Staying organized when planning your wedding can be tough, and unless you’ve hired a wedding planner to plan your big day from start to finish, one item you’re going to need is a wedding binder. After all, how else are you going to keep track of your to do lists, inspiration, the mass amounts of vendors you’ve talked to, etc, etc.?! Of course, there are [places](http:// www.google.com/products?q=wedding+binder&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en- US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=qQvwS5u_F4Odlgen- ZC0CA&sa=X&oi=product_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CDkQrQQwAA) that sell them pre-made, but I didn’t feel like those really suited me. Plus, with all the free resources available to us online, there’s no reason you can’t make a great wedding planning binder yourself (_for a fraction of the cost_).
## To start, you’ll need a binder of course.
I started with a 1″ spine but quickly had to upgrade to a 2″ spine (and I’m
about bursting at the seams on that size too). Really, it depends how big a
wedding your planning to have and how many details you need to figure out. To
be safe, I’d go with at least a 2″ spine.
## You’ll also need:
* **Dividers** — I used 2 packs of 5 dividers, so 10 total. I also made sure to select the ones with pockets, as you’ll need those as well for smaller items like business cards, coupons, etc.
* **Sheet Protectors** — I found it easier to just put pages in clear sheet protectors instead of hole-punching them. These usually come in pretty large packs of 100 or so, so one pack should be all you need.
## Dividing the sections:
Now the sections you divide the binder up into are completely up to you.
However, mine is divided up like this:
1. **The Basics** — This is where my color swatches, timelines, checklists, and vendor contact list lives. [The Knot](http://www.theknot.com/pl_main.html) has a great master checklist you can use here.
2. **Inspiration** — Every time I find an image that inspires me online or in a magazine, I clip/print it and place it here, in styleboard form. It’s really nice to have one place where you can start to form your vision.
3. **Bridal Party Attire** — This is where I keep the receipt for my dress and accessories, along with all the details of the ‘maids dresses and the guy’s tuxes, including quotes and coupons from multiple tux rental places. If you haven’t found a dress yet, this is a good place to store photos of ones you like.
4. **Ceremony & Reception Venue** — Since I’m having everything in one place, this is just one tab for me. However, some of you might want to split this one up as you need to. This is where I keep the floor plan, contracts and details, and the menu for my big day. Catering was required to come from the venue itself, so that why I included that here. Some of you will need a seperate tab for all your caterer options as well.
5. **Rentals and Decor** — This is where my linen and rental quotes live. Once I commit to a certain vendor, I’ll remove the other quotes and make this a place for receipts and other related information.
6. **Flowers** — Pretty self explanatory, this is where my many floral quotes are housed, along with a few images of flowers I like. Once I commit to a certain vendor, I’ll remove the other quotes and make this a place for receipts and other related information.
7. **Photography** — This is where I keep my signed contract, along with all of my photographer’s pricing and information. She mentioned that her pricing might eventually go up, but if I can produce these sheets, my pricing will remain static, so these sheets are good to have.
8. **Entertainment** — This is where I kept the many brochures from DJs, bands, etc. that I received. More recently, it’s been replaced with a signed DJ contract and an ongoing list of songs on our must-play list.
9. **Guests** — This is where I keep information on the room block, seating, favors, etc. Since I’m still over 5 months out, I don’t have much in this section yet.
10. **Honeymoon** — Hotel accommodations, flight schedules, activities, etc. – those will live here when we get our honeymoon booked.
Then, I keep random things: magazines, post-its, etc. in the front binder
pocket as well. Of course, wedding binders aren’t one size fits all, so use
mine as more of a starting point than anything else. Choose which categories
you need, and assemble the sections in order of importance to you.
## What other types of information can be stored in your wedding binder?
* Sample invites, programs, etc.
* Registry print-outs
* A list of gifts you’ve already received and thank you cards that have already been sent
* Bridal party contact information
* Rehearsal dinner details
* Payment schedules
* A list of favorite wedding websites/resources – _including The Plunge Project, of course ;)_
Really, you can include anything you need! I personally house a lot of my
spreadsheets (budget, payment schedules, etc.) on the computer because I
constantly update them. However, it’s sometimes nice to be able to look at a
printout of it all.
## A few final tips to keep your binder updated, ensuring it’s as useful as
* If you’re doing some of your planning on the computer like me, print a new copy of everything as soon as you update it and replace the old copy. That way, you’ll always have the most recent and relevant information at your fingertips.
* Place new proposals, receipts, contracts, etc. in your binder as soon as you have them to ensure everything remains in one place. There’s nothing worse than loosing something important!
* Sort your binder once a month to get rid of any information that isn’t relevant to your wedding anymore. For instance, if you have information for 5 photographers, throw the information for 4 away when you sign a contract with one. There’s no need to keep everything if you don’t need it all! _Otherwise, you’ll end up with a 4″ thick binder ;)_
**Now you’re ready to be the organized bride you know you can be! Do you have any questions or need further help?**