Three words came up most frequently when I asked this question on my Facebook page: Three. Ring. Binder.

Many of the people who responded to this post said they kept organized by filling a binder with printed materials about vendors and services, plus signed contracts. One said she organized the binder with tabs labeled for each of the major vendors one can expect to hire.

I haven't kept a binder. I've stuffed a bright green folder with contracts and to-do lists that I've ripped out of magazines. I also make a copy of every check we write to book a vendor so I have record of it. I also never go to an appointment without my copy of Today's Bride because the very back of the pub provides lists of questions to ask any given vendor.

As for finding vendors in your price range, many photographers share their rates upfront, one recent bride said, and other vendors will provide quotes if you ask. She recommended -- and I can speak from experience that this is important to ensure you receive an accurate quote -- that brides and grooms share their event's approximate number of guests, location, time and date when asking.

A sorority sister of mine also noted that she's found vendors through bridal shows. As has happened a few times, it's surprising how often I re-read the replies to these questions only to find that they have a timely relevance to my current planning. I just booked a hairdresser and makeup artist I met at the Boutique Bridal Bazaar, where my sister and I showcased our own company, Story of Your Life. (*Like* us, please!)

A few people also noted that they used Excel to do their budgeting. I personally have a piece of paper with three columns: 1) the service being paid for, 2) the amount we've already paid and 3) the amount we have yet to pay. Either, I'm sure, works. It's staying organized that's important.

Finally, one recent groom (yes, sometimes grooms answered these!) recommended delegating projects you can to others. I haven't done this much, but I am working with two wedding planners to whom I will delegate a most important role: coordinating the biggest day of our lives.
 
 
I will never understand what drives a woman to want to be on that Bridezillas show. I want to be remembered as a beautiful, beaming bride, not a screaming witch.

But, we all know that under the right amount of stress, the prettiest of personalities can turn ugly. It was with that in mind that I asked my peanut gallery the above question, and there was no shortage of replies.

The first person to respond said this: "I started to feel like it was more for everyone else. Don't let that happen. Keep in mind, it is YOUR day (and Steven's) so make sure YOU will be happy at the end of it. I finally got to the point where I just couldn't wait for it to be over. Wish I would've spoke up and said enough is enough."

I asked her what specifically made her feel that her own big day was more for everyone else, and she told me she had female relatives take over. The event became one that she didn't recognize. Take others' advice, she urged, but make sure the dream that's executed is the one you two share.

Other Facebook friends of mine offered these reasons why they became upset, overwhelmed and irked:

*A few people said their DJs didn't follow directions, that they refused to play requests even when the bride told them they should and played a genre of music that didn't mesh with what the man and woman of the hour requested. I feel confident that Something New Entertainment will do us proud. Every time I interview Anna-Jeannine to write a blog for her, no matter the topic, her focus is squarely on what will make the bride and groom happiest.

*Another woman said family politics can be a stressor. I wrote a blog for Something New about dealing with such issues, and the takeaway was this: Planning for challenges helps ensure they don't become problems. So, consider providing corsages and boutonnieres for every mom and dad figure so no one gets offended. And, if there truly are people who you’d rather keep apart at all costs, make sure you alert the photographer.

*A sorority adviser wrote this: "Also, be sure to talk with Steven about his wants and needs. Too many brides feel it is HER day and he is just along for the ride. His input counts. I was too much of a bridezilla in that aspect." I think I've done this. My groom purchased some of the tree trunk slabs for our centerpieces and chose outright what his groomsmen and he will wear (gray slacks, gray vests and ties -- tuxedos seemed too formal given Mr. Grizzly). And, he's the reason that bacon-wrapped meatloaf will be an entree (more on our caterer as soon as a contract is signed!). I figure, my life is happy because he's in it; so, too, will my wedding be.

*A few people said that assigned seating became a real bear (bears are on my mind, yes) and one of my former newspaper colleagues said that's the exact reason they assigned family to a few tables and let the rest of their esteemed guests sit where they pleased.

*I particularly appreciated what one friend of ours in Pennsylvania offered: "After all the planning is done and the day starts, you will worry about this or that and feel like you have to take control. Don't! Take time to enjoy everything around you!" 

*Another former journalism colleague of mine shared that she ripped her veil three weeks out and rush-ordered another only to RIP THE OTHER ONE on the day of. Omg. Thankfully, a trip to a bridal store three blocks from the venue produced a third. She recommended, "Plan for every worst-case scenario. I know many brides who pack an emergency kit: extra hose, needle and thread, safety pins and bobby pins, stain sticks, headache medicine, Pepto-Bismol." I think this is something I might ask a bridesmaid to handle. Zilla alert!

*Another bride said her photography got backed up so much that while her groom and his groomsmen had dozens of shots together, her bridesmaids and she had maybe 10. I can't guarantee that this will prohibit the same from happening on my day, but I've been sending, revising and re-sending a timeline to my vendors to try to ensure to the best of my ability that I'm allotting reasonable slots of time for hair, photographs and more. A few of them have complimented me on being so proactive, and all of them have been helpful and honest where they need to be.

*Apparently, groomzillas exist, too! One woman said her husband said he didn't care, then threw tantrums, she thinks, in an effort to please his parents. She wishes they had discussed things and had more of a team mentality going into it all.

I'll close with these two observations because they help me take a deep breath and beat back my growing anxiety. (My number of wedding nightmares currently stands at two, sigh: one about us forgetting at home all of the jars that have become a labor of love for my mom and me, and the other about the personalized dress hanger I've ordered being misspelled).

"To be honest, I don't think I was a bridezilla at all, and it's because I made sure I was well prepared. And if something wasn't perfect, I just remembered that very few people, if anyone at all, would notice
the detail I was obsessing over so I let it go. And all I have are wonderful, stress-free memories!"

And, this gem from a bride who, at the time, was still planning her own big day: "Planning my wedding I'm keeping two things in mind... can people say they had fun and we love each other? If they can answer yes, it was a success. You might not remember little details, but you will remember how you feel. People get so caught up in the stuff... don't forget why you're doing it!"

Never! :]