First comes love, then comes… planning! From buying a wedding dress to choosing the most delicious wedding cake flavor and a *dreamy* wedding bouquet, staying organized and on task throughout the planning process is a feat in and of itself. But before you start to get overwhelmed, know that wedding planners are here to help. While traditionally this means that you would hire a person or team to help you with the process, you can now choose between a wedding planner specialist, a paper wedding planner, a wedding planning website and even a wedding planning app (there is an app for everything, after all). Need help deciding which one is the ONE for you? We talked with five real-life brides who spilled on what they absolutely loved — and wished they’d done differently — during the planning process. Scroll down to see what they had to say!

Southern Weddings Planner inside

1. Paper Wedding Planner: “A wedding planner was not in my budget, so I needed to find the next best thing,” said Kaitlyn Hodgins. “I wanted something to help me stay organized through the months of planning and the dozens of vendors. I felt like having a tangible binder full of wedding details rather than a website planning tool made more sense for my personality. You have to keep track of SO much when planning, and now that all lives in ONE place in my beautiful Southern Weddings binder. I love that this binder not only helps me stay organized, but it also has a monthly checklist that keeps me accountable and makes sure that my planning is on time. The binder also lists out some very important and specific questions to ask each vendor when choosing the right one, and I would definitely not have thought about them without its help. Its budget tracker is also a must-have! One of the most important things when planning is making sure that you’re staying on budget, and this paper planner helps you do just that. There really isn’t much to not like. It covers everything from inspiration to budgeting, how to tip your vendors, the day of schedule, traditions and more.” (Photo via Southern Weddings Magazine)

Mobile TheKnot Wedding Planner App

2. Wedding Planner App: “I used the Wedding Planning by WeddingWire app and their website at the same time,” said Ruth Smith. “It was super helpful having both during my wedding planning because I would work on a few things at home, but always have it accessible on my phone. I also really loved the integrated guest list and ability to add your own vendors. If I had to pick something I would change, it would be when I was using the app, the reset button for budgeting was right next to the email button and it caused a few problems at the beginning. Overall, I totally recommend it for the girl-on-the-go.”

3. Full Service Wedding Planner: “Our wedding planning was a somewhat unique situation, as my husband and I were both starting busy new jobs and planning a wedding out of state,” said Martha Kirst. “We had just moved to California from North Carolina and were planning a wedding in St. Louis. We knew in order to pull off everything on the big day we were going to need a lot of help! And we both knew we’d feel more comfortable with a team that could guide us through the whole process, rather than just a day-of person. Getting a wedding planner for us was one of the easiest and best decisions we made in the wedding process. It’s definitely not for every couple, but for us, it made all the difference. She helped me materialize a vision and theme for the day which I would have never been bold (or organized) enough to pull off on my own. She also made finding all of the vendors much easier as she had experience with many and could recommend people/companies who would fit with our personalities and vision.”

“Using a planner also allowed us more time to focus on the big picture and make sure we were including what was most meaningful to us — for example, while our planner was working on negotiating contracts between the DJ and venue, my husband and I spent hours drafting and tweaking our own ceremony and vows. The last and perhaps most important benefit of a wedding planner was that I did not have to worry on my wedding day! I didn’t have to think about what time the flowers were coming, where the DJ was or how to seat the guests. Instead, I got to focus on spending time with my bridesmaids and family before the wedding and with my husband and everyone during the reception!”

Laptop TheKnot Wedding Planner

4. Online Wedding Planner: “When I was planning our wedding I used, which allows you to set up a page for free. It also has lots of inspiration and last-minute details,” said Mallory Moore. “You can give people information about your wedding location, registries, wedding party details, accommodations and more on your website. What I really love about this site — besides all the good resources — is that you can also search for vendors within your area or wedding destination and see their ratings. I even got my idea for my hair on the site!”

5. Day-Of Coordinator: “A day-of planner is kind of like having the best of both worlds if you already have your ideas in mind,” said Katie-Ann Roach. “I felt like I didn’t need any outside advice for my wedding since I felt like I found some great vendors and booked them on my own. I had already found my dress and veil with my family, where a wedding planner would usually help with all of these things. Same goes for the wedding cake tasting. Although that’s all great, this day is about you and your family, so I only wanted someone to help with day-of coordination and coordinating with the timeline for vendors. It seems like once you hire one great vendor, they all kind of recommend each other and it all falls into place. I really enjoyed having Tia from Erin McLean Events to set up the timeline of events and coordinate that with the vendors. It took the stress off me so I didn’t have to confirm anything or develop my own timeline. We did meet with her a few times and emailed back and forth several times to go over things, so it was in the small scheme of things a wedding planner, just not in its entirety!”


6. Wedding Planner (Family and Friends Edition): “We did not really use any kind of wedding planner,” said Gelly Fenton. “We had an incredibly personal ceremony. It was at my parents’ farm, and everyone involved in making it happen was close to us. Our officiant was our dear friend, a family friend who owns a bakery made our cake, our florist was another family friend, the meat came off my parents’ farm and my whole family pitched in for decorations and setup. My sister, who was also my matron of honor, made sure everything came together the day of and helped organize everyone. I had a planner book, but by the end, everything had gone out the window because it was such special circumstances and a lot of the pre-planning wedding things in the book just didn’t apply to us. We never had to consult with venues, or jump through a lot of the logistical hoops that many couples do. Honestly it was more meaningful to us that the people we loved (and who love us!) helped make it happen rather than people we didn’t know. We decided early on that if we were going to have a wedding, we were going to incorporate everyone who helped get us to that point. It was a lot of work, but I think the entire family came out of the wedding even stronger and more united. And I love that we made it happen that way. It was perfect.”

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