By Kristina Russo | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
6 Min Read | March 18, 2020 in Money
It takes a lot of planning and task execution to get through the average 14-month engagement and arrive at a truly special wedding day—with your sanity intact! Keeping all the elements of the big day organized can be overwhelming for even the most detail-oriented among us. Wedding checklists can help, whether you’re planning a small intimate gathering or a #largescalefabulousevent.
You can find wedding checklists online in printable forms or downloadable apps, and you can use them for inspiration, budgeting, timelines, guest communications and vendor management. These checklists can help keep you on track if you’re a tactile three-hole binder kind of couple or a mobile cloud-based pair.
Let’s explore five types of wedding checklists and related apps to help you find the right one—or combination—for you.
Wedding planning experts recommend breaking down the planning process into smaller pieces and scheduling them out on a timeline to reduce stress and make the whole process more fun.1 Timeline checklists can help you do exactly that by suggesting which tasks be tackled each month.
Printable timeline checklists, typically PDFs, are abundant across the web. These big-picture checklists exist for any length of engagement and come in a variety of designs and layouts. You’ll want to pick something intuitive and attractive, as you’ll be looking at this checklist often. Other important checklists cover “the day of” as well as post-wedding tasks.
Many couples who take a collaborative planning approach may prefer their wedding checklists as cloud-based mobile apps. These are more than just a timetable for getting tasks done. Apps can categorize task status as open, in progress or completed, and provide alerts prompting upcoming tasks and reminders for those that are past due. There are popular wedding planner apps that can be accessed at any time, by both partners and anyone else who is helping.
Envisioning the style and tone of the wedding is one of the first things couples do when they begin to plan. A well-defined style can help keep you and your partner grounded for future decisions and serve as a guide for creating a wedding budget.
Couples have long created a kind of quasi-checklist in a wedding folder or binder using photos from bridal, lifestyle, fashion and other magazines, from which they continuously draw inspiration. Today, digital online versions of the inspiration folder allow people to accumulate photos, links, and videos that move them.2 These expandable digital folders and pin boards are easily sorted and searched to accommodate both big-picture ideas and small detail musings. There also are targeted apps for this purpose that have thousands of wedding dress photos that can be bookmarked, shared with friends and cross-referenced to retailors.3 Some have extensive photo galleries and forums encouraging couples to exchange ideas.4
Of course, you can still do it with your hands. Inspiration boards are a checklist-like tool that can get the creative juices flowing if you’re a couple who enjoys rolling up your sleeves with pushpins and post-it notes.
Creating a wedding budget is an essential early wedding planning step. Tracking expenses is equally important.
Mobile apps are also available to establish wedding cost checklists—and they can track those costs, too. Some apps are real-time (synching with credit cards and bank accounts) and portable—valuable features when you’re on-site at a vendor being tempted by a super-cool unbudgeted upgrade.5 Many budgeting apps also suggest common costs that you may have overlooked. And while these wedding checklist apps can provide helpful cost information, in-person vendor discussions are usually needed for accurate, detailed quotes if couples want customized services.6
Wedding checklist spreadsheet templates for budgeting, available on most wedding websites, are useful because they can be easily changed. Tracking committed and spent funds, and adding formulas for taxes, gratuities and service charges, all helps to avoid unpleasant budgetary surprises. Consider web programs if online sharing would be helpful to others contributing to the wedding costs.
Developing the guest list can be particularly stressful, but it is critically important for these reasons:
Using a web-based wedding checklist for guest management can greatly increase communications efficiency and effectiveness. Most modern weddings use a wedding website for two-way interaction between hosts and guests, and many of those sites have easy-to-follow website builders for this purpose.7 Further, guest management apps interact with a wedding website and can import/export guest lists, distribute invitations, collect RSVPs, limit +1’s and handle multi-event management (e.g., bridal shower, rehearsal dinner).8
More DIY-type couples use spreadsheets for compiling names and addresses for their guest list. Wedding checklist-like spreadsheet templates suggest also including RSVPs, dinner choices, gift information, table numbers, hotel information, and more.
The average wedding involves 12 different contracted vendors and dozens of prospective ones. Organizing vendor contacts, proposals and contracts (and versions of them all) is a big, important task because you’ll constantly be referring to them. The format of vendor information increases the organizational challenge: combinations of digital proposals, email communications and hardcopy (signed) versions are common.
Vendor management apps are an especially significant upgrade over manual wedding checklists for that purpose. Many apps have a database to help you find vendors and communicate with them.9 Apps can store and organize proposals, documents and any notes you take on them. They can even help you compare quotes from multiple vendors to highlight the best deals.
If you opt out of apps, experts recommend staying organized by structuring desktop folders and subfolders as a kind of wedding vendor checklist. Careful file-naming conventions can make identifying the right documents easier, avoiding hours of searching through emails.
Finding a soulmate may be difficult, but finding the ultimate wedding checklist for you should be easy. From booking the venue to saying, “I do,” weddings have a myriad of moving parts. Using wedding checklists can help keep it all moving smoothly.
2 “The Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist for All Engaged Couples,” Real Simple
3 “5 Reasons to Get Our New Wedding Dress Lookbook App,” The Knot
6 “The Benefits (and limits) of Using Tech to Plan a Wedding,” New York Times
7 “The 9 Best Wedding Website Builders of 2020,” The Knot
8 “Guest List Management & Tracking App,” SVPify
9 “ Wedding Vendor Manager,” Wedding Wire