There are a ton of little things that go into planning a wedding, as you may well know by now – so how do you keep them in order without going crazy?
I am a list-maker through and through, and my preferred method is pen and paper. However, I’ve been drawn to the idea of having my wedding plans both easily accessible and easily shareable, so I’ve set out to find an electronic method to replace (or, if we’re honest, work alongside) my paper to-do lists.
To that end, here are three (free!) tools you might consider to organize your wedding to-dos, all of which can be accessed online or through the corresponding app, all of which I’ve tried: Asana, Trello, and Google Keep (in no particular order).
I’m focusing on the basics that I think would be of most interest; there are more features available even at the level of free plans, and we could do a more in-depth look at these if there’s interest (just let us know!)
Asana is made for business, but could also easily be used to organize your wedding. Anyone can sign up for a free plan, which is more than sufficient for this purpose (the free plan covers up to 15 members – see more here).
The hierarchy in Asana is workspace > project > task > sub-task. So, for me, the wedding is its own workspace, and each category of things to plan (e.g. ceremony, attire) is a project. When you click on a project, you’ll be shown the tasks that are part of that project.
The image below shows all of my projects on the left side, and I have “ceremony & cocktail hour” selected, so you can see the tasks I’ve added related to either the ceremony or cocktail hour, or both (we’re having them in the same space, so it made sense for me to group them this way).
Each individual thing you want to do (e.g. “schedule dress fitting”) can be a task. These items could also be sub-tasks grouped with like items – this has been my strategy. So, for example, “decor” might be a task, while “book florist” and “buy candles” might be sub-tasks under “decor.”
In the above image, as well as the following image, you can see how I’ve arranged this. My tasks are larger categories (flowers, decor) plus one item that doesn’t have derivative things to do (picking up our marriage license – if you haven’t checked out the specifics of how to do this in the Philadelphia area, make sure to read it here!)
The “cocktail hour” task has several sub-tasks related to picking the food and wine. Both tasks and sub-tasks can be assigned to people and can have due dates; you can see due dates and assigned (to me) tasks in the below image. I’m treating due dates as “do this by” dates, not “do this on” dates, but you could do whatever works for you.
Only one person can be assigned to a task or sub-task; Asana touts this as a feature to make sure people are accountable for work. You can, however, add “followers,” so you could be the one in charge while making sure your fiancé or family member or vendor or whomever is looped in.
Three other Asana features you might want to use:
- Asana will send weekly dashboard updates telling you how many tasks have been completed and how many remain; you can opt-out of receiving these e-mails.
- There’s a calendar feature in Asana, allowing you to see all of the due dates (tasks without due dates won’t show up). Projects can be color-coded, and the corresponding colors will be on the calendar.
- Asana has integrated comment / discussion features, as well. I haven’t used these, personally, so I can’t speak to how useful they are, but you may find it helpful to keep all wedding-related back-and-forth inside Asana rather than in e-mails. Each project (in my workspace, these are “ceremony” and “reception” and so on) has its own discussion section, but there’s also a general workspace discussion.
Also, wedding professionals! Asana might be a great way to keep your work organized. You can have a different workspace for each client, or workspaces for types of projects (e.g. engagement shoots, weddings) and then make each client a project, whatever works for you. You can create templates for common sets of tasks (e.g. “schedule consultation,” “send contract”) and call them up for each new client.
For the purposes of wedding planning, the functionality of Trello is very similar to Asana, though the two look quite different. Like with Asana, there’s no need to sign up for a paid version of Trello to plan your wedding – the premium products are more suited to businesses who need the extra integrations or storage (see more on pricing here, if you’re wondering).
The hierarchy in Trello is board > list > card, with the optional checklist inside a card. I’d recommend making your wedding a board, the big categories (e.g. “attire”) lists, and then make the individual to-dos either cards or checklists. Here’s what I mean:
You can see that the wedding is the board (top left corner), and categories of to-dos are lists. Within each category, I’ve added the same general tasks as before, but here, they’re called “cards” – e.g. “flowers” and “processional” as cards under the list of “ceremony & cocktail hour.”
My sub-tasks from Asana are, in Trello, included as checklists on individual cards – to do this, just click on the card, and then click on “checklist” on the right side (highlighted here in blue). The image below shows the items on the “cocktail hour” checklist:
You can assign a due date to a card in Trello, but not to a checklist item (vs. Asana, where both tasks and sub-tasks can take due dates). If you’d like to have due dates for these specific things but want to use Trello, your best bet is probably to take the items like “finalize food menu” and turn them into cards. Trello makes this simple – just click on the checklist item and then click “convert to card” (see below).
Make sure you click “add” or “save” (or hit return) when you’re adding a card or a checklist item, else they won’t automatically save.
Cards can take labels (with their own colors) – for example, you might have cards for “processional,” “first dance,” and “dinner music,” but they’re on different lists (ceremony, reception). You could create a label for “music,” as I’ve done below, and label each of these three cards as such:
Now you can easily spot similar tasks, as they share the same blue label.
Two other Trello features you might want to use:
- Like Asana, Trello has a calendar feature that includes color-coded labels (if you’ve added them). Again, cards without due dates won’t show up.
- Trello has the option for members of a board to comment on the back of cards (as seen in the checklist photos above). The back of the card also shows the complete log of changes and comments made.
For reference, here are the features in Asana and Trello, and how I’ve utilized each:
Google Keep is entirely free, and you can sign up by going here and linking it to an existing Google account.
There’s no hierarchy here beyond note > text in note – this makes Google Keep both the simplest of the three to use, by far, but it also has the fewest features.
To start, you click on “take a note” and start typing. You can call the notes whatever you want (here, I have them labeled as before, “style” and “cocktail hour” and the like). The text in the note can, but need not, take checkboxes. The top left corner note doesn’t have a title or checkboxes, while the other three visible notes have both. You can color code them with a (limited) set of colors.
Google Keep is great for top-level to-do lists, but doesn’t allow for sub-items. So, where in Asana and Trello I’d have to-dos nested in “cocktail hour,” there’s no way to do that in Google Keep. Each of those specific items will have to be its own entry.
What am I using?
Having tried all three for organizing my wedding planning, I’ll be sticking to Asana moving forward. It has the steepest learning curve, I think, and before starting to write this post, I’d have said it wasn’t for me. I decided to spend about 30 more minutes actually poking around and trying to get the hang of it; to my surprise, that worked!
I had written off the Asana app, too, in favor of the desktop version, because I couldn’t figure out how to quickly move between projects or add tasks. After my desktop breakthrough, I went back to the app – sure enough, that was now much simpler for me to use, too. Moral of the story – if you like the look of Asana (which absolutely speaks to my love of order and hierarchy!) but find it a bit much, don’t give up right away.
I use Trello for organizing blog things – there’s a board for post ideas, for example, and I have lists like “ideas,” “drafts,” and “published,” into which cards (blog post topics) are sorted and moved around as appropriate. This works beautifully for Smartly Wed, but doesn’t feel quite as intuitive to me for wedding planning. I don’t like that checklist items can’t take due dates, as the comparable level can in Asana.
I use Google Keep for my everyday to-do lists, and love it. I don’t love it for wedding tasks as much as I do for other things, given that I can’t make groups and sub-groups of items. I find having each little thing listed on its own visually overwhelming – this is completely fine for the eight things on my grocery list, but when we get into many tens of items, it’s unwieldy. Wedding items do make their way into my Google Keep, which has a daily and weekly list of to-dos, but I can’t see myself using it as the master repository of wedding to-dos.
All of that said, if you’re interested in trying some of these options, I’d start with the one that makes the most sense for how you think and organize things. If you like hierarchical lists, Asana might be best for you. If you prefer your to-dos more visual, check out Trello to start. If you’re looking for a more no-frills approach and want a more “grab and go” type of program, Google Keep could be perfect.
How are you organizing your wedding to-do lists? Have you tried any of these programs? Let us know your strategies in the comments, and let us know if you’d like to see more on any of these apps!