33 Tips for a Bride Planning Her Own Wedding

33 Tips for a Bride Planning Her Own Wedding

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Set Your Budget, and Stick to It


Your budget will be the driving factor for many of your wedding-related decisions, so this should be one of the first things you tackle. If any family members will be contributing, chat with them about what they're comfortable spending. If you're footing the bill yourself, it's time to take a hard look at your finances. Once you've got that magic number, stick to it!

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Create a List of Priorities

Photo by Amber Gress Photography

Sit down with your fiancГ© and figure out the three most important aspects of your wedding. Is it the food? The booze? The DJ? Prioritize those details and be willing to compromise on the rest. This will help you stay within your budget.

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Find Inspiration & Create a Vision Board

With so many sources of inspiration out there, it can be a bit overwhelming. Find one or two mediums you like best, whether it's Pinterest, Instagram, trusty bridal mags, blogs, etc. and start researching. Get a good sense of the type of style you like-translate that into something you can show your vendors. You can create a board on Pinterest or even do some old-fashioned cutting and pasting onto paper (we can't help but suggest doing your cutting and pasting from issues of BRIDES!).

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Work As A Team With Your FiancГ©

Studio Firma / Stocksy United

Don't feel like you're in this wedding planning process alone. Turn to your fiancГ© for help along the way and even make wedding planning something fun you do together.

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Limit Your Options

Logan Cole

Don't overwhelm yourself with all the inspiration that's out there. Once you decide on your wedding style, try to stay focused on that.

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Get Yourself a Wedding Planning Book

Photo by Bob Metelus, Erica Rodriguez, Mel Barlow, and Allan Zepeda

When you don't have a wedding planner, a wedding planning book is the next best thing. Something like Mindy's The Wedding Book will include tons of expert advice, tips and tricks and even examples of timelines and checklists. Better yet, search for answers to all your etiquette questions.

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Get Organized


You can use checklists, spreadsheets, Word/Google Docs-anything, really-as long as you have all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc. in one place. There are also some great programs and apps out there that can keep you organized.

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Create a Master Checklist


You can find tons of examples online broken down by the months, weeks or even days. Find one and adapt it to your own wedding.

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Don't Rush Into Decisions


It may be enticing to book the first photographer or florist you meet, but take a step back and weigh all your options before making any quick decisions.

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Pick an Ideal Timeframe


Are you envisioning a spring garden wedding? Or do you want to be surrounded by gorgeous autumn leaves on your big day? Choose a few ideal dates for your wedding and try to be flexible if possible so you're not too constrained when trying to book a venue and other vendors.

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Make Your Wedding Website Guest Friendly

Getty Images

Your wedding guests, and even your family members, will have a lot of questions for you. Avoid getting endless emails, text messages, and voicemails from your guests by putting up a wedding website where they can check out the details of your wedding and even have a day-of itinerary that lets them know where they need to be and when they need to be there.

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Select a Theme

Photo by Madison Lee Cakes

Whether it's a few colors or an actual theme (like the Roaring Twenties or Festival Chic, for example), choose something to design your wedding around. It will be much easier to make design decisions and will make things look cohesive.

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Have an “On-Site” Wedding

Photo by Forged in the North

In wedding lingo, an “off-site” wedding is one where the venue doesn't have a commercial kitchen and where you need to bring everything in - think places like a park, beach or even an open field. If you're planning your own wedding having an “on-site” wedding somewhere like a hotel, restaurant, resort, etc. will make the planning process much easier.

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Create Your Guest List

Photo by Sayher Heffernan

This can be a pretty harrowing process and one that will depend largely on your venue and budget. Sit down with your fiancГ© and family and create a wish list of guests. Chances are you'll need to make some cuts. You should also decide whether you're inviting children and who will be allotted a plus-one.

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Choose Your Wedding Party

Photo by Emmy Lowe

Your bridesmaids and groomsmen are there for emotional and tactical support through your wedding planning process. Choose friends and family you can trust and who you truly want standing next to you during this monumental occasion.

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Talk to Other Married Couples


Did you just attend a wedding you really enjoyed? Chat with that couple! They probably have some expert tips and tricks for you. Sometimes friends and family are the best source.

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Use Vendors You're Comfortable With

Heather Waraksa

Build a team of people you really vibe well with. They should have a good sense of your vision and you should be able to trust them to execute it well. Make sure they appreciate your business so you don't feel bad when you inevitably have to call and ask questions!

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Get A Second Opinion

Courtesy The Cup Bearer

Be sure to investigate prices from vendors before you sign on the dotted line. If there's a vendor and a package price that you like, always look for a second opinion. Ask around and see what over vendors are charging before agreeing on a price.

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Read Every Contract


This is important! Be sure to read through every detail of your contracts with vendors. Make sure all the details are correct, and read through important things like payment and cancellation policies before signing. Don't forget to double check that the date and event times are correct.

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Take Time Between the Wedding and the Honeymoon

Getty Images

Planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time can be expensive, but also very time consuming. Consider taking time off between your wedding and your honeymoon so that you can save up and reset the button on your planning priorities. It helps to just focus on one thing at a time.

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Recruit Help


Remember that you're not in this alone! Your bridal party, family members and especially your fiancГ© are here to help. Be sure to delegate some tasks to take some of the load off of you.

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DIY Strategically

Photo by Alison Dunn Photography

DIY can be cost-effective and can add some nice personal touches to your big day. Just don't go overboard or you'll end up with more work than you know what to do with. Feel free to go the DIY route with things that can be done well in advance, like favors, table numbers, etc. For things like flowers or food that need to be done close to the wedding date, professional help is best.

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Figure out Your Social Media Strategy


Whether you want to broadcast your wedding to the world or have an unplugged wedding, strategy is key. Hashtags, signage and photo booths are a great way to get guests posting on social. If you're more private, include signage about an unplugged ceremony or have the officiant make a quick announcement before proceedings begin.

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Add A Personal Touch

Photo by Larissa Cleveland

With all of the wedding traditions that people tell you that you should have at your wedding, be sure to plan in some personal traditions too. If your family has any wedding traditions that they've done in the past, or if there is something you want to start for future generations, don't be afraid to give your wedding a personal touch.

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Don't Get Too Bogged Down by Tradition


Your wedding should be all about you as a couple. If certain traditions make you uncomfortable or just aren't your style, create your own traditions.

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Focus on the Big Picture

Photo by Chelsea Kindrachuk

Don't get too hung up on the small details. Your guests won't notice if your table runners are the wrong shade of blue or if the appetizers came out 15 minutes late. The second you walk down the aisle let go of all the small stuff. Hey, you're getting married!

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Don't Forget to Make it Legal

Getty Images

In the midst of all the crazy planning and small details, don't forget to actually plan time to get your marriage license! Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early on, but keep in mind that marriage licenses are typically only valid for a couple months - so plan accordingly.

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Finalize Set Up Details

Photo by Forged in the North

Check with your venue to find out when vendors can arrive for set up. The earlier, the better but some venues may have other events going on the same day. Get this information early and review with your vendors.

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Consider a Day-Of Coordinator

Photo by Larissa Cleveland

Even when a full-service wedding planner isn't in the cards, hiring a professional to oversee the day-of details can be a game changer. This person can keep track of vendors, keep everything on schedule and do all the tasks you won't have time to do while you're getting ready and having the time of your life.

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Create a Schedule of Events

Photo by The Nichols

Create a schedule for the run-of-show at your wedding. Include things like when vendors will arrive, when the ceremony will be, when the first dance will happen, when the cake will be cut, etc. Be sure to give a copy to your MC, photographer, maid of honor and anyone else that should be in the know.

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Take Some Time Off


For the sake of your own sanity, make sure you schedule some time for you and your fiancГ© to be together and do anything but wedding plan. Trust me, you'll need the break! Consider taking the week before the wedding off work, both to make sure last minute details are completed, and just to chill.

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Say Thanks


Gratitude goes a long way. You should always arrange for small gifts for your wedding party and anyone else who played a big role in your planning process. Don't forget mom and dad!

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Have Fun!

Photo by Forged in the North

What will guests notice most? A stressed out bride and groom! Be sure to have fun on your wedding day and truly enjoy the moment.