Now that I've gotten a little wedding planning under my belt (five weeks to be exact--with less than four weeks until the wedding!), I have come across some ups and downs and have learned what can help you if you are getting married soon or in the near future. I am no expert by all means, but these are just some tips that I wish I had before I started my planning adventure or I have learned along the way.

ONE // Set a budget before planning or buying anything

This is the first thing that you guys should do as a couple after you get engaged. Whether you are paying for the wedding all yourselves or your families are helping with some of the expenses, you want to have an amount set in stone that you cannot and will not spend above. Everything for weddings is so expensive and you will most likely be surprised with costs you had no idea even existed. So, after you've set a budget, try and come under budget as much as possible. After we set our budget, there were almost one thousand dollars worth of costs from event insurance to ceremony programs that we completely forgot to include in the budget. Of course after you map out your wants and needs for the wedding, you can always cut out things that after all, aren't as important in the end.

TWO // Stay Organized 

I cannot stress this enough. Invest in a three-ring binder and keep every single paper of the wedding planning process inside. I have sheet protectors in the front of my binder. One for receipts for in-store purchases, another for online orders, and others for packaging slips once I've already received the item. That way, incase there is ever a problem, I have all of my proof of purchases incase I need to make a return. This also helps tracking your actual budget a little easier. 

For my wedding, I created an Excel document with every single purchase I made and for every purchase I was going to make. That is when it was easier to cut things out of the budget that weren't necessary. This way, you can really see where your money is going.

THREE // Utilize a Wedding Planning Website 

I loved using WeddingWire and to make it even better, it's absolutely free! You can plug in your wedding date, and it gives you a month by month checklist. For me, mine was all shoved into eight weeks, but hey, somehow I managed to do it and you can too! WeddingWire also has links to different venues and vendors with reviews and discussion boards so you can search with and chat with other brides in the same planning stage that you are in.

FOUR // Determine your guest list

This was one of the hardest decisions that Chris and I had to make. It was do we either have an actual wedding with our immediate families and friends now, or do we wait years until we could afford to have a wedding with double the guests. For us, we wanted to get married this year, and when the opportunity presented itself, we went for it. We ended up cutting down our guest list tremendously, but in the end, having a smaller, intimate wedding is what our hearts truly desired. Remember, it is your wedding and you can choose who to have and not to have. No one needs an explanation on why they're not invited--it's your wedding and you are spending the money.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not everyone needs a plus one. In fact, you have no obligation to invite someone's S.O. especially if they just started dating or they're not engaged yet. If they're a good enough friend to get invited to your wedding, they will understand--trust me. All of mine did!

FIVE // Save all of your receipts and pay using check or card

Remember how I told you I have my binder with my sleeve protectors in it? Do it. Keep your receipts in them. Chances are, you will need to make at least one return. Something else that I have learned along the way is to make sure I pay for all vendors and items with a check (when possible) and my credit card. No, I'm not using my credit card because I want to spend above my means. It for security. If a vendor says you didn't pay for something, you will have proof with your bank on your credit card statement that a payment did in fact go through. It saves your butt in the long run, not to mention, a good chunk of change should something like that happen. 

With my credit card, I chose to put everything on my points card. With the amount of money I am spending, I have accrued a pretty good amount of points that I can either use to get cash back from my bank or get sent gift cards. It's free money--as long as you make sure you pay your statement off every single month.

SIX // Double check USPS standards

This was my biggest wedding mistake and I am here to save you. Double check with USPS standards on the size minimum for your RSVP envelopes. For me, I had no idea that there were size minimums. Call me crazy for not knowing that, but I mean, couldn't they have dropped a hint during college? So, incase you didn't know like me, your size minimum for envelopes is 3 inches by 5 inches. I think our envelopes are like 3 inches by 2 inches, but so far, they have been coming back! Fingers crossed we get all of our RSVP's back!

SEVEN // Relax and don't stress

One thing that I've learned is that it's okay if everything doesn't go exactly how you want it to go. I realized that not everything will turn out like my Pinterest dream boards, but it will come close for sure. When I find myself getting stressed about something I will either vent to Chris or my Mom and then realize it's really not worth stressing over. My only allowed Bridezilla moment was when my hair got destroyed by a new hair salon I decided to try. I ended up going back to where I usually went, and boom my hair was fixed. Everything can and will have a solution. Just breathe and make a few phone calls and get ish done!

EIGHT // Find a hometown bridal shop

Most wedding dresses take six months or more to get in for you to even try it on. Since I had about eight weeks from start to finish, I knew that going to David's Bridal or a chain store was not going to work--and honestly, I didn't really want to go there anyways. After hours and hours of searching for dresses online, I came across the cutest shop only twenty minutes from home. Agnes Edmunds Bridal & Formal was the best thing that happened to me. Bridget (the owner) and Fern (the seamstress) are a power duo and a God-send.

I called the shop on a Friday and a week later, my dress was already ordered, came in, and was ready to me to try on. I swear to you that this dress was meant to be and it was all made possible because of their dedication to superior customer service. I knew within seconds of talking to Bridget on the phone that this is where I would be going for my dress and my MOH's, MOB, MOG, & flower girl's dresses. If you are located in the Greater Philadelphia Area, I highly recommend you head over and see Bridget & Fern. You will love them just as much as I do!

NINE // Embrace your creativity 

Whether it be one diy project or your entire wedding is diy like mine, try and add in your own personal touches. For us, since we are doing everything diy from the invitations to the cake, our wedding will hold a bigger piece in our hearts. Everything down to the desserts that we are serving to the centerpieces on the table, it all has a meaning. We're having cheesecake bites served at our wedding because our first date involved getting cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, and our centerpieces have vintage glass Coke bottles because we are Coke Zero addicts and hey, we like the color, too. All in all, make sure that you add in your own personal touches. After all, it is your wedding!

TEN // Enjoy the process

YAS! This is the most important part. ENJOY THE PROCESS! Enjoy the time that you will spend together planning your special day. For me, I am loving sharing my ideas, and Chris sharing his with me as we take our styles and mold it into one. It's also a blast working so closely with my mom and future mother-in-law to plan every last detail from attire to our registry. Every aspect of wedding planning is and should be fun (well it is for me at least!!). Just remember that yes, you are planning a wedding, but you are also planning for your future with the love of your life.

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What are some of your wedding planning tips? 

Stay Classy. 

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