Usually our posts are education-related. This one strays a bit, but is definitely technology-related AND, though it was originally posted a few months ago, we’re sure at least a few people got engaged over the holidays and might appreciate the tips so this has had a few updates and been reposted!
So you are engaged? Congratulations! When we got engaged, we had about 3 months to plan our wedding. (I (Karyn) wanted a Christmas time wedding.) There were brochures, quotes, notes, Post-Its, contact information, checklists, receipts, and more all to keep organized. After helping friends plan weddings since college, I was well-prepared.
If you are planning a wedding, let us help with some wedding planning (and other) advice. For any follow-up questions, you can message Karyn on Twitter @Filibuster3. We were not paid by any of the companies and businesses mentioned in this article. These are OUR opinions from OUR experiences from our own wedding in 2009.
WE SHOULD HAVE USED ONENOTE!!!
First, if you can afford a wedding planner, that is great! They can handle the organization for you.
(Side note: IF YOU ARE a wedding planner, get OneNote! Read more to understand why.)
- OneNote is free.
- OneNote is cross-platform.
- Windows 10
- OneNote is easy to use.
- OneNote notebooks can be shared with others with viewing or editing rights.
- You can insert multiple file types in OneNote (PowerPoint, Word, PDF, YouTube, etc.)
- You can digitally ink in OneNote.
- Did we mention that it is FREE and will sync across all your devices?
Being teachers, we didn’t have a giant budget for weddings, nor did we want to go broke for a one day event. We love our friends and family who celebrated with us, but we know they wouldn’t want us starting out married life in debt!
- If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, create one FOR FREE! Here’s a referral link to get you more free storage space.
- Log into your new account and click on the tiles icon. (Some call it the waffle or the Rubik’s cube.)
- Go to OneDrive and click New at the top to choose New OneNote notebook.
- Name your new notebook.
Now you are ready to get organized! (If you have never used OneNote, we posted a basic tutorial. It is for organizing special education paperwork, but should give you a basic idea.)
Create sections that will make sense to you. Some suggestions might be Flowers, Caterer or Food, Bridal Party, Guest List, Clothing, Venues, DJs or Music. Use the INSERT feature on pages to add images and other files. With the insert from camera feature, you can take pictures of paperwork and the text in the images is searchable! Insert contracts, take pictures of receipts, add random ideas you get while at other weddings, just about anything! Perfect for documenting offers from vendors. GET THINGS IN WRITING!
Since you have a Microsoft account (and if not, go back up to the referral link and create one), use Excel to create and organize your guest list which then can turn into your gift list and thank you list. Create a budget in Excel to keep track of expenses. We used shared Excel files to update the lists, added a column to check off as we mailed thank you notes, and had a sheet for the budget.
Consider using Flipgrid! @annkozma723 saw it used at a wedding to post messages for the couple. (Saves money and nice for people annoyed by a videographer in their face while they are eating.)
READ ON FOR MORE WEDDING TIPS AND TRICKS!
SAVE MONEY AND YOUR SANITY!
Learn to negotiate and ask questions! Don’t always take the first quote. Our caterer gave us some alternatives to better fit our budget. K won a “free bridal bouquet” at an event, which the company tried to say required ALL the flowers come through them. After some online searches proved scary (Thank you, Better Business Bureau), we decided not to use her “prize” and reported them to the bridal fair organizer and the BBB.
Not every one loves wedding cake. Order a smaller cake with side desserts like brownies and tarts. These were a lot cheaper (and we learned later, VERY popular! In retrospect, we should have ordered more desserts and less buffet items.)
Our wedding venue did not allow alcohol. BIG savings! Sparkling apple cider or sparkling white grape juice are pleasant substitutes.
We saved by getting married during the Christmas season. The church was already decorated so we bought only the flowers people were wearing or carrying.
Technology is amazing! On top of the suggestion about using Excel above, we found templates online for name cards and printed them ourselves. Our wedding program was created in Microsoft Word.
Create a free wedding website. (We used Shutterfly.) Friends of ours married a few months before and the day of the wedding, we couldn’t find the invitation with the ceremony location. If web-based, we could have looked it up! (Side note: We found it in time.) Our website had a map for directions, times for events, and even bathroom locations. We also posted links to our photographer, caterer, and hair salon, in case others were interested.
Think of the trees, postage, and waste from extravagant wedding invitations. We made a handful of paper invitations for older friends and family and created digital ones for the rest.
Borrow items! K’s veil was borrowed from the best man’s wife.
Have some fun! G was living in Kansas at the time so K got red ruby slippers for the reception. Comfortable and playful! Though, the sequins snagged K’s crinoline a few times during our first dance. Minor issue.
On that note, know that things may NOT go as planned! As K has told future brides, as long as he is there at the front when you get there, that’s all that matters.
Have multiple announcements about silencing cell phones and have people ready to assist those who don’t know how. (Trust us on this! A cell phone ringing during your vows is distracting.)
TIDE PEN! Pack one or THREE! After pictures, K noticed marks on her dress. Tide pen to the rescue! Other companies make similar pens. Pack a few to share.
Photographer: Get a good one! If you are in California, we used Joel Austell and he was amazing! Joel and his wife make a fantastic team. K saw pictures from the bridal room and commented that she didn’t realize Joel’s wife was there (yes, they are THAT good!). Check Yelp reviews and your photographer’s portfolio before signing a contract. Rather than hire a separate videographer, we paid Joel a little more and he did both.
Alterations: K had an amazing seamstress and worked with her to redesign parts of her dress purchased at a local bridal store. Her seamstress recommended a French bustle, which was perfect. It was easy to move around in, and there were bright ribbons to make the ties easier to find under the dress. This image of it was from our hotel room at the Grand Californian, discounted thanks to a family member who works for Disney. Another budget saver!
Remember that though the day is all about the two of you, don’t forget the others who are there to celebrate WITH you. We chose a variety of music, each set of parents picked a song that was special to them, and made sure the music wasn’t too loud so people could have conversations. Also, we chose to orchestrate our garter/bouquet toss by agreeing to K’s brother’s request to propose to his girlfriend that night. K let her friends know so they wouldn’t go out on the floor and G’s friends were married so K’s brother was alone. He caught the garter and stood by while his girlfriend caught the bouquet and K handed him the microphone. BEAUTIFUL family moment! (They were married a year later and also used Joel Austell as their photographer!)
To save money, we wouldn’t recommend a sit down dinner. Much of the food is wasted. People are trapped at the tables and it is a big expense. We chose finger foods and our caterer (Country Garden Caterers) had the best idea: garlic mashed potato bar in martini glasses! GORGEOUS and everyone could make their own and be free to walk around and socialize.
Parents: Both sets of parents lit the unity candles rather than just the mothers. In our minds, we had been influenced by watching both marriages and wanted our dads, as well as our moms, to participate.
Speak up! This wedding is for the two of you so you should have the final say (unless someone is paying for everything and then they should have a small amount of input). K was grateful for her dad speaking up to get china rather than paper plates (which were free). The china was only $1 more a person. We think he thought $165 was worth the smile on his daughter’s face. The church wedding volunteer questioned having both sets of parents lighting the unity candle. “Well, that’s different.” Yes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! It was OUR wedding, not hers. Our future sister-in-law handled another issue with the same volunteer trying to tell the bridesmaids how to walk, not knowing that one attendant has a physical issue. (Sis-in-law didn’t tell us until later so we wouldn’t be upset. Smart move.)
Chair covers: Sure, you see them in movie weddings, but they are an added cost and a trip hazard. If on a budget, focus on the table, not the chairs (as long as the chairs are decent).
COMPROMISE! (or Win-Win) When the caterer asked us about centerpieces, we each pointed at a different one. Solution? Every other table had one of our choices. We also had a win-win on the exit music since G preferred traditional and K wanted “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder. We left the altar on the traditional music and halfway down the aisle, it switched. Big smiles from everyone!
More about music: Look around to see who you know. K went to college with the organist of the Crystal Cathedral (our venue) and her college roommate is an amazing singer. Another note to remember others – when K’s parents were married, her mom wanted the Sound of Music wedding processional, but the organist refused. Happily, our organist did not feel the same and it was a nice tribute to K’s mom. For budget, do you really need a DJ when there are iTunes playlists? Maybe. Check out the sound system at the venue and ask around. Again, negotiate! We saved a lot by getting married on a weeknight during Christmas break.
Finally, RELAX, SMILE, and ENJOY THE DAY!
There are multiple pictures of us laughing. Our photographer said we were one of the best cake feeders since we didn’t smash it in each other’s faces, but were playful. This meant less time cleaning up to enjoy the rest of the reception, too.