Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Wild Mind Must Be Organized!

Photo Credit: Paul Worthington

Even before choosing the type of venue we wanted for our wedding, my mind was wild with ideas. Invitations and centerpieces; table settings and recipes; reception colors and ceremony vows. It was too much thinking for too little brain space. There were so many choices to be made. What's more, so many choices I never dreamed we would need to make (like, do you need the chair cushion and napkins to match? Ummm, no). Being a crafty-minded person, I quickly became understandably excited about all the things I could make for the wedding, and immediately started flipping through my "design it yourself" folder for ideas.

But, as usual, I was a bit ahead of myself. Which became embarrassing clear by Jake's reaction when I asked him what he thought of a rubber stamp I had been eyeing, explaining to him that we could use it for invitations and any other stampable wedding surfaces: "Huh? A stamp for what? What invitations? But...we don't even have a date yet...or a place...or a haven't even told your sister!"

OK, so he had a point. First things first. But what to do about all the twirls of colors and patterns and late night craft sessions swirling around in that overactive Brain-O-Mine?


It made sense. When the job became overwhleming, I organized my tasks. When the house got messy, I organized stuff. When planning a dinner party, I organized the menu. How was this any different? Yes, yes, yes! When the not-even-dated-located-discussed-or-fully recognized--wedding gets out of hand? Organize my thoughts! Unfortunately, this ever-so-obvious idea came much slower than it should have. In fact, it was weeks of the Swelling Head Phenomenon before I got it together.

It dawned on me as I was reading yet another not-so-helpful Wedding book from the library, which was more pragmatic than most. There it was in Chapter 10: "Getting Organized." Turns out this section had valuable advice about how to start collecting my thoughts in a civilized, manageable fashion. I almost dismissed the book entirely until I stumbled upon that chapter, which just proves that even if some books/magazines/articles/resources aren't helpful overall, they might just give you that one morsel of advice that makes it worthwhile. That's why I try to take at least one thing away from each resource and add it to my collection of ideas. (Incidentally, I apply a similar rule to people. It's amazing how favorably you can look upon your interaction with an otherwise miserable person if you try to find one thing about him/her that you like and add it to your repertoire of ideas. Even if the one thing is a hairstyle or a new vocabulary word, so be it. Aim low, you won't be disappointed). 

Though I also didn't love the author's exact recommendation, I simply adapted it to my my own needs, preferences, and style.

First, I was having trouble separating the "parts" of the wedding. For example, I was imagining all the different kinds of decorations I could make, without deciding whether they would be more appropriate for the ceremony or reception. This might not be a problem for some of you, but for me, it allowed my mind to run wild and undirected, as opposed to categorizing my ideas which is what would help me feel organized. So the first thing I did was grab a 3-ring binder, add plain paper and create tabs to distinguish the various parts of a wedding. Within each section, I included paper for notes, and a plastic sleeve I had sitting around from other projects, so that I could stick any pamphlets or business cards in it. I used sticky notes cut in half in different colors for the tabs, but you could use anything, even the fancy plastic ones if you want something more sturdy. A 3-ring hold puncher comes in handy too.

Once I had all the wedding parts divided, I realized that there were many things of which I knew little and would need to research more. For example, I wasn't aware of all of the traditional Jewish customs that comprise the wedding ceremony. This meant that I also wasn't sure which traditions I wanted to continue and which I felt were not right for me. I quickly jotted down that I needed to do more research on this topic in the future.

Other sections, as recommended by the book, reminded me to include things I had forgotten were even an issue. For instance, though I knew we would likely have out of town guests, I hadn't really considered their special needs (hotel, directions, maps) and didn't take into account that they would require time and possibly money (printing maps, for example). Dividing everything up in this way was super helpful in ways I hadn't expected.

Here are the different sections of my folder:
Resources = books, articles, references, magazine pages, websites, etc. that might be useful. I also took notes on books I borrowed from the library (and thus had to return!) and whether they were helpful, as well as jotting down the main focus/angle of the book in case I would want to look something up later.

= list of running expenses & budget for certain items. Here I also included the items I got for free.

= monthly list of things to do, including extra space for "2 weeks before the wedding," "1 week before the wedding," and "week of the wedding." Included here are little notes such whether we want guests to throw things (rice, seeds, flower petals) at us (probably not).

= list of traditions, supplies (in my case, materials to build a Chuppah, yarmulkes, etc.), ideas for vows, order of the ceremony, names of Rabbis to contact, things I need to research, details, etc.

= ideas for bouquets (images from books/Internet printed out and placed in the plastic sleeve), centerpiece ideas, lists of stores, websites for flowers sources, nurseries, list of friends with gardens (no one in NYC!), list of people for whom I want to make corsages.

= list of places to look for dresses (prom dresses work great!), style ideas, list of things needing to be discussed (ex/should Jake rent or buy a tux), list of friends and family who might lend me something to wear (veil, jewelry).

= list of supplies (tablecloths, napkins, silverware, vases), ideas for decorations with images from books/Internet printed and placed in plastic sleeves, ideas for drinks (lemonade, spiked punch), list of potential caterers, wedding cake ideas, and buffet table layout (if we choose to have one). Eventually, a seating chart will go in this section.

= list of pros and cons for a band vs. DJ, list of songs we love in case we go the DJ route, list of musical friends to ask for recommendations, ideas for where to look for bands (myspace pages, music store fliers, etc).

= tons and tons of images printed/copied from books and placed in the plastic sleeve, random ideas and inspirations, list of local paper/stationary stores, list of things to try to get free on freecycle, thoughts for Save the Date cards (ex/postcard vs. card), rubber stamp designs, scraps of pretty paper I have in case I want to use them.

= keeping track of the gifts next to the guests will save a lot of time later. I printed out charts with the following column headings for easy tracking:
  • SAVE THE DATE MAILED: (enter date mailed)
  • INVITATION MAILED: (enter date mailed)
  • RSVP: (will enter when received and how many guests attending per group)
  • THANK YOU CARD MAILED: (enter date mailed).
This made things really easy to track, and now I have a specific place to add addresses of guests as they trickle in from family. Here I also included emails/information from our family members containing details about certain people (Ex/don't forget Grandma will need room for her wheelchair), other special needs (names of people we still need to decide whether to invite or not).

= specific resources for finding a good photographer (friends' names who know or are photographers, websites for how to choose a photographer and good questions to ask, yellow page listings/numbers). In this section I will also add a list of people/things that I want the photographer to shoot (I didn't think of this, but the book brought it to my attention which was good).

= here I included random things that didn't fit elsewhere, like: getting a marriage license, costs/food for events surrounding the wedding that are not the wedding itself (dinners, lunches, meetings with family, etc).

= I am really bad at delegating. Blame the inner (and outer) control freak in me. So I included this special section to force me to delegate. Here I included tasks matched with possible people to be in charge of each task. For example, someone to: announce the dances (father-bride dance, couple's dance), to refill/refresh the food buffet, to refill refreshments, to help with the wedding set up, and to light candles and check that they remain lit. I am not even sure I will incorporate all these things into the wedding but I just jotted them down to remind me to decide later.

Out of Towners = some thoughts on special tasks regarding out of town guests. For instance, providing modest welcome gifts in the hotel rooms, directions from the airport, fun things to do in the area, etc. Again, I'm not sure I will need all these things, but I included them mostly to remind myself to decide at a later date.

The book suggested having fun decorating your folder--both for inspiration and because it is something you will likely consult frequently--why not make it pretty? I also had fun creating fun headings for each sections, to keep things light and creative. For example I titled my calendar, " list of easy things to do for a SMASHING wedding!" I included snapshots of my folder below. I used stickers (any excuse to use stickers...) for the cover and will cut out faces of Jake and I to stick in there from old photos. Jake already covets the folder and thinks it's so cute!

Now that I have the folder at hand, I jot down any thoughts or questions Jake or I have in the corresponding sections. It really helps me to feel organized and in control of the many various parts of the wedding and preparations that can often lead one to feel overwhelmed. 

If I could only organize all the other parts of my life this well...

Happy planning! 

1 comment:

  1. I just found this randomly, and it is about to save my life. I feel the exact same way you said you were feeling in the very beginning!


Share your thoughts!