I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay organized with contracts, dates, finances, colors, your save the dates, invitations, etc.
Within a week of becoming engaged, I trotted over to Barnes and Noble and picked up my wedding book. I chose "The Very Best Wedding Planner, Organizer and Keepsake"
This book wasn't used so much for telling me what to do, but more for keeping me organized by using the categories, and keeping my receipts, contracts, ideas, etc. in one spot. That way, any time I had a wedding appointment, I brought my book, and had everything in one spot (or on my phone with my Google docs, see my FREE templates here)
Buy those page protectors and put a few of them in each section of the book. Then put every receipt, contract, idea, color palette example, etc in each category as you get them.If you want to cut costs, purchase a simple binder and create your own dividers.
There were so many times I had to refer to my book when going to an appointment. It's so nice to have everything involved with the wedding with me every time I met with a vendor.
This will be helpful when you meet with vendors...
After picking out our colors and overall theme for the wedding, I made a little color palette sheet to hand out to the vendors. Each of them will probably have their own folder for your wedding and can refer to your sample when needed.
Dress Shop // Examples
Similar to the colors, gather several examples of wedding dresses you like and put them on a sheet, along with the budget and overall theme of your wedding. When you arrive to your appointment, hand the sheet to your consultant, they will appreciate it when they're searching around the store for you.
Decorator // Wedding Theme
Again, once you have your theme nailed down, create a sheet with example pictures, colors and materials you want for your wedding. This especially came in handy when meeting with my decorator. These people can only envision what you're explaining, why not put it on paper for them?
Makeup & Hair Artist // Hair & Makeup
Throw together past photos of yourself with events that you LOVED your hair/makeup or HATED you hair/makeup. This was, they can see exactly what you're talking about when you say "I just didn't like what they did."
Create a document for your hair/makeup artist that includes: 1. Name of person (Maybe even a tiny photo of them)
2. Roll in the wedding (Bridesmaid, MOB, MOH)
2. Services requested
3. Total cost
4. Examples of hair/makeup they would like completed
I sent this along ahead of the day in case they wanted to bring extra items they thought may cater to each of my girls.
The day of, I printed off a few copies and gave them to Hanna, my hair and makeup artist. She was able to give the other 2 artists copies, which left me enjoying the morning without asking a bunch of questions.