Wedding Planning 101

19 Jul

Wedding planning has officially taken over my life.  To be quite honest, I’m shocked at how much I think about the wedding.  Frankly, it’s an obscene amount.  Let me preface this by saying I wasn’t the type of girl who dreamt about my wedding growing up.  I love weddings, don’t get me wrong… I just didn’t necessarily visualize specific details prior to Adam.  Now that I’m in the midst of planning one, it’s been more of a challenge without those visions in place.

Our wedding planning has been a team process, and thankfully we got the bulk of the big decisions out of the way before Adam moved to Nashville.  Now that Adam is away I am spearheading a lot of the organization, but we’re still tackling the actual decisions as a team.  Here are some of the things we’ve done that might be useful if you ever find yourself planning a wedding!  (Note: these are just personal observations – I know there are 12 ways to peel an orange, or plan a wedding!)

I said no to the binder… and survived.

Everywhere online I found articles saying I must have a binder with all of my wedding information.  I found sites explaining specifically how to make the binder and why it was so important.  Honestly the idea of a paper binder just didn’t seem to mesh with my lifestyle and how I like to organize things.  I do agree that organization is needed, there are just many ways to be organized.

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A snapshot of our Google Docs. There are more folders and a Master To Do list.

Adam and I decided to organize our wedding “binder” through Google docs.  I could not say enough positive things about this way of organizing wedding details.  We have folders that are shared between us and can be accessed on any computer, ipad, or even our phones.  The folders organize things like “ceremony”, “wedding website”, “budget”, or “people”.  Any documents related to a topic can neatly go in the folder and we can create new ones from right within Google docs.  Planning a long distance wedding – this has been a lifesaver.  It also means you can share documents or folders with your MOH or other family members.  Talk about amazing.  Seriously check this out if you’re starting the wedding planning process.

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Our “Budget” folder is full of spreadsheets!

Pick your priorities for budget

Before we even signed our first contract, Adam and I settled on 3 top priorities.  We wanted some hierarchy and organization to where our money was being spent.  We also wanted to be on the same page before talking to vendors or getting far down the planning process.  Choosing our priorities has made it easier to cut costs in areas that aren’t priorities.  For us we chose:

  • Photography.   We want beautiful photography that could double as art and we could proudly display.  This was a much bigger priority for me than for Adam but I told him how important it was to me.  We agreed to have it as a mutual priority.
  • Music. This really is one of Adam’s big things.  I love music too, but I would’ve been okay without a live band.  Adam loves music more than anyone I know.  Having something truly special and amazing from a music perspective was very important to him.  I agreed and we made this a top priority.
  • Family.  Adam and I really toyed around with the idea of having a destination wedding.  My family all adores traveling and conveniently I have 3 in the airline industry.  :) But the more we talked about it, the more we realized that we would alienate some family by throwing a destination wedding.  We want as many of our loved ones to be there to celebrate with us so we decided that having a higher number was a bigger priority than having a fancier or more exotic wedding.  I know often people make the decision to have quality over quantity – but with our big families and tons of mutual friends we went with quantity over quality.  If the people we love are there, the wedding will be amazing in our books.

 Whatever your top priorities may be, discuss them, agree to them, and then stick to them.  Now whenever it comes to big decisions we analyze whether or not they fit in our “Big 3.”  It has provided us with wonderful direction.  I’d highly recommend agreeing to your top priorities.


Cut Cost

Once we determined our priorities, we have been mindful to cut cost in areas that don’t build or add to those priorities.  Not to say that we haven’t been able to get what we want or have made choices we regret – we’ll just been diligent about cutting cost.  For example – finding a dress off the rack instead of ordering one and getting alterations.  Could I have found a more beautiful dress?  Well duh, if I had an unlimited budget.  But my dress is just beautiful and will work wonderfully.  We’ve had to control those urges of “but wouldn’t this be better?”  Better and perfect are words that are the enemy!  I don’t want to go into debt for our wedding, and we’ve had to make choices that, while lovely, maybe aren’t the most amazing choice out there.  (There’s always something more beautiful, more amazing, more expensive, etc).  Resist the urge!

Areas we’ve cut cost:

  • Mailings.  We’ve exclusively used Vista Print and I LOVE IT!  Our Save the Dates were around 50 bucks for 250 of them in color, postcard style.  You seriously cannot beat that price…believe me I tried.  They look so professional and in comparison to the wedding websites, they are so reasonable.  I don’t think anyone will know that we paid hundreds less than some other sites out there.  We also are doing online RSVP and just including one page for our invitations.  Again if it doesn’t support our Big 3…we’ve got to cut cost.
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Note: the stars aren’t in our real design ;)

  • Attire.  With my dress off the rack and requiring no alterations, borrowing a veil, and wearing old shoes (I think ;)).. I’m hoping to come in under budget for my attire.  Adam is wearing a suit he already owns and just purchased the matching vest to dress it up a bit.  He will look perfect to me. Well frankly he could wear anything and I’d be happy.

Oh yeah… that’s a sharp suit!

  • Food/Cake.  We settled on a buffet meal (I know, I know… could be classier) and hosted wine and beer.  Everyone will have a wonderful hot meal and something cool to drink…but we won’t be pulling out the stops to make sure this is the fanciest night of everyone’s lives.  Honestly as long as people are fed and can drink something they will be happy.  They aren’t going to a 5 star restaurant, they’re coming to our wedding!  A close family friend is going to bake our cupcakes – yum.  She’s an amazing baker :)

 Again it doesn’t matter what your priorities and your “don’t cares” are – they could be the exact opposite of mine… just pick them and stick to them!  Otherwise you’ll find yourself spending a lot of money on everything!  Weddings are insane, crazy expensive.  Really it’s dumb.

Have fun and stick to your guns!

Everyone has their own wedding vision, and everyone will judge what they want to judge…especially when it comes to a wedding.  “Oh that’s an interesting color”  “Hmmm, they should’ve done traditional vows”  “Well January is certainly an interesting time of year.”  At the end of the day it is about Adam and I getting married.  We want happy guests (of course!), but we have to accept that we will probably do things in a way that isn’t exactly the way everyone else would do it.  And that’s okay!!  That’s life.  We have to go with our instincts and pick things we love.  And most importantly we don’t need to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and go into debt to have a day that doesn’t feel authentically ours.  Some people will think we spent too much on our wedding, others will think we were el cheapo…at the end of the day we have settled on an amount we feel comfortable with and will work within our budget.  Live and let live I say!  Most importantly – I’m trying to just enjoy this special time.  Marriage is a huge step and relishing in the planning and preparation is a wonderful thing!

So there you have it!  A couple things I’ve learned along the way.  So far, Adam and I have really enjoyed wedding planning…especially now that the big decisions have been made :)  We think we are close to deciding on our wedding invitations and suits for the guys.  I love progress.

HAPPY FRIDAY!  Have a wonderful weekend!


P.S. We decided on the navy blue for our bridesmaid dressses!  Woot!  Thank you all for your opinions.

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P.P.S. Notice the new wedding tab across the top… I’ll be adding wedding posts every now and again as we get closer.  Hope you enjoy! :)

What wedding planning tips do you have?  Any lessons to share?

12 Responses to “Wedding Planning 101”

  1. Liz July 19, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Google Docs = genius!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 22, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Thank Liz! Google Docs is absolute amazingness… it has changed my life outside of wedding planning too.

  2. southernfriedriddles July 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Seems like we think along the same lines! Love this post. :)

  3. southernfriedriddles July 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Reblogged this on Southern Fried Thinker and commented:
    This is a pretty awesome post. Kinda laid back. Very cool.

  4. MegBek July 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Great post! Very interesting to see what all you go through in planning a wedding. I helped a friend plan one years ago and it was tough. I can’t imagine how she felt! Those all sound like good calls to me, especially the photography! Bc at the end of the day, it’s an important day, but it’s just ONE day in the scheme of your whole lives together. And at the end of it, you want a good representation of the memories from it, hence spending more on a good photographer. There’s no reason to spend more than you need to. And yeah, people are gonna talk shit bc some people suck, but it’s your day so they can suck it. Have a great weekend!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 22, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Oh I know – it’s madness! I knew that planning was intense and blah blah blah, but it certainly is a different experience when it is your own wedding. It’s hard to fight the “Only going to happen once” feelings to just blow the budget :) And glad you feel me about the photography…so so important! Hope you had an awesome weekend too!

  5. Lucy @ Lucy On The Lookout July 22, 2013 at 5:59 am #

    Love this Kelly! Especially liked reading how you and Adam made each other’s priorities top priority :) I personally really like the sound of more authentic low-key weddings which have more of a personal feel – have remembered weddings where the bride and groom have invested so much money into prepping that they couldn’t enjoy the day because they were too worried something was going to go wrong..! I think it’s easy to lose sight of what matters but you clearly have a smart head on you! I attended a wedding reception this weekend ‘like no other’ where the couple rented out their old favourite haunt (a music venue no less!), had homemade cupcakes/a gorgeous homemade wedding cake, a BBQ, and some cold beers and pimms. It was really lovely and the couple looked as happy as ever. Fab choice of colour for the dresses too!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 22, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      Thanks Lucy! :) You are so right – we don’t want to feel if something goes wrong “the whole day is ruined” sort of thing! The wedding you went to this weekend sounds absolutely amazing! I love that they did a BBQ – amazing. We were hoping for something more low-key like that, but in January we couldn’t do a park like we had hoped.. but we’ve definitely made it work. Sort of a low-key/traditional feel. I love authentic weddings – that’s what we’re trying to do. Let’s see! And glad you like the color, happy that decision is over with! :)


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