One of the things that I was most excited about when I started wedding planning was the idea of putting my wedding planning binder together. I was excited to color code, label, add inserts, source inspiration etc. Especially after attending a bridal show (which I don’t recommend btw) I had tons of business cards and pamphlets that all had a home in my wedding planning binder (WPB).
In this post I’m going to outline how to organize your wedding planning binder. I’ll walk you through labels and descriptions of what each section should/could look like as you move through this fun journey. Nowadays I do everything online so it’s rare for me to need a folder. If you prefer virtual organization, refer to Wedding Organiser Folder (for a list of items to purchase for your binder scroll down to the bottom of this post).
One of the first things that I recommend for couples that are newly engaged is to “Dream a Theme.“ You can read more about that in 4 Steps to Go From Engagement to Wedding Planning. You’ll need an area in your WPB that contains wedding magazine clippings, your fave Pinterest printouts, and ribbons or color swatches of your wedding color preferences. Be sure to divide your inspiration into sections so you can share those with your vendors.
Pro tip: Keep your eye on the prize. There are a lot of great resources out there on Instagram, Pinterest, blogs and the list goes on. It’s no surprise that we fall in love with different styles and come up with new ideas throughout our time planning. One of the problems I run into a lot when couples come to me is their inability to bring their vision together because they’ve been exposed to so many lovely ideas that they confuse themselves. So try to reign it in.
Another bit of advice I have for the newly engaged is to write down the things that matter the most to the both of you. Is that having a ceremony at the beach where you met, or maybe the rose garden where you had your first picnic, maybe you fell in love in the countryside, or want to backdrop off the cliffs in Big Sur… Whatever matters the most and what you want incorporated into your wedding, have those items listed in the beginning pages of your WPB (before your first tab). So, whenever you have new inspirations or ideas you can refer to that list to determine if this new idea falls in line with your vision. This in turn also saves you tons of money.
THE WEDDING PLANNING BINDER
Let’s start by working our way from the front section of your wedding planning binder (WPB) and the items that follow that. This includes:
A cover page with basic information (dates, timeline highlights, locations and addresses) so you can easily reference this information when a vendor asks for it.
List of traditions and ideas that really matter to you and are non-negotiable.
Planning timeline & calendar.
Day-of itinerary, hour-by-hour.
Section No. 2: Budget
The pages in this section should be in the form of a spreadsheet or using the table feature in Word with a row itemizing each expense. There should be an estimated expense column, a few columns for the quotes you receive, and a column with the actual cost. If you’d like a wedding planning budget spreadsheet, you can download one for free here.
Section No. 3: Venues
This section will contain all the information regarding the different locations where you’ll be hosting your events. These typically contain lengthy contracts and details of their own that warrant sub sections, especially if your ceremony site is different from your reception site. An example of that is:
Ceremony Location Documents
Photography Location Documents
Reception Location Documents
Rehearsal Dinner Location Documents
Post-Wedding Day Brunch Location Documents
These are referenced a lot through out the planning which is why they are situated closer to the front section of your folder. As you book vendors you’ll need to reference what is allowed and prohibited at your venue before booking the vendor.
Section No. 4: Vendors
This section should start off with a ‘Vendor Master List’ – once you’ve booked/contracted with a vendor they should be listed on this master list with a birds eye view of that vendor. For example, you’ll want to list out the name, service, phone, email, address, deposit, balance and due dates so you can easily get in contact with them if you’re short on time.
After that master list you can include all your vendors separated by tabs that contain detailed vendor information, the contract(s), samples and notes from your meetings. I’ve seen other planning folders that simply list out the vendors but I like to take this a step further. I prefer to section off vendors based on their role in your wedding. Your wedding could easily be split up into 2 sections: (1) Ceremony and (2) Reception.
For example, you could have the beginning portion of this section grouped by those performing a service at your ceremony (Attire, Transportation, Officiant, Ceremony Venue, Ceremony Musicians, Ceremony Rentals etc.) and then you would group your reception vendors towards the back (Baker, Photo Booth, Caterer, DJ/MC, Photographer, Videographer etc).
If you have a vendor like the DJ or Rentals that will be performing at both the ceremony and reception you can file them under reception since that’s where you’ll be doing the bulk of your work.
Section No. 5: Guests
This tab will contain all your guest information with notes about who is the MOB, FOG, the bridal party, the mini court etc.
A sample of that looks like this:
Wedding party list (including parents and VIPs) with contact information and the role they are playing in your wedding.
The save the date list.
The guest list.
A list of RSVPs & non-responders – once you get an answer from non-responders.
A diagram of the seating arrangements.
Section No. 6: Registry
You will be receiving information from the stores that you registered at. This is where you would file that information including the coupons and special discounts you get to enjoy when you return from your honeymoon.
The sections in this tab may be divided into the following
List of where you’re registered.
Draft a list of items you would really like to have.
After the wedding draft a gift log of the gifts you received and from whom.
Section No. 7: Honeymoon
The honeymoon tab may be divided into the following tabs:
Here you would include contracts, dates, flights, hotel addresses, confirmations, itineraries and travel arrangements. This may even include transportation if you’re leaving right after your wedding.
A packing list of essentials such as your eskimo hat for your mountain retreat or you may need your mod bikini for your tropical getaway.
Leaving the country? Make sure you register with the US embassy and purchase travel insurance.
Oh, and don’t forget to call your bank so they don’t freeze your accounts. Phew...that is death to your shopping trips.
If you need a little help in this department consider a travel agent. My friend over at The Honeymoon Concierge can you help you plan the dreamiest and most epic Honeymoon.
Section No. 8: Receipt Holder
You may find yourself running over to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby for the small things. A receipt holder will keep those tracked and organized so they don’t fall out of the sheet protectors.
Section No. 9: Business Cards
In the year and a half of planning you will meet LOTs of vendors so keeping their contact info organized is important. You may have originally skipped out on the candle favors idea you got strolling the famers market but down the line you may change your mind.
Here is a list of items that I purchased for my WPB.
Linen folder with a pretty design that stands out so I can quickly identify the folder (this is my personal preference). Target has super cute ones.
100 pack of sheet protectors maybe even more
Colorful heavy-duty dividers equipped with plastic tabs preferably with pockets
Cork sheet tiles
Your wedding color swatches which can be found at rental companies or bridal shops
Wedding & home magazines
Pro tip: Be sure to organize your items/decor in labeled boxes so your coordinator knows where to set everything up on the day of your wedding.
There you have it. You’re ready to sleigh that Amazon shopping list and start your wedding planning journey on a positive stress-free note.