It’s been about 4 months since my last wedding planning blog post and a lot has changed since then, so my amazing fiancé had the great idea of turning this into somewhat of a series and sharing our favorite planning hacks that we discover as we go. It seems fitting to publish this 6 years to the day from our first real date too!
Probably the most exciting parts of the last four months were getting our engagement photos taken, asking our bridal party, choosing our venue, food & most importantly… CAKE!
Here are our ten top tips at the moment for the planning process (being roughly one year out from saying “I do!”)
- Send “roster cards” in bridal party proposals: if you’re like us, you’ve got friends in a lot of places. The most common thing people are thinking when they get asked to be in your wedding party is (“who else will be in it?”) even if they don’t outright ask you. Including cards in your bridal party proposals that say who you’re planning on having be a part of your big day helps your family & friends plan a little more and prepare for who they’ll be in group texts with for the next year. (you can see my bridesmaid proposals HERE)
- Don’t sleep on stamps: stamps are PRICEY. Don’t forget about that. If you’re budgeting for your Save the Dates or Invitations, don’t forget to factor in stamps before ordering the invite suite of your dreams. Also, contrary to most other things in the world… they aren’t cheaper on amazon! The best bang for your buck is really at the post office… we promise.
- Save for the splurges: when looking at your budget, try to evaluate the things you can cut out to make room for the extras. Even though we had an amazing photographer at our engagement (Ky did so good) we still wanted the typical engagement session full of sappy moments & outfit changes – so we saved extra for a few months prior to our engagement session day.
- Picture your venue: close your eyes and picture your wedding day. What does it look like? How is the room lit? What’s the layout? This is great to do before your first chat with your venue or wedding planner because you have more a vision of what you’re wanting.
- Eat with your eyes: when you’re planning your menu, think about how the food will look; buffet style, plated, family style, etc.. This will have a lot to do with what you think will be a good combination.
- Have your cake & eat it too: this is the part you can really take advantage of!!! We did so many cake tastings we made meals out of them. While it was super fun to test all the different flavors and it only helped us continue to know what we wanted for the most important dessert we’ll ever order, all of the tastings weren’t just for pleasure. The price difference was amazing from one to place to the next for exactly the same things! Don’t count any place out based on how they look either. The one we thought for sure would be out of our price range was actually cheaper than the rest… for more food, too!
- Save Our Date: for destination weddings (which is any wedding where more guests are coming from out of town than in) it’s great to send Save the Dates out even a year in advance. This gives people a chance to make plans, think about travel, saving etc.. We also really liked the idea of saving “save our date” and got some compliments on that verbiage! It’s not just any old date after all…
- Tag-team: you may not always have this an option, but tag-teaming things like sending out save the dates can be life changing! Kyle & I have a version of our guest list that’s broken out by each side of the family, so we took half and knocked out our save the dates in an hour & a half.
- Spreadsheets for the win: the final version of our spreadsheet has everyone’s names written out formally with their full address in a single column (along with other columns that say whether or not we sent them a save the date, if they responded, if we sent invites, “thank yous”, etc..). The single column will allow us to print all of their addresses on fancy labels for the invitations, which we can do on our own at Staples & is super cost-effective/ time saving. The other columns will help to keep everything organized throughout the whole process, even into sending “thank yous” post wedding.
- Early seating charts: in a chat with our wedding planner (we have one included with our venue, which is honestly the best thing EVER) we learned that we can already start on the seating chart, prior to invites being sent out or getting a layout for the room. Based on the family & close friends who we know will be coming, we can begin mapping out our seating chart so that the room can then be catered around that. It eliminates trying to randomly plug people into the big puzzle & more so making the puzzle off of what’s already there.
Pro Tip: Kyle says his favorite thing we’ve done in the planning process so far is create our own timeline & due dates. We don’t go by other people’s lists because the wedding planning process definitely isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing! It’s helped us a ton to list out a few goals each month and tag-team knocking them each of the list as we go.