Because binders solve all woes, even weddings
July 9, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Help me put together a wedding planning binder for a friend!

A good friend of mine recently got engaged - yay! I haven't planned a wedding before, but I am pretty good at organizing things and planning in general, so I offered to put together a basic wedding planning binder for her. I've seen the ones that are offered for sale at book sellers and they're kind of hideous and suffer from anything-to-do-with-weddings-is-double-the-price syndrome.

If you've planned a wedding recently, did you buy a wedding binder, make your own, go all digital, or just (gasp!) play it by ear? Are there some specific sites with checklists I can modify for her binder?

In case it makes a difference: she's planning small-ish wedding (about 50 guests) and is pretty much going from scratch in terms of planning.
posted by itsamermaid to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We bought one of those plan your dream wedding books, spent a couple of evenings leafing through it, and then we decided to elope :)

I'm not kidding..

If I were going to do this I would probably buy the book that looks most reasonable, then essentially make a cliff notes version for your friend with the stuff that will be important for her wedding.
posted by COD at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2012

I made a multi-tabbed, color-coded spreadsheet that I shared via Google Docs with my fiance and sister/maid of honor. It functioned as a to-do list, guest list, schedule, seating assignment organizer, day-of list and schedule, budget tracker, and means of tracking dietary restrictions, rsvps, and thank-you note mailings. I did that instead of using a premade one because I was pretty sure having something telling me that I MUST have a rehearsal dinner (and a number of other things) would make me crazy, so we cut things down to things we cared about and went from there. If this sounds like something you'd like to take a peek at, memail me your email address and I'll send it right over.
posted by mchorn at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2012

I planned my own wedding, and made our own binder to keep track of things. However, this binder was primarily for the day of the ceremony and reception, so that our coordinator had a physical copy and could easily reference things. It was a white binder with hard cover, the kind you find in drug stores or college bookstores.

Everything leading up to the day was digital. I had a spreadsheet keeping track of the budget, which vendors were responsible for what service (along with contact numbers), schedule of appointments, and rough timelines for the program. The spreadsheet also contained the guest list and their seating arrangements, including any special needs such as high chairs or wheelchairs. I even had a worksheet on the food and drink. This spreadsheet was shared amongst my coordinator and fiancé, and we used our phone calendars to set reminders for appointments.

We made the program as detailed as it could be, noting even seemingly trivial things like "who we wanted in our wedding photos" or "who would bring us some sandwiches while we're getting ready." We did not want to run the risk of forgetting to include someone or something due to the hectic frenzy of the wedding day.

Not everything digital made it into the binder. The most important items were the program and contact info for those vendors that had to be there on the day (photographer, florist, band, for example). In addition, I had one of those clear plastic bag-things used in binders to hold payment envelopes or other important documents, with clear instructions to the coordinator about who would receive what, and when.

You can do a Google search for "wedding checklist" to get ideas of what you ought to keep in mind. Most wedding web sites have the same basic checklist, and you can tailor them as needed to fit the needs of the couple in question. If you consider the binder as keeping track of the timeline of events, the checklist and organization sorta fill themselves in (though, knowing exactly what details you need to consider could be an AskMe in itself).

I do advocate making your own wedding binder. Buy a cheap one at a drug store with some dividers; if the couple want to keep it as a memento, they can easily switch out the binder for a fancy one.
posted by CancerMan at 2:03 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check A Practical Wedding's giant page of spreadsheets. It makes me want to get married just for the spreadsheets! Plus APW seems to be a generally good, level-headed (tending towards upscale independent?) source of wedding planning advice. A step more mainstream than Offbeat Bride, but not "Industrial Wedding" style.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:14 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

We made a binder for my sister's wedding. The most helpful things were lots of plastic sleeves that we could drop papers, tear-out from magazines, etc into. It saves having to hole-punch things.

We also made shared Google docs, but having paper back ups for when we were on the go was helpful. Also, lots of extra sheets and post its for notetaking while doing things like tastings and registering.
posted by quince at 2:22 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm getting married on Saturday. The very idea of using a physical binder for wedding planning leaves me utterly cold. I've used Google Docs almost exclusively (with a designated paper folder for the rare physical documents I've needed to keep track of), and I really can't imagine any physical medium being easier than a series of well-organized digital spreadsheets. We've got a few paper copies of things printed out for the actual event, but there would've been no chance in Hades of my wedding getting planned if I had been relying on an actual binder. I know some folks who've been using Pinterest like it was their religion to keep track of wedding inspiration, but I was way too late and not hip enough to join that particular party, so I've just been rocking out in my own little corner of Google.
posted by Diagonalize at 7:49 PM on July 9, 2012

I tried keeping a wedding binder too, but I didn't use it much. I did use it for the initial phases of brainstorming, guest list, and general note taking.

I did find this wedding checklist by Off Beat Bride pretty helpful and also this checklist by Real Simple.

The most important tool was getting a couple good friends involved that had planned weddings before and just really want to help me stay organized. One friend was basically my event planner: We would talk to the phone and brainstorm, and then she would organize the information for me. Amazing!!
posted by Rocket26 at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2012

Thanks guys! I'm going to look at all the spreadsheets and checklists and make the best binder ever!)
posted by itsamermaid at 2:39 PM on July 10, 2012

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