends have a long term relationship or are engaged should you use that addition.
  4. It is perfectly OK to invite single people – if they want to bring a guest, it is up to them to contact you and request the addition.
  5. Avoid “chain” invites – meaning that if you don’t feel you cannot invite only some people from a particular group you belong to – you may need to skip the entire group instead of feeling pressured to invite everyone.
  6. Keep it close and personal – your colleagues from work and your clients will understand if you say that you are keeping the invite to family and close friends. That still allows you to invite those you are close with at work without feeling that you have to invite entire department.
  7. Consider the kids – Set a limit here – for example let people know that you are not inviting children under 12. If you choose to make an exception, do it carefully or you will ruffle some feathers. Sometimes the answer is to invite children to the ceremony and not to the reception – just make it clear on the invitations.
  8. And if you still have a problem arriving at correct number of guest, involved you families and ask for their input. It can open a can of worms on one hand, but it can also be very helpful and avoid questions and surprises later.

 Keep the Peace

Remember that marriage doesn’t just combine two people – it combines two families. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to deal with requests and wishes from various family members, so –

  1. Lay the ground rules ahead of time – talk to both sides of the families ahead of time and let them know what your plans are.
  2. That will also be helpful in them providing financial help to you – they will understand better what you are planning to do to make your day special.
  3. But do not let that slip over the line of being dictate how and where to do what you want to do. Make it clear to them that the decisions are yours as it is after all your day. If you allow them to have an input at the beginning, you will likely avoid possibly unwanted input at a later date.
  4. Keep everyone in the loop as much as possible – share details as they happen and consider inviting parents to some key event – like menu or cake tasting. Their input can be valuable and they will understand that the final decisions are yours the more you include them in the events.
  5. Keep mothers occupied – that does sound funny, but you may want to seriously consider that. Mothers feel responsible for making sure that your special day is as special as humanly possible and can do more damage in the process of caring then you or they would ever imagine. Mothers can be overbearing and the way to control them is to keep them in the loop and have them contribute.
  6. Pick your battles – this may be something you have not considered because you don’t think you need to. But weddings do include a lot of emotions and it is easy to get upset because your dad refuses to wear a tux – or something equally important. Always consider what really matters – giving up on some ideas or having to deal with an argument and a negative feelings.
  7. On the same note – handle your side of the family and let you fiance handle his. Let him do the talking when issues – especially sensitive ones are being discussed.

 I hope this list gives you a good start – I will be posting more information on how to survive your own wedding and enjoy every minute of preparations and the actual event!


Hanna Trafford

Hanna is the mother of two grown sons Dan and Dusan Nedelko, and is also the Grandmother to Jax, Cohen and Mila. She is the lead editor of Mama Knows and is hoping to create an exchange of communications with other grandmothers, mothers and daughters - giving everyone the opportunity to learn and share about everything that is "Mama"

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