Wedding planning notebooks - HALP
July 17, 2016 8:09 PM   Subscribe

I really want this planner. But $63 seems steep. But it's really, really pretty. But are there better options?!

What I'm looking for: a paper-based (not digital), comprehensive wedding planning notebook. One not sponsored by the knot dot com or other industry powerhouses. Something pragmatic and cute, but lacking those overly precious bride-centric illustrations and tones (like this kind of thing). Just a simple, aesthetically pleasing, durable place to store all our planning information and guidance for same.

Specific questions:
Is $63 really outrageous or am I just being cheap? OR am I saving lots more money by buying a book and not the services of a human planner?
Do you know of better options out there?
Is it even possible to plan a wedding with just like, a normal spiral-bound notebook? Have you done it?
posted by witchen to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think $63 is outrageous, personally. I definitely did not require a wedding-specific planner to plan my wedding and in fact had no idea such things existed until just now. I suspect that if you buy this planner you will end up feeling a ton of anxiety about whether you are skipping normal stuff in planning your wedding. For instance, in the photos there's a section on "post-wedding brunch". I've been to dozens of weddings and maybe a handful of them had a brunch the morning after. But if you're using this planner as a guide I'm sure part of you will feel weird about not having one.

In short, I'd skip this ridiculous expense if I were you. It seems likely to inspire you to rack up additional ridiculous expenses.
posted by town of cats at 8:20 PM on July 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

We did the whole thing in a Google Docs spreadsheet with separate tabs for vendors, timelines, invitations, contacts, that kind of thing. I think the caterer really liked branded folders so I just stuck any miscellaneous papers in there. Have you seen A Practical Wedding's wedding planning tools? Free and easily customized and as low-key as possible. It might help you narrow down what it is you want or need from a planner if you do want to look for other options (and if pretty pages helps keep you centered and on track, that's no small thing!)
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:29 PM on July 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Is it even possible to plan a wedding with just like, a normal spiral-bound notebook? Have you done it?

Totally possible! $63 is sort of outrageous, but so much wedding stuff pricing plays off the wedding-ees getting struck by the "hahaha, this is a drop in the bucket of the overall wedding expenditure" craziness that strike most people who have been involved with one.

It's sort of smart pricing on their part, because if you're not at that point, or having the sort of wedding they're helping you plan for, you probably won't need or heed the advice contained within, and if you are, $63 is basically negligible.

I'd use Google Docs or an online system personally for the actual planning.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:34 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like fancy stationery too, but as someone who just wrapped up their wedding four weeks ago, I give your odds of actually using that notebook on more than 3 occasions as less than 10%. I use a written daily planner, but that would not have helped with wedding planner. What you WILL use is a Google Doc that you can share with the people who are helping plan.

So: You can use the $63 and buy a non-wedding specific notebook. OR, use the $63 to buy yourself this giftie, because dammit it's your money and that's a very pretty notebook and it's special and that's totally cool. But trust me - you don't need (and probably won't use) that notebook.

Congratulations on getting engaged - enjoy the ride!
posted by samthemander at 8:47 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think it's reasonable, I pay about 50 or so for my moleskine daytimers. it seems a really useful, really nice peice, and can be used as a keep sake. Good stationary is worth it.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:55 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the advice so far!! I just want to emphasize that I really would prefer a paper planner. Just the mention of Google Docs raises my blood pressure, and I'm stressfully migrating other personal/work documents away from Evernote right now so I want to plan the wedding in a different realm. One where I feel more competent and relaxed. We've been engaged for almost a year now; part of it is that wedding planning looms over me like a large cloud of stress and I keep putting it off. But now we have a date on the calendar and we need to hop to it.

And the "$63 is just a drop in the bucket!" = completely what I'm wrestling with right now. Dammit, they are so clever!!

Final thing: typing "wedding planner" into a search engine, even if include the word "notebook" or "paper," turns up a wide range of stuff I don't want or need. So if any MeFites have a planner they prefer, I am super open to suggestions.
posted by witchen at 8:55 PM on July 17, 2016

I used one of those 13-pocket expanding files to keep things like reception venue brochures separate from sample CDs from bands, a notebook with some post-it flags (got a Moleskine just because I enjoyed writing in it) and an Excel spreadsheet, along with an elaborate system of browser bookmarks. You can get very cute expanding files at Target in the $6 range.

You're not saving money over a real planner, because if you had a real planner, she would probably be doing at least some of the work for you. $63 for a binder that presumably just has the same checklists and timelines that you can find for free all over the Internet along with some added aesthetic value doesn't seem like a lot of added value to me.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:57 PM on July 17, 2016

I used a spiral notebook, and a folder for papers. I tried ordering a planner (a $20 one, not "fancy") because I thought it would have guidance and info in it and I was so annoyed when it arrived. It's just... space for lists. Pointless. I had many drafts of every list... and in many cases, I found I needed to arrange things as tables or whatever.... the last thing I would have wanted is less flexibility of where and how to write things.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:04 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used a 3 ring binder. Stuck some pretty scrapbooking paper in the front cover, made my own tabbed dividers for sections I was going to use, got some inserts to hold business cards and brochures and whatnot, and printed out specific planning pages (which are even easier to find online now than they were then!). Easy to take things in and out or reorganize as needed with a binder.

A book has too much you don't need and not enough of what you do; a binder you make on your own is endlessly flexible and can focus on your particular needs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:08 PM on July 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

Seconding Eyebrows McGee with the DIY approach. I haven't planned a wedding, but I travel, and I've used the more customizable travel planner notebooks and journals way more than any all-in-one volume like that.

Also, I was expecting something much fancier-looking for $63, to be honest. Hell, you could probably make a close copy of that for about two thirds the price just by assembling stuff from the "Happy Life Planners" section from Michael's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

A binder with lots of plastic sleeves works very well. The sleeves act as pockets for contracts, invitation samples, sample catering menus, etc... and they also allow you to flip through and see everything (helpful for photos and magazine clippings). Plus, a binder allows you to rearrange things as you go which isn't possible with a spiral notebook.

One of those white binders with slipcovers on the outside covers and spine help to make it a cute planner if you slip in nice decorative papers.
posted by quince at 9:51 PM on July 17, 2016

I recommend a three-ring binder, a package of page protectors, and A Practical Wedding Planner off Amazon. Less than $20 for the whole kit and caboodle.
posted by Tamanna at 11:46 PM on July 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Honestly, it is very pretty but I looked at the "inner front pocket for easy document & receipt storage" and "8-slot business card holder" and I laughed. First of all, you will have loads of business cards. Second of all, 10"h x 9" is a useless size. You will have so many vendor printouts and contracts and lists and emails you want to print and keep, all printed on regular paper. You really need a notebook you can hole punch them into and move them around in.

Get a 3-ring binder, a 3-hole punch and some divider tabs and some plastic pockets and print out sheets from one of the 3 million free online wedding planning sites for your task and organisation lists.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:17 AM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Jumping on the DIY notebook planner- with room for 8-1/2 x 11 pages.
posted by sarajane at 4:08 AM on July 18, 2016

Oh gosh, I just had a folder for receipts and table layout scribbles. You can definitely do this with normal office supplies if you want to.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:46 AM on July 18, 2016

I can't really speak to the paper planner - I live my life in Google Docs - but BUY A PRACTICAL WEDDING IMMEDIATELY. We honestly couldn't have planned our wedding without it. Read that, then decide what kind of planning tools you need. Maybe all you need in the end is a three ring binder with plastic sleeves and a printed out calendar.
posted by nerdfish at 5:26 AM on July 18, 2016

We went the electronic route, but I think you'd fare very well with a binder (insert some pockets/folders!), plain lined paper, tabbed dividers, and some wedding-specific printouts. I did a quick search of "wedding planning pdf free" and "free wedding planning printables" just now and found some things that might work -- you could easily pick and choose pages from various documents to suit your needs. (The level of depth in some of these things [PDF] would have driven me nuts, but that's because we avoided a lot of the "traditional" wedding stuff.)

You can also find "printables" like this on Etsy, which should get you more of the cuteness factor, if that's what you're looking for... but if you're just looking for informative and functional and paper, you can absolutely do that much cheaper than $63.
posted by cellar door at 7:27 AM on July 18, 2016

Here is the complete section on DIY planners at Michael's. It is not bare bones either - you have a variety of binders, a variety of colors, a variety of different inserts (the web page only has "event planning", but I swear I've seen wedding planning)...and if that isn't cute enough, there are stickers and stamps and stuff you can further ditz things up with. And it will cost you less.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:32 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This one from Chronicle is much cheaper. I looked through it years ago and it seemed fine, but didn't plan a wedding with it (I worked on a related project).
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:43 AM on July 18, 2016

I'm currently planning a wedding, using mostly Google Docs, a standard 2-pocket folder, and a spiral-bound notebook. It's working well, except when I leave the notebook at home and a vendor calls while I'm at work. (Though it's much easier to transport the notebook back and forth than an entire Planner.) We're consciously avoiding a lot of the "traditional" stuff that weddings "need" - I've found the above-mentioned A Practical Wedding to be worth its weight in gold for this.

A recently-married friend loaned me her full-on planner binder "for inspiration." It's interesting that she left nearly all the planner pages blank (lists, ideas, budgets, etc). Instead, there are lots of stapled pages shoved into the front pocket, along with her handwritten notes torn from a legal pad.
posted by writermcwriterson at 8:47 AM on July 18, 2016

Nthing the DIY approach. I used a 3-ring binder, with dividers that I made myself (I am a collage artist and I wanted them to be pretty). I checked several books out of the library and came up with the categories I wanted, including some that no other planners would ever have included (for $REASONS I had Gumby and Pokey hiding at various locations at the reception, so I had a Gumby and Pokey tab.) DIY will allow you to make it really specific to your needs.
posted by OrangeDisk at 9:19 AM on July 18, 2016

I would expect a (ridiculously incorrectly sized -- where are all the contracts etc going to go? in a matching $663 filing cabinet?) "wedding planner" that describes itself with

"Stay organized an on-budget with nine individual planning section."

to have all the attention to detail and literate writing given to it on its page that is trying to sell it to you. Man, that's pathetic.

And it just sounds silly. "Photos: Don't forget to capture snaps of the major happenings during your engagement..." Are you really going to want to store photos forever in with the contracts and correspondence from the #@$* who screwed up your order for X and made you go running out to find a new vendor of X while hanging on to the correspondence so you have a clear record that they screwed up and should not be billing you again, etc? Plenty of wedding planning is utterly un-fun and aggravating. I would not want a pretty book. I would want a thing that would burn well when I was finally done with it all. Photos and keepsakes are not things you want to store with your lists of vendors who quoted you $A and then at zero hour decided they needed $B to go through with exactly what you had asked for months ago.
posted by kmennie at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I planned a wedding with my monthly/weekly paper planner (the notes page for each week was very helpful) and google docs. I don't think it is possible to plan a wedding in 2016 with just a notebook without causing you undue mental stress. Having physical notes is helpful for some of the planning, but most of it will need to be shared and editable. If you are planning on consulting anyone else about your wedding decisions, or sharing any of your notes and schedules with anyone prior to the wedding, it will be very helpful to have them in a digital version. Editing schedules, address data, and keeping registry lists/thank you note notes, which will happen, will be easier in a digital file.

The $63 seems on scale with other wedding item inflation you'll see, and if you want to keep the planning simple and limited to what you and your betrothed want out of all the wedding things people will be happy to sell you, perhaps resisting this now will be good practice.

Compiling your own lovely book to suit your organization need and planning wishes will require you to do research you'll want to do anyway- when we were looking over preprinted lists and schedules, we found a lot of purely horrible advice- not just 'pay a lot for things you might not want' or sexist assumptions, but advice to pick a venue before coming up with the guest list. Look up some 'everything went wrong' stories (Metafilter was helpful for this), consult a few schedules and lists, and browse some planning websites before getting started making your own system. Miss Manners Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding was very helpful reading for us.
posted by slanket wizard at 6:41 PM on July 19, 2016

Are you the type of person who buys tons of blank journals and writes in the first three pages and then puts them on the shelf? Because I totally am and I could see myself buying this and then putting it on the shelf in a week, never to be used again. But, if you're a person whose personal systems include using a paper calendar/day planner then maybe this is what you need and it's totally worth $63. Think about your own planning style - it's not going to change dramatically for a wedding. Work with your strengths and the systems that you know work for you.
posted by bendy at 9:16 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I got a bright three-ring binder and some dividers and a hole punch and SO FAR SO GOOD. Am very glad I didn't spend the $63, so thank you all!!
posted by witchen at 10:33 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

« Older cats are weird, volume 3 billion   |   What kind of snake is this? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.