Planning a Wedding with a Filofax
A month before I got engaged to my wonderful now-husband, my dad had given me his battered old black Filofax. I had never had a Filofax before, but it instantly appealed to my instinct to colour-code anything that moves.
Unless something is simple to use and actually helps organise my life, I get bored of it fairly quickly. I borrowed a PDA once and forgot about it after playing with it a few times. Trying to put a calendar on my phone lasted a few weeks. Don’t misunderstand me, I love technology (just you try taking my iPad from me) but if it only gets used while the novelty hasn’t worn off, it isn’t worth it!
My dad’s battered old black Filofax, however, is still with me. Well, in spirit: finally, 30 years after it was bought, the hinges came loose. So it has been retired, and replaced with a lovely new one from the current Filofax range.
It proved invaluable to me in organising our wedding – so much so that when Filofax asked if anyone would like to write a blog on planning a wedding with a Filofax, I pretty much jumped up and down and shouted ‘Me! Me!’
If you are planning a wedding, first of all: congratulations!
Second of all: I know that you don’t have time to scroll through mountains of advice. You’re probably getting lots already. So I’m going to keep each blog post brief.
I’ll go through the Filofax products that I think are most useful in planning a wedding.
I’ll add in a few thoughts on how I survived the whole process!
And I’ll illustrate with sketches and photos.
It’s the sort of advice I would have wanted. I hope you find it helpful.
How to plan a marriage with a Filofax
Weddings are brilliant. If you’re at the stage of wedding planning where you find this difficult to believe, then trust me: your wedding day will be a very, very happy one!
But none of us get married for the wedding day. We get married to spend the rest of lives with the person we’ve chosen to love, and who (goodness knows why) has chosen to love us. The wedding day, the way I see it, is just a big party to celebrate that.
And so one of the things I found most useful about planning our wedding with a Filofax was making sure the wedding preparations didn’t get in the way of spending quality time with my fiancé.
We decided we would do a ‘marriage preparation course’ during our engagement. My reasoning was: you have driving lessons before driving, so why not marriage lessons!? The course turned out to be really helpful, and one of the best pieces of advice we were given was to try and have a ‘date night’ every week. A night where we just spent quality time together: no work, no wedding planning. I got out my Filofax, as did my fiancé – I’d become such a convert I’d got him one as a birthday present! – and we both went through the weeks up until the wedding planning in a date night each week.
It meant that our relationship didn’t turning into a wedding planning machine, and we continued to grow together as a couple as we got closer and closer to our marriage.
How to plan a wedding with a Filofax:
Plan in a ‘date night’ once a week in the diary
Make an ideas page of fun dates to have
Perhaps make a note of advice that other married couples give you
Keep mementoes from your ‘engagement dates’ in a plastic folder – cinema tickets, pressed flowers, funny photos… this will make a lovely record. You could even stick these into your wedding photo album.
Nostalgia and Family
When I got engaged, my fiancé and I both loved in London. My parents were a two and a half hour train journey away, which worked for the occasional visit, but not for regular planning meetings.
So I loved having my dad’s old Filofax, because it made me feel a bit closer to my family. It was also oddly comforting to be carrying around something which was older than I was!
My fiancé and I were both the first to get married of our siblings, and we didn’t want our families to feel that they were losing us, even though things were going to change. So in the lead up to the wedding we planned in visits to both families, and times when our families could visit London to shop for the dress/suit, or plan flowers/decorations, and catch up.
The distance was in some ways very good for that essential wedding tool: delegation! I asked my mum to do the flowers, and my dad to help with the seating plans. And because I couldn’t see them all the time, I had no choice but to leave them to it! It was a great relief to let go of organising some parts of the wedding, and not to have to think about them. Of course we still planned together by phone and by email, but that was great for making sure we caught up with each other regularly.
How to plan a wedding with a Filofax:
Arrange times to call or visit your family and catch up, and put them in your diary
Make a list of who is responsible for what (‘Mum: Flowers’, ‘Dad: Seating plan’) so you can keep track
Keep a memory in your Filofax: perhaps a family photo, or something that belonged to a relative. When you get married things will probably change a little: it can be good to mentally prepare for this.
How to plan the wedding you want
It is surprisingly easy to get caught up in wedding planning. I had decided beforehand that I wasn’t going to be one of those crazy brides that have a nervous breakdown because the napkins hadn’t been folded just how they had imagined. But in the long list of things I didn’t want our wedding to be, I forgot to think about how I would like our wedding to be.
Finally, when getting rather stressed at two months to go, I sat down and worked out what I would really, really like. I was surprised when the list turned out to be rather short!
I wanted to get married
I wanted to look beautiful, but natural – I wanted to look like me!
I love hospitality, so I wanted our family and friends to have a nice time and enjoy themselves, and feel involved
I wanted our families in particular to feel like they had a role to play and weren’t just bystanders
On the other hand I didn’t want to be a slave to people’s expectations; I wanted us to have a fun day too
I didn’t want it to go on forever – I wanted to get to our new home early (we left on our honeymoon a few days after the wedding) so we could relax and not just want to fall asleep!
I then asked my fiancé what he would really like. Turned out it was about the same.
Keeping this list in the front of the ‘wedding’ section of my Filofax helped put things in perspective. Every time I felt the stress levels rising because something hadn’t been done yet, or something had gone wrong (which didn’t happen all the time, but it did happen), I looked at the list and realised that most of the time the problems weren’t arising in the areas I cared about!
How to plan a wedding with a Filofax:
Make a list of what is important to you and your fiancé/fiancée, and put it in front of the wedding section of your Filofax
Parts of a Filofax: the Diary
In looking at how to use different parts of a Filofax, I’m mainly going to use sketches. That’s because everyone does things a little differently, and I don’t want your own creativity to be bludgeoned with my way of doing it!
If you don’t understand why anyone would have a diary, I am very impressed. I would never remember any appointments or meetings or coffees if they were written in my diary. My diary reminds me what I’m doing today, and helps me plan what I want to be doing tomorrow, next week, and next year.
I’ve already written about setting aside time in your diary for important things spending quality time with your fiancé and catching up with family. That principle can extend to anything that you want to prioritise. (Or have to prioritise: wedding dresses don’t fit themselves!)
Filofax make all sorts of diaries, and they have plenty of pictures on their website, so take a look. Some are a day-per-page, some a week over two pages, some a week per page… I wouldn’t recommend the month-per-page or year planner for appointments, as I need a bit more space, but both are very useful for seeing the major things happening in any given month.
Take a look at my sketch of an example diary page. I’ve got an appointment with the dress maker, and made a note of a question to ask. I’ve also put a general reminder in the ‘notes’ section.
You probably know how to use a diary, but the sketch is just to give you some ideas. The best thing about a Filofax is that it’s so personal – everyone uses it to organise themselves is a slightly different way.
Parts of a Filofax: Day Planners and To-Do Lists
These are brilliant. Filofax sell them ready to go, but if you’re a bride on a budget you can just buy a load of notes pages and draw the little boxes yourself. (Is there anything more satisfying than ticking a box? Hmm, I feel like there should be, but it’s definitely in my top 10.)
For a wedding, you can make different categories of to do list, e.g. ‘General’, ‘Decorations’, ‘Food’ etc. Make lists, tick things off, mark them ‘U’ (for ‘urgent’) if you need to prioritise them, and look back on your achievements with pride.
Day planners are useful if you have a particularly jam-packed day and need to remind yourself of the things you need to get done, or the different appointments you have. If you have a day-per-page diary writing lots of appointments or reminders in isn’t a problem; it is if like me you have a week-on-two-pages!
Parts of a Filofax: Plastic wallets
Particularly useful for collecting ideas from magazines – rip it out, keep it safe – or scraps of fabric or ribbon. You can get them with a zip for extra security. (To protect the bits and bobs from escaping that is. Thieves probably aren’t interested in a picture of some mice dressed in wedding gear on a cheesecake, even if you found it adorable.)
Parts of a Filofax: Note paper and blank paper
Staple pieces of kit!
Blank paper is brilliant for generating ideas, or noting down ideas when they pop into your head. It’s the home of spider diagrams or just diagrams of a wedding venue. Or in my case, as I decided to make my own dress (really fun, but slightly nerve-wrecking!) I used it for making doodles of designs.
Note paper of course can be used for these things – let’s not be slaves to straight lines – but it’s more useful for longer pieces of writing: taking longer notes, planning out a speech, drafting thank you letters.
Parts of a Filofax: Dividers
These are wonderful because they save you the hassle of flicking through your Filofax until you’re at the right bit.
I use my Filofax for financial notes, my diary, wedding planning (as was), scribbling down ideas, and keeping to do lists. I want to be able to find any of those sections quickly!
Another useful piece of kit is the sticky notes Filofax make, because you might want to temporarily mark a certain page for follow up, or if you’re currently focusing on flowers you might want to keep the flower-planning page easily accessible.
(Bride on a budget: cutting up normal sticky notes will work just as well.)
Parts of a Filofax: Budget sheets
Keeping track of the budget of a wedding is necessary, and (bear with me) it can be fun, as you’re forced to be creative with less than you might have liked. Some of my best ideas for our wedding were ‘we’ll have to think again’ ideas after we realised our first thought wasn’t affordable!
Filofax’s pages for financial planning are particularly helpful because they help you track whether you’re paid for something by cash or card. If you don’t keep an eye on both types of spending in the same grand total, you can get a bit of a shock when you add them up.
Nikki on Twitter: @nicolasarahbell