Long time no talk, Jon Sharman Photography fans!  I’ve been scurrying around trying to finish up all the last minute projects for my wedding these past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about you!  As I have started to tie up all of our loose ends I’ve been thinking of some things that I can share with you here to make YOUR months of planning easier.  We haven’t even made it to the wedding day yet and I’m already thinking about all the things I wish I had done, or the things I wish I had NOT done.  I think every bride goes through this process of analyzing their planning process and how they arrive at the big day, but I hope that you’re able to learn from my triumphs AND my mistakes.

Several times in the past few weeks I’ve found myself saying things like “Where is that receipt?” “How much did I spend on the save the dates?”  “Have we finished paying for programs?”  Not knowing where my money has gone is a BIG problem.  I’ve found out that as organized as I am with my ideas and my timeline, I’m as organized when it comes to writing down where every cent is going.

Why is writing down everything so important?  It’ll help you stick to your budget, that’s why!  You may be saying “Duh, Nicole” on this one, but it’s easy to say “I don’t need to write that down” when you’re buying little things like paper for the save the dates, ribbon for your bridesmaids bouquets, or a lipgloss to throw in your clutch.  Every cent counts towards your budget and you don’t want to be frantically trying to find old receipts the last few weeks before your wedding.  I’ve been surprised by how many “little” things need to be done towards the end of an engagement, and I’m finding myself going through old bank statements trying to see exactly where I am on my budget!  Yikes!  That’s not the place a bride wants to be and I want YOUR last few weeks before your wedding to be as stress-free as they can be.  Here are some organizational tips that will help you keep track of every cent you spend on the wedding.

1.  Keep everything in a three ring binder.

Yes, those wedding planning books and kits are GREAT, but they don’t take the place of a three ring binder!  It is easy to misplace things if you’re just stuffing loose paper and receipts into a planner, but if you have a binder with pockets and page protectors you are much more likely to keep everything in close reach.

2.  Have a pre-planned list of how much you can spend in each area.

It is always a good idea to completely plan out a budget before you start wedding planning.  Think about the venue, the dress, catering, photography, florals, favors, music, and stationery and decide where you want to spend the majority of your money.  From there, always, ALWAYS leave yourself some room for the things that will come up close to the end.  There will be small details that you overlooked at the beginning of planning so give yourself a little cushion room so that you’re not out of money before you are done planning.

3.  Have a spreadsheet of your budget and how much can be spent in each area. 

Having a spreadsheet that you keep in the front of your binder will help you tremendously in staying on budget.  Every time you go to research prices and vendors think about the money you originally set aside for that particular area.  If you are constantly referring to your origional budget it will be hard to overspend in every area.  Yes, there will usually be an area that you spend more than you allotted for, but go back and fix that in your spreadsheet.  If you spend more in one area, pick another area that you can cut back in a little bit so that you stay within your budget!

I truly believe that organizing a binder with all the things you will need during wedding planning will greatly help in sticking to your budget.  I know that money is a stressful thing when it comes to weddings and you want to make it as easy on yourself as possible.  Do yourself a favor and get organized!  I promise that it’ll save you from going frantic the last few weeks before your wedding.

Did any of you have a “plan” that helped you stick to your budget?  If you did, do you have any tips for the engaged gals out there?

As always,

Hold tight to love.

Nicole