Planning the Wedding: Free Printable Wedding Planner

Planning is the key to a success. There are those who say, “to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail” and never was a truer word spoken when it comes to planning a wedding.  I’m a huge advocate of planning – it’s the most sensible approach to organizing such a big, important occasion. And, not forgetting, there is a very good reason why most betrothed couples take on average 12-18 months planning their Big Day: There is A LOT to consider.

So, for my own wedding, I decided to approach it much like I did my GCSE exams I sat for when I was 16 – by creating a visual wall chart which helped me tackle things in bite-sized pieces. There are loads of lists out there; vast, exhaustive lists of what you need to do 12 months before, 9 months before, and the last week of your engagement.  But nothing really worked for my brain – I’m very visual and get great satisfaction from seeing physical proof of my progress. This chart was color-coordinated and had lots of blanks for me to fill in along the journey. And the best part of the chart was that I was never overwhelmed with what I still hadn’t organized. Bite sized pieces = Simple.

So, to make this a little more suitable for a broader range of weddings, I have customized my Personal Planning Chart and adapted it for you to download and print: Wedding-Planner-18-to-12-months-before_Layout-1 (Free Template!)

It prints onto four pages, which you can either store away neatly in your wedding file, or you can pin it up on your wall for a more hands-on approach like I did. It is by no means exhaustive as I wanted it to be suitable for small or large weddings, but covers the important elements which most brides and grooms will find helpful. Pin bits to it, sketch out ideas, and add photos for inspiration – it makes for a great keepsake too!



Engagement rings 101

Ladies, how many of you know exactly what you want in an engagement ring?  And, how many of you trust your beau to pick the right ring?

We’d like to know: Do you prefer to pick your own ring or be surprised by your fiance’s choice? 

Prefer a designer ring like the ones made by Cartier or Tacori?  We came across a new site recently that has everything you need to know about designer engagement rings: visit at

Either way you prefer, there are a variety of places online to browse for ideas, educate yourself about diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals, and even design your own engagement rings and matching wedding bands.  A simple Google search for engagement rings will turn up the most popular jewelry stores in your area – but how about a custom ring?  Try Googling these keywords: designer engagement rings, custom wedding rings, or unique jewelry designers.

(Guys, listen up!) The perfect proposal ends with the perfect ring.  Aim to overwhelm rather than underwhelm with a solitary diamond that shines as much as she does.  The engagement ring is something a girl will wear forever, so it needs to be stunning and classic.  It should make a statement about your feelings for her, and she should be proud to wear it.   From most other brides I’ve talked to (including myself), us ladies want something special, something unique, and something sparkly.

I’ve never met a girl who didn’t like shiny diamonds, but think about her style – what type of jewelry does she wear: colorful, simple, eclectic?  My number one piece of advice would be to browse online together, and pay attention to her “oohs” and “aahs!” Also, check out her jewelry collection – does she like silver or gold, gemstones or pearls, small or big pieces?  Use this information to guide you to the perfect engagement ring.

For me, I knew what type of engagement ring I wanted, but my fiancé and I never had the chance to shop together.  He wanted to surprise me with a ring he selected.  I’m rather picky, and unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed by the ring; actually, I didn’t like it one bit.  It took almost a year to confess, but I finally was able to tell him how I felt about the ring.  My vision for the ring was a custom designed birthstone engagement ring.  He never asked me what I wanted, so how could he have known?

(Hint – just ask your girl what she wants.  Even if she says she doesn’t care, she does. Make time to check out all the options and get to know her preferences).

So, I ended up trading in the original ring for a one I custom designed using a large dark amythest stone as the centerpiece, and a diamond-encrusted band.  I love my ring, and I constantly get compliments on it. I was able to get the work done through my local jewelers, but it can also be done online.

Click here to see my ring.


This is a sponsored post, meaning that DIY Bride has been compensated for the article. We firmly stand behind our review and recommendation and are committed to promoting only those companies we feel offer our community excellent products, ethical business practices, and outstanding customer service.


{Sponsored Guest Post} Honeymoon Pixie: 5-star Wedding Registry for Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Honeymoon Pixie provides a honeymoon registry service to engaged couples. It’s similar to a traditional registry; however, guests purchase fun activities for you to enjoy during your honeymoon. It’s the perfect alternative for couples who have lived on their own and have many of the household items needed to start a new home together. Instead of another toaster, couples can opt to have the experiences associated with their dream honeymoon!


Popular destinations include: Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Caymen Islands, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Disney, France, Italy, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Mexico, Tahiti, and more!


The honeymoon registry is becoming popular as many couples find it most appropriate for their needs. After all, the purpose of a gift registry is to take the guesswork out of gift giving. It’s also eco and green friendly, as there is no driving to the stores to shop, no packaging waste, no gift wrapping, no returns, etc. On average, 35% of traditional wedding gifts are returned.

Tips for creating a honeymoon registry:

Use one of the pre-built registries provided by Honeymoon Pixie. They are based on the most popular honeymoon destinations and include a full spectrum of fun activities. This saves you time and gets your registry published in a flash.

If you want to create your own registry, make sure to include many fun and exciting activities –as these are the types of gifts your friends want to give to you.  Be creative and let your personality shine through. Also, have a variety of price points ranging from $20 to $100 dollars so that all budgets can be accommodated.  You can also break-down big ticket items into smaller increments. For example, a $400 honeymoon suite upgrade can be listed as four $100 gifts.

Use the free tools that Honeymoon Pixie provides:

  • Print announcement cards
  • Print Thank You lists
  • Send out pre-written emails
  • Implement Facebook integration
  • Upload unlimited photos
  • Select a beautiful registry theme
  • Redeem your gift funds at anytime
  • Benefit from expert travel tips and links
  • Learn from our honeymoon destination guides
  • Reduce stress by using our Planning and Packing Tips


Honeymoon Pixie consistently receive 5-Star ratings from newlyweds, earned the Bride’s Choice Awards 2012 for excellence in quality & service, and 6000+ fans love their Facebook page!  Be sure to connect with them on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Be sure to check out their honeymoon planning section that covers ever crucial component of honeymoon planning (destination guides, planning, traveling essentials, etc.) with lots of resources, and it’s all FREE.  Visit their website to get started today:



Contact Honeymoon Pixie:






Phone: 888-74-PIXIE (888-747-4943) toll free


Learn more about Honeymoon Pixie in the DIY Bride Vendor Showcase.


Disclosure: DIY Bride has a financial relationship with Honeymoon Pixie, meaning we may have received compensation for this content and/or related content.  We firmly stand behind our review and recommendation, and are committed to promoting only those companies we feel offer our community excellent products, ethical business practices, and outstanding customer service.


{Sponsored Post} Nostalgia Film Creates Wedding Day Family Heirlooms

When it comes to documenting your wedding day in a way that will last forever, there is no replacement for a talented videographer.  After you meet Michael and Shanna with Nostalgia Film, you will know exactly how awesome videography truly is.  You’ll be adding a videographer to your list of vendors in no time.


What made you want to be involved with the DIY wedding industry?

Michael and I were planning our own wedding in 2010 when we started brainstorming one night about the idea for Nostalgia Film. He had been in the video/film industry his entire career and I had studied film and made my first Super 8 film in college. We were both seeking a little more creative fulfillment in our lives and careers… and really wanted to be able to collaborate. All of this intersected with the fact that while planning our own wedding, we found this niche for a new perspective on wedding videography that we thought really needed to be filled. We weren’t being inspired by what we found–we did the bridal expo and all of that–and nothing really spoke to us in terms of artistry and documentation of how we wanted to look back on our own wedding day.

What do you love most about being a wedding videographer?

I just told a guest at a wedding the other day, our job is awesome because we get to be a part of one of the happiest days of a couple’s life. The happiness and anticipation–the whole spectrum of emotions is such an incredible thing to be a part of. Plus, when we are shooting–especially film–it’s a very in-the-moment process which can be very joyful, spontaneous, and artistic, and at times meditative. The best moments to capture on film are those special things that happen in a split second–they way a couple looks at each other, the silly dances they do when they think no one is looking, the way the nervous groom sweeps up a giddy flower girl–those sweet moments that you have to be very aware and present to capture.

What did you do before becoming a videographer?

Michael’s been self-employed in video production for about 15 years, and still is. He has worked for many companies, including music festivals, Discovery Channel, Fox Sports, HBO, ESPN, and the Longhorn Network, and others. I have worked as a journalist and web designer/developer, and do web design/development and designs jewelry in addition to helping to run Nostalgia Film.

How would you describe your own wedding style?

We just wanted to throw a big, laid-back party for family and friends! We got married on the river out in the country and had a very creative, DIY wedding with little hints of Dia de los Muertos inspiration – papel picado, tres leches cake with sugar skulls, Mexican food. We made a lot–decorations, homebrew, ceremony accessories, jewelry, hair clips, I did my own flowers, including my bouquet with some help from gal pals the morning of the wedding over coffee, and I wrote the ceremony with help from Michael; a good friend officiated for us. We celebrated three days–we swam in the river, had a really good time! I have written a lot about DIY wedding advice and our wedding on our blog.

How would you describe your DIY skills?

Pretty fierce! For our wedding, I made hand-sewn pennant flags, hand-painted mason jars, sewed a ring-bearer pillow, made a card box, sculpted little items for our guest table, designed save-the-date postcards and programs, made a flower girl basket, made boutonnieres, and made jewelry and hair accessories for my bridesmaids, as well as doing all of our flowers with help from my girl friends. I already had an etsy shop, so making stuff was something I was really comfortable with. Michael painted signs, made a chalkboard, and brewed us some delicious home brew beer, which the guests really liked!

Do you publish your work on a blog?  If so, how often do you post new images?

We blog for Nostalgia Film’s Indie Bride Guide a couple times a month about real weddings; we post Super 8 films and videography, and we write about wedding planning and advice, and occasionally local film, events. We post some film photography, too.

I also blog a couple times a month at Craft Love Blog.

What social media channels do you frequent?  Facebook, twitter, pinterest, tumblr, something else?  

I’m kind of a social media fan:

Describe the best (or worst) wedding you’ve ever seen, and why was it the best (or worst)?  

Goodness, I really love every wedding we’ve shot! And I’ve really felt so lucky to meet every couple we’ve met. The kind of people who are drawn to film are awesome, creative people. We have been privy to some beautiful, heartfelt, and unique celebrations.

The only thing that I would ever say is just don’t try to be too ambitious! I definitely was with my own wedding (saying this as someone who had a three-day-DIY celebration), and I think sometimes that can detract from the couple’s enjoyment of their day. Sometimes the simple and scaled back is just as meaningful and amazing as any large-scale production.


Did you start your business from scratch?

We did, just Michael and I in 2010, and we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants and learning a whole lot ever since.

What is your philosophy for ensuring a happy customer?

Lots of communication! We want to make sure we come up with the best possible package for a couple’s wedding–whether it’s film, video, or both. We’re always available by e-mail and phone throughout the planning and time leading up to the wedding. And we really like to get to know our clients, who they are–that factors in to how we shoot and edit. We like to go above and beyond, too, sometimes doing more than promised, just to make sure our couples get the best possible film… we want it to be a family heirloom that they’ll watch again and again.

How do you get to know the couple before the wedding?

Ideally we’ll meet over coffee or a drink, but we work with out-of-state clients so the phone and Skype come in handy there. We’ll e-mail with the couples leading up to the wedding, and check in the week of usually by phone. We love when couples send us their wedding websites or anything else that helps us to get to know them, too! I love seeing engagement photos, stories of how they met, etc.

What specific criteria do you have for working with a new couple (if any)?

Usually in that first meeting, it’s just about making sure we hit it off. After all, we’ll be working guests at your wedding! We tend to get very creative and fun clients by the nature of what we do. We like to make sure our couples understand the nature of film if they choose that route, or if a hybrid film and video package might work better for them. And otherwise, it’s just making sure we can accommodate with our schedule and travel.

How many hours does it take for you to record and edit the film?

Usually six to eight hours on the day of, sometimes more, then depending on if it’s video or film or both, the post-production time varies. Video and the hybrid packages take a lot more time in post-production–at least a week or two of choosing music and editing, but the film packages also take time to be shipped to our lab to be developed and telecined, but the editing is usually a little faster since it’s more of a music video/highlights style. We usually ask for four to six months to finish a film after the wedding, especially during the busy seasons when we are shooting every weekend.

Do you work with any other vendors on a regular basis?

We have been lucky enough to work with some fabulously talented photographers both locally and nationally, including The Nichols, Cory Ryan Photography, Joie La La and others. Working well with the photographer is important since we work so closely in conjunction–sometimes sharing light or coordinating tripod placement and where we position ourselves–it’s like a dance. We’re looking forward to working more and more with the talented photographer who shot our own wedding, Heather Curiel, who also does amazing bridal tintypes–we’re headed to Oklahoma in June to work in tandem; it will be so fun! We also have a short dream list of photographers we hope to work with, including Suzi Q and Katherine O’ Brien–we geek out when a photographer shoots film!

We’ve worked a couple of times with DJ Jeremy Cox, who’s fantastic. We’ve worked with really talented event designers, too–Sweet Sunday’s wildly creative work blew me away the other weekend. We have some exciting stuff to publish in the next few months!

I also co-founded Austin Wedding Party with a friend and am looking forward to collaborating more with the talented vendors I met and got to know better during that process, including HarperMadison Designs and Inspired Events & Designs.

Do you offer custom packages, and what is your most popular package/product/service?

We offer a couple packages in each of three categories–Super 8mm film, HD video, or a combination of both. Super 8 and the hybrid packages are definitely our most popular since that’s something we offer that’s relatively unique.

Super 8 is a magical, dreamy, and evocative format with vintage sensibilities. It’s well-suited to outdoor weddings with lots of natural light and perfect for rustic or vintage-styled weddings. Often, the bride or groom will tell us, “I want a wedding film that reminds me of old home movies.” Since Super 8 is a silent medium, we edit the Super 8 to music, sometimes using audio from the ceremony or toasts to sync short clips if the couple requests it. It really is the best moments of the day, captured in a really watchable way that has the power to evoke memories and emotion, even years later. As well as a highlight and longer video edit, couples also get the archival Super 8 footage–actual celluloid film that can last 100 years when stored well. I think in the days of instant gratification, and anyone being able to shoot video on their cellphone, that having something high-quality and made to last generations is something really special. I’ve written a lot more about the uniqueness of and my love of Super 8 on our website and blog.

We offer cinematic and documentary-style HD video for those couples who want to capture every detail and full audio of the ceremony, cake cutting, toasts, and first dances, and we give them a longer edit, as well as chapters, and a short highlight film to share with friends and family.

And we offer hybrid packages that combine Super 8 and HD for the best of both worlds.

Sometimes a couple will want all the magic and beauty and nostalgia of the Super 8 film, but will also want more detailed documentation of the ceremony and reception, so then a hybrid with film and video is perfect. Also, it’s great when the couple can’t agree on which to choose! Video is a lot more flexible with low-light, too, so if they want more details once the sun has set or at a low-lit ceremony, then combining the two is a good fit.

Why should our readers hire a videographer, and what makes you better or different than other videographers?

We are different in a couple ways, most noticeably that we shoot Super 8. It has a magical quality to bring you right back to how you felt in that moment, whether just weeks or months ago or 20 or 30 years ago. That’s something really special. These films can become a family heirloom, and the archival footage we provide can be potentially converted–with just light and a way to move the film–to whatever the yet-to-be-dreamed-up format of the future is.

Plus, we are a husband-and-wife team, that really helps the day of–I can go with the bride and Michael with the groom. If you’ve ever gotten married, you know the bridal suite can get a little crowded and intense, so it helps that I’ve been through it and can try to be unobtrusive. Then as we are shooting, we can communicate sometimes with just a look, and in editing we can bounce ideas and perspectives off each other. Michael’s a talented editor, and I have a knack for picking music, and I know if I come in when he’s editing and get a little teary, it’s a good film.
I see a lot in articles and hear firsthand from newlyweds that not hiring a videographer is one of their biggest wedding day regrets. I can tell you, personally,  I would love so much to see my dad’s toast or our first dance or the faces of some of our older relatives. Ironically, we didn’t hire a professional videographer–after searching high and low for someone with the style and artistry we desired and who fit our budget, we eventually gave up. Even the week of the wedding I was struggling with that decision. We had three friends shoot amateur video and film for us that we’re still trying to make something of in editing. So firsthand, I can tell you, I regret not hiring a videographer.

Plus, couples invest so much into their wedding day–time, talent, money–and it goes by in such a frantic whirlwind, that photography and videography are the only investments in the day that last and last.


Shanna was so gracious to share her story, and we are very grateful to have Nostalgia Film at DIY Bride this year.  She’s a true delight to work with, super easy to reach via email, and we gladly give her our highest recommendation!


Disclosure: DIY Bride has a financial relationship with Nostalgia Film, meaning we may have received compensation for this content and/or related content.  We firmly stand behind our review and recommendation, and are committed to promoting only those companies we feel offer our community excellent products, ethical business practices, and outstanding customer service.



Avoid The Wedding Debt Trap, Pt 2

Let’s talk about wedding debt. I had previously written about credit card debt back in January 2005, in the Avoid The Wedding Debt Trap article and offered some alternatives to paying for your wedding.

A recent article at Yahoo Finance, “What Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You To Know”, reminded me to talk about wedding debt again because it’s not openly discussed enough.

While you’re being fed the over-the-top, bash-of-a-lifetime dream there’s a dark underbelly to the industry. And that’s debt. Deep, soul-sucking, relationship-wrecking, stress-inducing debt.

While many couples are fortunate and get abundant financial gifts from relatives, many of us pay for at least part of our weddings. With the average wedding exceeding $27,000, and the average US household income at something like $45,000, it’s likely you’ll put some of that wedding expense on your plastic pal … and then pay for it for the next several years. Yes, years. A $5k loan at 14% interest will take 30 months to pay off with $200/month payments. Miss a payment and your interest rate balloons to, say, 27% (not uncommon at all) and the payoff will take forever.

As a cautionary tale, I want to share my own wedding debt story. My then-fiance (now-husband) and I went into debt to pay for our wedding – even with generous financial help from parents – and it turned into a struggle we never could’ve imagined.

We didn’t plan on long-term debt. In fact, we had a solid plan for getting debt-free ASAP after the wedding. I was working a cushy, Silicon Valley tech job at the height of the never-ending boom. He had a stable, long-term job (still does, even though the pay is low for our area). We’d both probably be getting raises soon. I had stock options that were about to mature. Heck, we might’ve been able to buy a house in a year (not an easy thing in Silicon Valley). No problem! What could possibly go wrong? … Ha.

After early-2002, I was unemployed and underemployed for an extended amount of time, which put a burden not only on my household finances but with my marriage as well. There were no fat raises, no stock options, no house, no job. We never, ever thought such hard times could ever happen to us. And that’s precisely why they did. We didn’t plan for, prepare for, or know how to deal with financial adversity.

You know how stats say that most couples’ arguments over finances? They don’t lie. Being poor, in debt, and stressed is pure misery for both partners.

It took years for us to get out of the debt we incurred for our wedding day (and subsequent unemployment, to be fair) – something I would NOT do over if I had the chance to relive the moment. While our wedding day was beautiful and amazing and utterly awesome, it wasn’t worth the amount of pain, sacrifice, and fear we lived in while digging ourselves out of that financial hole. Today, 6 years after the wedding, we have zero credit card debt but it was a long road to get here and to be able to maintain that status.

Some of the lessons we’ve learned and want to share:

* You cannot control how the economy will affect your job or business or your ability to find a new source of employment.
* There is no such thing as job security. You can be fired, downsized, laid off, outsourced, replaced, or your job can simply disappear. It happens every single day. Plan accordingly.
* Living beyond your means – even by a little bit – is dangerous.
* Borrowing money from the ‘rents to buy food for the next week is humbling.
* Poverty sucks. A lot.
* The more you make, the more you spend. Save more and pay off debt faster instead.
* No amount of perceived wedding day goodness is worth sacrificing the well-being of the marriage/relationship.
* You can have an utterly awesome, beautiful, gorgeous wedding on a small budget. It’s not how much you spend that makes a wedding great. Repeat that every day.
* The wedding is a teeny, tiny part of the marriage. Put all of your stock in the long-term things like financial security, personal integrity, respect for each other, and healthy communication skills because those are the only things that will get you through the tough times. And start building those things now, before the wedding.

For a long time I carried a lot of shame around this part of my life. Even now, it’s a little hard to talk about, especially in an open forum such as this. Today I’m speaking up because I see a lot of you heading down that same path to misery and I’d love nothing more than to guide you away from that.

And I think wedding finances should be something that are openly discussed, without judgment or shame, to empower every couple to make the best decisions (for them) on where/how/why to spend their budget.

So, with that, I close this chapter of my story and, in turn, open up an ongoing discussion about finances and budgets here at DIY Bride.

Avoid The Wedding Debt Trap

On average, a wedding in the U.S. will cost $20,000. The factors that most affect how much a couple will spend on their wedding are number of guests, geographical location, and availability of funds or credit. If a couple puts the full cost of a wedding on a credit card and pays only the minimum allowable payment per month, that couple will, literally, NEVER get out of debt.

Traditionally, the bride’s family bore the bulk of the financial burden for their daughter’s wedding expenses. This has changed dramatically in the last decade or so as the groom”s family is contributing more to help out the couple. However, many couples – especially those into and past their mid-20’s – are paying for their own weddings with modest or no help from relatives.Because the pressure to throw a huge, pricey wedding still exists, many couples find themselves turning to credit cards to pay for wedding expenses. These couples will begin their married life together deep in debt that will haunt them for years to come.Some numbers for you to consider

We used the Credit Card Payoff Calculator from Genus Credit Management to do some quick debt calculations.

* A credit card debt of $20,000 with the average interest rate of 18% will take you 125 months to pay off with a minimum allowable payment of $500 per month.

* A debt of $10,000 with an “good” interest rate of 14% will take you 4 years to pay off using the minimum allowable payment of $200 per month.


Scared? This is serious, life-long debt for ONE DAY of celebration.

Don’t let the credit card companies fool you

Many couples get giddy when they see credit card offers for zero percent interest. While it may seem like a great deal, it’s important to read the fine print.

* Some zero percent offers are an introductory rate meaning that the zero percent rate is guaranteed for a limited amount of months before they raise it. Expect it to go to at least 7%, but, more likely, 14% – 18% after the introductory offer expires.

* Zero percent may apply to only balance transfers from your other credit cards, leaving you to pay a hefty percentage on any new purchases you make. Or, conversely, you may pay zero percent on new purchases and a high percentage rate on balance transfers.

* Another issue with zero percent cards is you must pay on time each month. One late payment – even by a single day – can cancel the whole 0% deal and you’ll end up paying high interest rates… some over 24%! And don’t forget the late fees. One company we know of charges an extra $35 on top of a higher interest rate for late payments.

You may be better staying with a low interest, guaranteed rate card in the long term… and don’t use it for wedding expenses.

Always read the agreement and look for the annual percentage rate, annual fees, late fees, and any other fees or rate changes that may affect you.

Where to find the money

If you find that you need extra funds for your wedding celebration, you have few options.

* Personal Loans – Your bank or credit union may have decent rates on personal loans.
* Credit Cards – As stated above, this is a bad, bad idea. Resist at all cost.
* Donations From Family – You may be surprised at the generosity your families may bestow upon you. Graciously accept financial help they may offer, but don”t demand or expect them to shell out big bucks for your celebration.
* Extra Jobs – You and your fiance can take on extra jobs for a few months to generate extra income. This is probably the best way to get the money you need. If your own wedding isn’t worth working extra-hard for, think about your plans and re-budget for something within your means .

Your best chances of beginning a debt-free married life is to live – and create a wedding – within your means. There’s no shame in creating an inexpensive, affordable wedding!


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