Planning a wedding is exciting but can also be a bit overwhelming at times, so we’ve created this check-list to keep you on track during this busy and exhilarating time.
Up to One Year Before
- Start a wedding folder or binder to keep clippings of dresses, décor and other inspiration ideas – Pinterest is a great online scrap book that you can organize by Wedding gown ideas, hair styles, décor, flowers, etc. As you see things you like, simply add them to your boards.
- Develop an organization system for contracts, photos, invitations, gifts, and thank you’s
- Determine your budget – Discuss the budget and decide who will pay for what to determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own.
- Choose the honored roles: bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girl, and ring bearer – As soon as you’re engaged, people will start wondering who’s in.
- Start the guest list – Discuss the guest list with your fiance and families
- Hire a planner, if desired
- Research and visit different wedding and reception venues.
- Reserve your date and venues – Decide whether to have separate locations for the ceremony and the reception, factoring in travel time between the two places. If holding ceremony at church/synagogue, find out requirements.
- Book your officiant
- Begin researching photographers, bands, florists, and caterers – Keep their contact information in your binder
- Throw an engagement party, if you wish – Remember that your invitees should be on your wedding guest list as well.
- Start shopping for wedding gown, veil, accessories and your attendants’ attire.
Nine Months Before
- Meet with caterers
- Purchase a dress
- Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests – It’s a good idea to have a couple of hotels with different price points, close to the reception venue.
- Set up your gift registry
- Launch a wedding website – Create a personal webpage through one of many free providers. The site should share the date of the wedding, travel and accommodations information, as well as any other wedding related activities. Send the link to invitees to start the excitement!
- Select your florist, caterer, photographer and/ or videographer.
Six Months Before
- Select and purchase invitations
- Hire a calligrapher, if desired – Addressing cards is time-consuming, so you need to budget accordingly.
- Have engagement photos taken
- Start planning a honeymoon – Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.
- Finalize bridesmaids’ attire and order dresses
- Meet with the officiant – Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
- Finalize your guest list
- Send save-the-date cards
Four to Three Months Out
- Book Limo and/or other transportation
- Start composing a day-of timeline – Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).
- Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues
- Select and order the cake
- Send your guest list to the host of your shower
- Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings – Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
- Schedule hair and makeup artists
- Choose your music – What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played.
- Finalize the menu and flowers
- Decide on wedding favors
- Make a list of the people giving toasts
- Finalize the readings – Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony — and whom you wish to do the readings.
- Purchase your undergarments
- Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception
- Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs
- Choose and purchase wedding rings – This will give you time for re-sizing and engraving.
- Send the first draft of your event schedule to the vendors, this will allow for ample time for tweaks and feedback.
- Select and book your honeymoon suite
Two Months Before
- Touch base again with all the vendors – Make sure any questions you or they had on your first draft have been answered.
- Meet with the photographer – Discuss specific shots, and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you.
- Review the playlist with the band or DJ – Though you probably won’t be able to dictate every song played, you should come prepared with a wish list.
- Send out the invitations – Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks before the wedding.
- Attend bridal showers and parties in your honor
- Check state/county marriage license requirements
- Submit a newspaper wedding announcement – If you’re planning to include a photograph, check the publication’s website: Some have strict rules about how the photo should look.
- Buy the cake knife, guest book, toasting glasses and garter
- Choose gifts for bridal party, parents, and helpers
One Month Before
- Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database – Phone people who have not yet responded
- Get your marriage license – The process can take up to six days, but it’s good to give yourself some leeway. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
- Mail the rehearsal dinner invitations
- Visit the dressmaker for your last dress fitting – For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly.
- Send out as many final payments as you can
- Confirm times for hair and makeup
- Email and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles
- Assign seating – Tip: Draw out table shapes on a layout of the room to help plan place settings. Write the names of female guests on one color of sticky notes and the names of male guests on another color so you can move people about without re-sketching the entire setting chart.
- Purchase bridesmaid’s gifts and present them at the rehearsal dinner
- Customize wedding vows, if you plan to do them yourself
- Get your hair cut and colored, if desired
Week of the Wedding
- Reconfirm arrival times with vendors
- Delegate small wedding-day tasks – Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts (especially those in envelopes), someone to hand out tips, and someone to be the point person for each vendor.
- Send a timeline to the bridal party – Include every member’s contact information, along with the point people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise.
- Pick up your dress or make arrangements for a delivery
- Check in one last time with the photographer – supply him or her with a list of moments you want captured on film.
- Set aside checks for the vendors – and put gratuities in envelopes to be handed out at the event.
- Go to the Spa! Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)
- Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events
- Break in your shoes
- Assemble and distribute the welcome baskets
- Pack for your honeymoon
Enjoy your big day!