Getting Organized

Suggestions for finding the best book to help you plan your ideal wedding

By Anna Sachse, CTW Features

Even brides who have been dreaming of their wedding since they were 10 years old can find themselves confused and overwhelmed when faced with the multitude of decisions that go into planning a wedding. When are you supposed to send out invitations? What questions should you ask potential photographers?? Is it reasonable to spend $2,000 on a cake???

Luckily there is a plethora of hardcover, paperback, spiral-bound or binder-style wedding planners out there to save the big day. Planners let you know when to do things like how far in advance you need to book your caterer or mail the save-the-dates, and remind you about stuff that may have slipped through the cracks, such as remembering to get the marriage license within a valid time frame, says Elise Mac Adam, the IndieEtiquette columnist for Indiebride.com and author of "Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone In Between" (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008).

However, although most books offer timelines and checklists, as well as advice, etiquette tips and creative suggestions for personalizing your festivities, they tend to differ both in tone and how the information is presented. To help ensure your book isn't just a fancy paperweight, Mac Adam suggests looking for one that fits both your personality and the style of the wedding.

TRADITIONAL BRIDES

Those who have been practicing their walk down the aisle

"Martha Stewart's Keepsake Wedding Planner" (Clarkson Potter, 2003)

This elegant three-ring binder from the queen of entertaining is packed with all the classic info, checklists and diagrams, as well as pockets for contracts and menus, plastic pouches for fabric swatches and a color glossary of hundreds of flowers.

"Emily Post's Wedding Planner" (William Morrow, 2006)

Written by Peggy Post, Emily's great-granddaughter-in-law, this planner lays out everything you need to know about the traditional American wedding, from engagement etiquette to planning to who pays for the honeymoon - and tells you when these "rules" are flexible.

Other Options ...

Traditional brides who are a little more no-nonsense might be more partial to "The Knot Book of Wedding Lists" (Clarkson Potter, 2007) by TheKnot.com editor-in-chief Carley Roney. This streamlined paperback turns everything (vendor to-do's, bridesmaid duties, etc.) into lists that busy brides can check off as they go.

Other good choices include the extremely straightforward and portable "Tying the Knot: The Complete Wedding Organizer" (Peter Pauper Press, 2005) by Sara Miller, Karen Berman and Rob Blackard, or the very thorough "The Complete Wedding Planner & Organizer" (WS Publishing, 2006) by wedding expert Elizabeth Lluch, who also offers an "Easy" and an "Ultimate" version.

NONTRADITIONAL BRIDES

Those who'd prefer to take a walk off the beaten aisle

"Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides" (Seal Press, 2006)

Inspired by author Ariel Meadow Stallings' experience of planning her own non-traditional wedding (think champagne in mismatched mugs and a colorful gown), this book is less about telling couples what to do and more about supporting them in crafting the deeply personal and original celebration that reflects who they are.

"Anti-Bride Wedding Planner: Hip Tools and Tips for Getting Hitched" (Chronicle, 2004)

For bohemian brides who still desire some standard wedding nuts-and-bolts help might, try this planner from Carolyn Gerin, Kathleen Hughes and Amy Glynn Hornick. This compact planner includes timelines, checklists, quizzes for you, questions to ask others, pockets to hold stuff and lots of space to take notes.

"Bridal Bargains, 9th Edition: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget" (Windsor Peak Press, 2008)

Brides on a tight budget would do well to pick up this book by Denise and Alan Fields. "Unlike other wedding planners that focus on 'dream' or 'fairy tale' weddings, 'Bridal Bargains' is aimed at how couples can have a fantastic wedding on a realistic budget," says Alan Fields. "As consumer advocates, we've interviewed 1,000-plus couples to find the best money-savers, savvy shopping tips and more."

"How to Plan Your Own Wedding and Save Thousands: Without Going Crazy," (Atlantic Publishing Company, 2008)

This comprehensive planner by Tracy Leigh is another possibility for brides who want to cut down on expenses without sacrificing elegance.

Other Options ...

There really is an organizer option for everyone. Are you an eco-chic bride? Check out "Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009) by Mireya Navarro or "The Green Bride Guide: How to Create an Earth-Friendly Wedding on Any Budget" (Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2008) by Kate Harrison.

Just peruse your local bookstore for tomes geared specifically toward your unique style.

Copyright © CTW Features