You’ve announced your engagement and you’re ready to start planning your big day…hooray! But where exactly should you start? If you’re feeling at a loss about where to jump into the whole planning process, here’s a rough timeline of the major things you’ll need to do over the next 12 months. Use this as a starting point to help you collect your thoughts and then get your planning on. Below is our 12 month wedding timeline. Good luck!
12 months before:
– Come up with a tentative budget and talk to your love about what your ideal wedding would look like.
– Decide when you want to get married. If your date is flexible, check with several venues you like to see when exactly they’re available and how much they will cost.
– Research venues.
– Draft a guest list.
– Talk to your parents about their ability to contribute and finalize your wedding budget.
– If you’ve decided to hire a wedding planner, interview and select yours.
10-11 months before:
– Book your ceremony and reception venues.
– Choose your wedding party.
– Book an officiant.
– Find and order your wedding gown.
– Start interviewing wedding vendors and professionals (florist, stationer, DJ/musician, band, videographer, etc.).
– Plot out the decor scheme for your wedding: Will you hang twinkly lights or chandeliers? Line the aisle with candles? Use hay bales for reception seating? Consider any rentals you’ll need to execute your vision.
– Meet with caterers; sample and choose reception food.
– Book your wedding photographer.
– Take engagement photos.
– Send out save-the-dates for a destination wedding.
8-9 months before:
– Finalize bar service.
– Register for gifts.
– Reserve any necessary rentals.
– Reserve room blocks for out-of-town guests.
– Book wedding band/DJ.
– Book florist.
– Finalize stationery suite.
6-7 months before:
– Order bridesmaid dresses.
– Send save-the-dates.
– Finalize wedding entertainment.
– Order formalwear for the groom.
– Start researching honeymoon travel.
4-5 months before:
– Purchase wedding rings.
– Order invitations.
– Order formalwear for groomsmen.
– Attend cake tastings; choose a baker and cake.
– Choose attire for flower girl/ring bearer.
– Finalize ceremony order; ask friends to do readings.
– Book honeymoon.
3 months before:
– Hire calligrapher for invitations (if necessary).
– Have a wedding shower.
– Book venue for rehearsal dinner.
– Purchase accessories, including jewelry, shoes, veil, cuff links, bow ties, etc.
2 months before:
– Mail your invitations.
– Meet and book stylists/makeup artists and test out wedding hairstyles and makeup looks.
– Purchase gifts for your wedding party.
– Order wedding programs.
– Write or choose your wedding vows.
– Book any necessary day-of transportation.
1 month before:
– Confirm playlist/do-not-play list with musicians or DJ.
– Send rehearsal dinner invites.
– Purchase wedding favors.
– Wrap up DIY projects.
– Have a final gown fitting; ensure your maid of honor knows how to bustle your gown, if necessary.
– Apply for your marriage license.
– Create welcome bags for out-of-town guests.
– Confirm all day-of details with vendors; make any necessary substitutions/changes.
– Confirm all important details with wedding party members (e.g. arrival times, attire fittings, etc.).
– Confirm that necessary space for all vendors and equipment is available at the venue.
– Arrange for care of pets/home during your honeymoon.
– Have bachelor/bachelorette parties.
3 weeks before:
– Contact any MIA guests to get their RSVPs.
– Finalize guest list and give head count to caterer/venue.
– Confirm vendor meals with caterer.
– Prepare must-have shot list with photographer; give names of all VIPs.
2 weeks before:
– Get final haircut and color.
– Confirm all honeymoon travel.
– Plan reception seating chart.
1 week before:
– Print or DIY your escort cards.
– Call all vendors and confirm delivery/setup/takedown arrangements.
– Give your day’s schedule to ceremony/reception site managers, including deliveries, setup, takedown, etc.
2-3 days before:
– Make sure your dress is ready to go; get it steamed or pressed if necessary.
– Pick up the mens’ formalwear.
– Finalize bridal party positions and order they’ll walk down the aisle.
– Deliver place cards, programs, menus, etc. to appropriate venue or site managers.
– Drop off welcome bags at guest hotels and give delivery instructions to the front desk.
– Designate someone as the emergency contact person and give out their phone number to all vendors. Make sure to pick a trusted relative or responsible member of the bridal party.
– Rehearse ceremony at venue.
– Write final checks to vendors and professionals.
1 day before:
– Attend rehearsal dinner.
– Give gifts to attendants.
– Give marriage license to officiant.
– Print out your vows if you’re writing your own.
– Get a mani and pedi.
On the BIG day:
– Eat something hearty for breakfast!
– Give wedding rings to a member of the bridal party for safe keeping.
– Introduce your vendors and site managers to your emergency contact.
– Ensure final checks, including tips, are in envelopes and ready to be handed off to vendors and professionals.
– Eat, drink, and be married!
In the weeks after the wedding:
– Send thank-you notes.
– Return any remaining rentals.
– Have your gown cleaned and/or preserved.
– Return formalwear.
– Enjoy your honeymoon!
– Change your last name.
– Order your wedding album.