YOU’RE ENGAGED! Congrats! It’ll be one of the most exciting times in your life. Your emotions are probably already a winding roller coaster, but so will the next 1-2 years of all the planning you’ll be engulfed in. It’ll seem like a never-ending process, but before you know it, you’ll be walking down the aisle towards the person whom you love and admire the most.

I’ve heard others in the heat of planning say, “It will be a beautiful day and an amazing moment, but you’ll be happy when it’s over!” And wow, that statement couldn’t be more true. That is not to decimate your excitement about getting married or planning your own wedding, or celebrating the Best Day Ever, but you’ll see what I mean when your stress level decreases immensely. I’m not overjoyed one of the most memorable days of my life is over, but when it boils down to all the time and effort invested into one day, I’m relieved all of the planning is complete.

Although, I do have to say, if it was at all possible, I’d love to relive that day – just one more time. The day seemed as if time was passing at lightening speed. The small details will be tough to recollect. So, when that special day arrives for you, remember one thing for me – just one thing. Set aside time for yourself and your new hubby. I didn’t do that enough, and if I regret one thing, it’s that. An abundance of people will be craving your attention – one right after the other. You’ll feel obligated to part ways with your new hubby, so you both can utilize the little time you have to socialize with different people at once. You’ll get done conversing with one person, then turn around to another waiting to speak to you. Don’t get me wrong, I felt honored that so many people were waiting to talk to me – I just needed a break amongst all the excitement. I was able to unwind with my hubby on the dance floor, but I was pretty bummed the next day when I realized how much time we spent away from each other. Stay near each other on YOUR wedding day (take this advice from someone who didn’t do that enough).

I planned my wedding in 10 months. Yeah, I know, I’m crazy, right? Thank God I had the help of my father-in-law, he was a life saver for keeping me on track with our vendors and finalizing small details I most likely would’ve over-looked without his help. WHY did I plan our wedding in 10 months? Because my husband insisted at the beginning of December 2015 that we get married that next year, so naturally, I listened to him.

I should probably mention – I gave birth to our daughter in late November 2015, so I didn’t actually start planning until January/February… Our wedding was in September of that year. I know that doesn’t change the fact that I’m crazy for doing so, but it worked for us, so I ran with it. My husband worked his butt off, giving me the opportunity to remain a stay-at-home mom throughout the Summer before I began my last semester of undergrad, which is when most of the planning was completed. Although wedding planning wasn’t the easiest thing to do with a baby resting on my hip day in and day out, it was easier than balancing wedding planning, mommying, and working. So, Bryce, if you’re reading this – thank you!

Alright, now for the juicy facts about wedding planning you’ll want to know before actually beginning the process. Are you ready? I’m going to dive into each one with as much detail as I possibly can, ya know, since it took over my life for 10 months or so.

9 Things to Know Before Planning Your Own Wedding

Coordinate the wedding date to the appropriate amount of time needed for planning.

I’m definitely preaching one of the most crucial (and first) decisions you’ll make after getting engaged, that I definitely did not do. But, for Pete’s sake, give yourself time to complete all of the planning, organizing, booking, and meeting with the vendors. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise. However, I do have to say, if I would’ve given myself two years, I probably would’ve waited the last year to plan anyway, so I don’t think it mattered either way for myself. It’s incredibly time consuming to pick through vendors, then actually call, schedule, and attend meetings for everyone. If you choose to make your own crafts and decoration pieces, it will take an ungodly amount of time, as well (find wedding ideas here). Make sure you’ve thought everything out and determine how much time you will need to complete. An added tip: be sure the wedding is during a season you’ll enjoy. If you aren’t worried about sweating your tush off, have it in the Summer. If you’re a person who enjoys Fall or Winter – set your wedding date during those seasons. Assure the date you choose will best accommodate you and your fiancé; again, it’s YOUR day.

Set a budget immediately, before you start planning.

For obvious reasons, this step is crucial. Your budget will be one of the most important tools when booking vendors and purchasing items throughout your wedding planning experience. If you continuously break your budget, you’ll end up spending much more than expected. Don’t simply set an overall budget, meaning – don’t only set a budget for the total wedding cost, but individual vendors and items, as well. Trust me, when you enter your nearest craft store, you’ll walk in with a clear mind and walk out with more items than planned – not even knowing whether you’ll use them or not. For example, I printed pictures of the wedding centerpieces I envisioned. When the time arrived to buy those items, I took the printed sheet with me to stay focused on the items needed in that picture, rather than veering off and buying unneeded items. This saved me both time and money, while remaining under or near our budgeted expense for the needed items.

Choose a color palette and theme – then stick to it.

Pinterest can be overwhelming when deciding on a wedding theme. Enter with extreme caution. When you’ve gathered ideas for a color palette and theme, stick to it. If you scroll by an idea with different colors or theme you’ve chosen, recreate it with your own personal touch. The only rule with a color palette and theme: do not incorporate more than 3-4 colors and do not select a theme too difficult to accommodate. A perfect example of this, my main colors were spa “tiffany” blue, gold, and tan. I had one person give many items to me; her main color was silver. A few items gifted were silver baskets. Instead of not utilizing the baskets or throwing them away, I bought a couple bottles of gold spray paint and spray painted the silver baskets gold. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a palette or refurbishing an item to make it truly yours.

Create a wedding timeline.

This is what kept me on track, big time. I referred to the timeline when I needed an extra nudge on what to do next. There are so many free printables via Pinterest, so don’t fret if you’re clueless on how to create one. After you print the timeline, hole punch it and stick it in a 3-ring binder to stay organized. You can flip through each page to see what you’ve checked off the list of “to-do’s” and what you haven’t. I coated each sheet with an already hole-punched clear page protector. Even daily wear and tear is hard on flimsy sheets of printer paper. Most timelines I’ve seen provide blank spaces to write down your budgeted amount for various vendors, then compare to the actual expense. Most of the free printables are organized by month, as well. Write everything down, keep up with your “to-do” lists, and check off what you’ve completed. It will be a lifesaver in the long run! You’ll be able to complete tasks by week or month, which is convenient when you open your binder to complete tasks on the weekend.

Give your fiancé tasks to do, or he won’t have a clue what needs to be completed.

I speak from experience, but it’s really not his fault. Unless he surfs Pinterest on the daily, don’t expect him to know exactly what to do or how to do it. Direct him to complete the handy stuff, at least he’ll be more enjoyable to be around if he’s happy completing those tasks. He can’t read your mind – paint a picture for him about what you’re thinking, when to accomplish each task, and how to coordinate those thoughts to the overall theme; that way, he’ll be able to contribute his ideas and you two can collaborate together. If all else fails, instruct him to complete tasks with an incentive. “If you sand these centerpieces, I’ll buy you Culver’s tomorrow,” works like a charm. Trust it from someone who tested the odds. 🙂

You WILL accumulate stress.

It’s inevitable if you decide to plan your own wedding. You’re scrunched for time, maybe you’re scrunched for money, so the process of planning a wedding will obviously be somewhat stressful. Find ways to cope with the stress you’re enduring. While working on projects for your wedding, take many small breaks throughout that time. Forget multitasking. Don’t attempt to do everything in one day, or even one week. Complete one project at a time – don’t even try to complete multiple tasks at once. Everything will appear nicer if you take your time on everything, rather than rushing through. Take small steps, every day to decrease your stress level immensely. ASK FOR HELP! If you ask your MOH or bridesmaids, they’ll most likely happily do what they can to decrease your stress by contributing. Just be nice about it. Nobody wants to help a bridezilla.

RSVP’s are a task all on their own.

Contacting the individuals that didn’t send their RSVP back is a hassle. You’ll reach out to those individuals via text/call, Facebook, etc. and you may still not receive a response. Others may simply show up without sending their RSVP. Make accommodations accordingly. Set up a couple of extra tables in the back to save yourself the stress. (Eek, I know, the stress doesn’t go away.) Many people open your invitation, then put it in the stack of mail on the counter and forget to go through it before your “kindly response” date stamped on the front. Don’t take it personal – we as humans are forgetful people. Understand you may do the same in the future, but move forward by simply making your best attempt at contacting them to ensure a response.

You’ll have a change of heart or you’ll second guess yourself, or both.

And that’s OK. You’ll be scrolling through Pinterest and you’ll stumble across an abundance of unique ideas. You’ll want to incorporate every idea into your wedding. I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t, it’s not feasible. Pick your favorite and go with it. This really refers back to my point of sticking with the color palette and theme you’ve chosen. If it’s possible to combine a few ideas into one, do that! But, once you’ve made your decision, refrain from changing your mind countless times. This goes with your wedding dress, too! Once you’ve found “The One” DON’T keep searching for a “prettier” dress. I did that and I second-guessed myself, but I still stuck with my dress. I know a couple of ladies who bought a second dress because they kept looking after they purchased the initial one. Don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself (you already have enough going on).

Don’t forget to ENJOY wedding planning.

You’re planning your own wedding because you either 1.) want to save money by not hiring a planner, 2.) enjoy event planning and creating DIY projects and crafts or, 3.) you don’t want someone else bugging you about every detail for your own wedding. All are justifiable, but if you choose to plan your own wedding – enjoy the process! It will be here and gone before you know it. You’ll most likely put in countless innumerable hours – invite your bridesmaids over and pour everyone a glass of wine (or five), pop a chick flick in and begin wedding planning!

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