Do-It-Yourself Wedding 2

Once you've chosen your date and figured out your budget - both the budget you want to stick to and the budget you know you have to stick to, you should start working on your guest list and your ideas binder. You'll also want to approach your first string bridal party folks early and start talking to your first choice venues as soon as you've identified them so you make sure you don't miss out on a great location because you were asleep at the wheel.

Nailing down your guest list early is crucial. A modest wedding budget will stretch much farther if you have fifty guests instead of two hundred and fifty. By the same token, your fourteen bridesmaids and interpretive dance routine will feel a little silly if you realize you only have a guest list of twenty-five. Your guest list - not so much who is on it, but how many, will inform where you have your wedding, what time of day, what kind of food, what kind of wedding favors, and any number of other factors. Feel like your wedding will be ruined if you don't have the glitter infused, hydroponically grown calla lilies but just can't squeeze them into the budget and pay for the sit down dinner and cocktail hour for all of your guests? One of the most efficient ways to trim a wedding budget is to trim the guest list. Having the guest list in place early also helps you stay organized as the RSVPs and gifts start rolling in. A simple excel spreadsheet or other database will help you keep track of who is vegetarian, who needs a kosher meal, who gave you the awful gravy boat, and who sends their regrets. This information is invaluable both when talking to vendors and at thank-you note time when the dust clears.

But I thought planning my wedding would be fun?! When do I get to look at sparkly things and talk about tulle?! That, my friend, is what the big binder is for. Start an idea book for yourself. Anything that inspires you, put it in the binder. From wedding magazines to flower ideas to fabrics and music. Put those ideas in your book and don't be afraid to dream. You're still far enough out from your wedding that you don't have to decide on the mermaid gown or the princess cut just yet. Think about the crystals in the flower arrangements. Try out sparkly nail polishes. Let those ideas percolate for now. If you find a vendor you particularly like, get their card and talk to them about how far in advance they are getting bookings.

Oh yeah. You should probably also book your officiant. Particularly if you are having a religious ceremony, you'll want to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to complete any premarital counseling required by your particular faith or officiant. While your head is whirling with all of this mediocre-to-un-fun stuff, have a little fun, too. If you're so inclined, throw an engagement party. Not only are they a smash, it's also a great opportunity to flex your fledgling party planning muscles and let your hair down a little before you buckle down in full on wedding insanity mode.

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