For you and your partner, the wedding is the most important event of your life as a couple. Whether you have a year or just a few months to plan it, failure isn’t an option. For this reason, a wedding planning checklist is exactly what you need to keep track of this unique event.
The earlier you prepare, the likelier for the event to succeed. It’s a long way from the first day of prep to the actual ceremony, so expect it to be stressful. But to avoid getting completely overwhelmed by the process, we’re here to help you figure everything out.
From our experience, we give you your first wedding gift: Your wedding planning checklist. You are welcome!
One Year Out
1 – Get design ideas
Bridal magazines, social networking sites, and lifestyle websites offer a gazillion of design inspiration. It helps if you have preferences in color, theme, and other personal touches as it’ll help you narrow down the ideas. Don’t forget to ask your closest friends and family, too.
2 – Figure out a budget
You can’t move on to other things without determining how much money you’re willing to spend. The wedding ceremony and reception will consume most of the cost. Include the contribution from your family, too.
3 – Consider who’s in
Make your list of prospective guests. A headcount spreadsheet helps as it serves as your guide through the entire process. Since you’re creating this list one year from the date of the wedding, expect to add and omit people along the way. The spreadsheet should have columns for contact information, gifts, address, RSVPs, and anything you consider relevant. As much as you want to invite everyone, you’ll reduce the cost of your wedding if you limit the people on your guest list.
4 – Hire a wedding planner
This one’s your prerogative. Some people are way too busy to handle the planning stage on their own. If you can afford one, then hire a reputable wedding planner. It’ll benefit you in the long run since wedding planners have their way with suppliers and vendors.
5 – Choose a venue, book it, and set the date
Even if it’s still a year out, you must decide whether to have separate venues for the wedding ceremony and the reception. Should you choose a date within the peak season, lock down that date, or someone else might beat you to it.
6 – Hire intangibles
The wedding planner usually takes care of it; but if you don’t hire one, it’s your job to look for a photographer, caterer, band, videographer, and florist. If you’re planning to tap the best event professionals in your area, see to it that you book them in advance.
Eight to Nine Months Out
1 – Decide on catering
Not all wedding venues offer catering service. If that’s what you’re facing right now, you still have time to look for a caterer. Factor in your food preferences and budget when choosing a catering service.
2 – Buy the wedding outfit
This step includes scheduling for at least three fittings. The most important thing here is the dress and suit; you may schedule veil shopping later.
3 – Book hotel rooms if you’re expecting out-of-town guests
The most critical factor in choosing accommodation for your guests is its proximity to the venue. Do some “comparison shopping” to figure out which hotels offer the most reasonable accommodation.
Six Months Out
1 – Buy your invitations
You can put a lot of effort into your invitations, or you can hire a calligrapher instead. Addressing cards requires time – a luxury that you probably don’t have right now. If your budget allows, then hire someone else to do it for you.
2 – Start shopping for the bridesmaid dress
There must be enough time for you to choose your bridesmaids’ dresses, and six months will suffice. Keep in mind that they’re made to order, so it takes time to get done.
3 – Talk to the officiant
There are aspects of the wedding planning checklist that you would want others to do on your behalf, and there are those that you must take care on your own. One of your many responsibilities is to set up a meeting with the wedding officiant. You’ll confirm your possession of the required documents and the date of the ceremony.
4 – You must secure transportation and auxiliary needs
This may sound silly for small weddings, but consider hiring town cars, limos, and trolleys if you have a huge guest list made up of out-of-town guests. Don’t forget electrical and structural necessities, i.e., lighting, extra chairs, tables, etc.
Four Months Out
1 – Create a schedule of all the activities on the wedding day
It’s the wedding planner’s job to map out the event, but you must be there to confirm and concur the details. This includes activities like the first dance, cake cutting, speech, and many others.
2 – Book the venue for the rehearsal dinner
Don’t just book without negotiating. Even if you have an unlimited budget, see to it that you negotiate the cost, especially the menu. Venues tend to hike their prices, knowing that weddings are mostly extravagant.
3 – Schedule a few cake tastings before ordering
The wedding wouldn’t be complete without the cake. Be sure to attend at least three tastings before you decide which baker you love the most, and add each of your cater notes to your wedding planning checklist.
If you choose a famous baker, expect an extended lead time, so better order in advance.
4 – Let the bridal shower host know who’s attending
This one doesn’t seem to make sense since you’re not supposed to know about the shower. Anyhow, if you’re aware of it, then make the most out of it by sending the host your preferred guest list.
5 – Outfit fittings and shoe shopping should commence at this point
Buy your shoes first so that you can bring it to your first fitting. The tailor needs to see you in those shoes to figure out the ideal length of the dress.
6 – Book your bridal makeup artist and hairstylist
Like your food and wedding cake, see to it that you set up at least three appointments with local prospects. Add their names and addresses to your wedding planning checklist. Be sure to grab a photo of their work on you so that you can compare and decide.
Three Months Out
1 – Finalize the food and flower arrangements
The reason why you’re finalizing both the food and flowers so close to the wedding day is that both commodities are seasonal. You’ll want the best and freshest ingredients for the food and the most abundant variety of flowers.
2 – Come up with a list of people who’ll give the toasts and do the readings
You must decide who among your closest peeps should get the microphone for the reception toast. You’ll inform them in advance to prepare for it. The same thing applies to the person who’ll do the readings at the wedding ceremony.
3 – Decide on the order of the ceremony and the reception details
If you’ve missed out on some details of the ceremony and reception, this is your last chance to iron everything out. There’s no more time or room to spare later, so sit down with your partner and think of all the small things you may have forgotten at this point.
4 – Print the program and menu cards
This is the part where you skip the extravagance of paying for a printing company. Both the menu cards and programs can be printed at home – no need to spend more on professional work since your guests won’t be scrutinizing the quality of the menu card and program.
5 – Buy the rings
Most couples do this a week or two before the wedding day, only to realize that the rings require resizing or they’ve decided to add some engravings. Do this at least three months before the big day so that you’ll have enough time in case you need to resize the rings.
6 – Let your vendors know about the event schedule.
Send every vendor a draft of the proposed event schedule. The purpose is for them to send feedback and make the necessary adjustments.
Two Months Out
1 – Meet all the people you hired for the wedding
This list includes your photographer, makeup artist, videographer, wedding planner, band, vendors, etc. If you have questions, now is the time to ask.
2 – Send out the invites
If you’re sending invitations via traditional mail, do it at least six weeks before the ceremony. You’ll want the RSVP cut-off three weeks after the postmark date. That’s just enough time to work through the final list of people coming.
3 – The bachelor and bachelorette party usually happen within this timeframe
It’s the maid of honor’s responsibility to arrange this night out, but there’s nothing wrong if you ask for the details. You’ll want a celebration to succeed by covering the details, including the people you expect to be there.
One Month Before the Wedding
1 – Input the RSVPs to your spreadsheet
Remember the guest list spreadsheet you created almost a year ago? You’ll have to go back and enter the RSVPs in it. If possible, contact all the friends and family who haven’t responded to the invites. It won’t harm if you double-check.
2 – Secure the marriage license
Securing the license can take up to eight days, depending on a bevy of factors. So, it’s best to have it processed earlier to have enough time if adjustments to be made or additional documents are required.
3 – Go over with your tailor for the final outfit fitting
The ideal scenario is to schedule a fitting a week before the wedding. But there’s no need for that if you meet your tailor and try the dress on. If it fits perfectly, then there’s nothing to worry for the remaining weeks.
4 – Assign the seats
This is easier than you probably think – all you need is to draw table shapes on a layout representing the room. Assign yellow sticky notes for the female guests and blue ones for male guests. It’ll be easier for you to move people as you plan the seats without resketching and erasures.
5 – Don’t forget the “thank you” gifts
You’ll hand these gifts out at the rehearsal dinner. This one isn’t compulsory, but it’s tradition.
6 – Write your vows
This is the 21st century – you can be bold and honest in telling the world and your partner how you feel about the wedding. Make sure to add this important aspect to your wedding planning checklist.
The Week of the Wedding
1 – Assign wedding day tasks
See to it that everything is covered – choose a person you trust to cover small yet indispensable roles, i.e., carry your stuff, bustle your dress, and organize the gifts. Ideally, assign a point person for every vendor to ensure everything runs smoothly.
2 – Confer with your photographer for the last time
You want this done a few days before the big day. You must sit down with the photographer to talk about every moment that you want to be captured.
3 – A spa treatment makes a world of difference
You want to look your best during the finest day of your life. So, it makes sense to give yourself a relaxing massage after a year of preparation. See to it that you have your nails done, too. Never underestimate the power of looking and feeling pretty.
4 – Distribute the final guest list to the relevant people
Send the final guest list to all the venues in your wedding as well as the catering service. This is crucial in determining the number of people to be served in the ceremony and reception.
Keep Calm for the Wedding Morning
It’s your finest hour, the moment of truth. You’ve been waiting for this the whole year, and yet, here you are, feeling anxious. You wish for everything to be perfect, but you must calm your nerves first to do that. See to it that you have an early night. Practice mindfulness, perhaps some meditation and calming scents will help. Get enough sleep for the biggest day of your life.