Most of us have the dreaded junk drawer and it’s typically the small skinny drawer in the kitchen. It has the most random things like the one-off rubber band or a pen without the cap, batteries that you have no idea if they work, realtor notepads or keys that lost their purpose. Junk drawers can become a stressor but the underlying issue here is: lack of organization. Everything should have a place and that’s how you should approach wedding planning using a wedding organiser folder. You don’t want your inbox to turn into a wedding planning junk drawer graveyard. You might lose your favorite photographer because you forget to sign the contract and then they get booked or you might miss out on a sale that a vendor is having.
In this post I’m going to show you my virtual process for getting organized as you navigate through your planning journey. This is so that you feel less overwhelm, are more productive and avoid paralysis by analysis once the information starts to pour in.
If you’re a paper kind of gal with the need to have a physical binder to organize your wedding planning documents I’ve got you. You can read all about that in “Organize Your Wedding Planning Folder”
I want to start off by showing you a few examples of responses I’ve gotten from inquiries I’ve made for my clients. The reason it’s important to show this is because the whole reason I wrote this blog was to help you avoid overwhelm that completely inhibits you from getting closer to planning your special day.
Here are three screenshots with responses I’ve gotten through inquiring. The first example I have here you’ll notice that the vendor attached SEVEN files. Two of which are not even labeled correctly. And I didn’t even show you the body of the email with 10 paragraphs full of filler text and information.
Here is another with 9+ attachments.
And another with 7 attachments.
Imagine if you’re inquiring into 10 - 15 different venues and have to sift through this much information. And there is no one structure every vendor uses. So you’re having to now sift through the varying introductions trying to compare apples to apples. It’s no wonder people come to me feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the overly complicated planning process. When you get bombarded with information like this and are not trained to detect pertinent information you’re bound to either miss something or confuse it with another vendor. It’s like election season when you start to see all those ridiculous ads come out with so much fluff but really all you need is the nitty gritty to help you make a decision.
Step 1: New Email
I want to start off by recommending that you create an email address just for wedding related communication. I highly recommend that you use Gmail so you can take advantage of the Google Drive. Some may think that they can handle their inbox by separating personal from wedding correspondence in the same inbox. Here is the thing, some of us are planning for a whole year which means your personal email goes through your yearly life cycle of what could be busy work months, holidays, heightened social calendars, summer vacations etc. Have you ever noticed that during the holidays your emails double and if it’s Christmas time they may even triple. I’m one of those people that like to keep my personal inbox to no more than 5 emails but during Christmas there is no way that happens.
“For every minute spent in organizing an hour is earned” - Benjamin Franklin
Step 2: Email Folders + Sub Folders
Now that you have your new and shiny email (isn’t the emptiness glorious?!) we’ll need to create your wedding organiser folder. This system will allow for everything to have a place. That’s the first step in making sure you don’t create a wedding planning junk drawer that causes you stress. The first folder that I recommend you make should be titled “Awaiting Response” and then another that says “Need to respond.”
These two folders will hold all the communication you have with between vendors prior to booking them. When you inquire into a service simply drag over the email from the sent folder into the “Awaiting Response” folder. This way when you’re back in wedding planning mode you don’t have to remember where you left off. Simply head to the “Awaiting Response” folder and see which vendors you need to follow up with. If you don’t have time to respond to an email or you’re waiting for another vendor to respond before making a decision, simply drag it over to the “Need to Respond” folder which indicates that it’s something you need to do. The “Need to Respond” emails are emails where you have an action item and the “Awaiting Response” are emails that other people need to take action on and you’re waiting for.
Then create a folder called “Archive” which will hold all the dead proposals. Maybe you were thinking about a certain service but decided in the end that it wasn’t a fit. Or once you’ve booked with a vendor if you have other proposals you were considering, those will be filed here. You never know if you’ll need to reach out to them again should your first choice fall through. You can even create sub emails in the archive folder for the different categories if you have that many proposals in your inbox. I don’t do this as I’m a little more efficient and I normally only have one proposal and my clients tend to book that one making things a lot easier for us. So I don’t find it absolutely necessary to create sub labels in the archive folder.
Pro tip: If you decide to “go in a different direction” PLEASE let that person know. The kindest thing you can do for someone who has taken time out of their day and their business to provide you with information is to provide closure. We won’t be offended I PROMISE! We’re more than happy to know that you’ve found something that makes your heart sing.
Then create a folder called Wedding Team. Within this folder you’ll want to create sub folders for each vendor you have. For example, photographer, videographer, photo-booth, wedding planner, wedding coordinator, venue, DJ, Live Band etc. For more categories, you can visit this post “Wedding Budget Breakdown”
Once you’ve booked your team you’ll want to create a filter that automatically categorizes and labels every email that comes in from your team. Here is how you do this…
From there you’ll want to archive it after you’ve done whatever the email requested so it’s no longer sitting in your inbox. If you need to reference that email or information in the future you’ll know exactly where to go.
Step 3: Setting Up Your Wedding Organiser Folder
Now that your inbox is in tip top shape head on over to your google drive where we’ll organize the more robust communication that happens once you book your wedding team, which is how to start planning your wedding.
Each vendor should have their own folder. The reason for this process is so that you can easily reference information to answer any questions that come up. For example, if the caterer needs a final vendor meal count you’ll know how to find this information. All you have to do is look at the final signed contract and look for the clause where vendors discuss meals so you’re able to readily provide this information to your caterer. If you don’t have this folder you’ll find yourself sifting through hundreds of emails looking for contracts, pdfs, images etc. Remember those emails with 9+ attachments? Ya that would suck. On average, I, as a planner, have anywhere from 50 - 150 + emails of correspondence with each of your individual vendors (I know because I counted). If you have 10 vendors and 50 emails each, that’s a lot of emails to sift through just to find information. And this is how overwhelm happens if you’re not organized or worse details get missed on your wedding day. You might think it’s easier to just email the question but now you’re playing a waiting game and have to put the task on hold until you get your answer which could take a few days. But in some instances like a headcount request, time is of the essence. The only information that should go into these folders is the final signed contract, maybe some inspiration to communicate over your expectations and if they provided a pdf to visually communicate their services, I would add this as well.
Pro tip: Be careful not to add a pdf after you’ve negotiated services and took out certain features because one year from now you’ll forget you did that and expect that service to be provided.
Create a new email just for wedding correspondence
Create folders + sub folders
Create a google drive
You are now ready to dive deep into planning knowing that everything has a place. Once you start inquiring into vendors, information will start to pour in but you don’t have to feel overwhelmed so long as you follow these steps.
I’m so excited for you and this incredible journey you’re on. If you’re looking for a planner we invite you to start a conversation with us to see if we’d be a good fit. We have 9 more spaces available. Click here to contact us.