My Favorite Wedding Planning Books

When I was planning my wedding, I overresearched everything. I subscribed to tons of websites and wedding newsletters, got tons of magazines and books and scoured message boards. What I found was that most actually weren’t that helpful. None of the bridal magazines taught me anything, and much of the information everywhere was either common sense, or the same tips regurgitated over and over.

However, there were a few that actually were useful. Ones that I bookmarked, dog-eared and referred to several times. These are my highly recommended wedding reads!

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Of course, The Knot website is well known, but I also found it the most comprehensive website out there for all my needs. I also used its virtual checklist to keep track of my to-dos, made my wedding website there, researched vendors and read tips lists, but I most loved their wedding shop. Their prices rivaled other websites and stores, and I bought about half of my decorations and ceremony/reception items from them. They also always had great sales and coupons, so I saved a good amount of money by ordering there too.

Real Simple Weddings. This book was given to me as a gift from a sweet co-worker who told me her sister found it super helpful in planning her wedding. It had chapters for all the big things to plan for in your wedding. It overviewed the different types of dress shapes, flower types for your bouquets, and had the most comprehensive checklist of any source I found. This was the first book I had that really helped me get a handle on planning.

The Knot Book of Wedding Lists. It’s no secret. I love lists. For everything I do in my life. This book had a list for every possible thing to consider in planning, and I found many of them incredibly helpful. Questions to ask your vendors. Order of events for the ceremony and reception. Items to put in guests’ welcome bags. Things to consider for the rehearsal dinner. Duties for the wedding party. Types of stationery to consider. Sample invitation wording. List of shots for the photographer. Dress types for you and bridesmaids. Items to have in your day-of bag. Top reception songs. Items to put on your registry. Organizing your honeymoon. Loved this book.

The Nest Newlywed Handbook. Another book from the folks from The Knot. This one was what I read on our honeymoon. It had great tips for starting your married life together. Tips for combining finances, dealing with new insurance choices, buying your first home, decorating as a couple, throwing parties, having date nights, combining families and dealing with in-laws, starting your family and having children, communicating as a couple, and your futures together. But what I liked most about this book was its list of questions at the end of each chapter. They were questions to ask your spouse and discuss together to get to know eachother and expectations better. One night on our honeymoon we went over most of them, and it was really nice to have those questions to prompt our discussions. Some of the questions included: What aspect of your parents’ relationship do you most admire? Say I get a surprise bonus…do we splurge on something big or save it for a rainy day? What belonging of mine would you throw out first? Who are the five friends you most hope to still have in ten years? What will happen when our parents get old?

The other book pictured that I didn’t write about is one that my husband read. It had very thoughtful ideas on marriage and comes very highly recommended. It’s on my to-read list when I get caught up.

For any newlyweds or future brides, I hope you find these as helpful as I did! For any married ladies, what other resources did you find most helpful in planning your wedding?

Wedding Planning Tips & Lessons Learned

For work a little while ago (I help a local wedding venue with their social media and marketing), we decided to create a little handout to use in mailings and at wedding shows; something that would be informational and helpful to brides. Thankfully I had plenty of personal inspiration to draw from my own recent wedding.

It’s sort of text-heavy from this view, but the front is designed all pretty and such. Here’s my tips:

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-Start early. The more you do early on, the less you stress as your big day comes nearer.

-Be budget smart but splurge on the big stuff. While you may need to go outside your budget once in a while, you also don’t want to create large debt that follows you into long into your married life. It’s OK to skip the personalized reception napkins and welcome bags for out-of-town guests if it means you get the best photographer and tastiest food.

-Be you. You want your wedding to reflect your personalities as a couple, so break a few rules and insert special touches and moments into your day.

-Enlist the help of friends. Ask your crafty aunt and/or super organized friend to help you with the details. Making favors with friends is fun, and saves you money!

-Register wisely. Sure, you want to scan every kitchen knick-knack you see, but winding up with five different toasters doesn’t do you much good. Register for what you truly need first, then allow both your and your fiancé a couple of fun items too.

-Relax. You (probably) only get to be engaged once.  Savor the experience and don’t get too caught up in minor details. Remember, no matter how the day goes, you’ll still get to marry the love of your life.

-Be present. Your wedding day could be a blur, so make sure to cherish every moment with the special people in your life. Let your mom and girlfriends be there for you, and sneak off for some alone time with your man.

-If you’re not leaving right away for your honeymoon, invite guests to a day-after brunch. This gives you more time to visit with the people who came a long way that you didn’t get much time to catch up with.

-Honeymoon! You spent months planning the wedding of your dreams. Treat yourself to a relaxing break bonding as a married couple. You deserve it.

-Remember your vendors. You’ll make some great connections with various businesses, so show the extra-special ones some love with kind reviews online, referrals or even repeat business for future event needs.

The above was all very straightforward and “safe” for PR purposes, but for you bloggy friends, I’ll share a little more about some other regrets, and one embarrassing story.

Said embarrassing story goes like this: It’s maybe a month before the wedding, and it was just one of those days. I had entered into full-on panic mode a couple weeks prior. I had WAY too much left to do and not enough time to do it. I felt like I had to be superbride and do it all on my own (sure, I had my maid of honor help with a few things here and there along the way, but I didn’t ask for all the help that I hadn’t yet realized I needed). Hunting down missing RSVPs, doing seating charts, organizing schedules, assigning day-of tasks to family and friends, DIY-ing decorations, planning the honeymoon, writing our vows, I swear the list just did not end. One night after work when I was trying to tackle it all, I just had a meltdown. I had picked up some fast food for dinner, because who has time to cook when there’s a wedding to plan?! I was eating it with my then-fiancee and remember just feeling so overwhelmed and stressed and upset to begin with, but then the mushroom and swiss started dripping out of my burger and onto the couch and my clothes. I balled up the rest of the burger and angrily threw it in the bag. I moved on to my sundae. I had let it sit for too long, and it was drippy and soft. On the way from container to mouth, it fell. Enter meltdown. I screamed and put my hand in the container, picked up the rest of the ice cream and just smeared it on my face, shouting something to the extent of “I may as well miss my mouth because I can’t hit it even if I tried, and my life sucks and nothing is working,” then threw the rest of the ice cream on the coffee table and smeared it around.

My fiancee looked at me like he had just witnessed something straight out of one of those real housewives shows, and he had. But worse. About 30 seconds later, we laughed, because what I had just done was so ridiculous. And he cleaned up my whole mess. What a guy. That moment made me realize I was a hot mess and needed help.

Remnants of the table decorations

Remnants of the table decorations

Some time after, I gave him some to-dos and pleaded with my crafty friend to help me with the table numbers, escort cards and other crafty things I felt inadequate in my ability to do myself. She did, and thank God. Shortly after, we had a craft party at my apartment with me, four girlfriends, lots of colored paper, lace doilies, glue sticks and all sorts of unknown craft items she had brought with her. It was one of the best moments of the engagement. Not a big moment like the shower was, but a small victory. I had my wedding army, and we were attacking my to-do list. It felt amazing to accept help and get so much done. I really should have done it sooner. I didn’t get a great shot of my table numbers (dang!), but you can see one in this shot from the reception.

One other regret that I didn’t realize until recently was that I didn’t have a photo booth or disposable cameras at each table. I have plenty of photos of me and the bridal party, but not enough of my guests. I have some candid ones from the reception, but I really wish I had one nice posed photo of everyone who came. Sometimes I’ll have a hard time remembering who came, if they stayed for the reception, what they were wearing, etc. That day was such a blur that I just don’t remember as much as I would like. Sure, I have the guestbook, but it’s not the same. I want to see the smiling faces of everyone who came!

If I could get married again, I’d do a lot of things differently. But, that’s life, right? We live, we learn. I can’t go back in time, so for now, I at least get to help with my maid of honor, who is now engaged herself and guide her so she doesn’t make my same mistakes.

If you’re also married, what’s your biggest regret, or something that you learned? Did you have an epic meltdown like I did?