One of the best things you can do for yourself in the wedding planning process is to get and stay organized from the very beginning. From the first days of scoping out potential ceremony locations, to drafting that budget and guest list, I’ve found the best way to tackle it all is through excel. Better yet, up your game and start collaborating with your closest helpers with Google Docs. I have become obsessed with making lists and adding in formulas into our budgets, helping my fiancé and I keep a close eye on all things wedding related. Little steps now can absolutely save your sanity later!
Need inspiration where to get started? Dive in headfirst and start making your own wedding handbook with a few tabs of wisdom. (Plus — there's a downloadable wedding planning spreadsheet template at the end!
1. Venues, Locations, Contacts and Deets
If you’re early on in the process, one of the first things you’ll start to look at is ceremony locations. It’s super easy to look track of who said what, where and how with all the emails and calls you’ll be doing, so why not jot it all down and stay on top of it! Start out with a section for location name, with another for location, website and what action needs to be taken (like following up or getting pricing info) along with the initial venue costs as well. This will help to paint a clear picture which spots are worth going after and which ones you might just need to bid farewell to.
2. That Big Ol’ Guest List
At some point you’re going to have to decide who is (or who isn’t!) going to make the cut for the big day. You’re also more than likely going to need all their mailing information as well for those save the dates and invites. Save some time and sanity by combining the two into one. Best part? Highlight those names and make it do the tallying for you! Just be sure to do separate columns for all the fields you need for names, addresses (city, state, zip).
3. The Budget That Doesn’t Have to Be Scary
Money and I have never really gotten along, so when it came time to budgeting for our wedding, I tried my best to run and hide – but then to find a way to make it as painless as possible. This is where listing out every possible category along with some estimates came into play. Set up each category along with corresponding subcategories (for instance, venue also was broken out into facility fee, bartender cost, food, etc.) and estimation on cost. We decided to include a column for any deposits paid to help keep track as well as a last more option column for ‘Needed’, as in how much more we’ll need to pay after the deposit. Total those all up at the end to give yourself the big picture – and make sure to include formulas at the end so when things invariably change (and they will) you’ll see it happening. Plus you’ll be able to decide what things get the ax and what are the must-haves.
4. Important Contacts (and Travel Info!)
The last thing that you’re going to want to do on your wedding day is field questions from people asking who is supposed to go where and how the heck they’re supposed to reach your vendors (or family for that matter!). Package that all up in a neat and tidy bundle so when the big day arrives, you can easily delegate a point person, like your most trusted and organized bridesmaid, MOH or mom; or day-of/wedding coordinator, while you go off to get pampered!
Be sure to include the power players for that day: important vendors like your photographer, DJ, officiate, bakery & caterer or any day-of coordinators as well as key family members and their travel information if they’re coming from out of town. Info overload is better than having people try and overload YOU all morning with questions.
5. Day Of Timeline
This one might seem the most daunting but to help ensure everyone is where they’re supposed to be when you need them, get it all down as specific as possible. Break out your day into sections: pre-ceremony, ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and post-reception and figure out the when, what, where and WHO. This list can easily distributed to your bridal party and family to help wrangle the masses when the time comes. Best part of all? If you’re keeping this all in a shareable Google Doc, just push out the link to everyone and they can easily reference back in between posting killer snaps of your day.
Need help getting started? Download this wedding planning spreadsheet for Excel — it has sheets for you to organize your guest list, budget, vendor details and more!
Elizabeth Strout is a born and raised Maine native currently living in SoCal with her two ridiculous dogs and fiance. In between a manic love for wedding planning, you can find her at the beach or finding pinspiration for future DIY endeavors. Follow her on Twitter or for fabulous wedding finds and more on Pinterest.