Special Wedding-Planning Checklist for The Brides
Congratulations, you’re engaged! The question’s popped, the ring is on, stars are in your eyes…but now what? Wedding planning can be a daunting task! Especially if you’ve never been involved in any wedding planning before. With so many tasks to take care of and details to arrange, planning a wedding can seem overwhelming. But, if you give yourself enough time to plan and sort the tasks month by month with a wedding planning checklist, the job becomes more fun and less stressful.
Hey Bride, got something for You! It can be tough to keep all the information straight, and even to decide where to start – that’s why I’ve set up The Special Wedding-Planning Checklist to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. Please check this out and for now, don’t be afraid, everything will be fine!
Ambika + Anuj – Wedding Highlights | Produced by- Ray Roman Films
This is Your 12-Month Wedding-Planning Checklist!
12 Months Out
Wedding planning binder
Start a wedding planning binder – this is where you’ll place all your research and planning a wedding from beginning to end. In your binder, you can plan as much and about anything you envision for your perfect wedding.
Wedding planning research is a very broad topic and needs to include at least the list below to start with. These are the most important things that will make your wedding day:
- Wedding Venues
- Wedding dresses
- Wedding cakes
- Menu and Bar
- Make-up and Hairstyles
- Wedding Planners
- Wedding officiants
- Sound and Lighting
- Stationery (includes the below)
- Save the date
- Place cards
- Seating Plan
- Look and Feel (includes the below)
- Wedding styles
- Colour schemes
- Wedding decoration
- Ceremony decor
- Pre-Dinner decor
- Reception decor
- Entertainment (includes the below)
- Classical groups
- Songs for important moments
First, you have to determine your budget
It’s time to do the math and crunch some not-so-fun numbers. Before you can start anything, you have to figure out who’s paying for what and determine your wedding’s bottom line. From there, you’ll want to break down said budget—what’s a priority? What’s not?—and start allocating funds accordingly.
Figure out what wedding priorities are the most important to you and focus on getting them done first so that is out of the way.
Hire a wedding planner
Again, this will depend on your budget. But if your funds allow—or if your peace of mind depends on it—now is the time to tap the manager of your big day. This person will be your right-hand woman (or man!) and will guide you in all decisions, from selecting a venue to tracking your budget and handling all the logistics.
Make a guest list
If only you could invite any and everyone, right?! Chances are, you can’t, which is why you have to put a cap on dishing out invites. Make a long list for potential guests and put it in your wedding binder. Split the list into an ‘A’ list and the ‘B’ list. You can always refine as time passes.
So, you know who you’re marrying. Now the real question is where? Choosing the venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make right now. Seriously, the location affects almost everything else, from how many people you invite to what kind of flowers go on the table. Throw out that pros and cons list and trust your gut. This decision is about how you feel when you’re there.
Select the caterer
Your wedding is the best (and largest) dinner party of your life. So how exactly do you feed 150 of your nearest and dearest? Well, start with hiring people you trust to deliver—whether that’s the venue’s in-house caterer, a preferred caterer recommended by your planner, or even your favorite taco truck. And don’t be afraid to get creative with your menu!
Choose your wedding party
Decide who’ll be at your side during your vows—and throughout your marriage. Make them feel extra special when you ask them, like with a heartfelt “Will you be my bridesmaid?” gift.
Start a guest list
Draft a guest list with the family members and friends that you’ll be inviting. Tweak the number of guests based on your budget in addition to a “Plan B” guest list in case some start dropping off the RSVP list.
11 Months Out
Hire a wedding photographer
Photography is an art that allows you to go back in time, to the moments long gone. It is a way of interpreting reality through the photographer’s perspective and the emotions of people immortalized in his frame. Therefore the essence of a good photograph is the ability to capture that which no-one else can notice. Do your research before you hire, ask all the right questions, and maybe even „date” your photographer. You should have hired a good wedding photographer.
Hire vendors who book up quickly, including your band, DJ,Florists, Make-up and Hairstyles.
These are the people who will make your day and night fun—and all those memories last forever.
Choose color theme and start thinking of overall design
Create your wedding Pinterest board. It’s finally time to gather inspiration, select a color palette, and create a mood board.
10 Months Out
Start shopping for your wedding dress
You may know exactly what you want or you might not, which is OK too. Try on wedding dresses, order by 10 months (this allows for up to 6 months for the dress to be delivered, any delays, and plenty of time for alterations); try to purchase your veil at the same time so you can try it on with the dress and finalize the entire “look”
Book hotel-room blocks for guests
It’s a thoughtful gesture to block out rooms (and secure a discounted rate) for your guests. Here’s everything you need to know.
Create your wedding website
Have fun designing a wedding website, and be sure to include important details like ceremony and reception addresses, lodging, registry information, engagement photos and more. Invite guests into your love story by including your URL on save the dates, invite inserts or Facebook.
Start looking at invitations
Express your creativity by selecting a wedding invitation that matches your style and theme. The wedding invitation is a guest’s first impression of your big day! That’s why you want to put your best foot forward with a personalized preview.
9 Months Out
Buy your wedding dress
It’s time to say yes to the dress if you want to avoid rush fees.
Let everyone officially know when and where you’re making it official. And remember: Everyone who gets a save-the-date gets a wedding invite. No exceptions. Give guests a heads up with unique save the dates so they can request time off and make travel arrangements.
8 Months Out
Register for gifts
Involve your partner this one—after all, you two are building a life (and home) together. When registering, it’s smart to ask for staples—like sheets and pots and pans, and so on—but it’s even more genius to think about what you really want. Consider your hobbies and tailor your registry to your soon-to-be-married lifestyle.
Begin honeymoon planning
Research ideas, options and price points for your romantic getaway. You may jet off right away or in a few months, but we suggest having a day or two after the big day to unwind and say goodbye to guests.
Meet with potential florists
Much like hiring your other vendors, you want to be simpatico with your florist as well. In order to do that, we suggest polling friends for recs, scrolling through Instagram inspo, and asking your planner/venue coordinator who they recommend in the area.
7 Months Out
Decide on ceremony details
Discuss important ceremony details with your fiancé. Will you incorporate religious verses, family traditions or your own vows?
Book the rehearsal-dinner venue (Could this American trend be making it’s way over to this side of the pond?)
Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner so treat this as an opportunity to impress your future MIL if that’s the case. That said, you still have say in the theme of this party and where it should happen (especially if you’re footing the bill yourself).
Hire the ceremony musicians
If your enlisting the talents of a three-piece band, now’s the time to do so. As for the actual music, I say don’t go generic when you can go personal! Here are 80 song ideas for the processional, and 74 for the recessional moments.
For those you want along for the ride, reserve a mini bus, trolley, limo or getaway car from your wedding to reception. Make post-reception transportation arrangements for you and your fiancé, especially if you’ll be drinking.
Create a run-of-show timeline
Write down a flow of events for your wedding reception including the timing of introductions, toasts, first dances and the bouquet toss to provide to the venue coordinator and other vendors.
6 Months Out
Take engagement photos
Capture your love in a favorite setting and use the images on your engagement party invitations, save the dates and wedding website. Keep in mind that many photographers offer engagement shoots for free or discounted if you’ve booked a wedding package with them.
Hire a lighting technician
The most important detail brides forget about is lighting. Seriously, the bulbs and candles you select are what will ultimately light your perfect venue, make your photos just right, and keep the party going—even after the sun sets.
5 Months Out
Buy or rent the groom’s tuxedo
The groom walks out first, remember? Make sure that first impression on your guests is a good one. Step one is choosing between a tux or suit, based on the formality of your wedding, and then deciding whether to buy or rent. When selecting the actual ensemble, focus on fit and function. A well-made outfit will be flattering, but also allow your groom to show off any and all embarrassing dance moves without fear of splitting any seams.
Send the guest list to your wedding shower host
Ship over your guest list to the host of your wedding shower, marking the people you’d especially appreciate being there.
Complete fittings and purchase wedding day accessories
Pick out those small details like shoes, jewelry and undergarments. For your dress or suit, schedule fittings and be sure it’s tailored to length with your shoes on.
Attend premarital counseling
Depending on your church requirements or state law, sign-up for pre-marriage counseling—it might be a chance to get to know your fiancé even better.
Sign-up for a dance lesson with your fiancé
For extra first dance practice or choreography, register for a lesson and break in your wedding shoes!
4 Months Out
Have your final tasting with the caterer
At this point, you’ve asked your caterer to talk the talk through these questions. Now it’s time to taste what they’re really made of. The tasting has become increasingly important as more and more couples choose to customize everything from their signature cocktails to their desserts. If you’re nervous about heart-eyes obstructing your taste buds’ judgment, bring your planner or consultant.
Choose your cake
Don’t stress about pleasing every one of your guests! This is your cake as a couple; it’s about expressing you guys! (You can also consider a groom’s cake.) Got the cake(s) decided? You need a baker. Find a reputable one who’s available on your date, and happy to take on your dream design for an equally dreamy price.
Does your fiancé (or you!) know the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding band? Read up, and then look through some of our favorites for him and her.
Select groomsmen’s attire and schedule fittings within the month
Do you want the groom and his guys to be matchy-matchy? How can you [ensure the entire entourage gets fitted on time], if they live all over the place? What else could go wrong? Breathe. You’ve got this, and don’t be afraid to get the groom involved. He may be able to easily pull rank and get his men in line—a very neat, orderly, and well-dressed one, at that.
Hair and makeup trial
Help your stylists help you by researching some particulars before you come in for your trials. Look back at old photos of yourself so you can find something that’s worked before and ensures you still look like yourself. Next, feel free to search social media for other inspiration; just don’t delude yourself with highly-filtered Instagram expectations.
3 Months Out
Order the invitations
There are a few ground rules when it comes to ordering your wedding invitations: order enough of them and account for some mistakes, make sure they will arrive in time, set up a system for recording RSVP replies, and confirm all addresses and spelling. But when it comes to design and wording, the options are endless.
Create or plan your menu
Once you’ve undergone a successful tasting, you’ll have a good sense of your caterer’s style and offerings, so you’re ready to finalize your food! Maybe you’re the couple who’s hand-selected every hors d’oeuvres, main, side, dessert, and drink situation. Or, perhaps you just told your chef to “handle it” and called it a day. Either way, now is the time to stamp your approval on a completed menu that fits your budget, tastes, and timing.
Book a photo-booth rental
If you only want you can do this.
Plan your exits
Will your guests be showering you with bubbles, surrounding you with sparklers or do you envision something private? Decide how you’ll exit both the ceremony and reception.
Order wedding favors
Choose personalized and unique wedding favors to appreciate your guests and help them remember your special day.
Choose your guestbook and card box
Find or make a guest book that represents you and that you’ll cherish for years to come.
Order your flowers
Work with your florist and choose wedding flowers that’ll be vibrantly in season.
Make childcare arrangements for your guest’s kids
While most people will do this on their own, assist by recommending or arranging babysitters. Some kids may attend a reception then connect with a babysitter for bedtime.
Write your vows
If you’ve opted to write your own promises to one another, start thinking about what those should sound like for you two as a couple. Traditional? Tear-jerking? Feminist? Fill-in-the-blank? Millennial? Pop-culture inspired?
2 Months Out
Send the wedding invitations
You already did the hard part—the selection process. Now, just print and assemble.
Send out rehearsal-dinner invitations
If your partner and his or her family are handling the rehearsal dinner, make sure you give them an accurate list of addresses, and feel free to discuss the design and overall aesthetic of the rehearsal dinner. You don’t want it to be an exact replica of the reception that will follow the next night, but you may also want to confirm you don’t show up to an “eat with your hands” BBQ buffet in black tie.
Purchase or make a gift for your fiancé
Surprise your fiancé on your wedding day with a gift that expresses your love and excitement to marry them.
Book your stylist and test out wedding hairdos
Review salon and stylist options and go for a trial run. Bring photos of hair style ideas and any accessories you plan to wear like a veil or comb.
Book a makeup artist for a trial run
Test your wedding day style with your makeup artist to ensure you’ll look stunning and natural.
Meet with your photographer
Grab a latte with your photographer and discuss your wedding agenda along with must-have portraits and your personal style.
Review the playlist with the band or DJ if applicable
Discuss a clear run-down of special songs, key music details and do-not-plays.
Book spa, hair and beauty treatments
Set up appointments for hair, spa or beauty treatments for you, your wedding party and family members
1 Month Out
Assemble gift bags
Follow the same guidelines as you did for your DIY projects to ensure this task is fun, not frustrating.
Pay your vendors in full
The last awkward situation you want to deal with right before your wedding day is a vendor chasing money. Avoid that by keeping careful track of when and how much you pay each vendor. If there are some vendors who must be paid the day-of, or you’re distributing tips, give your most trusted bridesmaid or relative a heads-up that come wedding day, you’ll be counting on them to handle the labeled envelopes you’re going to put together.
Create a seating chart
Get creative with welcoming guests. Design a seating chart that will ensure guests have fun and choose place cards that match your wedding theme.
Plan in-room welcome baskets for out-of-town guests
When guests travel from afar, especially for a destination wedding, consider a welcome basket in each hotel room with items like water, snacks and information about the area.
Plan your day-of schedule
A wedding day timeline will keep you and your bridal party on track for appointments and arriving to the venue. Add buffer time so you feel relaxed and in control.
Enjoy your bachelor or bachelorette party
Kick back and enjoy this special time with your girlfriends or guy friends. Whether it’s a night out or a weekend getaway, unwind and celebrate big.
Confirm times for hair and makeup
Ensure your hair and makeup stylists have you on their schedule.
Confirm times with all vendors
Verify details and times with your vendors. Your wedding day’s going to run beautifully!
Break in your wedding shoes
Walk around your hallways! Dance in your kitchen! Do everything in your power to avoid painful blisters on your wedding night.
DO NOT under any circumstances try new beauty treatments or regimens this month. Stick with products you’ve used before and no treatments that you haven’t tried yet.
Take care of things like:
- Refreshing your hair color
- Getting your eyebrows done
- Getting a massage (why not make it a couple’s massage?)
- Final dress fitting (a friend or bridesmaid should come with you so she can learn how to bustle if your dress requires it.)
- Pack your bags for the honeymoon (don’t forget your passport if you’re leaving the country!), and confirm your travel arrangements
- Send your day of timeline to everyone in the wedding party and parents
- Clean your ring (head to your jeweler to get your engagement ring professionally clean so it’s extra sparkly on your wedding day.)
- Chase any RSVP stragglers and deliver the final head count
- Clear your work to-do list so you can only focus on wedding festivities and take it all in!
- Practice your vows out loud
- Write your partner a note
- Check the weather report
Night Before / Day of the Wedding
The big day is finally here! All your careful preparation and creative planning have come to fruition, and it’s time to enjoy the wedding. Here’s what to do…
The night before:
- Eat a healthy meal
- Pack a clutch or small big of personal items
- Drink water
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Put any boxes, suitcases, bags, and survival kits to bring to the ceremony or reception in the car. (You’ll thank us tomorrow!)
The morning of:
- Stay off your feet as much as possible
- Eat breakfast
- Drink even more water
- Take your dress and veil out of the bag early on and have someone steam them if needed
- Lay out all the items (rings, invitations, etc.) that you want your photographer to capture
- Exchange notes with your partner
- Say thank you to everyone around you!
For Brides With Less Time to Plan
Though 12 to 14 months is the ideal length for an engagement, every couple’s engagement time is different. If your engagement length is shorter, Brand’s advice is to condense the schedule.
If you’re getting married in six months, try to complete all the wedding-planning checklist tasks designated for month 12 to 6 in that very first month, and then you’ll be right on schedule with everything else.