Alyssa J Cori

November 18, 2020

How To Easily Plan Your Wedding With Google Drive

I recently shared how I planned our micro wedding in just a few weeks, and referenced my spreadsheet that helped me stay on track. Following up on my post about using Google tools for productivity, I wanted to share how you can manage all of your wedding planning using Google Drive. Let's jump in!

What you need to create your "command central"

The only wedding book I picked up from the library when we got engaged was Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette. It was a great starting point for me, but there are tons of resources out there. From wedding binders and planners to complete how-to books, you can pick what will be most helpful for you. My strategy was to create a customized "command central" in Google Drive. I didn't want to have to carry around a notebook or just take a list that someone else gave me. My Google Drive folder was the easiest way to go. 

Within my overall wedding folder I had sub folders for contracts and guest addresses (ended up with multiple spreadsheets for different wedding related events, like the bridal shower). Within the main folder I had snapshots of our venue, our ceremony script, and my master spreadsheet.


The master spreadsheet

The most used document was my master spreadsheet. Google Sheets has a template called "Wedding planner" that you can use as a starting point. I opted to just create my own from the beginning. The sections of my spreadsheet included:
  • To Do
  • Budget
  • Guest List & Seating Chart
  • Day of Timeline
  • Shot List
  • Ideas & Follow Up
Let's dive into each of these sections and how I used them individually.



To Do
This was where I kept all running tasks, from "schedule rehearsal" to "prepare tip envelopes" to "share inspiration photos of wedding cake." I would create a separate column for specific meetings so I could easily reference this tab.

Budget
There were four headings in the budget tab: Category, Paid so Far, Total Cost, and Timing. We didn't plan out in advance how much we were going to spend in each category, we just had an overall feel for how much we wanted to spend in total. So I guess it would be more accurate to call this a tracker instead of a budget. 

Because you have to pay parts of your bill at different times, I kept track of how much we had paid so far and what the total cost would be, and put in details about the timing when the payments were due. I also put a reminder on our shared calendar so we would see the payment coming up in our schedule. 

The categories we had were:
  • Venue/Food/Ceremony - all one bill, with one vendor
  • Dress & Accessories
  • Groom's outfit
  • DJ
  • Photography
  • Flowers
  • Invitations
  • Rings
  • Wedding night accommodations
  • Marriage certificate
  • Tips
  • Hair and makeup
  • "Little touches" - like our card box, favors
My uncle was our officiant, so that's the one other expense you might want to consider adding. We also didn't need to provide transportation for ourselves or guests. 



Guest List & Seating Chart
I kept a master guest list and seating chart in the main spreadsheet and created a separate spreadsheet for addresses to make it easier to upload when we ordered our invitations. You may have to lay out your seating chart for your venue in a system they provide, but I liked having a place to do a mock up of our own. 

Day of Timeline
I spent way too much time worrying about this. You really only need the big things to be laid out, and the little details fit in where they may. I'd recommend you plan out the "getting ready" time, the ceremony time, and when dinner is served. You can then bucket things in a "before and after" style. I.E. before the ceremony we need to check the volume on the speakers, instead of saying at 4:57pm we need to check the volume on the speakers.



Shot List
I laid out all of the different combinations we wanted with our family. It was pretty simple, but very useful to share with our photographer before the event. 

Ideas & Follow Up
This is where I threw random links, ideas for music, and questions I wanted to ask our vendors as they popped into my head. Because I wasn't using a notebook or any other place to record details, this was my freeform spot to put down my ideas.



With all of these elements at my fingertips wherever I was, I was able to stay totally organized and it made the process super simple. We planned our big wedding in about 2 months and our micro wedding in a month because we had a clear vision, kept our choices limited, and tracked everything we wanted to accomplish really clearly. I can't recommend the Google Drive method enough!

Have any wedding planning questions or details you'd like to hear more about? Check out more wedding content here

Photography by Sean Madden.

-Alyssa J

November 11, 2020

What I've Read Lately Vol. VIII

It's time for another post on what I've read lately! I only have five books for you this time around. I'll end up doing an end of year post where I pick out my best books from 2020, so I wanted to get these out there in November before that big post in December. As always, you can follow along with me on Goodreads!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out this list of books to read


The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I fear that I do not have enough knowledge of Stalin’s Russia and biblical references to fully appreciate this work. The story follows three tracks: the love story of the Master and Margarita, satire of communism, and Pontius Pilate. The Master writes the story of Pontius Pilate and experiences the madness of Satan and his cronies running around Moscow. It’s a wild book; I laughed, I was puzzled, and I enjoyed reading this because it really made me think.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So in love with this book. Normally I don’t read fiction set during WWII, but have heard such things about this novel and it did not disappoint! It follows to key characters; a blind girl from Paris and an engineering protégée in Germany. From the early rumblings of war, through to the end you follow these two as they survive and live their lives as best they can. Their paths ultimately cross because of their respective duties (don’t want to give too much away) and it’s a very satisfying read. With beautiful language and fast chapters it’s easy to get sucked in.

The Space Between Us by Thirty Umrigar ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This novel brought forth many ways of life I did not know about. From different religions and occupations, to personalizing different socioeconomic situations, I learned a lot from this book. It follows two women, an employee and employer, and explores how their lives are interwoven in ways sometimes they don’t even see. Difficult subjects are discussed including abortion, STDs, and abuse, but through it all you come to know how unthinkable things can happen and how to understand why people do the things they do. Would definitely recommend, just make sure to be prepared to deal with challenging topics.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Oh my goodness, I read this in half a day! The Silent Patient tells the story of a woman accused of murdering her husband and stops speaking immediately after. She’s put in a mental facility and a newly hired doctor decides that he’s not going to rest until he helps her work through her experience and speak again. He’s facing his own problems with infidelity and soon it’s hard to tell who is the patient and who is the therapist. To say it’s a page turner is an understatement. A great, thrilling read for October.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was a book club read and was a unique take on what drives people to action, understanding and empathy, and the real value of happiness. A bank robbery turned hostage situation impacts two couples, an elderly woman, a single banker, an actor, and a real estate agent. They all have their own personal dramas unfolding while an accidental criminal grapples with how to get out of the mess. A father/son police officer duo try to solve the crime, a comedic tale sweeps them all up. At some points I found it to be a bit too “life lesson” “truth about the world” oriented, but overall it was entertaining and made me think.

-Alyssa J

November 4, 2020

October 2020 Monthly Recap

This was a HUGE month. We got married!!! I couldn't wait to put together October's recap post because there is so much to share.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out this post for more wedding photos and our honeymoon


I came home at the end of the first week of October so that Joe and I would be separate from each other leading up to the wedding. I chilled out with my family, read a ton, and ate delicious food, enjoying my last few days as a single lady. 



We got married on October 4th and it was just the best day. I had a cinnamon roll for breakfast (it was national cinnamon roll day!), got my hair and makeup done, and then headed over to the venue. I could not wait to see Joe and our small group of family and friends. If you want to see more photos, check out this post. And I'll have more wedding advice posts to come. Still working through ideas, so if you have any requests let me know! 









Right after the wedding we headed off to our honeymoon at Mohonk Mountain House. It was the perfect, short getaway, and was great for social distancing. We don't know when we'll get to go on our originally planned honeymoon in Europe, so we are really glad we got to go to Mohonk. It'll also be a great place to visit on our anniversary in years to come!





When we got back to the city I visited the Met and was so glad to get to spend time there. 


I also got to visit Green-Wood Cemetery with Mama and Papa, which was very cool. It was absolutely beautiful and the historic significance is interesting to look into. 


I've been enjoying my city walks and am trying to take advantage of the weather before it disappears. Getting to see friends has been super important, and Sheetal and I had a great time playing tennis and getting hot chocolate afterwards (naturally) this month.



I am so grateful we got to have our micro wedding and mini moon, and that we still got to have these experiences in 2020! How was your October? 

-Alyssa J

October 28, 2020

How a Googler Uses Google Tools for Productivity

I've always been into productivity and making sure that I get the most out of the time I spend working. I have a whole series of posts on the topic you can check out here. Today I want to delve into the Google Workspace tools that you can use to manage your time, increase your productivity, and work smarter. I feel extra qualified to share this advice now that I work for Google!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Find out how a Googler uses Google calendar and Gmail for productivity


Gmail

If you use Gmail for your work and personal life you have a ton of features at your disposal. Let's start with how you set up your inbox. 

Inbox Type
You have a few options to view your inbox; default, important first, unread first, starred first, priority inbox, multiple inboxes. I find the best is "priority" inbox. I customize mine to be "important" then "unread" then "everything else." When a new message comes in you can read it and then decide where you want it to live: right up in the important section or in the everything else section (I usually collapse that) or archived. 


Tasks
My inbox management changed when I discovered how you can use Google Tasks in your inbox. When you're on an email you can click the little check mark at the top to add to tasks. When I respond to an email, I'll hit tasks and set it to a couple of days later so I remember to follow up if I haven't gotten a response. You can add additional notes and subtasks too, plus this allows you to archive the email and take it out of your inbox without forgetting about it. I go to my tasks section every day to review the emails I need to follow up on and any other notes I've thrown in.



I know some people like the "snooze" function that takes an email out of your inbox and then brings it back at a certain time. I'm not a fan, but that could be a good alternative to follow up on emails if you're not into using tasks. 

Schedule Send
When you are composing an email you have the option to schedule what time it will send. Instead of hitting send, you'll click the dropdown arrow next to send and select "schedule send." You can then chose the date and time you want your message to go out. This is useful if you are working on emails during off hours and want to make sure your recipient sees it during business hours or you have a specific event you want to follow up on. 

Star
If I am receiving a lot of emails in one day, I like to use the Star function to call out the emails I know I want to get back to. Instead of moving them to tasks, this is what I use to make sure I look back at these specific emails on the same day. 

Folders
I hardly use folders anymore. I've converted to archiving emails and then using the search function...but if you do still want to use folders (I find this more useful in my personal inbox) you can control the order they show up in by putting a number in front of them. Simple, but effective.

Chrome

Do you find yourself keeping the same key tabs open every day? Most likely your email, your calendar, Drive, Slack...in Google Chrome you can "pin" tabs to be open every time you open a window. All you do is open the tab, right click, and select "pin." This is a small time saver that makes a big difference. And since it makes those tabs smaller it gives you more room for the other tabs you're working in. 



Calendar

Customize calendar colors
Did you know that you can choose more than the standard colors? Click the three dots next to a calendar, the plus sign, then you can enter a Hex code. I like to go on Pinterest and look at color schemes to get ideas and switch it up. I've currently got a fall scheme going that I love!



Gray out what already happened
Most of my days I have back to back meetings and tasks that I put on my calendar (more on that below). When I take a glance it's helpful to see what has already happened and what's coming up. If you go to Settings you can go to View Options and check the box to "Reduce the brightness of past events."



Use your calendar for meetings and tasks
Google give you Task and Reminder calendars by default. I find them somewhat constricting, so I uncheck those. Instead, I created my own calendar I call Tasks and use that to insert times into my day when I am going to do certain work. I go to settings for that calendar and don't make it visible to my colleagues. 

Shared calendars
I have one shared calendar "Joe & Alyssa" that we use for dates and hanging out with friends that is visible for both of us. We can both edit this and keep it private from colleagues.

Those are my top tips for productivity with Google tools I use all day, everyday. Do you have any useful methods for managing your inbox and calendar? Would love to hear!

-Alyssa J

October 21, 2020

How to Plan a Micro Wedding in 4 Weeks

Is it cliche to start this post saying that this year has been unexpected and challenging? Well, cliches are effective because they're true! You may remember that Joe and I got engaged last year and started planning a wedding for September 2020. We held out hope for a long time that things would get better in time for our 60 person wedding (that's small, right? Right.), but alas it couldn't safely happen. 
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out all the tips and timelines you need to know to plan a micro wedding in 4 weeks


We decided to push our celebration to 2021, but still wanted to get married this year. After a lot of consideration, we planned a micro wedding for October 4, 2020 with our family and a few friends. We came to the conclusion that we would go ahead with a micro wedding about 4 weeks before our selected date. I'm going to take you through how I modified our plans for a larger celebration and what the experience was like. Let's get started!

Week 1: Figure out what you can and can't reuse from your original plans

If you decided to downsize and cancel a larger celebration altogether, you can start by talking with your vendors about how you can amend your original contracts. For us, we had the flexibility to work with existing vendors or start a fresh contract for our smaller event with new vendors. We decided to use a different florist, venue, and hair & makeup artists, but kept the same photographer and officiant, and nixed a DJ. 



Week 1 (continued): Pull out your calendar and figure out what dates work

We coordinated with two different venues (our original and our micro wedding space) at the same time, plus the vendors we were going to work with for the micro wedding to make sure we picked a date that worked for everyone. From there, we were able to go to the next step of securing new vendors for the services we needed. 



Weeks 1 and 2: Determine what is safe and allowed in your area as you decide on new vendors and make modifications to existing contracts

We were lucky to have already identified the venue we ended up using during our initial venue search as the perfect place for our micro wedding. With ceremony space, food, cake, bar, and reception space included, there wasn't much else we needed to provide. My mother was a huge help (read: she did it all) finding new hair and makeup artists that were still working during COVID. She also identified a local florist that could support a smaller event, and we were in business from there. 


Weeks 2 and 3: Communicate with your guests to ensure everyone is comfortable

Let people know who will be there, how the event will be set up, and other relevant details that will help them feel prepared and comfortable attending.


Week 4: Think through your timeline and all of the elements that you are doing yourself

Admittedly, I spent way too much time creating a timeline. You really only need the big things to be laid out, and the little details fit in where they may. I'd recommend you plan out the "getting ready" time, the ceremony time, and when dinner is served. You can then bucket things in a "before and after" style. I.e. before the ceremony we need to check the volume on the speakers, instead of saying at 4:57pm we need to check the volume on the speakers 😂

You also need to think about the stuff that you are now doing yourself that you might not have been planning to do for your larger celebration. I mentioned that we decided not to have a DJ, so we needed to ask for help to play the music for the ceremony from our phones to the venue's speakers. 


Week 4 (continued): Ask for help and relax

You are having a beautiful event with your family and (maybe) closest friends. So don't be afraid to ask for help! While we had a somewhat formal wedding in terms of location and attire, it also felt casual since we have the people there who are closest to us. You can ask for support and help and know that everyone is pulling together to help you have the best possible experience! 


We had an amazing time are incredibly glad that we decided to get married this year. We're excited to renew our vows next year in the way that was planned, but it was more important for us to be married than to wait for the "perfect" celebration. And, as it turns out, our intimate wedding was even better than we had hoped for.

I'm going to share more about the wedding planning process for our larger wedding (I'm really proud of my spreadsheet), as well as our mini-moon that replaced our larger trip to Italy and Portugal. Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to cover.

Photography by Sean Madden.

-Alyssa J