Planning for your wedding is a stressful task. However, it can be very manageable if done ahead of time. Regardless of what season your wedding is taking place, most of the scheduling timeline is consistent. We have laid out the ultimate 12-month wedding planning guide to help keep you on track and relaxed throughout this very exciting process.
12 MONTHS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Establish a budget
This is an important first step because it impacts the rest of your planning. Be realistic about what you can afford. There’s nothing more stressful than starting a marriage off with financial trouble. Figure out an exact budget for your wedding that you can stand by.
Choose your date(s)
There are a lot of details you may not know about picking your wedding date. You may have an idea of your perfect date, but it is important to consider the implications of different seasons and locations before making any decisions. Come up with a few date options so that you can be flexible when picking your perfect venue.
Brainstorm an approximate guest count number. This doesn’t have to be exact, just a rough estimate.
Book your venue and caterer
Having a venue that you love is one of the most important parts of your wedding. Be sure to ask your wedding venue important questions that will determine if this is truly the location for you. Once you have that determined, research and interview wedding caterers.
Propose to your bridesmaids
Begin thinking of who you want as your bridesmaids, as well as all the fun ways of asking your favorite girls to be your bridesmaids. While the feelings of close family and friends are important, it is also essential that you pick only people that you genuinely want beside you through this big process.
10-11 MONTHS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Research what aspects are most important in picking a photographer, DJ or band, baker and any other vendor you may be considering. Interview vendors with these things in mind and figure out which are the best fits for you and your fiancé.
Secure Your Wedding Album
As brides look back on their weddings, there’s one regret that is consistently brought up: losing their most loved wedding memories by not thinking ahead on how to preserve them for years to come. While many photographers will offer packages included wedding albums, Altar Albums will offer the exact same albums up to $800 cheaper.
Research wedding dress styles
Before you start going into stores, figure out the most important things to know about your dress fitting. Research different dress styles and crucial tips to know for the day of your dress shopping. When it comes to your wedding dress, it’s important to know what is out there so that you can pick the style that you feel best in. Create a collection of what you see.
Begin shopping for your dress
This is such a fun part of your wedding process that you should make sure to truly enjoy it. Take a small group of people you are close friends and family. Keep in mind that what you had pictured as your wedding dress may not end up being what fits you best… and that’s perfectly alright! Before you start shopping, you should have considered shapes, interesting dress details, and length… now it’s time to find the right combination for you.
Build your gift registry
Sit down with your fiancé to build your wedding registry. You’ll be happy you got this step done with early so that you have an answer at any point someone asks you.
Purchase wedding insurance
Many couples don’t know you can invest in wedding insurance to protect your deposits. Purchasing an insurance policy is a great protective measure to prepare for any emergency that may (but hopefully will not) occur.
Make hotel reservations
Surely you will have traveling guests for your wedding… you yourself may be traveling for it! Book hotel reservations far in advance so that there are absolutely no problems or worries when it comes to wedding accommodation.
7- 9 MONTHS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Take Engagement Pictures
Your family and friends are dying to see a formal announcement with a beautiful (and professional) picture of you and your fiance. These will also be great to display in your future home, during your bridal shower, and your rehearsal dinner. Keep in mind that you’ll only be a “fiance” for so long, relish the moment! Also, this is a perfect opportunity to test out your wedding photographer before the fact to make sure you love their work!
“Save the date”
It’s time to sit down and create your “Save the date” letter. There are many directions you can take with your letters, whether that is simple and classic or creative and detailed. Keep in mind, you also have the wedding invitation to add your personal touch on.
Figure out what goes into picking the right bridesmaid dress and once you have made a final decision on the best dresses or dress style for your big day, notify your girls.
Book rental companies.
If it isn’t already taken care of through your wedding venue, this is the time to begin booking rental companies that will provide chairs, tables and any other items you’ll need for your big day.
Start planning your honeymoon.
We know. You’re just now planning your wedding! But if your honeymoon is taking place shortly after your wedding, you will want to start thinking about the best honeymoon destinations for you and the best timing for you and your fiancé.
4-6 MONTHS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Now is the time to create and order wedding invitations. It’s important to note that there is general wedding invitation etiquette so have an idea of what is expected and how you can create your wedding invitations to fit your style and include any important details.
Pick out wedding rings
You already have your engagement rings but now it’s time to switch out for wedding rings. Shop with your fiancé for the right rings for your style and your budget.
More honeymoon preparations
This is the time to start sorting honeymoon details. Don’t forget that like your wedding, you must have your honeymoon fit your budget. Research and purchase flights, book accommodation and if necessary, renew passports.
3 MONTHS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Order your cake
Once you and your fiancé choose the right style of cake for you and a bakery that you like, order your cake so that it is sure to arrive on time.
Groom and groomsmen wear
Now is the time for the groom and groomsmen to rent or buy their formalwear. The most important thing when the groom picks out his tux or suit is that he can be distinguished from his groomsmen.
If you haven’t already had one, this is a great time to plan and throw your bridal shower.
Wedding day transportation
If necessary, book your wedding day transportation. When choosing the exact hour, be sure to give yourself plenty of time in case things run a bit behind schedule.
2 MONTHS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Send out the wedding invitations
By now, the invitations should have arrived and any necessary changes should have been made. Send out wedding invitations to all your guests.
Pick a hairstyle and try out makeup looks
There are so many beautiful bridal hairstyles you can sport on your big day. Research your options so you have an idea of what you may want. Additionally, try out different makeup styles to see what you feel best in.
Book your hair stylists and makeup artist
Once you’ve done some research on the styles you may be interested in, interview and book a hairstylist and makeup artists. Before making anything official, ask to look through photos of their work on past customers.
Start writing your vows
It won’t take you two months to write your vows, but you will definitely want the time to review it, edit it, and maybe even rewrite it. You may think of things you want to add or take out and will definitely want to research tips on delivering your wedding vows.
ONE MONTH UNTIL THE WEDDING
Final dress fitting
This is the time to have your final dress fitting. Double check for any last adjustments you might need to make. When going to your fitting, bring the undergarments, shoes, jewelry, a veil and any other accessory you are planning on wearing on your big day.
Confirm with your bridesmaids
Check with your bridal party that everyone has their dresses and shoes. It is important that your bridesmaids get their dresses with enough time to make any necessary adjustments that might come up.
Confirm with vendors
Call all of your vendors to confirm scheduling details. Make sure they have the correct contact information, location (give a specific address) and time.
Apply for a marriage license
So much joy and excitement comes with a wedding. With that, there are also benefits that come with being married. Make sure you are legally considered married after your wedding by applying for a marriage license through your local bureau.
Your wedding day is coming up soon and your family, bridal party, and fiancé have done so much to make sure it goes well. Show your gratitude with a nice, thoughtful gift for your bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and maybe even your partner.
TWO WEEKS UNTIL THE WEDDING
The last two weeks of your wedding are considered crunch time. Although you have planned everything well so far, you will have a lot going on during this time. Consider creating a “Last Two Weeks checklist” with details on everything you have left to do before the big day. This checklist will include the following:
Finalize the RSVP list
By now, all of your wedding guests should have RSVP’d. Unfortunately, there will always be some that don’t. This is an appropriate time to approach guests that have not sent their RSVP and ask for a final answer. You need this information to continue on with your planning.
Think of any poses or particular photos you want to be captured and send a list of shots to the photographer and videographer.
Plan your seating chart
Once you have an accurate idea of who will be at your wedding, you can begin creating the reception seating chart. When doing so, keep in mind any poor fits that should not be placed near one another. There are ways of creating a setting that is mindful of divorced parents or family drama.
This is the time to get any last haircuts or colors before the big day. You want to leave plenty of time in case something goes wrong.
ONE WEEK UNTIL THE WEDDING
At this point, you should give your caterer a final headcount. This is important for meal preparation. Make sure to mention any dietary restrictions or anything you want to be included. This is the time to ask any important last-minute questions.
Make or print place cards and table cards for the reception. Give them to your planning coordinator.
Create a list of songs that you want to be played while everyone is up and dancing and hand it over to the DJ or band. Include any songs that you don’t want to be played and more importantly, include whatever song you and your fiancé decided on for the first song.
Attend Bachelorette party
If your friends have planned a bachelorette party for you, this is generally when it will take place. Leave time for yourself to enjoy partying at whatever great party spot they chose for you without worrying about getting other things done.
2-3 DAYS UNTIL THE WEDDING
Reconfirm final details
Check up with all of your vendors to confirm details. At this point, there is no such thing as being overly prepared.
Prepare the dress
Have your wedding dress pressed and steamed. During this time, your groom should also have his final fitting.
Determine bridal party positions
Figure out in which order the bridal party will stand during the ceremony. In order to avoid any hurt feelings, find a logistical order such as by height, alphabetical order, or better yet—have your wedding coordinator organize the order for you.
ONE DAY UNTIL THE WEDDING
You’re one day away from your wedding… that means it’s time to rehearse the ceremony and host the rehearsal dinner. Since the dinner is casual and fun, you can invite close family, your bridal party, and any guests you are close with that traveled for your big day.
Get everything out of the way—prepare checks for any vendors you have pending payments with.
An emergency number
Provide your wedding coordinator and all vendors with an emergency phone number for the big day in case you can’t be reached for whatever reason.
Give your marriage license to your officiant to make things official.
THE DAY OF YOUR WEDDING!
On the big day, there is a wedding day timeline you can more or less expect to follow. Wrap up your year of planning with fun tasks and excitement.
Give the presents you bought or made to your parent(s), bridal party and significant other.
Hand over your wedding bands to best man and the maid of honor to hold during the ceremony.
You worked so hard planning your big day but at the end of it all, the thing that matters most is that you are marrying the person you love. You will remember this day for the rest of your life. So, regardless of details and what goes according to or strays away from the plan, truly enjoy it.