Wedding Planning Timeline
Feeling intimidated about being a DIY bride and arranging your own wedding? With so many things to consider the planning process can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, following a well-constructed wedding planning timeline will help you stay organized and allow you to enjoy the process. Don’t take away from the fun of this milestone experience by trying to do too much in too short a time -- or leaving things until the last minute. Depending on the length of your engagement, the wedding planning timeline may alter, but the following timeline is a great way to stay on top of so many details. What follows is a helpful guide to what needs to be accomplished so the big day will turn out to be every bride's dream.
Twelve+ Months Ahead
- Create a binder filled with inspiration from your favorite bridal, lifestyle, gardening, and food magazines. Now is also the time to start researching photographers, bands, and florists.
- Budget ' determine what you can realistically spend taking into account family contributions as well as your own.
- Decide on the perfect venue ' will it all be in one location or do you want separate venues for the ceremony and reception? How soon you need to book can certainly depend on the setting. Remember that some venues get booked over a year in advance.
- Choose the perfect person to officiate the wedding. There are so many options these days that this can really be a reflection of the couple's personalities. However, we do recommend someone who has experience officiating.
- Guest list ' hammering out the guest list with your fiancée goes hand in hand with determining both the budget and the venue.
- Determine who will be in your wedding and have an engagement party if desired.
Eight Months Ahead
- Hire the photographer.
- Book the entertainment.
- If catering is not offered by the venue, it's time to select a caterer.
- Have engagement photos taken if you would like to send engagement announcements or post one in the paper.
- Choose a dress ' bride's will generally need to allow enough time for two to three fittings before the wedding.
- Book blocks of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. Offer a choice of a few different price points.
- Register with your favorite retailer. You may also want to create an online registry making things as simple as possible for family and friends.
- Create a wedding website to keep everyone well informed and excited for the big day.
Six Months Ahead
- Purchase invitations ' you may also choose to send out a save-the-date card at this time.
- Select bridesmaid's dresses ' choosing a dress color and allowing the bridesmaid's to find their favorite style is becoming increasingly popular and can mean less of a headache for you.
- Meet with officiant to discuss ceremony details.
- Book any transportation that will be needed for traveling from the ceremony to the reception.
- Draw up a schedule of events.
- Purchase wedding bands.
- Begin your honeymoon planning ' be sure passports are up to date for out-of-the-country travel.
Four Months Ahead
- Choose any music that will be incorporated into the ceremony.
- Attend several cake tastings and decide on a baker and a cake design.
- Decide on attire for the groomsmen ' whether they are renting or purchasing, it's good to provide plenty of time to avoid any last-minute challenges.
- Plan the rehearsal dinner ' traditionally, this will be done by the groom's family and takes place the evening before the wedding.
- Finalize hair and make-up decisions ' visit a variety of salons for trial runs and take plenty of pictures to help you choose the best look.
Two Months Ahead
- Send out the invitations ' wedding invitation etiquette calls for them to be mailed out six to eight weeks in advance. If you are having a destination wedding send them 3 months ahead. Provide a RSVP cutoff that allows plenty of time for caterers and venues to have firm numbers.
- Touch base with all of your vendors to make sure things are moving along smoothly. You’ll want to finalize menu, music, and floral options.
- Place wedding announcement in the paper. Be sure to check for any restrictions on the types of photographs you can use.
- Write any personal vows and choose any readings you may want incorporated into the ceremony.
- Finalize a schedule of events and provide it to the florist, band, caterer, officiant, and any family members that will be offering their assistance on the big day.
One Month Ahead
- Enter RSVP information into a guest list database ' this is the time to start personally contacting those you haven’t heard from to find out if they are planning on attending. As the guest list comes together, start organizing the seating chart.
- Apply for your marriage license ' check with your local city or county clerk's office for FAQs related to obtaining the license.
- Along the way you have probably had a few dress fittings and this process should be just about complete.
- If you are planning on cutting or coloring your hair, now is a great time. Don’t save this for the last minute!
- Print programs, menu cards, place cards, etc.
- Confirm all details with vendors.
- Enjoy a bachelorette party or bridal shower. These events are generally thrown by the maid of honor, a friend, coworker, or anyone else who is close with the bride. Old tradition says family of the bride should not throw showers, but these days it's common and accepted for a sister, aunt, or cousin to throw a shower. Really, the only rule here is that the bride should not throw herself a shower.
Week of The Wedding
- Reconfirm arrival times and schedules with groomsmen, bridesmaids, and all vendors.
- Delegate “day of" tasks to any family members or friends who have offered to help. Although you are a DIY bride, you will want to have others doing all the work on the special day.
- After any final fittings, the wedding dress should be ready to be picked up.
- Give a final guest list to the caterer that should include as accurate a head count as possible. This is where keeping a guest list database is really helpful.
- Think about post wedding and start packing for your honeymoon!
The Day Before
- Work out any kinks during the wedding rehearsal and enjoy family and friends at the rehearsal dinner. Rehearsal dinners generally include the immediate family, wedding party, and officiant.
- To remain in the good graces of your bridesmaids and groomsmen, present them with a simple gift expressing your thanks during the rehearsal dinner
The Wedding Day
- Happily ever after starts here!