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My Approach To Wedding Planning

It is hard to belive it is already 2020 and our wedding will be here before you know it! Although we aren’t getting married until mid October, the time seems to be flying by. I am so excited for our wedding and I haven’t shared a ton, but I have received a few different questions for a more general idea of my approach to wedding planning. Specifically how I am planning a destination wedding without a planner and how I organized the process to get work done without being completely overwhelmed.

Where To Start

I was so excited when Daniel proposed that I got right into planning mode. We had been together for nearly five years so while I was very surprised it wasn’t completely out of the blue and I already knew we had a similar vision for the big day. Destination, not a huge guest list and food would take priority over the pretty stuff – ha! The way I started was almost how I start a design project. I made a new Pinterest board (although lets be honest I obviously already had a full wedding board) but I wanted to start fresh. I broke it down into sections – venue, dress, table details, etc. This helped me figure out what I was going to have to tackle and what I wanted to tackle first.

The venue was first in line for me because those tend to book up so far in advance. We had already talked about getting married in Charleston or Savannah and I had a good idea of venues I was interested in. From there I reached out, got pricing, thought of pros and cons of each and finalized the venue pretty quickly. Even a year and a half out all of their Saturday dates in October were booked so we went with a Friday.

Once the venue was solidified I felt like I could start to put everything else together. I am so visual that I needed to be sure we had the venue in order to look at dress style, think of overall feel and help guide the menu. Then I knew where to look for catering, rentals and florals because venues often work with the same vendors. I created a preliminary excel budget, reached out to different vendors for estimates and created a google doc noting basic timelines for when I needed to lock in certain items.

How To Visualize

I had such a good idea of what I wanted for the big day I thought this step would be a breeze. Especially considering I put concepts and designs together for a living. For some reason I found it incredibly overwhelming. When you start pricing things out you realize how ridiculously expensive weddings can get. We are on a fairly tight budget so I had to keep swapping things out that were pushing the budget. It is just like working with an interior where there is give and take, but you can only eliminate so much. I started putting Photoshop design boards together (Powerpoint works great if you don’t use Photoshop) It always makes visualizing everything so much easier so I could see how pieces would layer together.

I also decided not to visit a ton of wedding specific websites. I think that adds to the overwhelming factor. I of course use Pinterest a ton and photographer’s sites I love, but for some reason going to wedding sites or reading bridal magazines became more distracting because most of what was shown are weddings we could never afford. I pulled a lot more inspiration from nature, dinner parties and old movies opposed to real life weddings because I knew we would have to simplify. I wanted to find the essence of the day and not get as hung up on how many flower arrangements go on each table.

one of my many {many} moodboards to help with color palette, textures and overall feel

Stay Organized

This goes back to what I was saying earlier, but staying organized is key. Especially if you don’t have a wedding planner. We hired a month out coordinator who will be on site for the logistics of the day. That means I was in charge of getting all contracts, sending out deposits, choosing the rentals, putting together a preliminary seating chart, etc. If I didn’t stay organized on my end this could be a a disaster when I have to pass everything off to them.

I have a big wedding binder where I keep copies of all contracts, guest list and floor plan ideas. I also have an email folder labeled wedding to make sure any important correspondence is flagged for easy access. I also have a wedding folder on my computer with separate folders for each category. This makes finding things incredibly easy and I can check off items as I go. There are a ton of great resources online for timeline suggestions, budget templates and recommendations for how to schedule out the actual wedding day. This is the quick version of how I have tackled things thus far.

15(ish) months before
Locked in a venue and set the date
Hired a month out coordinator
A lot of correspondence with a catering company
Chose a florist and event rental company
Started looking at dresses

13 months before
Purchased my dress
Went out to Charleston for a food and cake tasting, hired the caterer
Met with the coordinator/rental company
Put together initial proposal for rentals
Took a few engagement photos
Set up wedding website
Set out save the dates
(this is only because we are having a destination wedding
and I wanted to give everyone a ton of time to save & plan accordingly)

10 months before
Hired a photographer
Started finalizing invitations
Finalized our registry
Finalized the menu
Booked Shuttles
Hired a DJ

I still have a lot to do, but I will share a more updated timeline as we get closer and I have more checked off my to do list.

If I have learned anything from this process it is to have fun with it. Yes it can feel overwhelming, especially if you are on a tight timeline, but I try not to add so much weight to it. My goal is to have a day where our friends and family come together and have a big party. It is so important to remember that as much as it feels like every last detail matters – it doesn’t. No one will notice all of the things you do so it is important to just celebrate this time and enjoy the process!

  1. Allison says:

    Love your choices:) I got married at Planters Inn in Charleston 9 years ago this October 💕the food was amazing . You can’t go wrong because everyone loves it there. Congrats!!!

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