Think twice before hiring family and friends. Someone who's emotionally invested in your wedding lacks the objective judgment that's necessary to handle the process smoothly. "I try to steer clear of the recommendation of using family or friends," Lisa says. "It never works out like you want, and you are strapped with the emotion of trying to express dislike or needs. It's hard enough expressing wants and needs using a professional for the work, let alone a family or friend."
Be ready to tackle the basics. From the outset, couples need a firm timeline and some general ideas about the type of wedding they want, Lisa says. This helps take the stress out of making fast decisions when necessary. "So many couples get engaged at the same time, and they are up against each other for the same pool of vendors and venues," she says. "If the (bride and groom) can prioritize what they want, they will be able to make decisions faster and get the vendors they really want for their wedding." Have one or two backup dates in mind in case your first choice isn’t possible.
Choose organizational tools wisely. Brides and grooms who orchestrate their own wedding need to stay on top of invoices and receipts, keep copies of contracts, track costs and deal with countless other details. Lisa likes the Web-sharing tool Google Docs for keeping important information consolidated and accessible. "It’s a great way for couples, parents and anyone else who is involved to share documents," she says. However, if you'd rather go old school, wedding-plan journals are available in bookstores. A plain three-ring binder works too.