So you’ve decided to plan a wedding.
Most likely this means you’ve found someone you love and want to spend the rest of your life with. Congratulations! That’s rare and beautiful and romantic and…not really what weddings are about. Weddings are about accommodating up to several hundred members of your community who need to be fed, watered, entertained, and provided with places to go to the bathroom. Ideally, sometime during this event you will have beautiful, romantic moment. Whether you’re relaxed enough to register this moment will depend significantly on how well you’ve set yourself up for success in the previous months.
But the days of the cookie-cutter wedding is over, and planning advice is no longer one-size-fits-all. Below, we’ve paired some of our favorite wedding planning books with their ideal betrotheds—just scroll down to find your perfect match.
If you can’t afford a wedding planner, but you want one anyway…
The Bride’s Essential Wedding Planner, by Amy Nebens
This is a wedding in a binder. And not just a wedding in a binder—a wedding in an attractive binder which can later do double duty as a memento. The Bride’s Essential Wedding Planner has every checklist and worksheet you can think of, plus places to stow business cards you collect, DIY ideas, calendars, and seating charts, all conveniently tabbed and pre-organized. If you were the kind of child who really looked forward to back-to-school office supply shopping, this is the book for you, but it’s also perfect if you’re feeling overwhelmed and just need something to hold your hand.
The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer, by Carley Roney & the editors of TheKnot.com
Another one-stop shop, this cute little binder comes from the wedding experts at The Knot, so it’s probably as close to getting an actual wedding planner as you’ll manage without shelling out the big bucks. The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner is simple and neatly organized—it comes with pockets for the tear sheets you’ll get from venues and caterers, and it’s chock-full of inspiration and, even better, how to implement the inspiration once you get it. The perforated color swatch page for choosing your wedding palette is particularly cool. And there are stickers!
If you’re an Instagram celebrity…
Stone Fox Bride: Love, Lust, and Wedding Planning for the Wild at Heart, by Molly Rosen Guy
Stone Fox Bride won me over on page one, where it instructs its readers to begin by doing nothing. This is how I like to begin everything, and I suspect I am not alone. But the rest of the pages are amazing too: filled with stunning photography and illustrations, with a great blend of celebrity and DIY inspiration that’s low stress while still being Instagram friendly. The coolest part? The flowers section organized by style icons. You knowyou want an Elizabeth Taylor inspired bouquet.
If you’re seriously practical…
All the Essentials Wedding Planner: The Ultimate Tool for Organizing Your Big Day, by Alison Hotchkiss
All the Essentials combines fresh, modern design with a pragmatic approach to planning. Along with features like downloadable templates and sample floor plans, the book includes a section on contracts and how to read them—a must for anyone dealing with multiple vendors.
A Practical Wedding Planner: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Wedding You Want with the Budget You’ve Got (without Losing Your Mind in the Process), by Meg Keene
Now this is the book for the major-league pragmatist. If you don’t care about the soft stuff and your bottom line is numbers, A Practical Wedding Planner has your back. This has your important checklists and to-do lists, with an emphasis on meeting your budget and keeping your perspective. It even comes with pie-charts!
If you’re broke AF…
The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide, by Dana LaRue
If you made the mistake of falling in love while still drowning in student loan debt, but you still want a wedding, The Broke-Ass Bride’s Wedding Guide is here to help. With sample budgets down to $1000, fun ideas for cheap engagement parties, and practical DIY projects, you won’t need to take out another loan for your big day.
If you run an Etsy store…
Handmade Weddings: More Than 50 Crafts to Personalize Your Big Day, by Eunice Moyle, Sabrina Moyle, and Shana Faust
Okay, you super crafty types who can whip up a Met Gala ball gown out of two hefty bags and a Ziploc of dog hair, I see you. With over 50 DIY projects, Handmade Weddings is perfect for those who want to bring their own individual flair to their wedding. Cleverly organized by style—are you “girly romantic” or “organic minimal”?—the book includes ideas for favors, invitations, decorations, and even cake toppers.
If you live for lists…
The Knot Book of Wedding Lists: The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Day, Down to the Smallest Detail, by Carley Roney and the Editors of TheKnot.com
A great book on its own or in combination with another book on this list, The Knot Book of Wedding Lists compiles all the crucial wedding planning checklists, timelines, and to-do’s into a book you can tote with you to vendor meetings and venue tours. Basically it’s like having wedding cliff-notes in your pocket.
The Bride’s Essential Book of Lists: Things to Do & Questions to Ask, by Amy Nebens
The companion list book to The Bride’s Essential Wedding Planner, this petite book is nicely set up for working on-the-go with comparison worksheets, check-lists, and pockets for business cards, tear sheets, and vendor samples. The Bride’s Essential Book of Lists even takes you past the wedding day with planning tips for the honeymoon.
And if you have no idea what you’re doing…
Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, by Judith Martin and Jacobina Martin
Weddings are a trying time, and planning them can be overwhelming. Who better to turn to than Miss Manners herself, who, along with her newlywed daughter, take on today’s enormous weddings and urge those about to walk down the aisle to do so in calm, dignified, and affordable manner. Featuring Judith Martin’s trademark humor, Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding is a good place to check in before you embark on the insanity of wedding planning.
How are you planning for the big day?