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Organization Express

January 24, 2011

Planning a wedding can be a messy job. I thought I’d organize our wedding the same way I organize everything else—by stuffing it into a corner and ignoring it—but one day, I looked around and noticed that my wedding binder was busting at the seams, the shoe boxes full of rubber stamps were taking over my bedroom and my guest room had been completely eaten by mercury glass and packing materials. I’m not generally a super neat person, but a mess of this magnitude can make a person go loco. Fourloko, even!

Gas station image courtesy of my dear friend Katie

By the way, that Fourloko stuff is not everything it’s cracked up to be. I drank a bunch, danced around a little bit and then fell asleep. *shrug*

Anywho, we decided to get things under control, and it has helped my sanity level SO much. This is what my guest room looked like as of last week:

Isn’t it horrifying? No person should have to live like that. So after avoiding the guest room for several months, Mr. Panther and I finally decided to wrap, pack and trash like crazy until we got it back to this:

Phew. So much better. Josie LOVES a clean guest room—look at her posing on the nightstand! Want to know how we did it?

It’s all in there. Mr. Panther’s a little cranky about it because he can barely get to his toolbox, but at least we can have guests again without having to banish them to the couch. He gets the credit for the very neatly stacked boxes, though, and he’s very proud of it. What is it with men and packing skills?!

I don’t have a pre-organization photo of my “craft corner” (where all my craft supplies have been lurking), but here’s the finished product:

I know it probably seems silly to buy a bookcase just for wedding craft supplies, but they had to go somewhere! I’ve promised myself that I’ll continue using them after the wedding. Someone needs to get pregnant so I can throw a baby shower or something! The bookcase and different cardboard boxes are from Ikea. I have to admit: This photo was taken right after the bookcase was installed and stocked. It’s nowhere near that neat now. But it’s definitely better than when everything was on the floor!

However, my real organization superstar is one little computer program: Bento.

Bento is personal database software. Have any of you used Microsoft Access or Filemaker for business? It’s kind of like that, but for personal use. Currently, it’s just for Mac—it integrates with Address Book, iCal, iPhoto, plus some Microsoft Office programs like Excel and Numbers. I use it to manage our guest list:

To protect our guests’ privacy, I’m just showing you a single fake entry, but you can also view the whole list in an Excel-type spreadsheet. You can choose the way the each data record is entered (checkbox, drop-down choice, text entry, etc.) and use the Excel-type view to run very basic formulas. I mostly use the “Sum” feature to keep track of how many people we’ve invited, how many of them have already booked their hotel rooms, stuff like that. I also plan to use this database to keep track of gifts, thank you cards, meals and pretty much any other guest-related information you can think of.

I also use Bento to keep track of items I’m collecting, like centerpiece containers. Here are some of our smaller containers in grid view:

And here’s our small collection of pillar holders in list view:

I’m keeping track of where I bought them, how much they cost, where they’re stored, their exact dimensions, how I’ll use them … This way, I don’t have to dig into our neatly stacked boxes every time I’m curious about a vase or candle holder!

I also use Bento for To Do lists, vendor listings and SO many other things. It’s $49, but I use it every single day and will continue to use it to track our household budget, event planning and so on. Plus, there are really cool iPhone and iPad apps, so you can keep all your wedding information with you all the time! This might sound unnecessary, but it definitely comes in handy. TRUST ME.

How do you all keep your wedding planning process organized? Got any organization superstars—digital or otherwise?

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