Can you plan a wedding without a wedding planner?

Wedding Coordinator Ideas

Planning a wedding is a nightmare, but that excitement will soon turn to stress once people stop ogling your ring and start asking about the date, the dress, the colour scheme, and the honeymoon you haven't even had time to think about yet. Planning a wedding without a wedding planner is not easy, and also if you give yourself a year or more to do it in, it's still basically a second job.

By doing it on your own, you spend less money, but you add a lot more stress, so it's a trade-off. The good news is that you probably have a network of supportive loved ones who are willing to lend a hand throughout the planning process. Having that help is a massive relief, but since you're the one who needs to meet with vendors, approve quotes and contracts, and ultimately sign off on every little detail, you'll still be left feeling overwhelmed no matter how much help you get from your favourite people. Managing your stress levels will not be easy during this time, but it's certainly possible to do. All you need are the right tools in your arsenal. Here's how you can stay sane as your wedding planner.

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Make sure you and your fiancé(e) are on the same page

It's vital that before you opt-out of using a wedding planner that you make sure your bride or groom is also up for the idea. Do discuss that there will be greater responsibility placed on you as a couple and that it could potentially cause excess stress, resulting in frequent fights.

If and when you get their okay, it's crucial that you two work together because remember, you're your own wedding planner. Without a professional wedding planner, communication and negotiation can easily get messy without a third party there to provide a compromise.

Family members will get involved and make requests or demands, and if they're offering financial assistance, it can be difficult to say no. But you should not feel pressured to do anything on your wedding day that you're uncomfortable with. This is a celebration of you and the person you've chosen to spend eternity with, and your wedding day should reflect the best of you and that person — nobody else.

Wedding Coordinator Ideas

Get organised

Before you plan anything, it's first important to find an organiser to store your ideas and other information for your big day. There are plenty of digital and non-digital planners out there, but if you must go the digital route, the best advice is to also opt for a non-digital one just in case.

The organisation is essential for all of your go-to wedding resources, guest list, meal planning, and everything else you'll need to keep your wedding day in order.

Get the basics down first

Now that you and your partner have agreed to plan your wedding without a wedding planner and have a means of organisation, it's time to plan your big day.

Start off with the basics. You know, the most important stuff: the big picture. This includes:

The budget (This may change, but try to stick to your guns.)

  • Wedding date
  • Venue(s) for the wedding and reception
  • Theme/colour theme
  • Possible food options
  • Lists of potential caterers, entertainment, etc.

After the basics, then get into more detail. Easing into the details can help you to get a better idea of what your big day may be like rather than rushing the process.

Maybe you'll decide to offer succulents as wedding favours. Perhaps you'll want tulips and baby's breath in your floral arrangement. You (or the bride) may decide that instead of walking down the aisle with your father that you walk alone. Maybe you'll want the bridesmaids to wear pastel.

The next most important thing you'll need to do is to set your wedding budget. You must tackle this before you dive into the wedding planning process. If you begin planning before your budget is set, you're setting yourself up for heartbreak because you might fall in love with a dress, photographer, cake, or wedding venue—only to realise you can't afford it.

How exactly do you determine your wedding budget? Well, your fancy wedding organiser book and wedding planning apps should be able to help, but here are the basics: Determine who can chip in (you, your partner, your families, etc.), and once that is established, do some number-crunching. You'll need to determine how much you can reasonably save and set aside, without it impacting your financial needs.

The kind of day you'll have is hugely dependent on the ceremony location. Think about the ceremony you intend to have; it can be a humanist, spiritual, secular or religious ceremony or anything you might decide with your partner. Once you've decided about the ceremony, find the perfect location to suit your unique needs. The party venue is also very important, particularly if it won't happen in the same location as the ceremony. Think creatively and find museums, industrial warehouses, picturesque villages, town halls, resorts, the beach, private ranches among many other places and earnestly find that proper party spot everyone will love.

Be sure to allot a certain amount for each expense. If the food is way more relevant to you than, say, the flowers, then put more of your budget into the "catering" column. This will be entirely up to you and your partner, but setting priorities when making a wedding budget is crucial. And don't forget to research hidden wedding costs!

Go on the DIY route to save some moola

When you plan a wedding without a wedding planner, you have more say over what you want and what you don't want. You're the decider. You have all the power. This also means you can opt for all the DIY projects as you wish without a professional trying to convince you otherwise. There are a lot of helpful tips for a DIY wedding out there too.

While wedding planning can't always be an easy or quick job, having the ability to spend less and get more creative with your own wedding is a wonderful experience those with a wedding planner may not get much of.

When in doubt, don't be afraid to ask for advice

If you're stuck in a slump or are having disagreements with your soon-to-be husband or wife or others involved in the planning of the wedding (and you probably will), reaching out for advice can be the best thing you can do.

Tons of people will offer their help, and even if you think they're just being nice, take them up on it. It can be as small as getting quotes over the phone or vetting photographers or using their connections to get you a hook up on a good DJ. Whatever little task they can take off your plate, let them. And make sure you thank them for it.

Even if you don't consult a professional for advice for your big day planning, you can find online resources, articles, and the best wedding websites for your budget to help you every step of the way, even for free.

To know about people who can help you in your wedding, check out our post on What is the difference between a wedding coordinator and a wedding planner?

Try to avoid hiring family or friends to help with your wedding

As harsh as it sounds, hiring or placing heavy responsibilities on family or friends for your big day can be a bad idea particularly because there are a social bond and emotional tie to you and/or your future husband or wife.

The closer you are to somebody, sometimes the more unreliable it may be to make them a huge component of your wedding in terms of, say, decorating the cake, catering the food, or setting up tables.

Some family and friends may act differently regarding your big day. There may be excess stress on both ends if something goes wrong, hindering relationships and trust temporarily or permanently.

The point is, if you hire someone you know, they may believe you'll be softer on them just so you can maintain that relationship, not putting in their best, most professional service or skills.

When planning your own wedding, you might be tempted to enlist the help of friends and family. Whether you need some extra help organising your big day or you're hiring them as one of your wedding vendors, friends and family can be a big help. But be careful, because they can also be a burden.

The casual, loving relationship you have with those closest to you can actually hinder your working relationship—especially leading up to your wedding. You'll need people who will stay on task, be responsible, and tackle anything you throw their way. But too many times, we've seen couples whose friends or family thought they could slack off because of the close relationship, and the day suffered for it.

If you do decide to work with a friend or family member, be 100% sure that they will do a good job, with a good attitude.

Always have a plan B and C for everything

Okay, so your DJ bailed out on you, or your marriage officiant is in the hospital unexpectedly. What do you do next? That's when you turn to the next plan on the list.

Without having other alternatives or ideas in mind, your wedding budget can go astray, you may end up impulsively hiring someone else not competent in their field, or may have a decoration disaster.

Think of the worst that could happen (without assuming or worrying that it will happen) during your wedding planning, and think of what to do in those cases (e.g., pick up another cake from a local grocery store, have someone else be the flower girl if the other gets nervous, etc.).

Conduct proper research on professionals before hiring

When you don't have a wedding planner to help direct you to trustworthy, top-quality professionals such as vendors, it can be hard to know where to go and who to turn to.

But with adequate research, it can be easier to stay on top of your wedding planning. Read online reviews, get in touch with different professionals and ask them questions, and check out professionals' websites and/or social media pages for more information.

The more you know, the better. Your big day can't truly be your big day without honest and knowledgeable caterers, photographers, videographers, florists, and other experts. You can also try taking your own wedding photographs.

Keep your eye on the big picture

Many brides or even grooms place emphasis too much one just one aspect of their wedding or only look at the details rather than what is truly important.

But when you plan a wedding without a wedding planner, you won't have an expert there to help you and/or your bride or groom see the wedding on a broader scale.

Sometimes in the process of wedding planning, the couple begins to stress over how perfect their big day has to be that they forget the true reason they're having a wedding: to celebrate the love they have for one another and their transformation of becoming one.

That said, don't forget what your wedding really is all about, and don't be blinded by the irrelevant trifles of your wedding such as black instead of brown buttons on the groomsmen tuxedos.

Don't expect your wedding to be perfect

The truth is, the more observant and nit-picky you are during the wedding planning process or even during the wedding itself, the more you're going to find flaws, and in turn, feel less satisfied.

But no wedding is perfect. Maybe the bride's heels will end up giving her blisters, and the dinner will arrive 10 minutes late, the reception will last longer than expected, guests will arrive late, the cake won't taste as good as it looks, and so on.

Even the weddings that have everything down right will have "something wrong" because both the groom(s) and/or bride(s) are going to have a certain perception or hope in mind on their big day.

Psychologically, it can seem that your wedding day wasn't good enough when in actuality, it may be you that is finding faults in what did or didn't happen.

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Enjoy Yourself

All work and no play well, you know the rest. It can be difficult to separate your planning duties from all the fun parts of being a bride-to-be. So when those opportunities arise, take advantage! Cake tastings, cocktail mixings, hair trials—let these moments be all play and no planning. Savour them as your sweet relief from checklists and spreadsheets. Remember, the big day will go by in a flash! Take the time to be in the moment during your planning and treat yourself. You deserve it!

Overall, those who choose to plan a wedding without a wedding planner will deal with different pros and cons. Regardless, doing what you and your bride or groom want is the most important, and of course, not having impossible expectations can ensure your big day goes smoothly!

Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Planners

A full wedding planner helps to plan your wedding from start to finish and is usually hired early on in the planning process—at least 10 months in advance. The average starting rate for a full-service wedding planner in the U.S is about $3,000 with top-tier planners averaging $4,500 to $12,000.

When it comes to making the most of your budget, a wedding planner can actually help you save more on your bottom line. The value of hiring an experienced event planner for your wedding or special event cannot be overemphasized. 

If you're not hiring a wedding planner for your big day, you're better off getting on your vendor's schedule well ahead of your wedding day. Booking early will help ensure you get the vendors you want and reduce stress in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding once you know your vendors are locked in.

Wedding planners are all about the logistics, from vendor referrals and contract negotiation to the day-of execution of your vision. Planners take the guesswork out of the process, making planning a wedding as seamless and smooth as possible. 

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