DIY · when you say "I Do"

The Checklist before the Checklist!

About five months ago, I mentioned here that my precious daughter was getting married and that I was working hard on oodles of DIY projects. It’s one thing to do the wedding coordinating for other couples, but it’s a whole new bouquet of flowers to help plan your only daughter’s wedding!

About eight weeks ago she and the most wonderful guy (our new son-in-love, we call him 😉 had the most precious and beautiful wedding day! Was it absolutely perfect and seamlessly smooth? No, but it was absolutely joy – filled, and not only for them, but for all who attended, and played a part in making their day one to remember.

I want to share some of the things we worked on to stay organized, make their day personal, and save money. Who doesn’t like to save money?

Hopefully, you’ll find this helpful and inspirational in planning your own wedding, for a daughter or son, or passing it along to someone you know newly engaged. This is the first of eight posts.  Following ones can be seen on “WEDnesdays.” 😉 Just go with it!


What I do after I say, “I DO!”

Wedding Rings in Bible

{ Photo Credit: Captured! Photography}

For most brand new brides-to-be, you’re probably thinking, where and how  do I possibly begin planning one of the biggest events of my life?

The question has been popped, the ring placed on your shaking finger, and such excitement and thrill is running through every vein and bone in your body. All you can think about is telling everyone you know (and don’t know!) that you’re getting married! YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!!!

It’s one of the happiest days of your life and most likely the biggest party and event you will ever plan.

But as much as your engagement day is filled with sheer joy, the days following, so often, are filled with so many questions, decisions, and ideas, that race through your mind making it quite overwhelming. In no time, panic  can often set in as you think of all the dozens upon dozens of things that need to get accomplished in X amount of time. How in the world do you keep it all straight? How in the world do you not forget something? Where do you begin? What needs to happen first in order for things to fall into place?

You may be thinking,  ” We Need a Checklist before the Checklist!

I know, because we thought the same thing!

Below is a 10 point checklist in the areas we used to get started before getting started.

Whether you’re planning your own wedding, getting help to DIY, or hiring a wedding coordinator, you’ll need a place to start to get the ball rolling. It’s best to start with the broad picture and work your way down to the fine details.


The Wedding Checklist before the Checklist

1.Our day in 3 words…It’s helpful to begin by describing what you would like your wedding day to be in three words. Is it rustic, country, and family oriented? Or is it, romantic, vintage, and storybook? Maybe it’s intimate, family, and faith-based. You’ll have to decide on what is most important to you both, and most fits your personalities and hearts’ desire. It should be the most important part of encapsulating all you want the day to represent.  These three words will be what you come back to, to stay on focus when you hit that moment of “wedding overload.”All your future wedding planning decisions should relate in some way back to these three words. Keep it simple and keep it personal.

2. The Crowd #’s…This will be your best estimate on the number of guests you desire to have. Make sure you consider both sides of your families as well as friends. Try to arrive at a range that is no more than 50 people apart (i.e. we’re planning for 130 – 180). This number will help you in your selection of possible places to get married. Will the church have enough seating? Can the venue accommodate this many people? Will I be able to afford food/cake/drinks for everyone? It’s important to have a number range because this is the second question that your vendors will ask. First being, ” When is the Wedding” and second,” How many guests are you planning?” While you don’t have to have an exact number quite yet, having the range number will help you get things moving in the right direction and decide, when the time comes, on the final location.

3. We’re Dreaming of a Wedding in… What is your favorite season? What will work with work commitments, school, and family events?  Would you like a May outdoor wedding  or something inside in December? Pick your favorite season or month and one that works for your schedules and lives.  Then pick several dates. This will allow flexibility when you are looking for a ceremony/reception site. Though people are choosing dates in ever month of the year, peak wedding season still remains April to October, and dates during these months can fill up quickly. Having several dates helps you be flexible and can even save you money if you are willing to get married on a Friday, Sunday or other weekdays. Narrow down your future wedding day to the season with several dates that will work. The process of choosing a ceremony/reception place will solidify your big day. It will all depend on what the venue has available.  Until then try to be adaptable, and when people ask you, days after your engagement, when the big wedding day is, kindly tell them something like, “We hope to have a spring wedding.” Save the official announcement of the date for when your ceremony and reception location is finalized.

4. Our Top $ is…No one likes to talk about money, especially when it comes to the cost of a wedding. Did you know the national average cost of a  wedding in the United States last year, according to WeddingWire , was $28,000, and I don’t think that included the honeymoon! Of course, if you live on either coast, that number increases dramatically! No matter what your budget, everyone I know wants to have a beautiful day, but not start their married life together with a heavy load of stressful debt. It’s helpful to come up with a safe and reasonable sum total of what all participating in the financial side of things can contribute. Then stick to that number, no matter what!

5. We’d Love to Get Married At… Brainstorm ideas of where you would love to get married (within your budget!). Is it the church your Mom and Dad were married in? A special park where you both met?  Would you like the ceremony at the same location as the reception? Talk it over and narrow it down to at least three to five different locations. It will depend on the availability of dates as discussed in # 3, but decide on a few options and be open to any of them! To help you with your research, check out WeddingWire’s Wedding Venue’s Page. You can put in the zip code of your choice and see what venues are available. They have ratings, comments, photos, and a place for you to message the vendor directly. How easy is that?

6. To DIY or Not, That is the Question… Decide on how much you want and can DIY. With Pinterest, blogs, and YouTube, the DIY tutorial world is endless! You might be thinking that  it would be great to DIY everything, just think of the money you could save! But, no human being can do it all! Decide what and how much is sensible to create on your own. Do you have an aunt that is gifted at cake decorating? Do you have a background in graphic design and want to  make your own invitations? Can your Mom sew your dress? Be careful here not to decide on more DIY than time and ability allows. Pick things that you know you can do, desire to do, or someone is willing to do for you. If you plan correctly, DIY can save you a ton of money. Deciding on “if” to DIY and “what” to DIY is the question that needs to have a clear and reasonable answer.

7. My Color Wheel… You can start this process by picking 2-3 color schemes consisting of 3-4 colors per scheme. A scheme should consist of 2 main colors and 1-2 Pantone colors. Your final colors don’t have to be narrowed down quite yet until the date and location is cast in stone. Do take into consideration colors that you both look great in. If you absolutely love apple green, but having that color next to you, makes you look, well,  apple green, then don’t go with that color! Your two main colors should be colors you both look great wearing. Once those are picked, then tints and shades of those colors, as well as, your accent colors, can be decided on once your season and location/venue is booked. Do take into consideration the colors of your ceremony site and reception. Your color scheme doesn’t have to match exactly, but it will look best if it coordinates and doesn’t clash overall.

8. And the Wedding Party is… Right from the start this can be a  hard decision, especially if you have a large family and a lot of close friends. It is best to keep this decision to yourselves until you are absolutely sure how many and who will be in your bridal party. Sometimes having one friend can mean you need to have another friend or friends  in that same circle. Often times that gets to be too many for your budget to handle. Also, take into consideration the budget of the people you are asking to be part of the bridal party. Will they be able to afford a dress? The flight to come to the wedding? Additional responsibilities of being a bridal party member? Will they pay or will you supplement or entirely cover the cost for them? It’s OK to not included everyone in your entire circle of friends or family. Sometimes keeping things small and simple can save a lot of unwanted confrontation and awkward moments. Possibly, you may consider having those that are close to you, but not in the wedding party, to play music, hand out programs, or do a reading. You are still showing how much you value their friendship and support, by sharing in some part of your day.

9. I need help!… Sometimes, “I need help,” are the hardest three words to say, especially if you have gotten in too deep with DIY projects. It is best to first jot down the names of those you know will truly be willing and dependable, as well as capable, in helping you in your endeavors. Make a list of updated contact information. Be communicative with what you will need their help with and ask them if they are willing to commit to doing such and such. Give those who will be helping a general time frame and kindly let them know, once things get solidified, when you’ll need their input more. Don’t feel badly if you need a lot of help. Usually, those who are willing to give you a hand are overjoyed to be a part of planning your special day.

10. My Organizational Tool Will Be… Organization right from the beginning of wedding planning is so vital, in fact imperative! Whether you have a wedding coordinator or not, one of the first things you should do after your engagement is get some sort of planning system, whether it’s a physical planner, wedding app,  google doc spreadsheet, or an online wedding checklist like this one from WeddingWire .   It helps you manage and customize your checklist all in one place. It has many helpful features like personalizing your checklist based on your wedding date, along with “to-do” lists, summaries, and  progress reports, for the ultimate organizer!  The main thing is that you use something that works best for you to stay as organized as possible. Try and keep everything in one central location, receipts, appointments, vendor contact information, payment due dates, color swatches, and samples, etc. I can’t stress how being and remaining organized can limit so many mishaps and stressful moments.

wedding checklist before my checklist

And most importantly, keep things in perspective! Planning your wedding can consume ALL your time together. Spend as much time, or more, planning and preparing for your future life together after your big day. Speaking from experience (30 years!) , marriage is about the constant planning, tweaking, and working on a lifelong commitment of love and dedication to one another! Marriage can be one of the greatest blessings in life and it is so much more than just one day!

*Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who would find it helpful.




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