Whether you hire a wedding planner for your big day or not, you should most definitely designate a "wedding folder" on your computer to store all of the important documents, schedules, contracts, etc. in one place. A lot of times, brides are so excited to get planning their wedding that they don't take the time necessary at the beginning of their engagement to get organized. They jump right in and let the important files build up in their email inbox over months and months of planning. Then, are left spending hours searching through emails to find that one contract that they need to read 2 weeks before the wedding that was sent over a year ago. Ah! A nightmare!
This nightmare can be avoided if you take time to get yourself organized from the very beginning - before the contracts and documents and decisions start rolling in. But you're a new bride, you've never done this before, so how do you know what you need to do to get organized? That's where today's blog post comes in!
Today, I've come up with a step by step guide to help you build your wedding folder including tips on how to keep it organized throughout your wedding planning process! Let's get organized!
1. MAKE A WEDDING FOLDER
This is the easiest step! Literally create a folder on your desktop called "Our Wedding" - or whatever you want to call it! DO NOT store wedding information in any other place on your computer!! Also, avoid having multiple folders for multiple computers. If you're going to use your work computer and your home computer for wedding planning, I highly recommend using Google Drive to store all of your planning work! That way, you can save files to your Drive and access them from any of your computers (and even your phone!). This makes it so much easier to access files later on. When I book a new LBE bride, the first thing I do is create a new folder for that bride on my Google Drive so we can share documents back and forth :)
2. CREATE SUBFOLDERS
Subfolders will help you organize all of the files you keep within your wedding folder so that things can be easily found. You can have as many subfolders as you like, but here's what I've found works well:
Contacts. Your contracts are super important and you'll need to refer back to them a bunch throughout the planning process, which is why they should have a folder all to themselves. Each time you receive a contract from a vendor, save it in this folder. Then, once you and the vendor have signed the contract, save another copy of the contract with "signed" in the filename. Also make sure all of the contracts have the vendor name (florist, planner, caterer, etc) in the filename. This will make it easier to tell which contract is which when you are searching through them later.
Vendor Documents. You'll get a number of documents from your vendors besides contracts throughout your planning. These could be questionnaires, timelines, package details, proposals, etc. To organize these, I recommend creating a "Vendor Docs" folder and creating a subfolder for each vendor ("Florist," "Caterer," "Rentals," etc.) within it. That way whenever you receive any document from a vendor, you have the perfect place to save it and find it later on! This is much easier than digging through emails!!
Inspiration. Oooo this is the fun one! Yes you have a Pinterest board, but you will also have specific images that you'll want to reference and save so that you can send them in a email or to your bridal party later on. You should definitely save your inspiration board in this folder (I talk about how to make one in this blog post). Additionally, anytime a vendor sends you images, these should all be saved here.
Planning. This is the big important one!!! This folder is for any documents you create that do not come from vendors. These could be address labels, registry cards, rehearsal dinner info, etc. BUT this folder is also for all of your planning info! With my brides, I like to create a planning workbook and put it in this folder. Let's talk about how to create a planning workbook next!
3. MAKE A PLANNING WORKBOOK
The planning workbook is a giant Excel workbook with multiple sheets detailing all of your planning info. If you use Google drive (which I highly recommend!), you can upload your planning workbook to your planning subfolder on your drive and then maintain it and access it from any computer. Each sheet is kind of like a subfolder - each one has a different purpose and stores different information. Here are the sheets I recommend:
Budget Workbook. This sheet should be where you keep track of all of your payments! Have a row for each vendor, and then multiple columns to keep track of all payments to each vendor. I recommend having columns for estimated cost, actual cost, deposit due date, deposit amount, remaining balance due date, and remaining balance amount. Whenever you make a payment, color that payment green so you can keep track of what payments you have left. I also recommend keeping totals at the bottom for total paid and total remaining.
Guest List. While you're coming up with your guest list, type guest's names and addresses in a sheet on your planning workbook! Then, create columns to keep information for each guest - this will turn into your RSVP tracking sheet! You can have columns for RSVP (yes/no), whether they are under 21, their dinner choice, and their assigned table number.
Vendor Information. This sheet is for you to keep track of vendor contact info so it is all in one place and easily accessible. Again, have one row for each vendor and columns for point of contact name, email, phone number, and even their time of arrival on wedding day.
Detail/Decor To-Do List. On this sheet, list each area you'll have decor (guestbook table, card/gift table, cake table, guest tables, etc). Then under each category, list what you'll need. For example, for the guest tables, maybe you need table numbers, favors, and centerpieces made. List those out for each category so you can view what you need to do and check off items as they are completed.
Planning Timeline. This is the big one! You should have a section for each month and then list every item that needs to be accomplished within that month underneath it. This can be (and should be) super detailed! From buying your wedding rings and getting your marriage license, to buying bridesmaid gifts and writing vendor checks. Everythinggggg should be in here! That doesn't mean you need to know every item right away! Add things to each month as your plans evolve. And of course, check things off as you get them accomplished. Separating things down by month (or even week) will make your to-dos less intimidating and more doable.
Day Of Timeline. This sheet should contain the final timeline that you (or your planner) will hand off to all vendors! I recommend splitting the day up into at least 15-30 min increments and then listing exactly what will happen throughout the day. When will hair and makeup stylists arrive? When will florals be delivered? Again, this will evolve as your planning progresses, but make sure you keep up with it as plans are made.
4. STAY UP-TO-DATE
Now that you've got everything set up and organized, you need to make sure to maintain the organization and keep everything up to date as your plans evolve! Your timelines and vendor contact info isn't useful if you don't fill it out or keep it up to date. If you're populating all of these folders and templates you've created as you go, the planning process and the month of your wedding will be so much easier!! Each time you receive an email with a document, save it. Any time you receive a timeline from a vendor, adjust your own timeline to reflect it. When you have a change in vendor contact info, make that change in your sheet. It only takes a minute to do these things as they happen, and it will take a lot of stress off of you!!
I hope this post helps to motivate you to organize your wedding folder before you get too deep into the planning process! Work smarter, not harder, and it will definitely pay off throughout all of your planning! After all, planning your wedding should be FUN not stressful!! Happy wedding organization sweet brides!!