Simplify the Diaper Bag {Two under Two}

I’ve now been a mother of two for just over six weeks and I’ve made it a point to get out of the house as often as we can. I want to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and leaving the house to go to the library, playground, or a playdate boosts my mood and helps LJ burn off a lot of energy. Win win! In order to leave the house though, I have to be prepared to take a diaper bag.

I have blogged several times about what I carry in my diaper bag (newborn, infant, toddler) and it may sound strange but these posts kind of serve like snapshots into my life at various points of motherhood. I like to share these posts not only to give some ideas to fellow mamas who might be looking to streamline their diaper bags but also to document what I carried at that point in time so I can look back later and reminisce on that stage of life. 😉

My goal with a diaper bag is simple: I want to have access to the things I may need when we’re out of the house but avoid feeling like I’m carrying around everything we own. I don’t want it to be so full that it puts strain on my back or is impossible to find anything quickly.

Today I’m going to share everything that I carry in my diaper bag these days with “two under two” (two kids under two years old). As with all my previous posts on this, I want to emphasize that this is what works for me. It might not be what works best for anyone else and that’s okay. I personally want my diaper bag to be efficient and minimal-ish (more than just a bare minimum of diapers and wipes). I know I could pack more items that may offer convenience in various situations, but I choose not to. I pack what I am most likely to need and anything not listed is honestly something we can do without in 99% of situations.

Diaper Bag 7.jpg

First up, I have a new diaper bag! I had used this diaper bag since LJ was born and I honestly loved it; however, it got such heavy use that it was getting pretty worn down and the front compartment zipper had completely broken. Rather than get the same bag again, I chose this one because it offered a similar look but had a few more inner pockets which I wanted now that I have stuff for two kiddos. One thing I definitely wanted to keep the same was a backpack-style bag – my arms are full enough these days that I don’t want to have multiple bags slung over arms. I want one bag that holds what I need and allows me to be hands-free so I can push a stroller/carry a carseat/hold my toddler’s hand, etc.

As it was with my first diaper bag, the front pocket is my “mom” pocket. This takes the place of carrying around a purse and holds a pen, a few snacks (I like to have protein-packed snacks while breastfeeding), hand sanitizer, headphones, and gum.

diaper-bag-3.jpeg

The side pockets are great for carrying my water bottle and I also slip my phone into the other side (usually I slip it in my jeans back pocket but if I don’t have one, I can quickly stash it there).

The main compartment is where I keep everything for the kids. I roll everything and place it on its side to maximize space and keep things easy to access. The main space holds a muslin blanket, flannel blanket, two burp cloths, a spare outfit for Vi (a sleeper, because that’s easy right now!), my wallet, a nursing cover, and a toy for LJ. I also usually throw in a snack container for LJ with crackers or something similar and his water.

diaper-bag-1.jpeg

Additionally, there are 5 pockets around the side and I’m purposeful with each one (counter clockwise from “top” of picture): The back pocket holds a changing pad (came with the bag) and a reusable clutch of wipes.  The next pocket is insulated for a bottle, but since I’m currently breastfeeding I store extra pacifiers and a pair of socks for Vi here. The next pocket holds 3-4 diapers for LJ. The next pocket holds 4-5 diapers forVi, along with diaper cream. The last pocket is LJ’s “snack” pocket. It holds a reusable placemat (handy at restaurants), a bib, spoon and case, and snacks (typically 1-2 pouches, fruit snacks or a fruit strip, and some type of bar).

diaper-bag-2.jpegdiaper-bag-6.jpeg

There is one last thin pocket outside the diaper bag (in the back) and it is usually empty, but it’s a handy place for me to slip something small I might need to carry for a particular purpose, like our mail, a book for my bible study, etc.

A few additional tips for a “two under two” diaper bag:

-Repack when you get home. It’s not exactly calm when we’re trying to get out the door. I’m getting kids changed, breastfeeding, getting myself ready, cleaning up spit up, changing a final diaper, grabbing LJ’s water bottle, trying to find shoes, wrangling LJ into his shoes, etc. The minutes leading up to us leaving the house are often hectic and rushed. It is not the time to realize “oh shoot, we have no diapers for Vi” or scramble to grab snacks in for LJ. And I certainly don’t want to leave the house and realize I have no wipes to clean up a poop mess (have you seen this!? OMG – hilarious, but also I would be so stressed out if this happened to me!) So in order to avoid that extra stress right before leaving or realize too late that we forgot something vital, I “reset” it each time we get home. I refill diapers, wipes, snacks, take out anything extra we used last time, and just get the bag back to baseline. I may not have time to do this right away when I get home, but I don’t put the bag in its “spot” unless it’s reset and ready. This way, the ONLY thing I have to do before leaving is throw in LJ’s water and zip it up! So much less stressful.

-Have an extra diaper clutch ready to go for your toddler. The first time I took both kids to my bible study, I went to drop LJ off in childcare and realized I couldn’t leave the diaper bag with him because I needed it for Vi! So I clipped his diaper name tag to one single diaper and handed it to his teacher like “uhh, sorry this is the best I can do.” Such a rookie mistake! I purchased this simple clutch and it’s the perfect size for a small pack of wipes and a few diapers (and even his water and one snack if needed). I keep it stocked with wipes and 1-2 diapers and store it next to my diaper bag; any time I’m going somewhere where LJ and Vi will be in separate places, I throw it in with my main diaper bag and then have something to leave with LJ. So much easier!

Diaper Bag 8Diaper Bag 4

Diaper Bag 5

As you can see, I still carry quite a few things around in the diaper bag. I’m prepared for the situations that are most likely to happen (hangry toddler, messy diapers, etc) but I’m not going to stress out about every possible situation (if LJ gets bored or restless, I don’t need 7 toys in the bag to distract him because we’ll typically be able to find something in our surroundings to focus on). That’s what works for me!

What are your purse or diaper bag must haves?

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Take Two

Well, it’s been a hot minute. Or four years worth of minutes. 

In June 2014, I took a step back from my little blog for three major reasons. First, it takes a lot of time to maintain a blog and I was in a crazy busy season where I was working full time while my husband was in school full time and blogging was just too much to throw into the mix.  Second, I felt a little uninspired. I couldn’t channel all the ideas swirling in my head into a cohesive vision for what my blog should be. My posts started to feel random, I never really had a plan for what was next, and it just felt chaotic (exactly the opposite of what I was going for). The last reason I decided to stop was because I felt a little uneasy with drawing a line for how much to share. Our world is becoming SO interconnected through technology and I felt like many of the bloggers I followed were sharing details of their family and lives and I wasn’t comfortable doing the same.

So without really intending to, I just stopped. I didn’t realize my anniversary post would be “it” for the blog. It was summer and we took a vacation and upon returning … the blog just fell by the wayside. I kept up my Instagram account for a few more months but that gradually faded out too.

April 2015 came around and I got an email that it was time to renew my domain name. I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted to do with the blog so I just paid the fee and didn’t think about it for the rest of the year. This happened again in 2016. And 2017. And each year, I thought “you know, I’m not touching that blog anymore – why am I paying this fee? I should just give it up.” But each time, something held me back from totally letting go and I kept on paying the domain fee. Not only that, but the word “simplify” has become a bit of a mantra for me and has stuck around all these years (it was even the word I chose to practice when I took a calligraphy class a few months ago).

Simplify the Chaos - calligraphy art class

This April, that email came again and I finally spent some real time analyzing why I kept paying for something I wasn’t ever using. I told myself I needed to start seriously considering why I couldn’t seem to let this go and promised myself that by 2019 I would either be blogging again or would stop paying for the domain.

I was listening to a podcast one day (Happier with Gretchen Rubin) and it suggested a “happiness hack” of thinking back to what you enjoyed doing when you were 10 years old. The argument was that you would probably still enjoy that activity now. I thought back and two things burst into my mind: reading and writing. I loved both so much when I was 10 years old. And I realized that I still read a ton today, but I don’t write. And a little niggling thought came into my mind: this is what your blog is for.

I have spent a lot of time over the past few months dedicating real thought to what I want for this space. I feel like this time around, I know what I’m getting into a little better and have a better plan for time management and vision.  My life has changed significantly since my last post four-plus years ago and therefore this blog will look different. The month of September will have a lot of “catch-up” posts to bring you up to speed with my life but once we’re caught up, I will proceed with two blog posts a week (Tuesday/Thursday) and I plan to keep certain aspects of my family’s life private (such as full names and the specific town we live in).  I’m very excited and I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!

Wedding Wednesday: Flowers

Whew!

I’m smack dab in the middle of the first week of standardized testing (yay . . . not) so the past few weeks at school have been crazy with reviews/test preparation. Just need to push through SIXTEEN more days at school and I’ll be on summer vacation!

Now, on to my weekly wedding post!

Wedding Wednesday: The Flowers

I should start by saying I know absolutely nothing about flowers. I went into my first meeting with my florist equipped with some pictures from Pinterest and not much else. I couldn’t pinpoint a “vision” and I was thrilled when the florist looked at my pictures, listened to what I liked about each floral arrangement, and put together fabulous ideas for me!

Since I still know very little about flowers, I’ll just share some pictures and attempt to remember what each one was. 🙂

Let’s start with my bouquet! (Once again, all photos are courtesy of the fabulous Rothwell Photography)

yellow and green weddingBasically, my vision for the florist was “yellow and green flowers that are super fun.” Needless to say I think she nailed it! And I love the surprise pop of blue!

yellow and green wedding bouquetMy bouquet was made up of hydrangeas (my fav flower!), chrysanthemum fujis, spray roses, and hypericum berries. Probably some other stuff too but I can’t remember anymore. I loved how colorful and fun it was!

My bridesmaids had bouquets made up of different colors of hydrangeas. They had blue, yellow, green, and white — they all looked perfect!

navy, green, and yellow wedding partyAs I wrote in a previous post, a huge part of our decorations were wine bottles. I bought various flowers from my florist in bulk and stuck them in the wine bottles. Voila! Super easy and way cheaper than paying for a huge arrangement.

We did this on the stumps lining our aisles and in our centerpieces. I think it really tied everything together!

yellow and green wedding centerpieces yellow and green weddingIn addition to spider fujis to match my bouquet, we used snapdragons and baby’s breath (plus a random green I don’t remember the name of) in the bottles. We also used some Queen Anne’s Lace that I picked from a field fo’ free! Score!

yellow and green bride and groom tableMy friend arranged the flowers in the jug that sat on our table — I loved it!

And that’s it! We kept the flowers pretty simple but less is more, right?

Happy Wednesday!

***

And lastly, today’s outfit!

leopard cardigan, gray pencil skirt, black peep-toed pumpsLeopard Cardigan: Maurices (exact old; similar here and here) ~ Black cami underneath: Express (similar here) ~ Grey pencil Skirt: via Ross (similar options here, here and here) ~ Pumps: via DSW (exact old; similar here) ~ Stretch bracelets: Express (exact old; cute alternative here)

Wedding Wednesday: Reception Decorations

Jambo!!

Today is the TEN YEAR anniversary of the premiere of “Mean Girls.”

Wait.

Mean Girls

WHAT!?

Yes, it’s true. Regina George came into my life ten years ago!

Regina GeorgeI seriously love this movie! My friends and I watched it at least once a week in high school — I can quote Every. Single. Line. And it makes me laugh every time I watch it! It is an absolute classic in my book! So of course, I’m celebrating it’s 10th anniversary by . . . wearing pink (because it’s Wednesday, and that’s a rule) and watching it for the trillionth time!

Because of this oh-so-fetch celebration, I’m gonna make my weekly Wednesday post nice and quick!

Wedding Wednesday

My final decoration post is about our wedding reception. We kept things nice and simple — a big white tent in the front yard of the farmhouse with a few decorations to add pops of color! Once again, all photographs are copyright the AMAZING Rothwell Photography.

First of all, MAD PROPS to my awesome hubby for creating these paper flower poms:

DIY flower pom for weddingThe boy spent hours creating 30 of these babies! Each petal was a piece of paper and you need 5 petals to make a flower, 12 flowers to make one pom. Do the math — that’s 1800 flower petals to fold!! I was so impressed with how they all turned out though. We got tons of compliments on them! All we did was hang them from fishing line across the length of the tent at varying heights (we used a hold punch and those paper reinforcer donut hole stickers to hang them).

DIY flower poms :: wedding ceremony decorationSimple and beautiful! And I love the way they pulled everything together without trying too hard.

First DanceThis was one of my favorite shots of our first dance — mostly because I love the way J and I are laughing and loving life in that moment but also because the poms look sa-weet! I absolutely love how they turned out! So proud of my crafty hubby (even if he did only do it to have an excuse to take study breaks! Haha!) See the full directions here for how to make them.

Really the only other reception decoration was the centerpieces. Each table’s set-up looked like this:

DIY wedding centerpieces :: yellow and green wine bottles and tree stumps-Square piece of green burlap

-Large stump cut to a height of about 2 inches (thanks dad!)

-five wine bottles (more on this below!)

-a few bits of moss around the stump

-one small stump with a notch cut in it for cardstock (again, thanks dad!)

-table numbers (each table had a fun fact about us corresponding to the table number i.e. Table 7 — the number of states we’ve traveled to together. It was a fun way for our guests to learn a little more about us as a couple!)

-green, yellow, and white flowers (got these in bulk from my florist. They were all the same types of flowers incorporated into my bouquet and other flower arrangements, which helped tie everything together. By buying in bulk and assembling ourselves, we saved a ton of money too! Yay!)

Justin and my table looked a little bit different. We didn’t have a bridal party table because we wanted our attendants to sit with their significant others so we had our own simple little table:

Simple bride and groom tableA nice green tinted jug with flowers and some Mr. & Mrs. stumps (made last minute with a sharpie marker and some extra little stumps!) kept things sweet and simple. We knew we wouldn’t be at the table that much anyways so why overdo it?

We hung a few strands of white Christmas lights around the tent and called it good! Easy peasy!

Wine Bottles

The wine bottles was a simple project. We collected tons of wine bottles from family, friends, restaurants (not kidding), and anywhere else I could find them. Some were already tinted green and yellowish, so we left them as is! Labels are easily removed by soaking the bottles in warm water (make sure the water inside the bottles is really warm!) and removing it with a kitchen scraper.

The bottles that were clear or a color other than green or yellow got spray painted. I used lime green, yellow, and cream (hotel vanilla, technically) spray paint. I didn’t take pictures of the process but it was super simple:

1- Lay out newspapers in a large space outside. Make sure to lay out a lot of newspapers — the spray paint goes further than you’d think!

2- Place the clean, dry bottle on the newspaper (my dad eventually crafted a bottle holder out of a block of wood and doll rods but most of the bottles were sprayed on paper).

3- Spray thin coats of paint on the bottles. I waited 30 minutes in between coats and each wine bottle got at least 3 coats.

4- Let the bottles dry for at least an hour or two, depending on the temperature of wherever you’re spraying them.

5- Smile! You’re done!

We used rubber bands to create a striped look on some of the bottles (see white bottle above). To do this, all you have to do is wrap a bunch of rubber bands in varying sizes around the bottle between steps 2 & 3. It looks better in the end if the bands are lying flat against the glass and not twisted. I cut the bands off with scissors then — do not remove the bands until the paint is completely 100% dry!

And there you have it! Super easy and it looked great! Plus now the wine bottles make great decorations around the house!

Have a great hump day! Love, me and Mrs. George 🙂

Mean Girls***

Today’s outfit. Unfortunately, there was no pink involved so I couldn’t sit with the Plastics at lunch . . .
Maxi dress & cardigan :: teacher outfit blog Dress: via Ross (no longer available) ~ Cardigan: Target (exact here) ~ Shoes: Nine West (no longer available; similar here)

 

Wedding Wednesday: Wedding Party

So yesterday after school I had a meeting and then Justin and I had friends over for dinner. No time to blog! Therefore, “Wedding Wednesday” is happening on a Thursday. And in my own little blog world, there is nothing wrong with that. 🙂 So let’s get to it!

Wedding Wednesday: The Wedding Party!

Since the last two Wedding Wednesdays have focused on what Justin and I wore, I decided to keep that theme going and discuss the bridal party!

From day one of planning, Justin and I knew that we wanted our wedding to be FUN — our goal was for the whole day to just be a celebration! Nothing super fancy and stiff because that’s just not us. We wanted our wedding party to be comfortable and happy so we gave them a lot of freedom with their outfits. I did this mostly because I have been in a few weddings and I’ve learned a few things. For starters, while it is a HUGE honor to be part of this special day in someone’s life, it is really kind of annoying to have to shell out $200 for a dress/suit you hate and will never wear again. Nothing against the bride or groom, but if their style is not yours, it’s hard to spend lots of money on clothes that aren’t “you.” In addition to that, everyone in our party was either a young professional just starting a career, starting graduate school, or still in college (a.k.a. BROKE). Our wedding took place in my hometown and many had to take off work and pay for travel just to get there. We didn’t want to put a financial burden on anyone so letting them pick their outfits ensured they not only felt comfortable in what they wore but also spent an amount of money that was comfortable to them.

Here are the results (all photos copyright the incredible Rothwell Photography):

Copyright Rothwell Photography

I absolutely LOVED how everything came together! I’m so glad everyone put some personality into their outfits.

While I was very pleased with how everything turned out, there are some things you should consider if you’re giving your wedding party freedom in choosing their own outfits. Here are my top tips:

1. Give your attendants clear guidelines. For my girls, I told them to pick a knee-length navy dress. Since my family is fairly conservative, I asked that hemlines be no more than one inch above the knee. I did not care about sleeves/strapless/neckline other than to ask that there not be cleavage. I also sent them pictures of dresses I liked as examples and a few of them ended up buying dresses that I sent as examples. SHOW THEM PICTURES! They might think they know what you’re looking for but they could be on the wrong page — make sure they see the type of overall look you’re going for with your wedding.  I also told them to pick nude shoes that they would be comfortable in (flats, heels, sandals, etc) but asked that they not be flip flops.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

For the guys, I asked them to wear khaki dress pants and brown shoes (we provided the shirt and suspenders). I did not care about color or style, although in hindsight I wish I had told them not to wear pants with pleats because that ended up looking a little strange with suspenders. For the tie, I sent them a link to the Bows N Ties website because they organize their ties into color palettes. I asked them to choose a tie from a specific page that they liked and would want to wear again.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

2. Make sure to approve of all outfits . . . I had my girls text me a picture of their chosen dress before they bought it just to make sure it was okay. They were all really willing to do this because no one wanted to stick out by being the oddball in a dress that looked “off” from the party. I didn’t ask them to, but most also texted a pic of the shoes to make sure they got approval. We also approved all the guys ties before they bought them to make sure there weren’t a ton of duplicates or one that clashed.

3. . . . but be flexible with individual styles. One of our ushers felt that he didn’t look quite right in thicker ties and wanted a skinny tie that was not offered on the website we sent. We told him to order one he liked (but just double check with us before buying to make sure the color worked) and felt comfortable in. Be willing to consider all requests, and think about what is really important. You might not love lace, but if your sister picks a dress with lace that she loves and is happy in and it fits in with the rest of the dresses, that might be worth letting slide even if it’s not your favorite. If you feel yourself wanting to control the dresses on a micro-detail level, letting your attendants pick their dress might not be the right move for you.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

4. If you don’t want to give up complete control, consider allowing attendants to choose details. For example, consider a dress that can be worn multiple ways (strapless, one shoulder, spaghetti strap) to let each girl wear what they’re comfortable in. Or allow them to choose their jewelry or shoes even if they’re all wearing the same dress. I bought my girls each a piece of jewelry, but I let them pick it out so it’d be something they’d wear again and again and think of our wedding!

5. Make sure it all “fits” by choosing a few details to keep consistent. Giving too much freedom can look chaotic or keep your party from looking like a cohesive unit. For example, if you just want attendants to wear a blue dress with no other guidelines, they might all wear something totally different and not look like they belong together. I’ve seen weddings where you can’t even tell who is in the party because the outfits are all so different. If that’s your style, go for it! For me, I wanted my party to still look coordinated. I had the girls all in dresses of the same length and the guys in the same shirt and suspenders. While our ushers wore white shirts and our groomsmen green, their looks still coordinated well together! Because there was so much variation in style of dress, shade of khaki pant, and style of tie, the party needed a few key details to be the same in order to “fit” together.

Copyright Rothwell Photography

I hope you have found this list helpful! I had many compliments from guests (and even some people who weren’t at our wedding but saw pictures) on how great our party looked and several attendants commented on how much they appreciated getting to choose a style that they liked and would wear again . . . AND that fit their budget! I highly recommend considering letting your attendants in on some of the decision making — I’m really glad we did!

Previous Wedding Wednesday Posts:

The Suit

The Dress

The Planning

My #1 Advice

 ***

I was feeling polka dots for today’s outfit so I kept piling on the dots! Details to available pieces on Wear page.

teacher outfit blog :: simplifythechaos.comSweater: New York & Company

Blouse: New York & Company

Skirt: Kohls

Tights: Express

Pumps: Maurices

Necklace: Forever 21

Valentine’s + Roanoke Trip

Hi there!

I have been off the grid lately and it’s been great! Between Wednesday and Thursday of last week we got over a foot of snow so I had no school Thursday and Friday. I spent the whole time unplugged — just hanging out with the hubby and pups! It was great! I also did quite a bit of crafting for a Valentine’s Dinner I’m helping put on tonight (more details to come in a later post!) which was lots of fun.

Valentine’s Day

Justin and I tend to keep it fun and simple for Valentine’s Day.  We don’t like to spend a lot of money so we always try to find something to do that is inexpensive and involves spending a lot of time together.

Our V-Day date night involved a trip to the store to buy our favorite candies from childhood that we never allow ourselves to splurge on (cotton candy for him, cookie dough bites for me!) and we also got a “game.” Technically, we bought a bunch of dice but we ended up playing Yahtzee for hours with the dice. It was the perfect, fun way to celebrate with each other! (And cost less than $10–whoohoo!)

Inexpensive Valentine's Date NightIn addition, one night last week I came home from school to this awesome display:

Valentine's TableJustin had volunteered at a local nursing home to help make Valentines with the residents and he made one for me (in addition to cutting out a ton of paper hearts). He also had the table all set and ready to go! I loved it!

Roanoke: Center in the Square

After Justin was finished with classes on Friday we took off on a road trip to Roanoke, VA to visit a college buddy of J’s. We spent the weekend hanging out at a local dog park (our friends have a puppy named Charlie and all the dogs got along SO well!), checking out local restaurants, and exploring downtown Roanoke.

My favorite part of our downtown exploration was a science museum called Center in the Square. There was quite a long wait for our lunch spot so we decided to kill some time by walking across the street and checking out the museum. We didn’t have time to see every exhibit (they had TONS) but we made the most of the time we had!

We first checked out the seahorses. These creatures are so cool!

Seahorse Tank Seahorses have a difficult time navigating water and it was fun to watch them swim around!

SeahorseNext up were jellyfish. These are absolutely fascinating to see up close! The tank had lights that changed color, which made the jellyfish change looks — super awesome!

Jellyfish TankPossibly my favorite part of the aquarium was the giant fish tank. It had plenty of different fish, including “Dory” and “Nemo” (I just love that movie!) and was so beautiful.

Fish tankFish TankI could’ve sat and watched these fish all day! (PS- Did I mention all this aquarium viewing was FREE!? There is no charge for this part of the museum!!)

Next up, we bought admission tickets and went upstairs to the butterfly exhibit.

Center in the SquareCheck out this staircase leading upstairs! Sweet, huh?

Walking into the butterfly garden was like walking into a tropical paradise. It was super warm and humid and I felt like I was in the middle of the rainforest. It was awesome!

Butterfly GardenThere were over 300 butterflies fluttering about in the garden and it was so amazing to see all the different types! So many colors! It was difficult to snap pictures of them but I got a few good ones.

Butterfly Garden Butterfly Garden Butterfly GardenThe last one was my favorite!

There were small plates of fruit around the garden for the butterflies to eat in addition to the nectar from all the flowers.

Butterfly GardenThe whole experience was super fun and I wish we would have had more time to explore the museum. Just peeking in at all the other exhibits showed me that the museum has a LOT more to offer! All in all, I would highly recommend checking Center in the Square out if you are ever in Roanoke!

Have a wonderful Monday!

***

Shades of black and gray for today’s outfit! Links to available pieces on the wear page.

teacher outfit blog :: simplifythechaos.comCardigan: Maurices

Blouse: New York & Company

Skirt: Via Ross

Tights: Express

Pumps: Maurices

Necklace: Purple Peridot

Wedding Wednesday: Begin Planning!

Well, my streak of consecutive days at school over the past two weeks will stop at one, since we had no school again today due to icy roads. I am starting to get really stir crazy around the house! At least I am getting lots of snuggle time with my fur babies!

Wedding Wednesday: The Planning Process

A few days after Justin and I got engaged, I created three different documents on my computer to help with organizing the planning process. Since I am still fairly new to blogging and so not tech-savvy, I was not able to figure out how to upload the actual documents I used to my blog. I originally wanted readers to be able to download each file for themselves if they found any of my documents to be useful; however, actually completing that was beyond my realm of knowledge. I therefore did the closest thing (within my capabilities) and took screen shots of my documents to upload as pictures. Lame, I know. But hopefully it still gives you an idea of how I set things up in case you’d like to set up something similar.

Guest List

The first document I created was our guest list. I actually downloaded my guest list straight from The Knot’s wedding planning website so rather than screen shot my guest list, I’ll just include the link to their list template here so you can download it if you wish. We actually signed up for a wedding website through weddingchannel.com (which is now The Knot) and were able to upload our guest list straight to the site. This made it SUPER easy to have guests RSVP through our wedding website and eliminated the need for RSVP cards. We got an e-mail notification when each guest RSVPed — SO NICE! I highly recommend going this route–it’s simple and f-r-e-e.

**Sidenote: The guest list is one of the hardest things to do. It seems easy enough, but when you have to combine you and your hubby’s friends, family, and all the random extras, it can get big fast. I suggest carving out a significant chunk of time to just sit down and list everyone you even might want to invite. (Justin and I did this on a seven-hour road trip shortly after we got engaged–I wanted to get it out of the way!) Then start to systematically work through and take people out. Don’t be afraid of hurting feelings; it’s your wedding!! And in reality, you simply can’t invite every single person in your life.

A good rule of thumb is to expect about 75% of the guests you invite to RSVP “yes.”

Wedding Budget

Wedding Budget

With this one, I created a spreadsheet in Excel and listed every possible expense I could think of. I categorized the expenses into logical groups (i.e. stationary, reception) and listed all the details underneath. I had an “estimated cost” column to list how much money we were going to budget for each item and then I also had an “actual cost” column to list how much the item actually cost.

I set up the spreadsheet to have a “Grand Total” at the bottom and inserted a formula for the box to automatically update and add up the total in each column so I could easily see if I was under/over budget. This made it SUPER easy to keep track of our money and also helped me see where we could try to cut costs.

Contact List

I cannot stress this enough. A master contact list is an absolute must. It is hard to keep track of everyone’s numbers and information and you will want to be able to stay in touch with your vendors in case you have questions or need to confirm details with them.

Wedding Contacts

 

My master list was super simple. Just an Excel sheet with all the vendors and their essential contact information listed, and also columns to keep track of payments. Some vendors require deposits, others want an additional portion of the payment before the wedding. It’s easy to lose track of who you have paid already and when payments are needed so this is a simple way to keep all the information in one place!

Bonus: Wedding Timeline

Another helpful document to have at the beginning of your planning is a wedding timeline. My sister-in-law gave me a copy of Real Simple’s wedding planner and I used the timeline they had but you can find many online. This was a very helpful tool to keep me on track and help me to know when to do things. Had I not had this, I would probably have had way too many things to do close to the wedding and it would have been stressful. I’m so glad I spaced everything out and had some time to breathe!

I hope you find some of these tools helpful! Feel free to take my ideas and tweak them for your own use 🙂

Happy “hump” day!

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No school, no outfit of the day. Even if there’s no school tomorrow, I need to put on some real clothes!!