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How to Make a Wedding Planning Binder

You’ve given an enthusiastic “yes!” to the proposal, but there’s still a lot to sort out before you say “I do.” Use this step-by-step guide to create a wedding binder that will keep you organized (and sane) throughout the planning process.

By Sarah Stebbins
Bride holding bouquet of dahliasDana Gallagher/Getty Images

To stay on top of wedding details, planners rely on an old-school tool: the trusty three-ring binder. “You can do a lot on the computer, but weddings still produce a ton of paper,” says planner Nicky Reinhard, who keeps more than 200 past and present client binders in the New York City office she shares with partner Ann David. We asked pros how to divide and conquer the deluge in an attractive, organized file that will carry you through the planning process.

First Things First

A great binder ($24, russellandhazel.com) begins with—what else?—worksheets! Print and hole-punch our wedding planning checklist (a.k.a. your master to-do list) and file it in the front. Next up? Use our budget worksheet to divvy up and track your cash and our vendor contact sheet to keep the major players straight. Be sure to jot down a “day of” and an emergency contact for each vendor, says Charleston-based wedding planner Tara Guérard. That way, if the band is late, and the company you booked through is closed on Saturday, you have someone to chew out—er, call.

Add Tabs

Use tabs ($5 for 8, poppin.com) to create a section for each major wedding category—ceremony, reception, flowers, music, etc.—then punch and file things like contracts, menus and seating charts in the appropriate spots. Staple smaller items, such as business cards, fabric swatches, and stationery samples to paper and slip the weighty pages into sheet protectors ($6.50 for 25, staples.com) for easy flipping, says Guérard. Put any ideas you pull from magazines in sheet protectors, too, and organize them by subject or under a separate “inspiration” tab, where they’ll form a kind of paper Pinterest board. The latter method works particularly well for big picture thinkers who might tear out photos of artwork or room interiors that speak to an overall mood or color scheme, says Guérard.

 
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Talk to your venue before renting any items. Ask if you’ll be charged additional fees for using outside vendors and if the site can accommodate additional setup and breakdown time for special lighting, ceremony chairs, or hanging lanterns.