Congratulations, you’re engaged!
Planning a wedding should be a joy—as long as you have the right support team in place. That’s where we come in. The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer
has helped countless couples since its original publication in 2013; in this revised, updated version, we’ve cut through the noise to help you stay organized—and sane.
Whether you’re dreaming of a classic church ceremony, a tropical destination affair, or an urban celebration, we’ve got you covered. Think of this binder as your ultimate cheat sheet, filled with only the things you need (and nothing you don’t), broken into bite-size steps, tips, and timelines. Mark it up, fill it out, stuff it with your contracts and receipts. But above all, adapt it to your unique situation and circumstances—we’ll have your back no matter what.
The Knot Editors How to Get the Most Out of Your Binder
Take the expert tips to heart
Each section starts with a selection of our best advice, culled from decades of helping couples design their day. This is where we share wedding-planning essentials, broken down by category, along with smart money-saving tips.
Work the worksheets
You’ll also find worksheets, cheat sheets, checklists, and timelines sprinkled throughout every chapter. These will help you focus your thoughts as well as guide you as to what to do when. Use the first chapter to lay out your overall vision: You might be itching to get to the fun stuff—like choosing a color scheme and shopping for a dress or suit—but before you get lost in the details, we encourage you to read the timelines to get a sense of pacing and key dates.
Vet your vendors
Toward the end of most sections you’ll find a dedicated list of questions to ask every professional you’re considering hiring. Vendors’ answers will clue you in to how they approach their work—and whether that approach is right for you and your wedding.
Read the fine print
We’ve also devoted space to making sure you understand the numerous contracts you’ll be asked to sign. We get it—poring over legal terms isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of fun. But this is one area where it can definitely pay to be detail-oriented. A clear understanding of pricing structures and knowing exactly what a vendor is expected to deliver means no unpleasant surprises later.
This planner is about realistic guidelines, not hard- and-fast rules. You should definitely adjust the planning process to suit your individual needs. Some parts will need to happen in a certain order (like having a general sense of your guest list before booking a venue), but there are other decisions you can put off until later in the process (like picking your first-dance song). Same with budgeting: If you want to splurge on a big-time photographer, by all means, spend more on that service than we suggest. (Just be sure to adjust your budget elsewhere accordingly.)
Have fun (seriously!)
It’s true: Planning a wedding can be a roller-coaster ride. But since it will most likely be the most extravagant party you’ll ever throw, aim to have a blast in the months leading up to it—from you and your partner’s first brainstorming sesh to your final spin on the dance floor. Getting Started
Whether you’re dreaming of a multiday bash or something simpler, executing your vision will require making many decisions, both big and small. Keep these tips in mind as you start to turn your inspiration into reality.
Top Tips for Planning Your Day
1 Stick to your priorities
By now, you’ve (hopefully) decided what’s most important to the two of you, be it booking a 10-piece band or splurging on food and drink. As you start allocating your budget, invest the most time, energy, and money into the details that top your priority list.
2 Draft a sample budget and guest list
Sure, drawing up a budget may not be your idea of a good time, but we can’t stress enough how crucial it is to do this early on so you know about how much you have to spend on each category. (See our budget section for a comprehensive budgeting worksheet.) Same goes for your guest list—as a rule of thumb, about half your budget will go toward wining and dining them, so it’s good to have a rough count from the beginning.
3 Set a schedule
Making a large number of decisions in a short amount of time can be overwhelming. Jot down a step- by-step plan of what you’re going to do when, and do your best to stay on track. (Hint: The sample timeline that follows will help!)
4 Get organized
If you’re using this binder, you’re already taking control of the process. The Knot also offers an all- in-one planning app where you can digitally organize your communications with vendors, track your budget, create a vision board, manage your registry, and more.
5 Keep a paper trail
It should go without saying that you need to carefully read all vendor contracts and stash them somewhere for easy access (May we suggest this binder?). This especially applies to any nonstandard arrangements you make outside of the contract. If your venue verbally agrees to keep its doors open for an extra hour, for example, send an email to them after the conversation confirming the details.
6 Ask for help
A wedding is a huge undertaking; chances are your family and friends would love to step up but might not know the best way to assist you. Don’t be shy about delegating some details to your wedding party, a parent or sibling, or to that one crafty friend who’s a DIY whiz.
7 Do it your way
There’s no harm in knowing the formal way to address invitations or what time of day is regarded as black-tie appropriate. But just because something is considered proper wedding etiquette doesn’t mean you have to apply every “rule” to your situation.
8 Consider hiring a planning pro
A professional wedding planner can be a godsend, especially if you have a super-demanding job or high aspirations for your day. If shelling out for a full-service planner isn’t in your budget, though, don’t despair. A day-of coordinator is a less expensive option that can still be a huge help—they’ll step in to take care of any last-minute details, encourage everyone to stay on schedule, and generally keep the train moving, so you’re free to enjoy the day.
9 Take a break
An “all wedding, all the time” mindset will put you—and those around you!—on the fast track to crazytown. Every so often, declare wedding-free days where any talk of table numbers or menu tasting is strictly verboten. Your mental health will thank you.
Copyright © 2021 by Editors of the Knot. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.