Can You Be Your Own Wedding Planner?
Author: Kari Newsom
Of course you can! And to be honest with you, the majority of weddings don't have a hired, professional wedding planner. As a matter of fact, I didn't have one - my mother and I did everything for my wedding and I mean EVERYTHING. The big must is: You need to be able to handle the 'pressure' of deadlines, questions, errands, contracts and much more, without caving in and having a nervous breakdown. It is possible!
First things first…you need to be organized to pull it off. If you're not usually an organized person you will have to try especially hard to be disciplined in this area. Start planning as soon as you get engaged. I had almost a year and a half engagement - but I didn't waste any time and I needed every minute of it.
Begin by getting a wedding planner book. There are many good ones out there; I used a Beverly Clark planner which was laid out in a simple, easy to follow way. Get things in order. Make lists. They will save you during all this planning. Make a list of all the people you will need to contact. A church, ceremony sites, reception sites, photographers, caterers, travel agents, florists, bakeries, jewelers, officiates, hair salons, etc. Your first major calls should be for the ceremony site and the reception site. Most will tell you that you should get those at least and year in advance - believe them. Places get booked quick. You can't procrastinate when planning your wedding. Once you have those two down, all the others will be quite simple. Begin searching for honeymoon plans. Usually the groom takes care of this. Get in touch with a travel agent who will do all the work for you and save you the hassle of paying too much and getting taken for you money. Usually most travel agents have companies they work with that specialize in special packages for vacations. Companies such as Sandals, Sun Trips, etc. Those tend to book up fast, so do that ahead of time. They will give you a payment schedule which will help you in your finances and budget for you wedding. They are there to help you with the perfect honeymoon destination.
Selecting a gown is one of the most fun parts, but usually doesn't have to be done too far in advance. Most wait due to style changes, weight gain or loss and just a plain change in what they like. Get an idea of what you will want, though, so you can start looking for bridesmaid's gowns to compliment your own.
Begin going to different bakeries and sampling their cakes and finding out all they offer with their services. We ended up going to 3 different places before we made our final decision. The BEST thing to do is a find a picture of what you like and give it to your bakery. This will alleviate the problem of arriving at your reception to see a cake decorated completely opposite of what you wanted. It has happened and it almost happened to us. Our baker happened to fax us a picture (at my request) of what the cake looked like (they bake them about 3 days in advance). Well, I got the picture and it was the wrong style and the colors were red and green. My cake was supposed to be white and ivory, not red and green. I photo copied a picture right then and there of what I wanted and took it up to them and my cake turned out beautiful. So, please, give them a picture and be very specific about what you want and don't want. Colors, add ons - everything. Don't just think they understand what you mean. And remember, you are the customer paying them for a product and service- get it the way you want it and don't feel bad about being too detailed. You're not being picky - you're being smart!!!
You should also have a calendar that you look at everyday, so you can write down your important dates. When money is due on a contract, when you are meeting with the photographers, when you have to pick up the bridesmaid's dresses and so on. Being organized with a calendar will you avoid a lot of stress during your engagement and wedding planning. Another good thing to get is a multi-pocket 'folder' or file holder. There are many that you can get that have about 10 pockets and they are small enough to carry around with you. You can find plastic ones for a couple dollars at office supply stores. Use this to organize your receipts and information for all that you have to do. It doesn't take up much space and you will have everything in one place. You won't be searching the whole house, under piles of paper trying to find something you need. You won't regret it.
The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Don't get stressed out over the details. If you find that it's too much for you to handle, ask a family member or friend for their assistance. Most will be more than happy to help. And when your big day gets here, all your planning and organizing will pay off and you will have a day you will never forget!
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