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With an engagement comes a buzz of excitement, a whirlwind of activity, a zeal to jump right into the planning -- but you must not overlook the importance of getting organized! In the weeks and months leading up to your wedding date, it will be easy to get lost among the fabric swatches and menu selections. It is not uncommon for brides to wonder how they will manage it all. The answer is to establish an organizational system early on. Such a system will become your new "best friend," as it will save you time, headaches, and frustration.
There are many ways to keep accurate records and track your planning progress. Outlined in the following chapter are effective organizational methods that are easy to establish and maintain. it is helpful to use a combination of these methods, as each has a different purpose. For example, you should keep permanent records of original contracts and paperwork in the At Home File System, travel with the Wedding Binder, and log appointments and payments on the Calendar.
The At-Home File System
Establishing an At-Home File System is one of the first and most important steps in your wedding planning, as this system is used to house the original paperwork and contracts you sign throughout the planning process. It is important to keep these files at home in a safe place, not only for the sake of organization but because you do not want to lose or misplace the original contracts or agreements.
This basic organizational system is more than worth the small amount of time it takes toget it established. Setting up the At-Home File System requires the same equipment you would need for any office filing system: file folders, labels for the folders, and some type of filing unit.
- Use the following steps to set up your At-Home File System:
- Label the folders by generic categories-locations, photographers, florists, etc.
- As you meet with vendors, file their information in the proper category, keeping each vendor's paperwork stapled or paper clipped together.
- Once you begin making your final decisions and signing contracts, create individual folders for each of these vendors, and file the folders alphabetically.
- Remove the other vendors' information from that section, and create a "rejection" file. Keep the rejections in a separate section of your At-Home File System. Do not throw this information out quite yet, as it may prove helpful down the line.
You may want to include other particulars in your file, but this is a list of the "must haves":
- Original paperwork or brochures from vendors or from wedding-related products.
- Your original copy of the signed contract, as well as any supplemental agreements made after the original contract was signed.
- Any other paperwork the vendor provides you, or you provide them, such as special rules for the reception location.
- Any special information you would like to share with them, or have passed along to them previously, such as magazine photos of a particular cake, bouquet, etc.
If you will be making most of your wedding planning calls from home, keep a phone log directly on the corresponding folder, or attach a separate sheet inside the folder for this purpose. Include the date, time, and purpose of the call. On the front of the folder, you may also want to list your deposit amount, amount still due, and the due date of subsequent and/or final payments. With this information in place, you can easily keep abreast of the status of your account.
In addition to the At-Home File System, you may want to purchase a large desk calendar. These calendars have plenty of room to write notes and messages under particular dates, and can be used to keep track of appointments, wedding-related activities, and payment due dates. Keep this calendar at home and in easy view so that you are aware of upcoming events, and so your fiance and/or parents can also refer to it.
As you sign contracts and begin making deposits, make note of them on the calendar. Clearly mark when subsequent or final payments are due and when any remaining paperwork must be completed. If you are mailing these payments out, you may also want to note by which date these need to be sent.
While many vendors will come to your home or place of work for consultations, there are certain aspects of planning that just cannot be accomplished from either of these locations. For example, when choosing a reception location, a personal visit to the site is necessary to determine if it is right for you. In these instances, it is necessary to take your planning on the road. This part of the organizational system is set up to keep you organized and prepared no matter where you may be.
The Wedding Notebook
The first type of Portable Planning system is a notebook. This does not have to be fancy--just a spiral-bound notebook you can buy at a grocery or convenience store. You will want this notebook to have enough pages to take you through your wedding planning. A 6" x 9 1/2" spiral notebook with at least 150 pages works well. A notebook this size can be slipped in your purse or briefcase and taken anywhere.
Use the following steps to set up your notebook:
- Mark "WEDDING' clearly on the front cover, or buy one with a brightly colored cover, so you can spot it easily, and it will not get lost in any other paperwork you may have around the house or office.
- Buy a notebook with dividers, or attach self-stick removable notes (Post-It Notes) to the pages as makeshift tab dividers. Leave about a 1/2" overhang and write the section name on this part of the note. Label these sections:
- Ceremony/Reception Locations
- Beauty (Hair and Makeup)
- Bridal Registry
- Disc Jockeys/Bands/Entertainment
- Wedding Consultants
- Miscellaneous Information (Phone Log, Comments)
Each entry in the notebook should begin with the vendor's name, phone number, fax number, and contact person. Leave a blank page or two for each vendor. Use these pages to take notes as you make the initial phone contact. When and if you decide to meet with that vendor, continue with your note taking, and record any additional information the vendor may give you during this meeting.