When I first started planning my wedding I made a very big and very classic mistake. Taking the advice of articles I found in numerous bridal magazines, the first thing I did was “start an inspiration file,”
I diligently collected and saved all the details I loved, torn from the pages of these amazingly curated magazines full of perfect weddings. (We didn't have Pinterest back in 2009). It didn't matter that the styles I liked didn't always match, nor did it occur to me that I could never afford everything in my inspiration board.
I was on a mission to have the best wedding ever. The problem was, I was heading down a path to wasted time and money. I missing a crucial step. A step I would never find in bridal magazines.
You see, the bridal magazines didn't offer guidance for sorting through all that inspiration to find my style and stay in my budget.
Soon my collection of wedding day inspiration led to weekend trips to Michaels, where I'd pick up craft supplies and chotchkies that I thought I would use because they reminded me of details from my inspiration file. I thought I was being smart by buying in small chunks. But I was shopping without a budget, without a plan, and without a unified theme.
The problem escalated when Hubs and I made an impromptu trip to the bridal salon. With no set budget, no venue ideas and no over all ideas for style or theme, I chose my wedding gown. I'm lucky my dress ultimately worked for the venue and style we finally settled upon. So many brides who rush to buy their dress, end up buying a second one when the first didn't match their final style, theme or venue.
Like many brides first staring out, I was like a leaf blowing in the wind–moving about, willy nilly in response to every inspirational breeze.
In the end, I wasted hundreds of dollars and countless hours shopping for things I would never use. Many brides waste thousands.
Don't make the same mistakes. Here's how to streamline your wedding planning and avoid wasting time and money
Start with the “Big Rocks”
There is an old business management analogy about time, resources and a jar of stones. Maybe you're familiar with it.
A renowned professor was given an hour to lecture about time and resource management to a team of top executives at a successful multi-national company. In less than five minutes he taught the executives everything they need to know.
He took out a large glass jar and a bag full of rocks, each about the size of a tennis ball. Carefully he filled the jar with the rocks until he couldn't fit any more.
He asked his students if the jar was full.
“Yes!” they replied.
The professor then took out a bag of pebbles and carefully poured them into the jar, allowing them to settle into the spaces between the rocks.
“Is the jar full now,” he asked.
Understanding where the old professor was going, his students shouted, NO!
The professor then took out a bag of sand and poured it into the jar, again letting the material fill in the spaces between the rocks and the pebbles.
“Is it full now,” he inquired.
The professor smiled and took out a pitcher of water and poured it into the seemingly full jar, all the way to the top, allowing it to fill any remaining spaces between the rocks, pebbles, and sand.
The lesson: If you don't put your big stones in the jar first, they will never fit later. Imagine if the professor started by filling the jar with water. No matter what material he tried to put into the jar next, he would end up with a wet, sloppy mess.
Your Priceless Takeaway
What this means for your and your wedding planning timeline is, contrary to what bridal magazines tell your about starting an inspiration file or Pinterest board first, you have some practical considerations to get out of the way.
Get your big projects and big ticket items out of the way first. These are your “big rocks.”
Actually, first you need to know what size jar you have. This is your budget.
Closely related to your budget is narrowing down your guest list. The size of your guest list affects both your budget and your venue options.
One you know what size “jar” you have (budget and guest list), get your big ticket items done (big rocks), including your ceremony site and venue (both of which you must have, no matter what).
Finally establish your top priorities (your pebbles), whatever they are (dress, stunning mountain views, a photographer, an amazing live band, etc.)
Once you get your budget, basic gust list and priorities nailed down, then (and only then) should you start your inspiration file or pin board (the sand and water).
Why is order of things so important? Because your inspiration file and pin board are the smaller details. They are the pebbles, sand and water. If you start with them, you risk ending up with a big mess as you try and cram your big projects into your timeline and budget after you've spend time and money on the little details.
Now put yourself on an inspiration hiatus this week and get your “big rocks” in order. I promise you'll thank me later!
Additional wedding planning resources and articles
- 5 Wedding Timeline Hacks for Smart Brides
- Plan a Wedding in less than 6 Months with these Simple Steps
- Gorgeous and Easy to Use Wedding Planning Timeline and Checklist