THE ORGANIZED BRIDE—Strategies For Staying Sane

Karen Bussen, Celebrity Wedding Planner & Author

Let’s face it—a wedding, no matter how small or intimate, is a big production. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just take a vacation from our regular responsibilities while we’re busy planning one of the most important days of our lives? I always say there should be a “bridal leave policy” in effect so that brides could have just a bit of stress-free time to get it all together.

But alas, you’re a busy lady, and chances are you’ve got to fit your wedding planning in with your job and other commitments, all while juggling people, emotions, and details that are part of such a big celebration. And you’ve got to have fun while you do it! In my new book, SIMPLE STUNNING BRIDE, I included a chapter on how to organize your own wedding planning process to best suit your style, personality and time commitments. Here are a few of my tips to help you get started.

Make a Plan for Planning

The first thing you need to know is that you and your wedding are one-of-a-kind. The best thing you can do for yourself is to take time to think about what works for you before jumping into the planning. Think about your own organizational style. Do you thrive on keeping track of details or are you more of a big picture bride? If the latter describes you, you might want to enlist the help of a qualified planner. But even if you don’t hire a planner, I highly recommend enlisting a trusted, organized friend or family member to help you in the process and take the reins on the big day, so you don’t have to.

Also think about your schedule—what’s work like for you? What are your after-work commitments? When’s the best time to make vendor calls or appointments? Carve out this time and organize around it.

Consider your vision for the event and the way you make decisions. I suggest making a list of your priorities (venue, season, size of guest list, food, etc) and a list of adjectives that will help describe the way you want the whole celebration to feel. These words will help act as guideposts when you are speaking to vendors and making decisions from among the seemingly endless options that are out there.

Host a “Strategy Session”

This is something I do with all my couples (and often their parents) at the beginning of the planning process. I hold a meeting with all key decision makers and we talk through every major element of the wedding, from budget, music and photography to the setting, stationery and the wedding cake. Talking about these elements will give everyone a chance to voice their opinions in the beginning, so you’ll stay on the same page throughout the process.

Streamline Planning and Consolidate Vendors Wherever Possible

When you buy your wedding dress at David’s Bridal, for example, you receive their rewards for everything from accessories to bridesmaid dresses. Plus, their experts work with you to organize a seamless ordering process for your ladies who live across the country, letting you relax and tackle all the other decisions you need to make. I love that David’s Bridal has also teamed up with Men’s Wearhouse to offer men’s accessories in coordinating fabrics and colors to work with your bridesmaid dresses. How simple!

Other opportunities to streamline and combine: your reception band or deejay may be able to help find a great string ensemble to play at your ceremony, or your caterer might give you a discount if you ask them to prepare food for the rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch.

Balance Wedding Work with Work-Work

This is definitely one of the top issues brides deal with. How much web surfing is ok on the company clock? When is it alright to leave early to meet your photographer? How often can you talk about your wedding? My advice is to be up-front with your boss about your wedding planning to see if there’s any flexibility there without compromising your job responsibilities. Could you come in an hour early so you could take a longer lunch for a vendor meeting or site visit? I also suggest starting a free e-mail account (think Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail) just for your wedding communications. This way you keep everything in one place and you don’t have constant wedding-related interruptions during your normal work hours.

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