You said yes. Not sure what to do next or where to begin? First, take a deep breath and allow Visions to offer a game plan. If you are fortunate enough to have a year to plan, begin with the suggestions on our checklist.
10 – 12 months before your wedding
- Place your engagement announcement in your local newspapers.
- Discuss with your partner what each of you want your wedding to look like. Begin looking through bridal magazines, wedding blogs, etc. Decide on the style of your wedding formal, informal, religious or civil.
- Set your budget and establish priorities. Most couples today pay all or most of the cost of their wedding. If your parents are contributing, sit down with them discuss what their contribution will be.
- Decide on the number of guests you want to attend your wedding. Begin compiling your guest list and obtaining their addresses. This information is important in deciding the size of the venue you will need.
- Set the date. The most popular months for weddings are May, June, July, August, September and October. Now that you have your date consider mailing your Save the Date cards. This is also a good time to set up a wedding web site.
- If you lead a busy life or already feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional wedding planner.
- Check on the availability of your wedding officiant.
- Locate and reserve your ceremony and reception venues. If planning an outdoor wedding, consider a backup plan.
- Attend bridal fairs and expos to get inspiration and meet vendors.
6 – 8 months before your wedding
- Choose your bridal party and begin making decisions about your’s and their clothing and accessories.
- Block hotel rooms for out-of-town guests and book your own suite for the wedding night.
- Set up your bridal registries. Post to your wedding website.
- If there is no onsite catering at the venue you selected, begin reviewing caterers and tasting their food. This is a great time to plan your menu. Tip: Know when the final guest count is required.
- Interview and listen to bands or DJ’s for your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. Start listening to songs you want for your ceremony and reception.
- Interview and get estimates from florists. Go to these appointments armed with photos of bouquets, centerpieces and other florals that you love. Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for comparable flowers if the ones that you love are out of your price range or out of season.
- Interview and review the work of photographers and videographers.
- Order invitations and personalized stamps. Tip: Set your RSVP deadline date; it should be two weeks prior to the date your final guest count is to be provided to the caterer. Invitations are mailed six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date.
4 – 6 months before your wedding
- Work on your ceremony. Select readings, the music and any special ceremonies for example unity candle ceremony, sand ceremony, etc.
- Schedule a meeting with your officiant include him/her in the process.
- Make a list of music choices for your reception. Plan special events you want to include, such as your first dance, bouquet toss, shoe game, etc. Schedule a meeting with band or DJ to go over your choices.
- Secure any necessary transportation
- Hire a hair stylist and make-up artist and set up a trial run
- Select a rehearsal dinner venue. Make a list of persons attending and schedule the rehearsal time.
- Provide guest list for person(s) hosting your showers. Tip: Write thank-you cards for gifts when received.
- Purchase your wedding rings
2 – 4 months before your wedding
- Mail out invitations. Set up a tracking system for your RSVPs.
- Select gifts for your attendants, your parents and for each other.
- Meet with photographer and videographer to finalize
- Reserve any rentals needed for your ceremony and reception.
- Shop for and reserve formalwear for groom and his merry men
- Book honeymoon and obtain necessary documents if leaving the country
1 – 2 months before your wedding
- Work on wedding day timeline.
- Purchase a guest book.
- Order or make wedding favors for your guests.
- Obtain marriage license.
- Send a change of address to your post office.
- Schedule a dress fitting.
- Take your shoes, veil and appropriate undergarments.
- Follow up on RSVPs not returned.
- Confirm final guest count with caterer and venue.
- Prepare the necessary documents in which to change your name.
- Prepare seating plan.
1 week prior
- Finalize transportation.
- Pack up all items for the day of your wedding. Tip: Don’t forget the rings and marriage license.
- Prepare payments and tips for officiant and any vendors not already paid. Put in clearly marked envelopes and give them
to someone you trust to hand out at the reception.
- Assign someone to pack up your gifts and belongings after the reception. Tip: Don’t forget to pick up the cake topper and toasting goblets.
- Relax and enjoy your wedding, family and friends.
As a planner, I have noticed in our area most weddings are planned in six months. If you only have six months, check out one of my favorite resources at https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/your-six-month-wedding-planning-timeline
Whether you have 12 months or six to plan your wedding, take the time to enjoy the process, be flexible, and delegate, delegate, delegate.
By Debra Harris
Debra Harris is wedding planner and owner of Visions by Debra Harris in Hopkinsville, Ky. She is a 2018 Wedding Wire Couple’s Choice Award winner.