Up to a year out
- Pick a date!
- Work out a budget: Determine how much you have to spend and how you want to spend it.
- Pick your wedding party: Once you say yes, all your friends will wonder who will be in the bridal party.
- Start making a guest list: Best to make a spreadsheet with columns for RSVP, head count, etc. Will there be children allowed? If so, what accommodations at venue or in food should be considered?
- Choose and reserve your wedding and reception venues. Ask about liability insurance.
- Book your officiant, that is, the person performing the wedding ceremony.
- Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers: Keep track of your searches and contact info.
- Insure your engagement ring: Although nothing can replace the sentiment of your engagement ring, there is peace of mind in knowing that you can get your money back if something happens to it. Call your existing insurance provider to add the ring to your policy.
- Start a wedding binder or ‘Pinterest’ page: Clip or pin ideas and inspiration.
- Think about having an engagement party: Remember that anyone invited to this party should get a wedding invite as well. These parties are usually hosted by parents of either the bride or the groom.
- Hire a wedding planner: Wedding planners can make planning a whole lot easier, from the biggest decisions to the tiniest detail, they will be able to help you on every decision you make.
- Look into pre-marital counseling. Counseling does not mean you have problems. Pre-marital counseling is helpful in building a foundation for a life together and hammer out details on future decisions.
Eight months to go
- Hire a photographer and videographer: At this point, just secure the people you want for the dates you want. Also make a date for engagement photos to be shot; these will be used for your save the dates.
- Secure the entertainment: If it’s a live band or a DJ, get them nailed down on a date and begin compiling a list of songs that you would like to have played at the reception.
- Explore catering options: Most caterers will offer tastings to let you sample their food items. Consider various food options to fit everyone’s preferences. Include both vegetarian and meat options.
- Purchase the dress: Remember that you often will need to leave time for fittings and adjustments before the wedding, so even though this is early, you’ll be glad you have it started.
- Choose a dress for your bridesmaids: Since dresses have to be shipped in and often require fittings and adjustments, it is important to choose and order your bridesmaid’s gowns in advance.
- This gives each girl time to try on and have alterations done before the big day. Don’t forget shoes and accessories!
- Contact a local hotel in order to reserve a block of rooms for out-of-town guests: You may want to choose at least two different places to offer different price ranges for your guests. Try to keep the hotels close to the wedding and reception venues.
- Register for gifts: Again choose a couple of different places to accommodate guests of all budgets.
- Start a good diet and exercise regimen
- Launch a blog or wedding website: These can be so helpful for updates, logistical information, and just for fun. Download wedding-related apps to your smart phone to have wedding tips and information with you at all times.
- Send “Save the Date” cards.
- Submit your engagement photo to your local paper for an Engagement Announcement.
Six months to go
- Select and purchase invitations: Allow time for addressing — this can be time-consuming. Make sure to include a deadline for when all accepted invitations must be returned.
- Start planning a honeymoon: Contact a local travel agent for best destinations and deals. Consider signing up for a honeymoon registry; this allows your family and friends to send a monetary gift that will help you pay for your lodging and honeymoon.
- Meet with whomever is officiating your wedding: Go over ceremony and confirm details, and learn about important documents and details for the day.
- Book a florist: Before you go, have an idea of your color palette for floral decoration and have an estimate of how many bouquets and centerpieces you will need.
- Arrange transportation: From airport to hotel to church, as well as special vehicles for you and your spouse.
- Develop a working schedule for the wedding day that you can share with those involved.
- Look into dance classes.
Four months to go
- Book a rehearsal dinner venue, and discuss who will cover what expenses here. Rehearsal dinners are usually hosted by the groom’s parents.
- Visit bakeries and choose your wedding cake flavors and design.
- Begin dress fittings: Be sure to have your shoes, as you will need these to make accurate alterations.
- Get groom and groomsmen clothing ordered.
- Schedule the hair and make-up professionals: Think about having them come to you at your wedding location. Have a sample hair and make-up run done, so that you can determine the colors and style you want for your big day.
- Begin thinking about first-dance songs. Choose a song that has special sentiment to you and your fiancé.
- Check on your invitations to be sure they are in the works.
- Think about cultural traditions from either family to include in your wedding day. Incorporate tradition and begin your own on this special day!
- Look into wedding insurance.
Three months to go
- Finalize menu and flowers.
- Doing wedding favors or bridal party gifts? Get those ordered or purchased.
- Plan presentations like toasts and readings: Who is doing what?
- Print wedding programs.
- Purchase wedding rings.
- Send your wedding day schedule to the vendors, so you can all be on the same page.
- Print reception menus.
- Begin thinking about merging bank accounts, adding spouse on health insurance, etc.
Two months to go
- Take bridal portraits and discuss wedding photography preferences with your photographer.
- Make sure band or DJ has your music preferences and look over their sample playlists they have created for your day.
- Mail out those invitations and await the replies.
- Submit a wedding announcement to your local paper: Check the rules of your local publication about photo size and type.
- Enjoy shower(s) and/or bachelorette party: Usually the bridal party heads these up.
One month to go
- Keep up with RSVP and guest list. Tally up the number of guests that have RSVP’d already, and begin to send those numbers into your wedding coordinator.
- Get a marriage license: Usually available at your County Clerk’s office.
- Last dress fitting! Remember your shoes and wedding undergarments.
- Mail rehearsal dinner invitations: Again, this is usually an event hosted by the groom’s family, but if you are doing it yourself, you’ll need to do this.
- Confirm times for all vendors.
- Buy thoughtful gifts for bridesmaids and close family.
- Pick out wedding day jewelry.
- Get your hair cut and colored, if needed — don’t do anything too drastic!
- Write thank you notes for shower gifts.
- Assign reception seating.
- Write vows, if not using traditional ones.
- Plan a bridesmaid luncheon or brunch.
Week of the Wedding
- Touch base with vendors and wedding party about times and places; give a final head count.
- Make a reservation for a pedicure, manicure.
- Send final numbers to caterer/venue owner.
- Wear your wedding shoes for a few hours each day to break them in.
- Don’t forget to pack for the honeymoon!
- Schedule a facial and/or massage to ensure you are relaxed and fresh for your wedding. Be sure not to do something harsh that may leave you with reddened skin! This goes for eyebrows too!
- Make and deliver gift baskets for out of town guests.
- Plan one last romantic date with your fiancé before you become man and wife.