While planning my wedding I was (still am) a full-time doctoral student and worked about 25 hours a week. A question I receive frequently is, how did you stay on top of it all?
First of all, believe me when I say every so often wedding planning lead me to feel like this.
Honestly, those freak out moments were far and few between. I really loved wedding planning and I believe the key is staying organized. These days there are so many resources out there to help you stay organized. Most websites offer you places to store ideas, your guest list, even a table mapper for the reception. However, my tired and true resources are likely items you may already have.
First, I think this goes without saying, but use the computer! Get to know common applications like Excel. This is key for composing your guest list. It is so easy to enter the address in Excel and then do a simple mail merge for labels or envelopes. It's simple to make changes every time you add someone to the list or if someone moves. You will need to use this file over and over again, engagement parties, showers, thank you cards, etc. so make sure you keep a backup.
Besides for using the computer for your guest list. There are so many amazing blogs and websites out there that are just full of inspiration. Make a folder on your desktop and simple save all the images you see and love. Eventually you'll have so many images that you'll have to separate them in to categories. When meeting with your vendors simply upload the images you like onto a flash drive and bring them with you the appointment. They will be better prepared to give you amazing ideas if they know what you LOVE.
Again, make sure you save everything twice, no one wants to be begging the guy at Best Buy to save your computer.
My other tired and true item was a plain white 3 ring binder. Of course, ready made binders are out there. Martha Stewart has a great one and if you decide to go this route you will be well taken care of. I'd suggest trying to get a binder that allows you to add and take sections out. You want to be able to customize it to meet your needs. If you don't want to shell out the 40 bucks to get a ready made binder, that's more than ok. Like I said I used just a regular 3 inch binder. You can make a great binder with just a 5 dollar 3 inch binder from your local office supply store. Get some tabs and folders and you are good to go. The binder is a great place to keep an updated version of your guest list, an all important to do list, photos you've clipped from magazines, and contracts. You are going to want to have a copy of every contract you sign with the phone numbers and name of every vendor.
These are pretty basic organization techniques, but they are a great place to start. We'd love to help a bit more, if you have questions, send them our way!