The question’s been asked and you’ve got the ring to show off….Congratulations! This is an exciting time in your life!
So now you may be wondering what’s next and where do I start?
Well. there are about a million details to plan and arrange and many of them you probably haven’t even thought of, or you might not even know about.
You’ve got this.
We’re here to help you out with a monthly list of tasks, a wedding planning checklist and some hand holding every step of the way.
Save yourself from the overwhelm and take one thing at a time. We know that you’ve been dreaming of that beautiful wedding since you were a little girl.
You want your wedding day to be beautiful, special and memorable and we understand that. That’s why we’re here to help!
Here’s your Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist and it’s the only list you’re going to need to get you all the way from the ring to the end of your big day!
Your 12-Month Wedding Planning Checklist
Click on any of the highlighted items to find out even more information on that section. This list is meant to be an overview of what to expect for 12 months out.
12 Months Out
The Engagement Party
Let’s face it, you want to show off that ring!
And really, this is just the kickoff for all your wedding planning and excitement. First thing on the list is an engagement party and sharing your good news with all of your closest friends and family.
It’s celebration season!
And then we move onto the less fun stuff.
You have to start by determining your budget. There’s no way to get around this step, You need to have conversations with each other and with your family’s on what you can expect them to help with so that you can start planning.
The budget is one of the most important decisions and it determines every other decision moving forward.
Remember that any budget can work for a wedding but you need to be realistic about where the money is coming from right from the start. It makes all the following steps easier.
Attend a Bridal Fair
A bridal fair can be a great source of information.
You’ll find vendors set up and you may find venues that you never even knew existed.
You can sample some catering and pick up an abundance of information. Be sure to ask questions and take notes because information overload is a real thing!
These might seem like two different things but one is going to be dependent on the other. If you want to get married in April you may be limited to what dates the venue you’re interested in are available. If you have your heart set on a specific date you may be limited by what venues are available.
The location will determine many of your decisions moving forward so you want to get that one booked as quickly as possible.
The venue may also determine who some of your vendors are since many venues may have required or preferred vendors for you to use.
Do you want to invite every person you’ve ever met or just have a small intimate wedding?
This is the time to start making those decisions. Part of this will be based on your budget and part of it will be based on how many seats you can fit into your venue.
This is not the final list, but it’s a starting point. You’ll want to get input from your families and determine who the most important people are to invite.
Start Organizing Your Ideas
There are at least a million things to organize for a wedding. Well it might not be a million but it sure does feel like it.
Pinterest boards are a great resource for ideas but you’re also going to be comparing costs, colors, invitations, etc. A binder is really a wonderful way to keep everything organized. Being digital is great but wedding planning still includes a lot of checklists. You’re going to want to have color swatches and maybe fabric samples while you’re organizing.
You can purchase a binder or assemble your own but be sure it has a couple of folders or pockets in it to store information. It’s also great idea to take your folder to all of your vendor meetings so that they can a get a feel for your vision.
We like the idea of having a wedding tote for the entire wedding planning process. Keep your binder and samples in it along with a couple of pens, a highlighter and an extra bottle of water. You’ll need to stay hydrated throughout this process!
Check out our Pinterest boards for inspiration!
11 Months Out
The Bridal Party
You know who your sisters and your best friends are and now’s the time to invite them to be part of your bridal party. These gals are going to support you through this entire process and celebrate every step.
You may want to take them dress shopping too, so get those fun “Will you Be My Bridesmaid” gifts ready to go!
Think About Your Theme
You and your partner may have very different ideas on what you want your big day to look like. This is the time to start combining those ideas and get some plans formulated. Decide on what’s important to you and branch out from there.
Your theme is not just the colors you want to use, it’s how you want your entire event to feel. Do you want it to be classic and formal, or casual and fun? Think of some descriptive words to help pinpoint your theme.
You will definitely want to make up some Pinterest inspiration boards to help with your vision. And it doesn’t have to be all wedding themed, be sure to look at how your living space is decorated or the things that you enjoy doing together.
Start Your Dress Shopping
You’re going to want to make appointments at bridal salons to try on dresses. This is the time to organize your shopping group and coordinate calendars. Assemble your #bridetribe and get ready to start narrowing down your choices.
You may not actually start your shopping at this point but get a couple of appointments lined up so that you’re ready to start shopping when everyone’s available.
If you already have some accessories picked out be sure to bring them with you when you shop.
10 Months Out
Select a Caterer
This is one heck of a dinner party that you’re throwing and you’re going to need some food.
Ask for recommendations from your venue, your friends and anyone that wants to give you one. Spend some time reviewing menus and schedule some tastings to help you decide.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box on this one, if you’ve got a favorite food truck then ask them about their catering options!
Hire a Photographer/Videographer
A photographer is the one preserving your memories of your big day. They will also catch moments that you missed and the emotion of all your family and friends. You may also have your photographer take Engagement Photos for you (more on that soon) and if you’re planning a boudoir session you’ll want to be sure this is someone you’re comfortable with.
Your photographer wants to do a great job for you so it helps to have a little time to get to know them before the big event.
They may also team up with a videographer for the event so it’s a great way to find out who they like to work with and why.
Hire A Wedding Planner
If you’re going to use a wedding planner now’s the time to get them involved. Some venues will have a person assigned to you and some may require you to use a person the day of, even if you don’t use a full on planner.
A wedding planner can help guide you through all your decisions, your timeline and will have great contacts in the business to refer you too. This is going to be your right hand person from now until the end of the party so spend some time meeting with a few planners and find one you can work with.
9 Months Out Wedding Planning
Hire vendors who may book up quickly
If you’re in a wedding area there may be more competition for vendors so you need to book them earlier to make sure you get the ones you like. If you know of that perfect deejay that you just have to use you’ll want to get on their calendar asap.
Reserve Hotel Room Block
If you’ve got guests coming from out of town you’ll want to secure a block of rooms at a local hotel. Most hotels will offer you a discounted rate for securing a block and we know your traveling guests will all appreciate that.
Your Wedding Website
Now that you’ve started making some big decisions you can create your wedding website. There are lot’s of places to do this and you can add more information as you move forward in the process but you want to get started and then set times in your calendar to keep updating it.
Get that engagement session done so you’ll have some beautiful photos for your wedding website and your save the dates.
That wedding invitation will say a lot about your big day. If you’re going with a custom design you’ll want to find your graphic designer soon so you can get started on ideas.
8 Months Out
Buy the Dress
You’ll want to get your dress ordered in plenty of time to have all the necessary alterations done so if you haven’t already, it’s time to say yes to the dress!
Mail Your Save the Dates
Make sure you get top billing on everyone’s calendars by sending them a save the date.
Don’t forget that if you send them a save the date, you will be sending them an invitation later so at this point that guest list should be firmed up.
Register for Gifts
This can be a fun date to plan. You should both be able to picture what your life together will look like and ask for items to help you live that dream. Be sure to cover a variety of budgets so that there are plenty of choices for everyone who will be giving you a gift.
Choose the bridesmaids dresses and schedule fittings for your party. If your ladies are local then plan a shopping date to help you pick the right dresses.
Meet with Florist
You want to have a great relationship with your florist just like you do with all your vendors. Your planner or venue will be able to give you some referrals and there are probably local flower shops who have a wedding crew. Be sure to meet with them to show them your vision and find out what their ideas are to make your florals amazing and within your budget.
7 Months Out
Hire the Musicians
Whether you’r using a local dj or a band, now’s the time to get that contract signed.
Hire an Officiant
If you aren’t being married in a church you will need an officiant to marry you. This is another area where you’ll want to ask for referrals.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Now is a good time to start planning for the rehearsal dinner. You will probably have a decent idea of how many guests you’ll be hosting and who’s footing the bill.
Generally the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner but you’ll be involved in the planning of it so it’s time to secure the venue.
6 Months Out Wedding Planning
Order Rental Items
It’s time to get all those linens ordered and any other specialty items that you’re planning to have on your wedding day.
If you need a lighting technician you need to get them scheduled at this point. The lighting will set the mood for your entire event and it will also affect all the photo’s that are taken so you want it to be perfect.
Book the Honeymoon
Traditionally the groom used to surprise the bride with the honeymoon.
That isn’t always the case anymore and with work schedules and transportation involved you need to be on the same page about where you’re headed and for how long. Now’s the time to get those plans made.
Book Your Rooms
Are you planning to get ready at home, at the venue or somewhere nearby? If you need to book a room for the night before and day of you should do that now.
Are you heading home after the reception or staying someplace special? It’s time to book that too.
5 Months Out
Whether or not you’re religious premarital counseling is a great idea. It can help you discuss items that might be a bit tough to talk about and it can bring ideas to you that you hadn’t considered.
Some states offer a discount on your marriage license if you complete premarital counseling and couples and counselors agree that this is a good way to start your marriage.
Are you planning your send off in a limo or on horseback? You need to get that booked so it’ll be ready the night of!
If you need to book transportation for guests now’s the time to do that. If you have limited parking or a large group staying in a local hotel it’s great to have arrangements made for them getting back and forth.
Buy or Rent the Tux
Is the groom wearing a tux or a suit?
Are you purchasing or renting?
Once you’ve made these decisions it’s time to pick out the ensemble.
4 Months Out
Finalize Your Menu
If you need to do a final tasting with your caterer it’s a great time to get that on the schedule.
Choose Your Cake
Schedule tastings so that you can pick the cake that you like the best. This is your cake so be sure that it’s something you both love. It’s also a good time to pick a groom’s cake if you’re planning to have one.
Purchase Wedding Bands
Your engagement ring may be part or a set or it may be separate.
If you haven’t already chosen a ring for him it’s time to get that purchase picked out.
Schedule Grooms Fittings
Once you’ve determined the groom’s attire you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re planning for the rest of the groomsmen. If they are renting tuxes they need to get those fittings done now.
Hair and Makeup Trial
You’ll want your stylists to know exactly what is expected on your wedding day so schedule trials for your hair and makeup. Take inspiration photo’s with you so that they can see what you like and then let them create a beautiful look for you.
Book Dance Lessons
If you’re uncomfortable dancing in front of a crowd you may want to schedule some dance lessons. You can book a few or just one so that you can practice your first dance and look great out there on the dance floor.
3 Months Out
Order Wedding Invitations
If you’re hiring a calligrapher to address your invitations you want to get them booked now.
Be sure to order enough invitations to cover a few mistakes. You need them to arrive in time for all of them to be addressed and sent out and you’re going to need a system for keeping track of RSVP’s.
If you are planning to have goody bags or guests favors it’s time to plan it.
Book the Photo Booth
The photo booth is almost a staple at weddings these days and it’s a fun addition for everyone involved. If you’re planning to have one you need to get that booked now.
If you’re planning to DIY any part of your wedding decor you need to get started on it. The more you can do in advance the better off you’ll be later. You don’t want to be scrambling for supplies or worried about something that didn’t turn out perfectly.
If you’re having a bar and it’s not part of your caterer you need to get them hired.
If you’re planning a specialty drink be sure to meet with them to go over supplies and mixes so that it will be perfect.
2 Months Out Wedding Planning
Write Your Vows
If you’re planning to write your vows to each other now’s a good time to brainstorm a bit about what you’ll say. You don’t have to finalize them yet but getting started will save you some stress down the road.
Send Wedding Invitations
Be sure that your RSVP’s have a deadline then assemble, stamp and mail.
Rehearsal Dinner Invites
You can include invitations to the rehearsal dinner with your wedding invitations if you’d like. Now’s the time to organize that crowd to.
Buy Wedding Party Gifts
You want to give your wedding party something thoughtful that will remind them of a fun time you’ve shared.
Share Your Song List with Your DJ
If you’re using a DJ for your wedding or reception they can help you with song selection based on your taste. You will probably have a few “must play” songs like your processional, recessional, first dance and others. You may also have a “do not play” list of songs you absolutely don’t want to hear at your reception.
1 Month Out and still Wedding Planning
Check off the Small Items
If you’re working with spreadsheets and lists you probably have an ongoing list of things to pick up. If you’re working with a Wedding Planner then they should have some checklists for all those small items.
Toasting flutes, cake toppers, the cake stand, the cake knife, your garter. Did you purchase a guest book and do you have a pretty pen for people to sign it with? What accessories do you need for the flower girl or ring bearer?
Pick Up Your Marriage License
Be sure you know where and when you can get your marriage license, how much it costs and how long it’s good for. All of these questions are different depending on your state and possibly even your county so you’ll have to plan accordingly.
And if you’re having a destination wedding you’ll need to know the rules on how to make it official also.
If you haven’t had a reply it’s time to give them a call and get a confirmation.
Pay Your Vendors
You should have contracts with your vendors and you want to be sure that all the payments are caught up or set up to take place. If there are vendors that are being paid the day of then be sure you have a trusted person (or wedding planner) designated to take care of this for you.
Organize the Seating Chart
Even if your event is not formal you’ll still want to reserve tables for the wedding party and family.
Schedule a final walkthrough of your venue so that you can be sure that everything you’ve discussed up until now is still in place. If you have any questions be sure to take them with you and discuss them at this time. Be sure to have your wedding planner or a helpful friend or family member with you so you can be sure everything meets your expectations.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue
The Final Week of Wedding Planning
Organize Cash Tips
You’ll need envelopes full of cash for several of your vendors or workers the day of the event. Be sure to check all of your contracts to know if the tip is included or expected the night of. Don’t forget about your musicians or DJ, drivers, bartenders or servers.
Review Shot List With Photographer
It helps your photographer to know how many family, extended family, best friends, etc. are involved. This helps them to be sure that they get photo’s of all the important people.
You’ll be giving speeches at the rehearsal dinner and at the reception so spend a little time thinking about what you’d like to say.
This last week is the time for you to prepare by getting a manicure/pedicure, making sure your hair and eyebrows are in tip top shape and get your ring cleaned so that it’ll be super sparkly for the photo’s. You might want to practice saying your vows so that you can hear them out loud.
If you’re leaving right away for your honeymoon get your bags prepared.
Be sure to eat a good meal and get a good night’s sleep the day before.
The Day Of Your Wedding
The wedding planning is done and now it’s time for the big event!
The big day is finally here and it’s going to be amazing. Be sure that you drink plenty of water. You’re going to be nervous and excited but try to eat so that you’ll be able to keep your energy up.
Have any special items ready for your photographer – ie your invitations and rings.
Enjoy yourself. This day is about you and your partner.
Relax and be married.