(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for BRIDES)

Wedding Planning 101 – 10 Tips To Save You From Madness

Since it's Leap Year, we got one more extra day of February, which means one more extra day of National Weddings Month

Like some of us, you might be planning a wedding. And getting engaged is totally exciting, but then you start to wonder... Oh wow, how am I going to get all of this done. How much will it cost? Where will we find a venue? And once you start asking yourself a million questions, you might throw yourself into a panic attack. So rather than doing THAT, we've got some great tips for you to keep your cool, keep your cost low, and most importantly, keep your wedding a fun process!


10. Shop Local

One of the best tip when planning a wedding is to get someone that's local, rather than a chain. You'll be more lucky to get some personal customer service, being able to level with your employees on pricing, and maybe even work with payment plans. Especially when that comes to photographers and DJs. Someone with their own equipment who doesn't have to answer to a studio or an overseeing boss (who takes a cut of their pay) will be a better bet. Make sure to also get signed contracts for everything between you and your vendors, in case something goes awry.


9. Cut You Guest List Down

We know that you'd love to invite your second cousin's nephew, twice removed, who's got a lovely singing voice, but he doesn't really need to be there, does he? Make your guest list as fine tuned as possible, and invite people who you KNOW would consider coming. The Knot also made a great point on this subject:  "If it's costing you $100 per person, eliminating one table of 10 can save you $1,000."


8. Who Are You Feeding?

Not only will knowing the guest list help keep account of how many place settings you need, also make sure to feed your vendors (and let them know ahead of time). PetaPixel, a photography site, reported recently that a Brides Magazine writer  named Sandy Malone called off feeding photographers or specific members of the working group at a wedding, saying that they should "feed yourself or pack a lunch." THIS IS NOT OKAY. We are all for cutting corners, but many of your staff will be working 14 hours+ on your wedding (especially the Photographers who start with you in the morning), so if you feel the need to cut corners from this angle, The Knot suggests that you decide whether your vendors/employees will get the same meals as your guests or if you are going to choose an alternative and cheaper menu for them.


7. Create An Itinerary

Time management is a must - and this is one of the things that almost gets forgotten most times! When the Bride and Groom are so busy trying to keep everything organized while simultaneously getting ready, it's strenuous and chaotic. Create a timeline of how long hair and makeup has a timeslot, when the groomsmen will arrive (and will they be getting ready at the location or on their own), when you're supposed to be at the church, when photos will be taken (and for how long, and of who), and keep an organized list of what needs to be done in what order. That will save you a world of headache later. Also, to the brides and grooms - don't overload yourself with things you need to do. Have someone like a parent, friend, or bridesmaid/groomsmen take some of the load off for you. After all, they are there to SUPPORT you.


6. Choose The Right Team

In lieu of the notion that your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen are your team, be sure to choose the right team. Bridal Guide says to "Accept that you can't please everyone." This is very true, so remember who works well with who, what friends don't get along, and who can't behave like an adult. Sure, you cannot siphon out all drama with a huge group of people, but anticipating who will be the best asset to you on your wedding day is important. Also remember that any choices that you make, whether it be guests or bridesmaids and groomsmen, that this is YOUR DAY, and your say goes first.


5. Utilize Technology

For those not as tech savvy, it's time to pay attention to the tools in front of you. For example, Jezebel suggests using Google Docs as a way of organizing things. In Google Docs, you can let your bridesmaids, groomsmen, future husband/wife, ect have access to certain documents, and it can help plan from what needs to be done, who needs to bring what, and even budgeting with the spreadsheets. If you need to make lists, another good app to have on your phone is Evernote. These you can keep yourself and create checklists on what you need, and the best part is, you can look at them from your computer to your phone without breaking a sweat. The third piece, Utilize Instagram. With weddings, even if you have the best photographer ever, having pictures from the wedding day is a must - and if your photographer doesn't provide you a teaser in the next 24 hours, you could be left wanting. So create a hashtag that's unique to you and your fiance, and make sure everyone knows it, whether it be posted signs or sending it in the invites, that way people can post their pictures to the hashtag, and you can retrieve the shots for re-share later. And finally, Offbeat Bride shares the best RSVP sites you can get with technology, that some are even app oriented (look at all the options here).  With all of these options (and 3/4 are completely free) we say "what a time to be alive."


4. R-S-V-P

This is a tip I learned from a friend when she sent out her wedding invitations: Number all of your RSVP cards. If you go paper for your RSVPs, flip the card over, number it, and write down the name of the person you're sending the card to. This ensures that while your Aunt Gertrude is a kind lady, you'll know it's her handwriting even if it looks like a scribble.  To level up, when numbering all the cards, add the names and numbers into a spreadsheet (Try using that Google Docs thing we mentioned).


3. For The Women: Don't Bring A Squad To Your Dress Shopping

Despite the fact that Say Yes To The Dress has entire families showing up to view the dress, let's face it: You're not Taylor Swift, you don't need an entire squad. Bring 1 or two people with you to view your dress choices. Make them fashionable people who know you very well. Once you've made a decision then you can show everyone and their mother (except the Groom). Offbeat Bride suggests this considering you could be pulled in many directions, deterring you from what you really want. Too many cooks in the kitchen = unsatisfied bride.


2. Only DIY It When It Makes Sense

First of all, you're going to be busy. So busy, and trying to cut corners money wise at the same time. So keep in mind when you start planning things like centerpieces, invitations, ect. to only DIY the things that make sense. Huffington Post reads on 10 Little Wedding Planning Lies that sometimes substituting candles and decorations instead of flowers is actually not always a accurate. Though certain flowers (roses) can be super expensive and won't yield in cost, sometimes purchasing tons of vases, twigs, glittery things, and candles are going to be just as expensive once you assemble all the pieces. What to do is take a round in a craft store. Price out what you'd need for just one centerpiece that you'd like to make (maybe even buy it for a trial run), and if it's doable, find out what the cost would be for x amount of tables you have. If that exceeds what you spend on flowers, then you know which one to pick.


1. Let Go Of Everything Being "Perfect"

Tyler Durden of Fight Club once said "You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake." Though the last thing a Bride wants to hear is "you're not beautiful," follow me down this rabbit hole for a moment: Yes, you and your partner are going to want different things. Yes, he might want a super hero cake or want to invite his alcoholic brother to be his best man. You might want to wear Chuck Taylor's under your dress or drink out of Mason Jars and your mom might think that's tacky. You could be over 40 and getting remarried and your kids think everything you choose is lame. Whatever it may be - don't lose sight of compromise, and the fact that as long as you and your partner agree, nothing can go wrong. At the end of the day, you'll look back on those cherished memories as long as you planned for as much chaos determent is possible. Murphy's law is that something will always go wrong, but if you plan ahead, it won't be something big, and your day will be your version of "perfect," not someone else's.


Amy Cooper is a writer and pop culture fact nerd, and on multiple occasions has been referred to as a “Walking iPod.”