You’re engaged and life right now couldn’t be more exciting! You’ve announced your engagement on social media, everyone has said their congratulations and you’re on cloud nine. Now you have to plan a wedding, but where do you start? To say that planning a wedding may be a little overwhelming might be a bit of and understatement. We’ve met plenty of brides (and grooms), who have been more than a little jaded about the entire process once it was over and done with. Having a plan is the key to planning a stress-free wedding. Okay. Maybe not stress-free, but we’ve got your back during this process. All you have to do is follow this 12 month wedding planning checklist, and you’ll always know you’re on the right track.
10 to 12 Months Out
- Set a wedding budget and establish what is most important to splurge and save on
- Create your guest list.
- Create your wedding vision board on Pinterest (if you haven’t already).
- Decide on a date.
- Tour and book your wedding venues, both wedding ceremony and wedding reception
- If it’s in your budget, hire a wedding planer.
- Start looking for wedding vendors such as wedding photographers, wedding videographers, bands and/or DJs, caterers, and florists – many of them book up over a year in advance, so it’s important to do this as early as possible.
- Decide on your wedding party.
- Have and engagement party!
- Start looking at wedding dresses and try to purchase one no later than 10 months out to allow time for alterations.
8 to 9 Months Out
- Book your wedding vendors, especially a photographer and videographer as they often book up for the year quite early.
- After booking your photographer, plan an engagement photo shoot.
- Start making decisions on music. Make a playlist, or if you’re hiring a band, let them know what kind of music you like.
- Find retailers and set up your wedding registry. Choose a couple that you love regardless of price point and choose one that might be more affordable for those that can’t spend a fortune on a wedding gift.
- Book hotel rooms for out of town guests.
- Create a wedding website for people to visit to get all the necessary information. It’s also a great way to get people to RSVP quicker.
- Meet with your caterers, taste food, and decide on a wedding day menu.
- Hire a wedding officiant.
- Research wedding insurance. Weddings are expensive. Life happens. Don’t let life ruin your special day, or your bank account.
- Send out Save the Date cards. You don’t want your guests to preemptively book something on your wedding date because they didn’t know when you were getting hitched.
6 to 7 Months Out
- Finalize your wedding guest list & compile a list of addresses in a spreadsheet. The more organized you are from the get-go, the less you’ll worry later.
- Choose and order your bridesmaids dresses. Include them in the decision so you know what they feel comfortable wearing.
- Make sure anything you may need to rent for the wedding (chairs, tents, tables, etc.) has been reserved.
- Officially hire a florist and decide on floral arrangements.
- If necessary, arrange for wedding day transportation for your wedding party and, if necessary, your guests.
- Start planning your honeymoon. Don’t leave this until later when you’re closer to the big day. I will only make things more stressful and easier to overlook important details.
- Do a wedding cake tasting, and meet with the Cake Designer.
- Start drafting out your wedding invitations – pick a design and style and work on the wording. Place an order to make sure they arrive well before they need sent out (usually around the 6 to 8 weeks mark).
- Plan the bridal shower/bachelorette party with the Maid of Honor.
- Book the rehearsal-dinner venue.
- Research and book hair and makeup artists.
4 to 5 Months Out
- Choose your ceremony processional and recessional music, as well as any specific songs that will need played during your reception (First Dance, Father Daughter, etc.)
- Schedule or attend your fist dress fitting.
- Make sure that your groom to be has bought or rented attire for himself and his wedding party – Make a decision on ties, bowties, boutonnières, and the like.
- Finalize your honeymoon details. The earlier the better!
- Start sending out thank you notes early as gifts arrive from the registry. Your future married self will be grateful. You don’t want to come back from your honeymoon overwhelmed with 200 thank you notes to write.
- Make sure you have all your legal documents for the wedding, such as a marriage certificate. Also make sure your passport is up to date if you’re going out of the country. Many countries won’t let you enter if your passport will expire within 6 months (even if it’s still valid).
- Buy your wedding bands.
3 Months Out
- Order and print out menu cards for dinner.
- Order and print the ceremony programs.
- Create a wedding day-of timeline and send it to all of your wedding party and vendors.
- Order wedding favors.
- Meet with your chosen officiant and plan out the wedding ceremony, choose the readings, and discuss any additional ways you would like to personalize the ceremony.
- Stop procrastinating and write your vows! Have we mentioned we like getting things done early?
- DIY decor is a great way to save money. If you’re considering doing this, start these projects now.
- Buy thank you gifts for your wedding party and parents. They’ve helped you through this entire process, both the exciting and stressful moments, so show them how much you appreciate them.
- Discuss wedding-day hairstyles with your stylist. Let’s not experiment on the big day.
2 Months Out
- Send out the wedding invites. This is usually done 6 to 8 weeks before the big day, but if you can hit it closer to 8 weeks it will give everyone more time to respond.
- If you’re sending out rehearsal dinner invites separate of wedding invites, make sure you do it around the same time. You can always package them together for convince sake.
- Do a floral mockup with your florist – it’s the best way to know what your floral arrangement will really look like. Sometimes visions don’t align as much as you would think.
- Meet with your photographer and discuss day-of plans and shooting arrangements, such as where you would like your photos to be done if not at the ceremony or reception location.
- Give your finalized playlist to your DJ or band. Make sure you tell them what you absolutely don’t want played, no matter how many times people request it (we all have those songs).
- Enjoy your bachelorette and/or bachelor party.
- Finalize payments for as many things as you can. It’s better to get that off your plate early so you’re not worrying about it after the wedding or during your honeymoon.
- Touch base with all your vendors and make sure they have all the details you discussed with them a few months back.
- Make sure you have your wedding night accommodations figured out if you’re not going back home, or if you’re leaving for your honeymoon directly after.
- Start completing name change documents (if applicable. We’re all for people keeping their names if that’s their thing).
- Pick up your wedding rings.
- Keeping with those wedding day traditions? Find something something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
- Do one last final dress fitting, just to make sure everything is just right.
1 Month Out
- Buy alcohol for the cocktail hour and reception if it’s not included with the venue.
- Create your reception seating chart.
- Create placards for seating arrangements.
- Update your wedding guest spreadsheet with those who have RSV’d.
- Go hunt down those slackers who haven’t RSVP’d.
- Check on the hotel rooms that you may have booked for out of town guests.
- Make sure that your wedding party has all of their attire ready and that they are aware of the day-of plans.
- Pick up your dress if you haven’t brought it home with you already.
- Make any last minute adjustments with vendors if necessary – send your caterer and venue a final guest count.
- Make a Bridal Emergency Kit.
- If you’re close enough to the big day, check on the weather forecast and make sure that contingency plans are in place if the wedding was outside.
- Break in those wedding shoes to avoid blisters on the big day.
- Admit it. It’s been a stressful (albeit exciting) few months. Book a massage and focus on some self-care if needed.
Wedding planning can be a lot if you haven’t realized that already. But rest assured that once you make it to the big day, any of the little things will melt away. Follow your wedding day timeline but make sure to allow for some flexibly. This will be a day you always remember, so smile and relax. Your spouse-to-be will be by your side, and that’s all that matters.