Wedding Planning Tools That Have Helped Me The Most

If you read my last wedding planning post, then you know I am not hiring a wedding planner.  There are a couple reasons I opted to not hire a wedding planner:

  1. I booked a semi-all-inclusive venue that provides a wedding coordinator to help guide me along the way. Along with the coordinator the venue provides, I am having a family member help with day of coordinating.
  2. There are a TON of great (and free) tools to help with the wedding planning process.

The tools I have found most useful during this process are,, and The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer Binder. was the first place I went to for wedding planning help.  I find it most useful for ideas, finding vendors, creating (and sticking to) a budget, and it provides a timeline. I also love that you can create a custom wedding website through them.  This is a free tool but one of the most impressive and useful wedding planning tools. I love that I can stay on top of things with their timeline. is also a free tool and has been my go-to place for questions.  They have a fantastic forum.  Every question I’ve had I have been able to find an answer for on their website.  I’m pretty big on etiquette so it is important to me to go about this process properly, especially since it is a formal wedding.  I would have felt lost without the forum.

Lastly, the Knot’s binder has been perfect for organizing all contracts, invoices, and any other documents.  I could have saved most of this to my computer but it is easier for me to organize and find things when I have a physical copy.  I also love that I can easily take it to wedding related meetings.

All-Inclusive Wedding Venue Vs. Non-Inclusive

As a bride, one of the decisions I had to make early on was whether or not to book an all-inclusive venue.  I did a lot of research and I found there are pros and cons to both all-inclusive and non-inclusive.  Spoiler Alert: I booked a venue that is semi all inclusive and I highly recommend you do the same.

Pros of All-Inclusive
From what I’ve heard, you are more likely to stick to your budget.
They usually (almost always) come with a wedding coordinator.
The pre-selected vendors are pre-selected for a reason…they are reliable.
It eliminates a lot of planning (like finding tables, chairs, cutlery, etc).
Cons of All-Inclusive
You are usually trapped into their pre-selected vendors.
They are often a large wedding machine company and the experience will likely feel less personal.
If you want a unique wedding (unique food or decor) this is not for you.
Pros of a Non All-Inclusive Venue
You have more creative range.
It is a more personal experience. The big wedding venue companies often pump out multiple weddings a day and you can get lost in the mix of that.
Most Venues will still have a “preferred vendor” list but you are usually not locked into selecting one of those vendors.
Cons of a Non All-Inclusive
You likely won’t get a wedding coordinator.
It can be more expensive.
They might not be as experienced as a all-inclusive venue.
Although I listed major pros and cons of both types of venues it is really venue specific. f you are looking for a venue, you should look at both types.
I ended up booking a semi-all-inclusive venue, which means I really get the best of both worlds.  The venue I booked takes care of the food, cake, drinks, tables, chairs, table settings and comes with a coordinator.  I was given freedom to select a florist, order my own invitations (yes, some all-inclusive venues will even do your invitations), and found my own DJ and photographer. Basically, I got planning freedom for everything I wanted to do and nothing I didn’t want to worry about. Again, this is really venue specific.  Our venue happens to have AMAZING food so I didn’t care that they are my only option.

Benefits of NOT Having a Wedding Party

I am happy to announce I officially have the majority of wedding planning done!  One question I keep getting is- “Is wedding planning hard?”  Fortunately for me, it has not been hard.  One of the things that has factored in to that is the decision to not have a wedding party.  We will not be having traditional bridesmaids and groomsmen.  Instead, my fiancé and I will have our siblings standing next to us.

My fiancé and I chose to not have a traditional wedding party for a few reasons.  One of the reasons is simply that it is logistically challenging. Almost everyone we would have asked to be in the wedding party live out of state.  While we could have still asked them they would not have been able to be very involved.

Another reason is that it saves money for everyone involved.  We save money by not paying for dresses, suits, hair, makeup, and gifts.  And they also save a lot of money.  Everyone (with the exception of 4 people) invited to the wedding are traveling from out of state.  I didn’t want to ask anyone to pay for any additional expenses for the wedding since they are already paying for travel expenses.

By not having a wedding party, we are choosing to have a low-key wedding day.  I for one, want to savor every moment of the wedding day.  I do not thrive in chaos.  The last thing I want is to have a ton of people getting ready in a small room.  I want to have time to go on one last date with my fiancé in the morning (we plan to get breakfast together on the wedding day).  I want to take my time getting ready and not worry about running behind with hair and makeup.

Lastly, by not having a traditional wedding party we are eliminating some aspects of planning.  I really did not have to chose colors for our wedding.  I know that might sound strange to have a color scheme for the wedding but the main reason you choose a color scheme is for bridesmaid dresses. I plan to buy gifts for everyone involved in the wedding and I don’t have to worry about buying gifts for an entire wedding party.