Congratulations! Okay it’s time to get started. I hope this checklist well help to make your planning go smoothly.
Time Frame Nine Months or More Before The Big Day
Start a wedding notebook or binder. Write down your inspirations or tape photo and images you want to use into the notebook or binder. Keep all contact information for your vendors , etc in this book for easy reference.
Determine your budget. This is very important remember to include any contributions from relatives.
Pick your wedding party. Will you have a Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid, Best Man, Groomsmen, etc.
Start the guest list. This is where your budget will come in handy. Determine how much you can spend and then create a list of names. It works well to create a name chart that allows for columns for RSVP and gifts too. Then it is all in one place.
Hire a wedding planner (optional) if it’s in your budget you can also hire a wedding planner. The advantage to using a planner is not only their knowledge, but their contacts to vendors, etc. If you are planning on using a wedding planner you should book him/her straight away. The earlier the better. Some are booked more than a year ahead.
Reserve your date and venues. Will you be having separate locations for the ceremony and the reception?
Book your officiate. Book your clergy,officiate, Mayor, etc. whoever you want to preform your ceremony.
Do your research. Start researching photographers ( see their portfolio and ask for references), bands ( attend one of the performances), florists ( ask to see previous arrangements visit their shop and look at their flowers, etc), and caterers ( ask for references, do they have tastings?).
Throw an engagement party (optional). if you wish. Keep in mind anyone you invite to your engagement party MUST be invited to the wedding.
Time Frame Six- Eight Months Before
Hire the photographer and the videographer. Let them know your vision for capturing your special day.
Book the entertainment. Book your band or DJ
Book Your Caterer. Some wedding venue offer their own catering service
Purchase the dress. Be sure to allow time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be done at the same time as the dress or can wait a month or two.
Reserve hotel rooms. If you will be having out of town guests its best to book a block of rooms (several rooms on the same floor) When pricing hotels always get three different prices from three different hotels ( close to the ceremony/reception).
Register For Gifts. Sign up at a minimum of three shops ( keep in mind you are not trying to win the gift lottery, just ask for things that will help you set up your new life together)
Time Frame Six Months Before
Select and purchase invitations. Did you know you can hire A calligrapher? If it’s in your budget and if you have a lot of invitations you may want to consider it. Addressing invitations is very time-consuming. If you are writing them yourself do 30 at a time then take a break. If you write a bunch at once they may look sloppy. Or enlist the help of your wedding party and have lunch and then everyone writes.
Start planning your honeymoon. Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and if you are traveling out of the country be sure to get any necessary inoculations.
Shop for bridesmaid's dresses. Most places require at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
Meet with the clergy, mayor, etc. Discuss the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding. ( documents vary by state and religion)
Mail out your save-the-date cards. Reminders for your upcoming big day help your guests to plan.
Reserve event necessities. If you are having an outdoor wedding you may need to reserve portable toilets if the venue does not have facilities. You may need tables and chairs if your venue does not have them, don’t forget about lighting , a dance floor, etc.
Book a florist. By now you know just what you want, you have your budget for flowers now it’s time to let your florists know and confirm. have you ordered your bouquet charm from Keepsakes By Katherine?
Book transportation. If you are considering limousines, town cars etc. Keep in mind how your dress will need to be maneuvered for getting in and out of the transportation you choose.
Draft your big day timeline. Weddings can follow a timeline fairly well but not exact. Still it is important to create a schedule of events for your big day. Such as, when you will be cutting the cake, when you will have the first dance, when the meal will be served, etc.
Time Frame Four Months Before
Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues. This is the time to negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that as well.
Confirm the wedding invitations. Ask the printer for samples ( proofs) of the invitations and make any necessary changes or approve them.
Order the cake. Keep in mind that some bakeries require a long lead time. Be sure to have several tastings before you make your decision, they should have a book of previous cakes for you to review also.
Bridal Shower .Take time to send your guest list to the hostess/host of your shower.
Shop. It’s time to purchase the wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Be sure to bring the shoes to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
Schedule hair and makeup artists.( optional) If your budget allows book appointments with local experts to try them out. Take a photo at each of your hairstyles and then make your decision and book for your big day ( make sure you have scheduled time before your wedding to have your hair and makeup done) Do you need some beautiful hair pins ?
Choose your music. Decide what songs you would like playing before the ceremony, as you walk up the aisle, during the meal, for your first dance. Work with your band leader, dj etc. If you don’t want the chicken dance, make sure they know!
Time Frame Three Months Before
Finalize the menu and flowers. Keep in mind food and flowers are affected by season.
Order wedding favors. ( optional) It’s nice to have little keepsakes of your big day, not just for you, but for your guests. Consider, favor bags, monogrammed cookies, gift baskets, etc. This is the perfect time to plan gifts for your hotel guests too.
Make a list of the people giving toasts. Who would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
Schedule your second dress fitting. This is the perfect time to purchase your undergarments too
Finalize . Time to finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception.
Print. If you want them this is the time to print menu cards (optional and wedding programs.
Purchase the rings. This will give you time for resizing and engraving ( optional).
Send your event schedule to the vendors. Giving them a first draft now allows for feedback and confirmation.
Time Frame Two Months Before
Vendor Confirmation. Contact your vendors again to confirm any concerns or questions have been answered and that everything is just as you want it.
Meet with the photographer. Discuss specific shots, and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you.
Music Confirmation. Review the playlist with the band or deejay make sure they have your wish list .
Mail the invitations. Invitations should be mailed out six to eight weeks before the ceremony. Set the RSVP deadline for three weeks after the postmark date.
Submit a newspaper wedding announcement. Follow the rules of the specific newspaper and they usually have strict rules about hotos, etc.
Party. Arranging a night out( bachelorette) with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honor. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, gather your friends and party.
Time Frame One Month Before
Enter RSVPs into your guest-list chart. Start calling anyone who hasn’t responded.
Get your marriage license. The process can take up to two weeks. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations.
Last dress fitting. You should be “good to go” but 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.
Stock the bar. Now that you have a confirmed guest list you can order whatever is needed
Pay Your Bills. Make sure everyone has been paid. You don’t want to start new life together with outstanding bills.
Confirm. Make your final confirmations for hair and makeup and all vendors.
Assign seating. This is important to make your guests comfortable. You dont want people wandering around trying to find two seats together.
Purchase bridesmaid's gifts. You’ll present them at the rehearsal dinner. The groom will resent his gifts to the best man and groomsmen then too.
Write vows (optional). You’ve probably already done this.
Time Frame The Wedding Week
Reconfirm. It’s your day you want everything in order, confirm arrival times with vendors.
Send a timeline to the bridal party. Include every member’s contact information, along with the designated people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise.
Pick up your dress. Many shops deliver, but keep in mind traffic and other circumstances that could delay delivery and consider having someone pic it up for you if you can't do it yourself.
Tips. Put tips in envelopes to be handed out after the celebration. Have checks ready if you have any outstanding balances for the vendors.
Send the final guest list. Caterers and all venues hosting your wedding/reception should have a confirmed list a minimum of 72 hours prior to your wedding day.
Break in your shoes.Wear them A LOT!
Pack for your honeymoon. See my honeymoon checklist page.
Mani Pedi. Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding.