Today’s post is brought to us by real-life, bride-to-be Ayn Bernos

I’ve always been in love with weddings. My family runs a small catering business, and so in the past few years I’ve been heavily involved in helping our customers plan their weddings. I am also an emcee on the side, and a lot of the events I’ve hosted are actually — surprise, surprise — weddings as well. Currently, I work as the Content Manager for Wedding Favy, an online haven for themed and personalized wedding favors.

As you can imagine, my day to day tasks are all about weddings. And so when the question was popped, I’ve said yes, and our date was set, the quintessential bridezilla in me was released into the wild.

I am currently in the early planning stage of our wedding, but seeing as I’ve done this multiple times for other people, I wanted to share my tips from both ends of the wedding planning spectrum. Hopefully you learn a thing or two from me, your resident bride-to-be:

1. Remember: your Maid of Honor exists

One of my favorite parts of this whole planning journey is having my lovely and intensely organized sister/Maid of Honor by my side. The moment I showed her my engagement ring, she reached for her laptop and whipped out a crazy spreadsheet and wedding tracker. Initially, I thought I would have to deal with all of the details alone (of course, my fiance is here, but you know what I mean), but she wasn’t having it. If your maid of honor isn’t as proactive as mine, though, reach out. They will be happy to go through this with you! Trust me, having them will make everything less of a chore and more of a fairytale dream work in progress.

2. Book your venue. ASAP.

I was taking my time and was in no rush, because our desired date was a year and 5 months ahead of us. I thought to myself: How could anyone possibly book that far in advance? However, my mother and my sister insisted that we visit the church and book that instant. Just to appease them, I agreed. Lo and behold, all of the weekends of our month were already booked, while the following month had around 2 free dates left. It was insane, and I couldn’t believe it myself. So trust me: you can never be too early. Book it. Now.

3. Another ASAP: Finalize your guest list

I say this all the time to couples I work with: finalize your guest list. The only way you can truly move forward with your planning is by knowing the guest headcount. To book suppliers and purchase all of the necessary extras (think: caterers, wedding favors, invitations), you need the total number of guests, their names, and their contact info. Putting this off means putting off your entire planning process.

4. Go for an environment and wallet-friendly invitation option

How many invitations from friends’ weddings have you kept?

Right. That’s what I thought.

I understand why a lot of brides still tend to go for traditional physical invitations, but based on experience, I have found that there is more value with digital options, such as Greenvelope. After all, it is faster, more cost-effective, less wasteful, and ultimately more efficient in terms of guest list-tracking. I am also planning a destination wedding, and with my guests coming from all over the world, it is just entirely easier to have everything online. The invites will still look beautiful anyway — minus the bulk, the cost, and the RSVP hassle. Win-win!

5. If you can’t decide, visualize the big day

One of my biggest (early) frustrations was my wedding dress. My dilemma was simple: I didn’t know what I want. Family and friends would ask me time and time again, “What are you wearing?” and time and time again, I’d shrug it off with ever-unsure answers. However, what pushed me over that road block was seeing the church and the reception venues. Finally, I was able to visualize the kind of wedding that we were going to have, and from there I was able to fill in the gaps in my planning process. We’re doing a garden reception in the middle of nowhere, just south of Manila in the Philippines, and so I found myself just falling in love with a simple, boho-chic dress that perfectly fit the location and the mood that I was going for. The same rule now applies to every wedding decision we have to make.

We have a long way to go until the big day, but we’re optimistic that we’ll get there with the same amount of excitement and fervor as we have now. Hopefully, you learned a thing or two from my very own planning experience, and that you have just as much fun making your wedding happen as I do. Stay strong and stay beautiful, my fellow bride-to-be!