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Last year on Valentine’s Day I got engaged. It was sweet, intimate and unexpected, even though I knew it was coming. I never thought Danny would pop the question on Valentine’s Day because we aren’t big into celebrating it, which is why I was so surprised. I am very excited to be plannning my wedding and go through this process with him. Unfortunately, it can be stressful at times.

My secret to planning any event or future endeavor is a journal. Keeping a wedding journal is smart, fun and inspiring. It allows you to be more organized and create something beautiful in the process. Something as detailed and important as your wedding day should be treated with tons of care and attention. So having everything in one place makes it all that much easier.

Here are some tips about the process itself and how you can incorporate your wedding journal. Happy Planning!

Wedding Journal

Booking the venue is the first step. After about 4 months of research we narrowed it down to four places. This is something I highly recommend you do. Research your ass off! If there was ever a good time to do it, it’s now. Don’t just pick a place because you like how it looks or someone else recommended it. It’s smart to know all the options you may have. I must have researched every place on long island, brooklyn, queens and nyc! There are just so many places you never even thought of! That is what research is for.

First, figure out what kind of wedding you want. Is it traditional, non-traditional? Do you want to be around nature or a city atmosphere? Ask yourself these questions and more. Search wedding and design magazines for venues you think are beautiful or interesting and cut them out. Add them to your journal for inspiration. These images will help lead the way.

I always knew I wanted a spring wedding outside so I am surrounded by nature. Beautiful colors, flowers in bloom, nice warm weather – and if animals could be there too, than great! That is why our two final choices were a vineyard in Riverhead and a historic farm in Floral Park. Both fit Danny and I perfectly. We eventually decided to go with the farm because it was everything we wanted in a venue and fit within our budget.

Once you know what you want it gets much easier. Narrow down the choices and contact the ones that are within your budget. Make appointments to go check them out and choose the one that is best. Make sure you have all the details before you sign the contract and mark everything down in your wedding journal to keep track of any changes.

Wedding Journal - Keep Lists

If you plan to book a hall or traditional venue for your big day than the food is all included in the package. It does make it easier on you, however, you are quite limited to some of the ideas you may have. For example, the venue already has a style or look. Changing that up is not really going to happen. In almost all cases, their decor is the decor that will be used for your wedding.

Most of the time the caterers handle the food, liquor, rentals and decor. In my case, we are choosing a more DIY event so our caterers are pretty much just taking care of the food and only some rental items. One might think this is crazy but I disagree. It is all a matter of preference. Since our wedding is an informal gathering on a Sunday afternoon, we did not feel it was necessary for all the frou frou benefits like a huge waitstaff, passed hors d’oeuvres and a full service bar. Remember, you don’t have to do what everyone else does. It’s your wedding!

Just make sure you let the caterers know what you want. They will always try to sell you a big fancy event. This is what discouraged me from even having the wedding at all! The more I received proposals, the more I wanted to cry. They were way too pricey, too overdone and not at all what we wanted. One sent me a menu choice with 90% meat. Having told her we wanted to serve all vegetarian/vegan food, this really got on my nerves. Was she even listening to me!

Wedding Journal - Caterers

Choosing a venue that is a blank slate allows you to have more freedom. Being a designer, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Knowing that I will be the one who is designing all the decor for my wedding makes me the happiest girl in the world. Plus, I get to show my guests what kind of event I can really create. It just might bring me some business! You never know, right? So, having the freedom to decorate and use any materials I want, will make all the difference in the end.

I have a good idea what I want to do but it never hurts to search for inspiration. This is yet another reason to have a wedding journal. Whenever I see good ideas that make sense, I cut them out or write them down in my journal. This will also help caterers or wedding planners to see what you want. They will most likely have ideas as well, which is fine. Take all you can get! Just don’t let them stray you away from what you truly want.

Wedding Journal - Decor

Pick a color scheme and go from there. The season you are having your event in will help guide you. Ours will be in May so spring it is! Filled with rustic elements, lots of greenery, pastels like baby blue and pink and natural wood tones, our decor will fit with its surroundings and make sense. All the fun elements that bring it to life will set the tone of the entire day.

Remember to think outside the box. Instead of traditional centerpieces with flower bouquets try using succulents or small plants. Even a few flowers in unique vases or jars will look beautiful. What about earthy elements like moss, rocks and branches? Just because you don’t overdo the decor and have elaborate and expensive elements, doesn’t mean your wedding will look cheap. Believe me! I have seen weddings that cost thousands and they didn’t really look that great. It’s simply a matter of taste.

Wedding Journal - Decor

Nowadays, people don’t hand out favors that much but sending your guests home with a little something to remember the day by is not a crime. It doesn’t have to be expensive but giving something small can put smiles on their faces. I also recommend making a donation in their names. Pick an issue that means a lot to you and let your guests know you’ve made a donation in their honor.

I have come across so many cool ideas and have pretty much decided on ours. But the main thing you want to keep in mind is most people throw them out. So you want to give something they can either eat, use or recycle. I love the seed idea. Giving back to the Earth is the best gift in my eyes!

The elements that are for you and your partner are most important. The guestbook should be simple, pretty and have the space for your guests to share their thoughts on your big day. There are a lot of different ways to do this. Again, jot down your ideas and take any images you find in magazines and add them to your journal. I am so excited to design our guestbook. Ours is going to be fun and whimsy. Yet another thing on my to do list.

Then you have fun elements you can always add to the event. It can be different stations where guests can get creative or places they can spread the love back to you. Whatever elements you choose, remember to keep them tied into your theme or they will stand out like a sore thumb. You want everything to look like it was meant to be there. No event can be 100% perfect but it can sure as hell be close!

Your wedding day will be great. Just focus, relax and give yourself enough time to plan. The wedding journal should help with a lot of it considering it organizes everything and keeps it in one place. People will think you are one smart cookie when they check it out. Mine has become my best friend in this whole process. Plus, just putting it together is so much fun.

Whatever you choose for your journal, just make it work for you. Mine is an eco-friendly notebook (of course!) and it had no pockets. So I just made my own with decorative paper and special envelopes for loose papers. It looks cute and adds some character. Use all sorts of clips to keep things in place as well.

Wedding Journal - Pockets

The main thing when planning your wedding is to stay true to who you both are. This event shows the world what you and your partner stand for. Your day should be a clear representation of your likes and dislikes, style and beliefs. Ours will be a natural organic event that celebrates love, animals and the Earth. Using eco-friendly products and methods and sticking to our morals, we will be pleased to share the special day with our friends and loved ones. It will also show everyone the path we choose to take, together, as we move forward in life. Now that’s a perfect wedding day!