How to Plan A Wedding Without a Planner


Recently, a bunch of beautiful weddings put together sans planners arrived in our inbox. We covered Emma Pegues’s fairytale wedding in the Northeastern Kingdom of Vermont, Whitney Weeks’s casually elegant event on Martha’s Vineyard, and Lauren Flanagan’s romantic affair at her family’s vacation home in Montecito. The common theme between the three, besides not having a planner, is that they were stunning and all seemed to be so well-executed. While going without a planner is obviously not for everyone—I know that even though I’m super type-A, I would have a tough time doing it—these brides pulled it off with aplomb. Here, Emma shares what she learned along the way. Read her five tips for staying sane and having fun, while taking on what’s sure to feel like a second job.

1. Prioritize
When you’re going solo, it’s about picking your battles. What’s most important to you, your partner, and your guests? Is it the food? Cocktails? Music? Go after those big ticket items first so that you can get them squared away early on. It can be fun to play around with the details, and there will be plenty of time for that, but make sure you have a handle on your priorities before you go down the personalized napkin rabbit hole.

2. Build a Budget
This may seem obvious, but without a planner managing your costs, it’s very easy to wake up with 30 boxes of different rose gold embellished favors from Etsy and a credit card bill you’ll swear must be fraudulent. You’re planning the wedding of your dreams—spare no expense, right? More like spare the right expense. One of the best gifts you can give you and your future partner is starting your life together debt-free. So do your research ahead of time and do your best to stick within those parameters. Then think before you spend: Will you look around on your big day and think: “I wish I’d bought those wrought iron fleur de lis napkin rings?” If the answer’s no, then skip it.

3. Stay Focused
On your 57th email with your caterer? Feel like answering one more question about seat covers will push you over the edge? But don’t you want “Don’t Stop Believin’” on your playlist? Working directly with wedding vendors can be challenging and exhausting, and it can be easy to throw your hands up and just let that inbox grow and grow. Remember, all their questions are to ensure that you have exactly what you want on the day of your dreams—and the more you stay on top of it the better you’ll feel. Set aside a specific time each week to handle all communications re: wedding, like Saturday mornings or Wednesday afternoons. Giving yourself a dedicated time and place to address questions (and ask your own!) can help keep you sane. Coffee is a bride’s best friend!

4. Delegate
One of the hardest things to do when planning your big day is to let go and allow your nearest and dearest to handle some of the spillover. Even though you don’t have a wedding planner, you are still the bride, not the event coordinator. Make sure the most important things are set in motion and when people offer to help, say yes. If you’re a control freak and it’s something like putting together wedding favors, go through the first one or two with them to show them exactly how you like it, and then take a load off. You want to approach your big day happy and carefree, not stressed to the max.

5. Enjoy Yourself
All work and no play . . . well you know the rest. It can be difficult to separate your planning duties from all the fun parts of being a bride-to-be. So when those opportunities arise, take advantage! Cake tastings, cocktail mixings, hair trials—let these moments be all play and no planning. Savor them as your sweet relief from checklists and spreadsheets. Remember, the big day will go by in a flash! Take the time to be in the moment during your planning and treat yourself. You deserve it!

Photo: Courtesy of @aliceinherpalace