You are getting married congrats! Now that the excitement has settled down from your engagement, it’s time to start planning your wedding. To help ease the stress, I have put together this wedding planning checklist of just about every aspect of the planning process. This is literally the only wedding planning checklist you will ever need and it’s a long one! But, before we dig in, I just wanted to give you some tips to help you along the way.
- Print out a paper copy of this and keep it in your wedding planning binder at all times
- Since this post has TONS of links and resources, it’s a good idea to save a copy of the page to your favorites since you will want to refer back to it often
- I am constantly updating this post with new and relevant information, if there is anything you would like me to add please let me know in the comments and I will make sure it gets updated
- Instead of a checklist, I like to think of this as a roadmap for your journey. Enjoy every minute of it and let’s have some fun!
12 - 24 Months Before
☐ Set a date!
It’s a good idea to have a couple of dates in mind so that you can be flexible.
☐ Subscribe to a couple of wedding magazines
These are the best way to begin to get an idea of where the current trends are and get some industry insider tips as you go. Pull out any pictures of wedding dresses or bridesmaid gowns for your binder (See next step).
☐ Begin to assemble a wedding binder or folder.
I LOVE the ones available on Zazzle.com, you can really have some fun customizing these.
☐ Set your budget
Discuss your budget with all the parties that will be contributing to the costs. Parents, grandparents, etc. Be upfront, honest and realistic as you begin to talk numbers! If you can’t afford something try to find a DIY alternative. If you are considering an intimate wedding, check out our article on the advantages of smaller weddings.
☐ Decide who will help you plan the wedding
It can be your maid of honor, a wedding planner or family member. If you don’t want a wedding planner, it may be helpful to consider a day-of coordinator. Before you decide, check out why we think hiring a wedding planner is a fabulous idea.
☐ Choose a venue
Check out HereComesTheGuide.com for price ranges and reviews of just about any venue you can think of. Most venues will want some sort of security deposit so make sure you find out ahead of time before you finalize your decision.
☐ Draw up your guest list
This can get tricky so make sure you establish a clear line on who is invited and who is not. If you are debating whether or not to have children at your wedding, check out this article to help you make your decision.
☐ Ask your friends and relatives to be in the wedding party
As a general rule of thumb, the bigger the wedding party, the bigger the drama – sorry I had to put that out there!
☐ Start looking at wedding dresses
Don’t commit yet because your taste will change and so will the trends.
☐ Choose your ceremony site and book your officiant
☐ Optional – Schedule an engagement photo session
This is also a good opportunity to get a head start on checking out photographers for your wedding.
☐ Optional – Have an Engagement Party
Don’t forget to register so your guests know what to buy you. As a rule, whoever you invite to your engagement party will expect an invitation to your wedding.
☐ Create a wedding website
☐ Create a wedding board on Pinterest and get pinning!
Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest!
☐ Establish a fitness routine and start a skin care regimen
10 - 11 Months Before
☐ Send out a Save the date
Consider adding photos from your engagement session to the design if you had one. Save the date cards are helpful when you have lots of out of town guests or if you are having a destination wedding.
☐ Shop for and buy your wedding dress
Remember that you will need to give yourself plenty of time for fittings and alterations. Make sure you bring your Spanx – they have a ton of wedding options that work wonders under wedding attire.
☐ Set your wedding theme and choose your colors
☐ Pick your bridesmaid dresses and schedule a fitting with your bridesmaids
☐ Interview and choose a photographer and videographer if you have not already done so.
☐ Hire a DJ and decide if you want any live music as well
Now is also a good time to begin picking your wedding playlist.
☐ Choose your florist
Make sure they fully understand your vision. Be sure to include flowers for your wedding party, attendants, ceremony site, venue décor and cake.
☐ (Optional) Purchase a wedding insurance policy
With all of the deposits you will be making, you may want to consider a wedding insurance policy for peace of mind. I know it’s hard to imagine but I have heard so many stories of brides losing their security deposit because of vendors suddenly closing their doors. It’s very rare but sadly, it does happen.
8 - 9 Months Before
☐ Reserve a block of hotel rooms for any out of town guests
Make sure to have different price ranges for your guests to choose from. You may also want to look into welcome baskets for them in the hotel room when they arrive.
☐ Meet the caterers, plan the menu and schedule a tasting
Many venues that include catering will offer couples an opportunity to come back and sample the menu.
☐ Set up your wedding registry.
Give your guests a couple of options. Check out our article on unique wedding registry ideas.
☐ (Optional) – Begin planning your bridal shower
☐ Meet with your officiant to confirm the details of your ceremony
Make sure you have all of the paperwork and requirements completed ahead of time.
☐ Make a list of all the rental equipment you need for the ceremony or reception
Shop around because prices tend to vary from vendor to vendor.
6 - 7 Months Before
☐ Book your transportation for the day including any limos or party buses to and from the venue
☐ Book a hotel room to get ready during the day and for the wedding night
☐ Schedule and attend your 6-month dress fitting
☐ Order your invitations
At this point, you should have all of the logistics set for the ceremony and reception.
☐ (Optional) Hire a calligrapher to hand address your invitations
☐ (Optional) Book your ceremony musician
☐ Book your honeymoon
Consider setting up a Honey Fund to help offset the costs. Make sure your passports are renewed if you are going out of the country.
☐ Purchase your wedding rings
4 - 5 Months Before
☐ Hire a hair stylist and makeup artist
Be sure to schedule a trial session so that you and your stylist are on the same page in terms of the look you want. You may also want to purchase hair and makeup for your bridesmaids. This can be expensive so alternatively, you can have them pay for this portion if it is not in your budget.
☐ Schedule your rehearsal dinner
Be sure get a full headcount including any family members of your bridal party that may be attending especially if they are young.
☐ Choose your wedding favors
☐ Attend any pre-wedding retreats or counseling that may be required
☐ Shop for formal wear for your Bridal Shower and rehearsal dinner
☐ Choose your wedding cake
Make sure your baker Clearly understands your vision and can create what you are looking for. Ask for photos of cakes they have made and make sure to sample the different flavors.
☐ Choose and schedule a time for the Groom and Groomsmen to get fitted for their formalwear
☐ Book dance lessons for your first dance
3 Months Before
☐ Attend your bridal shower
☐ Meet with your officiant to finalize the details of your ceremony
☐ Choose any readers and finalize the readings with each of them
☐ Obtain your marriage license
You may want to check with the specific town you are getting married in for the requirements.
☐ Obtain the paperwork needed to change your legal name
2 Months Before
☐ Mail out the invitations
☐ Write your vows
☐ Purchase any gifts for your parents and each other
☐ Purchase gifts for your bridal party to be handed out at the rehearsal dinner
☐ Don’t forget Something old, new, borrowed and blue!
☐ Schedule a spa and beauty day for you and your bridal party
1 Month Before
☐ Gather your RSVPs and contact anyone who has not yet responded
☐ Prepare a seating plan
☐ Confirm the final headcount with your vendors
☐ Prepare your speech for the rehearsal dinner
☐ Write your vows
☐ Deliver final song playlist to your DJ
☐ Review finalized photo list with your photographer
☐ Circle back with your vendors to make sure they have everything they need and that they are clear on expectations
☐ Finalize the itinerary
E-mail a copy to all your vendors including transportation and times. Be sure there is a complete list of phone numbers and emergency contacts.
☐ Schedule your final dress fitting
Make sure to break in those wedding shoes too! It may be helpful to bring your maid of honor with you to learn how to bustle your dress.
☐ Contact all of your bridesmaids to make sure their gowns are altered and ready
☐ Create a wedding program to hand out to your guests as they arrive
☐ Purchase wedding day accessories
Guestbook, toasting flutes, flower girl baskets, ring bearer pillow, garter, aisle runner, and anything needed for the day.
2 Weeks Before
☐ Get your last haircut and color before your wedding
☐ Print place cards or table numbers
Your calligrapher may be able to do this for you if you want them handwritten.
☐ The Groom should go for his final fitting and pick up his suit along with all of the groomsmen
☐ Choose an outfit for your Bachelorette party
☐ Pack for your honeymoon
☐ Keep breaking in those wedding shoes!
1 Week Before
☐ Make sure all ceremony/reception items for the day are packed up and ready to go
☐ Attend your rehearsal dinner
☐ Prepare any tips or final payments ahead of time for your vendors
☐ Attend Bachelor/Bachelorette parties
☐ Prepare a wedding day survival kit
Make sure you include deodorant, band-aids, bobby pins, tape, perfume, pain medication, and chapstick.
2 - 3 Days Before
☐ Get a manicure and pedicure & Massage
☐ Deliver any gift baskets to the hotel with instructions on who the deliver them to
☐ Circle back with your vendors one last time
Forward your previous e-mail to them to make sure everyone is on the same page. Also, provide any last-minute changes.
☐ Get a spray tan no more than two days before
☐ Arrange transportation for your out of town guests to and from the hotel
The Day Before
☐ Deliver ceremony and reception accessories to the site
☐ Give your marriage license to your officiant
☐ Get to bed early
The Day Of
☐ Eat a good breakfast
☐ Present parents and each other with gifts
☐ Give wedding bands to the best man for the ceremony
☐ Assign a family member as a point of contact for vendors during the day
☐ Sit back and let your vendors do the work as you get ready
☐ Enjoy every moment of your day
☐ Arrange for someone to return rental equipment
☐ Make sure tuxes are returned
☐ Write and send thank-you notes to guests and vendors. Leave reviews online and share your experience
☐ Get your gown cleaned and preserved if you choose to keep it