Tips for planning a wedding without losing your mind

Planning a wedding is a daunting task. From guest lists and seating charts to colour palettes and décor items. There are a million and one things to check off your list. Where do you start? What do you outsource and what things can you do yourself? Here are some planning tips from some of Photographik’s past brides and local wedding industry experts. These tips and resources were curated to help you keep your sanity throughout the planning process.

  1. Incorporate some fun into the planning.

–       Don’t know where to host your rehearsal dinner?  Shortlist a few local restaurants and plan a few date nights.  That way you can sample the food and have a relaxing night out together.

–       Invite your wedding party over for a hang out night before the wedding day. This way they can all get to know each other if they don’t already. Extra bonus: if you are choosing which wine or beer to serve at your wedding, this might be a good opportunity for a tasting. Have your wedding party taste test with you.

–       Having a makeup trial done is a good idea. That way you can test and tweak your wedding look before the big day. After you’ve had your makeup trial, plan a night out with your bridesmaids and girlfriends. Hey, you’re looking fine, you might as well celebrate.

–       If all else fails, go lingerie shopping together. It’s a sure fire way to introduce a little romance back into wedding planning. Even if you don’t buy anything. *wink. By the way, we love the bridal line or lingerie over at Agent Provocateur. For a personalized experience, She Lingerie in Calgary caters to brides. Pack something interesting for your honeymoon!

Tips for planning a wedding without losing your mind

 2. Give your partner a few things to take care of on his/her own.

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but you have to remember that the two of you are a team. Nobody can plan a wedding all on their own. If you can, please drop me a line, I wanna know all about it.  There will be a time throughout the planning process when you’ll have to delegate.  Who better than to your partner in wedding-planning crime?

–   More and more grooms are taking on the task of planning the honeymoon. These grooms are keeping the destination a secret and surprising their brides at the airport. Don’t feel comfortable being left out entirely? No problem. Sit down and shortlist 3-5 locations together and then let him take the reigns. If your groom is a travel buff, this may be the best way to delegate some wedding tasks his way.

–  Put your partner in charge of selecting the booze for the wedding. Throw in your two cents so they know to include your favourite wine or cocktail. Beer and hard liquors? They can handle that.

– Is he/she a music buff? Have them work with the DJ to figure out the best music to play at the dance party.  Coming up with a list of must have music might be right up your partner’s alley. (Making sure the Chicken dance is left off the list is a good idea too).

–    If your partner is the stylish type, let him select the outfits for him and his groomsmen. I know, I know, this may be a hard one to delegate. But let your fears be put slightly at ease. With online mens fashion websites like Indochino and Suitly, selecting stylish and tailored wedding attire is easier than it used to be. I haven’t met a guy who wants someone else to dress him. Why should weddings be different?

A Calgary groom and his groomsmen post for photographs in downtown Calgary– Graham and his groomsmen opted for a vintage look for his summer 2014 wedding in Calgary.  Graham is pictured here sporting a Harry Rosen suit and his groomsmen were outfitted from JCrew. Don’t they look handsome?

3. There’s an App for that.

Keep yourself organized by using these resources you can access from any device.

Use a free app like Evernote.

It allows you to make notes, checklists, take clippings from websites and keep photo records. Stay organized and access everything across all of your tech platforms. Create a Wedding notebook and categorize everything so you can find it later. Here’s an article from a couple who used Evernote to plan a wedding.

Seating charts – Arrrrgh.

All Seated has a solution for you. Import your guest list from an excel spreadsheet or from social media. Keep track of RSVPs for all your wedding functions in one place. Classify guest types into categories so you can seat them together in groups. Upload floor plans from your venue and design your reception floor plan electronically. Automatically seat guests at tables by groups and keep track of who is at what table easily.

Organize your Budget.

Google docs online wedding budget planner is a great online tool for keeping track of your wedding finances.  It allows you to allocate your budget into different areas and totals it for you. This application does double duty and reads like a checklist of things to do before and after your wedding. It also has a budget estimator tool that works with percentages. Set your total budget and allocate percentages of that budget into different categories. It automatically calculates the dollar amounts for each category for you. Just click on the “Use this template” button at the top of the page to start working.

Create a wedding website.

Wedding websites can be a one stop shop for your wedding guests. Your guests can learn the details of your wedding, check out the available accommodation options and access your registry. But did you know they can also be useful to you?  You can download a template to easily upload your guest list to the site. From there you can keep track of RSVPs and guest’s meal preferences. We did a bit of research and The Knot wedding websites offer all of the above. With an easy user interface, you can have a website set up in a matter of minutes. Check out the website we set up for ourselves in 20 minutes.

set up a wedding website at

 4. DIY like a boss.

 Doing some things yourself is a great way to keep your wedding day personal.  If you are the crafty type DIY can be the way to go. But DIYing your wedding can feel overwhelming and get out of hand. You’ll want to be smart if you’re going to DIY like a boss. Here are some tips from real brides who DIY’d their wedding and lived to tell about it:

 Know when to ask for help and when to draw the line.

Asking for help from friends and family is a must, especially if they’ve offered. However, be sure to know your own personal boundaries. “Several friends and family insisted on arriving a few days before the wedding to help” writes Wendy, a past bride of ours. “Their hearts were in the right place but felt overwhelmed once I had extra bodies in the house.  I felt I was now adding ‘hosting guests’ to my already full plate just a few days before the wedding”.  Check out Wendy’s DIY handwork in this gorgeous Rouge Restaurant in Calgary, AB. SWOON.

Simple is sometimes best.

The flowers on our tables were potted succulents. Our guests had the option of taking them home as a wedding favour. Look into ordering in bulk from a local greenhouse and then package them yourself. “The succulents were shipped in boxes right to our house.  I bought the glassware at a local dollar store for $3 each. I picked up a bag of succulent soil at Home Depot. It took 4 people less than an hour to pot 50 of these.” – Kat Culligan.

DIY succulent centerpiecesOrganization is paramount.

Supplies take up space and DIY takes time. One of our past brides, Kat, DIY’d a lot of her wedding decor. One of the biggest projects she took on was making folded paper centrepieces for each table. “I made monthly quotas of what needed to be done so I wasn’t too panicked in the last month before the wedding. The paper flower centrepieces I made took the most amount of time. I started them almost a year before the wedding. I also delegated to friends and bridesmaids who offered to help. I ended up hosting a paper folding party at my place. It was a lot of fun and we got lots of centerpieces finished.” You can see Kat’s DIY Calgary wedding here!

DIY folder paper centerpieces

5. Know when to outsource to a professional.

Know when a task is beyond your ability and look for ways to outsource. “We ordered the boutonnieres on Etsy” write Kat.  “I still wanted the handmade look, but knew I could not make them myself. They turned out perfectly and ended up saving me the time (and money)”. Kat ordered hand folded paper flower boutonnieres made from world maps. This design matched the theme for their wedding perfectly, but she knew she’d need help executing her idea.

hand made paper wedding boutonnieresAnother thing we outsourced was the design for our invites.  We contacted a very talented graphic designer who had a shop on Etsy at the time. She did the design and we had them printed locally. It was definitely worth paying a little extra for a high quality design and printing. I know nothing about graphic design”.

custom graphic design for wedding invites 6.Decor double duty

Our good friend Janelle Gerestein from Flowers by Janie has some great ideas for how to give your wedding flowers double duty. “You can select floral arrangements that can be used as decor for both your ceremony and reception. Centerpieces can make nice arrangements and hanging aisle chair floral decor can be reused as centerpieces or positioned on your cake table or fireplace mantles.” Below is a great example of how to use floral arrangements for both your ceremony and the reception.  The same floral designs are used to decorate the ceremony arch and the head table at this gorgeous Canmore wedding.

floral-double-duty001 floral-double-duty002 7. Referrals, referrals, referrals (and more referrals).

Ask your married friends for vendor referrals. 

Your friends who have been married are going to have some great advice for you.  From who they hired to what they would have done different. Ask around and make notes.  If they rave about a certain vendor, chances are you’ll have a great experience with them too.

Another great tactic is to ask the vendors you do book to recommend other wedding industry folks. It is literally their business to be well networked in your area. They will have worked with many local vendors in the past and will have some good advice for you. Finally, do your homework. Check out potential vendors websites. Ask to meet with them in person.  A face to face meeting is a great way to see if they will be a good fit for your wedding.  Read reviews of their business on pages like Google+. Those are great resources, because past clients of the company can go on there and leave an honest review.

8. It’s your wedding. Do what you want to.

Your wedding doesn’t have to be planned inside the box. You’re the one in charge of planning it, so incorporate as many personal touches as you want into the day. Eva and Carter were married in September 2014 and we knew from our first meeting with them that their wedding was going to be awesomely different.


Our wedding reception was like a 6 year old’s birthday party. It was circus themed with a magician, caricaturist and lots of candy. We decided to make our wedding reception as fun as it could possibly be. We love throwing theme parties at our house and thought it would be fun to do the same with our wedding. We wanted to have our ceremony in the morning, to leave more time for us to enjoy the day. We planned a trip to a nearby brewery in the afternoon with our wedding party. We had a tour of the facilities and did a tasting. That was definitely a highlight for us.” – Eva & Carter. Sept 6th 2014.

circus-wedding003 circus-wedding001 circus-wedding007Did you like this post? Give us a little Facebook LIKE below and share with your friends who are trying not to lose their mind while planning a wedding. Head on over to our Facebook page for more posts like this one and to see some of our latest work.

Happy Planning!

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