If you’re planning a wedding, I feel you. It’s hard work, and it’s stressful…but, it’s also the most fun thing in the world!

I’m planning my own wedding, with the help of amazing family and friends. I have done SO much research about topics from flowers to linens to chairs, and I also joined a wedding library in town that gives me helpful tips and recommends popular vendors to me. While I still have a little way to go, I feel like I have gotten so much done in a relatively short amount of time!

To be truthful though, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started working on my dream wedding. Here are my top tips for planning your own wedding, so you can hopefully learn from my mistakes and have a stress-free experience! The most important thing to remember is to breathe, and have fun!

Happy planning!

wedding, wedding planning, Southern Style Diaries, Ivana Hrynkiw

Get organized immediately

Start off on the right foot, and keep everything organized from day one. Immediately after getting engaged, you’ll start paying more attention to weddings you attend or see in magazines, and chances are there will either be something you love and want to copy, or something you want to avoid. You’ll need a place to keep all of that so you can look back at it, and also add more important documents for safe keeping! My wedding planning binder is from the ladies of Southern Weddings, and it’s precious. It comes with the cutest little tips and tricks, and reminds you to enjoy the planning process! It also has plenty of room to add in pages (with page protectors… I learned the hard way!) or stuff folders in, which you can tell I took full advantage of.

Know the basics (of what you want)

I don’t mean you have to know what color your bridesmaids dresses will be or what your date is. But, I do think it’s wise to have a basic idea of what you want your day to be like— outside or inside? Church or a swanky ballroom or a rustic barn? Winter, or summer? Things like this will make it easier to envision your day, and then your details can start to come together in your head. Everything is so beautiful, it can really sway brides when looking at venues if you don;t have any idea what you want. Things will change along the process, but if you go ahead and know the basics your life will be a lot easier.

Don’t panic when you get your first round of prices

Learn from my mistakes— stuff is expensive. You *think* you understand that, but when you write everything down for your budget, suddenly you are hyperventilating and that’s not going to help anything! Be aware of the price ranges that wedding things cost. You can easily find this online or in a wedding planning book if you purchase one— just for a general idea, reception venues can be $3000 and up, while food can range around $20-30 a person. And don’t forget your tables, chairs, servers, bartenders, etc… it adds up fast, so be mentally prepared.

Pinterest is your best friend

If you already have a wedding Pinterest board you started way before you even thought getting married was in the near future, I suggest either deleting things that you can’t truly see yourself doing/wearing OR starting a new board. When I got engaged and got a general idea of what I wanted (see #x above) I realized that all the poufy dress and the flower walls were beautiful, but they just weren’t for my dream day. Having some kind of vision board, if you don’t use Pinterest, is insanely helpful to both you and your vendors! I use Pinterest and I cut out pictures from magazines and keep them in my binder.

Get help of a trusted family member, friend, or wedding planner

I’m lucky enough to have an awesome mom, aunt, cousin, and mother-in-law, along with tons of friends, that have helped me tremendously through this process. They’ve kept this whole thing moving! I’m pretty convinced no one has it better than me in that department, but if you do, use them to your advantage! Most of your family members will want to help you in some way, so it will help you and make them feel good if you give them a job. Also, this isn’t their first rodeo, so they know better than I do. If you don’t have any family/friends that you want to help you, get a wedding planner! It will take so much work and stress off your plate.

Venue first, then everything else

Venue, venue, venue! Do not book anything else until you do this. Sometimes certain venues require you to use certain vendors– so if you love the venue, you have to play by their rules. Don’t get into a situation where you’ve committed to a vendor and have to back out, or you have everything except your dream venue and it’s booked on your date because you didn’t start looking soon enough. Just save yourself the trouble and trust me, book it first.

Do everything earlier than you think you need to

I know someone will disagree with me on this, but I jumped ahead of the typical planning calendar guidelines by like two months. I am a person that needs to know details ASAP, and to me, there was no sense in waiting. Once I had the venue, I was excited to start looking into other vendors and getting them secured for my date. Sooner is better than later in my opinion, always. Plus, it’ll save you so much stress when you have your dress a year in advance, rather than running to every bridal store in one weekend trying to find the perfect gown.

You’re not going to buy the dress you think you want

I wanted dress A, and I ended up with dress Z. If you think you know exactly what you want, chances are you’re going to get it on and say, “eh,” and go back to the drawing board. All I’m saying is be open minded and don’t set your heart on something until you have it on your body!

Break tradition…or don’t.

Your mom, aunt, cousin, and sister all wore grandma’s wedding dress… but you want a Hayley Paige studded gown. Or everyone is very religious and got married in a church, but that’s just not your thing. Sit down and talk with your family, and explain to them your concerns. Just because everyone else did something does not mean you have to do it! You wedding is hopefully something you only do once, which brings me to my next point…

It’s YOUR day!

Remember that, and own it! Don’t be a brideszilla, but keep in mind that your opinion is the most important. It’s not selfish, its making sure that your day is what you want. I had to be told this several times, and stop putting everyone else’s feelings and wants in front of my own. And you know what? They were right. While I have kept everyone’s opinions in my head (and sided with 99% of them) I have had to make several calls that were different than what some people would have preferred. If you’re like me, you might feel bad in the moment… but that’s better than being disappointed on your wedding day.

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