It never fails, my clients that are organized are always the weddings that go the smoothest. As a planner and coordinator, I can only do so much. Clients also need to take the time and get themselves organized. Throughout the wedding planning process you will be interacting and having conversations with many people and will need a system to organize all the data. The first thing you need to do is set up your organizational infrastructure!
CLOUD APPLICATIONS As much as some of us hate it, we now live in the digital world. I highly suggest using a cloud application such as Google Drive, Box.com, Dropbox.com or something similar to store your files. Once its in the cloud, not only can you share folders of information with others you can also access it from anywhere. You can also make edits to documents and ensure that everyone is always looking at the most up to date version. Be sure to download the app to your phone to have instant access anywhere you are at!
FILE ORGANIZATION Now start building out your file folders. At a minimum, you should have a folder for your Venue and a Vendors folder. Under your vendor folder, create additional folders for all the vendors you plan to hire such as your DJ, Florist, Coordinator, etc. Also include a Quotes folder in each of these vendors b/c you'll want a place to save emails and quotes as you contact various vendors to get quotes.
CREATE SPREADSHEETS Once your file system is built, now it's time to create some Excel spreadsheets. You don't have to be an expert in excel to use it to stay organized. The first tab of my spreadsheet is typically the wedding budget and the tabs following are to capture all the quotes from the various vendors I am reaching out to. ie: DJ Quotes, Floral Quotes, Coordinator Quotes. Reaching out and receiving vendor quotes is one of the most time consuming parts of the planning process so you'll need a way to organize the quotes you are receiving. This is also an eye friendlier way to veiw and compare the quotes you are receiving. Below is an example.
CREATING RFPs As stated above, reaching out to vendors is very time consuming, so I usually suggest creating an RFP document and sending that to each vendor you are vetting. This eliminates you from having to rewrite the same email over and over and possibly leaving something out. I include all the info that I know the vendors need in order to send me a quote such as your contact info, event and venue info, start and end times, # of guests, and desired budget for that vendor. Then I bullet point all the services I am looking for. Not only will this cut down on the back and forth from each vendor, but by being consistent in what you are asking, you will be able to compare apples to apples. You are also presenting the request in an eye friendly way, this cuts down on the vendor missing an important detail. When possible be sure to include inspirational photos for everything you want a quote for. See example below.
PAYMENTS As you book vendors, be sure to track payment due dates on your calendar. I would suggest setting a reminder for a week before the payment is due. I also track payment due dates on my budget and put them in order that they are due.
GET STARTED Most of the popular venues and vendors book out a year in advance so start reaching now. Create a timeline in which you want to get things accomplished by, that way you know what is next and this also ensures that you are doing things in a timely manner. Waiting until the month of your wedding will absolutely lead to a very stressful situation. Keep in mind that within that last month leading up to your wedding, you will be busy with final dress fittings, running after those missing RSVPs, having final meetings with all your vendors, finalizing your seating chart, organizing your decor, creating your place cards etc,......Don't add more to that already long list.