How to Plan a Wedding By Yourself: A Guide for Teachers (or Anyone) Who Works Full-Time

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Your significant other has popped the question, you’re adorning a beautiful new ring, and everyone from your grandmother to your students at school are so excited for you and your fiancé!  But, what now?  You’ve taken that first bite into wedding planning and are feeling overwhelmed.  I’ve been there, done that.
Here are my top 10 tips for teachers-or anyone-who work full-time to plan a dream wedding on a budget!
Schedule times to discuss the wedding and set goals.
When you realize everything that has to be planned – caterer, cake, decor, floral, entertainment, attire, guest list, and the list goes on – wedding planning can quickly become overwhelming.  My husband and I even thought we’d hire a wedding planner to help with the stress level.  After a consultation we were in love with her and her work.  However when we found out the price tag we quickly realized a wedding planner was not going to fit into our budget.  What’d we do?  We got brave and decided we could and would do the planning ourselves!  We set specific times to discuss the various elements of our wedding, beginning with the most time sensitive (venue, caterer, etc.).  During these “meetings” we set goals for when we would reach out to specific vendors and when we would make a final decision.
Select the RIGHT time of year.
We all know there are times of year that are busier than others for various reasons.  Trying to schedule and plan a wedding around back to school, parent conferences, the holidays, or other busy times of year was something we had no desire to partake in.  We chose an early October wedding so that I could spend some of my time off during the summer planning.  This was so helpful when school began in August because we had so many of the details ironed out already.  I realize we can’t all have, or don’t want, a fall wedding.  My advice is to seriously consider the busy times of year for your fiancé and yourself and select a wedding date accordingly.


Create a secret Pinterest board.
Since we we’re our own wedding planners we knew we needed a way to keep track of our ideas.  The Pinterest nerd in me quickly came out and created a “secret” board for us to track ideas that we saw when scouring Pinterest.  Why a “secret” board?  We didn’t want everyone to see what we we’re planning!  We wanted a “WOW” effect when people entered our venue.  You can also invite collaborators (your vendors) to view your secret Pinterest boards.
Research costs and set a budget.
As you’re finding all of those beautiful, exciting, and perfect ideas on Pinterest the price tag of your wedding can start to rise quickly.  My husband and I set up a simple Excel spreadsheet with estimates for vendors, decor, attire, etc. after doing some research and pinning ideas to our secret Pinterest board.  While we didn’t stay completely on budget for every ticket item, we were able to plan for some give and take because of the organization we created from the beginning.  And hey, you’ve already saved a ton by deciding to plan the wedding yourself!
Plan early for invites/thank-you cards.
I can’t stress this tip enough.  Do not wait until the last minute to order your invites.  For starters you will be much more stressed, and if you order early you save on not paying a “rush” fee.  We selected our wedding suite with all of the pieces/upgrades we wanted and then watched the website we were going to order from like a hawk.  Why?  Many sites like [Minted] and [Wedding Paper Divas] have sales and coupon codes that they run.  We saved over $100 by planning ahead and ordering early when a sale hit.
Pay the extra fee to have envelopes pre-addressed.
When we ordered our Save the Dates I thought I’d be super-duper-Pinterest-crafty and do some Falligraphy (AKA fake calligraphy) to address the envelopes.  Many, many hours and discarded envelopes later we became a bit wiser and decided the extra fee to have envelopes pre-addressed pays for itself in dividends!  If you order when there is a sale you can afford to pay the little extra to save yourself hours of time!
Pare down your guest list.
One of the biggest ways to save on the cost of your wedding is to pare down your guest list.  When we first set out to plan the wedding we had a much larger guest list than what we ended up inviting to the wedding.  We decided that at the end of the day we didn’t want to pay upwards of $100-$150 a person for people to attend the wedding whom we weren’t truly close with.  It’s hard, but let go of the popularity contest and the idea that a “large” wedding is better and save that money for your honeymoon!  Plus with a wedding around the size of 80 people we were able to talk with everyone throughout the night and not stress about making the rounds.
Pick a venue that offers more.
When trying to figure out ways to save time and money, we figured that selecting a venue that could offer more than just the space would be helpful.  This may have been the smartest decision we made! Our venue provided floral, decor, food, beverages, and wait staff with our guidance and selection for everything.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to not have to contact a separate caterer, event staffing company, decor rental facility, and who knows what else.  It also made it feel like everyone was on the same page – because we were!
There are points in the wedding planning journey where you have to delegate some responsibility between yourself and your fiancé.  Neither of you should do it alone.  My husband and I would separate our tasks on our to-do list to even out the workload.  As a teacher my days tend to be a bit less flexible as far as contacting vendors, but if I planned ahead for a call or e-mail I could fit it in.  But don’t think delegation has to stop there.  Get the family involved!  We had several family members who were instrumental in helping to secure some last minute items.
Already lived together for some time?  Honeyfund.
My last tip for you is to consider if you truly need a traditional wedding registry.  My husband and I had lived together for 5 years before getting married so we had a fairly wide stock of kitchen and home utensils and decor.  We decided a traditional wedding simply wouldn’t work for us.  While searching for alternatives online we ran across [Honeyfund].  Honeyfund is a modern-take on a wedding registry.  We planned our honeymoon (which will happen summer 2017) and selected pieces of the trip that people could gift to us.  From excursions, to a day in Champagne, to airfare our guests were able to select what part of our honeymoon they would like to gift.


I hope these tips will prove helpful to you during your wedding planning adventure.  Remember to have fun and enjoy the journey.  It flies by, but is something that we know we’ll remember always.[Photography by:  Andrew Knowles of AJK Images]

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