Complete Wedding-Planning Checklist and Timeline

Were you recently engaged and now looking for your next plan of action? Your mind is probably all over the place, there are so many plans to make and details to arrange. Planning a wedding can seem overwhelming, but if you give yourself enough time to plan month by month with a wedding checklist and timeline, the task becomes less stressful and more enjoyable.

Although the average engagement is 12 to 14 months, everyone’s engagement looks different. If your engagement is much shorter than the time frame of 12 months, just condense this schedule. Follow this guide for a complete wedding plan checklist and timeline.

wedding plan

Wedding Plan 12 Months Out

Determine Your Wedding Budget

Creating a budget is the most important part of your wedding plan. The budget will determine a lot of other parts and details of your wedding. After deciding what your budget is, you will want to make a priority list. What is a priority? what is not? This will help you keep track of your spending and make it easy to adjust your budget if needed along the way.

Make a Guest-list

When deciding the amount of people on your guest list, consider your budget and venue. How many guest can you afford financially? How many guest does your venue fit? Take suggestions from others who are helping you plan, such as your husband and parents. Between all of you, make a decision on who will receive an invite.

Hire a Wedding Planner

A wedding planner will help guide you in all of your decision making, from selecting a venue to handling all of the logistics. A wedding planner is not always within the budget but if you can afford it, now is the time to start looking to hire a wedding planner.

Pick a Theme

The theme of the wedding should be a mutual decision, determined by both the groom and bride. Ask yourself questions like, what is important to you? What do you value?

Choose the Venue

Choosing a venue is the next most important thing when determining your budget. The location of your wedding will have an effect on your decisions such as the amount of people you invite and the placements of your decorations. Take your time to find the perfect venue that will fit your style, budget, and guest-list.

Select the Caterer

Don’t be afraid to be creative with your menu. Think about what you want to eat on your big day. Then you will be able to determine if you will need to hire a local caterer, the venue’s in-house caterer, or even a food truck. Food brings conversation and happiness so make sure it is something great for your guest to enjoy.

Wedding Plan 11 Months Out

Choose Color Theme

Start thinking about what color scheme you want at your wedding. Check out Pinterest or Instagram for some ideas.

Hire Vendors

Venders such as Dj’s, Photographers, Bands, etc tend to book up fast, make sure you plan ahead and start booking who you want to be at your event. Venders will make your wedding day fun and memorable, so be sure to reserve your spot on their calendar.

Wedding Plan 10 Months Out

Start Shopping for Wedding Dresses

You may know exactly what you want or you may not know at all, that is why it is good to start early. Finding a gown may be a matter of trial and error, make sure you find a good salon.

Take Engagement Photos

Engagement photos are great practice for you to get comfortable being in front of the camera. Also most photographers include a session for engagement photos in their package.

Wedding Invitations

The wedding invitation is the guest’s first impression of your big day. You will want to create a personalized preview for your guest. If you prefer a custom invitation now is the time to start talking with a graphic designer. Or if you prefer a less involved route, you can wait until the six month mark to start thinking about invitations.

Wedding Plan 9 Months Out

Buy Your Wedding Dress

Now is the time to say “yes” to the dress. Buying your wedding dress early will help avoid rush fees.

Wedding Plan 8 Months Out

Register for Gifts

It is a good idea to involved your soon to be spouse in on this part. You will want to consider what gifts will be beneficial to the both of you with your soon-to-be-married lifestyle in mind. If you are moving in together for the first time, you may want to request gifts such as pots/pans, a coffee maker, sheets, and/or a fancy iron. Gifts that will benefit the both of you. Also, you can’t go wrong with gift cards.

Schedule Bridesmaids’ Dresses and Fittings

After doing a little research, if accessible have your bridesmaids go shopping with you for bridesmaid dresses. Then you can have them try on the dresses and get their opinion as well.

Meet Potential Florist

wedding florist arrangement

You will want to find a florist that will deliver your vision as well as stay within your budget. Find recommendations through instagram, your wedding coordinator or other friends and family.

Wedding Plan 7 Months Out

Book Rehearsal-Dinner Venue

wedding rehearsal dinner

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner so treat this as an opportunity to impress your future mother-in-law if that’s the case. Even though they may be paying, you will still make the decision on the theme of the party and where it should happen.

Order Rental Items, Such as Specialty Chairs, Linens, Draping, Lounge Furniture, White Dance Floor, Etc.

Invest in good rentals, it is worth the upgrade if it is within your budget. You and your guest will appreciate the upgraded chairs and lounge furniture. You may think of these as extras, but good rentals act as good bones of your wedding day decor.

Hire an Officiant

wedding officiant

If you are marrying someone in a house of worship, you will need to hire someone to make it official. Couples can hire a professional or take a more intimate route and ask friends or close family members to do the honors.

Wedding Plan 6 Months Out

Hire a Lighting Tech

The lighting is one of the most important details that get overlooked. The bulbs and candles you select are what will light up your beautifully decorated venue, make your photos right, and keep the party going even after the sun goes down.

Wedding Plan 5 Months Out

Book the Transportation

wedding limo

Think about your venue parking lot, how is the parking? Will it be more convenient for your guest if you were able to provide transportation for them? If you are arriving from a hotel, or even your home with a number of people with you, maybe you want to consider paying for transportation for everyone to arrive together. You can order an Uber or a shuttle bus from your location for your guest. Specifically for the newly weds, transportation may look different. You may want to ride in style by ordering a limo, specialty car, or another creative means of transportation. Consider how you want to arrive to your wedding and start booking.

BookYour Honeymoon

Traditionally, the groom plans a surprise honeymoon for the bride, but now-a-days couples do not follow tradition. If you are planning a honeymoon as a couple be sure to think about travel arrangements, budgets, timing, and your itinerary together. Be sure to share your desires you want from the trip with each other to ensure you both are pleased with the outcome.

Rent the Groom’s Fit

Everyone will see the groom first. Make sure he gives a good first impression for your guest. First you will want to decide if the groom will be wearing a tuxedo or a suit based on the formality of your wedding. You will want to make sure his outfit fits comfortably and functionally. The groom has to be able to look good as well as show off dance moves when the time comes.

Wedding Plan 4 Months Out

Have Your Final Tasting with the Caterer

You told your caterer everything you want on your menu, now is the time to taste everything to make sure it is to your liking. If you are nervous about others’ taste buds, bring a few other along, including your wedding planner to get more opinions about the meal.

Choose Your Cake

You do not want your wedding cake to only look good, but to also taste good. It may be a good idea to have a cake personalized just for the both of you. Design a cake where you both agree on the flavors. This way, you both will enjoy the cake as you feed each other a bite after making the initial cut. You can consider if you want to have the same cake for everyone to share or another cake or dessert for your guest to choose from. After having a general idea of what your dessert table will look like, now you need to find a baker. Look for a baker that is reputable and available to help make your cake dreams come true.

Buy Wedding Bands

Engagement rings and wedding bands can start to become confusing. Traditional engagement rings typically have one diamond stone, that stands alone or is accompanied by several other smaller stones. An engagement ring is typically given as part of the proposal. A wedding ring is a plain or diamond-encrusted band that is received when you exchange your vows. But traditions are broken all the time, pick your rings based on what makes the both of you happy.

Select the Groomsmen’s Attire and Schedule Fittings Within the Month

Think about how you want the groomsmen to be dressed. This may be a job you can hand over to the groom. Figure out what their attire should be and schedule a time for each man to be fitted accordingly.

Hair and Makeup Trial

Bring ideas to your stylist on how you want your hair and makeup to look. Find old photos of yourself or inspiration from social media to give your stylist an idea of what you are looking for. Maybe you want to try something you haven’t before, to really stick out on your big day. Or you may want to choose a style that worked on you before to ensure you will have no disappointment in the outcome.

Wedding Plan 3 Months Out

Plan Your Menu

After you’ve had your tastings with the chef you will want to finalize your menu by now to allow enough prep time. Make sure your final menu fits in your budget, taste buds, and timing.

Brainstorm Guest Favors and Gift Bags

Favors and thank you gift bags are not a necessity but now is the time to decide if you will have them or not. If you decide to have them, be sure to order them within the next month to ensure they arrive on time.

Write Your Vows, Select Readings

If you are planning to write your own vows, you may want to start now to give yourself plenty of time. You may want to think about what your vows will sounds like together as a couple. For example you may want to keep them traditional, or maybe even pop-culture inspired. Now is the time to make these particular decisions.

Wedding Plan 2 Months Out

Send Wedding Invitations (RSVP One Month Before the Wedding)

You already did the hard part of the invitations, figuring out how you want them to look and who they are going to. Now it is time to put them together and send them out to your guest. You can also include your rehearsal dinner invitations in with your wedding invitation as well.

First Wedding Dress Fitting

Your first fitting should be anywhere between two to three months after ordering your dress, and your second one around the six-week mark.

Pick Up Your Marriage License

When getting your marriage license, it’s important to know where to go, what to bring, how much it’ll cost, how long it’ll take, and how long it’ll last. Every state has different requirements, so be aware of what is required for where you are located. If you’re having a destination wedding, whether domestic or international, you’ll need to research those paperwork requirements as well. Then, make sure you as a couple, your witness(es), and your officiant sign it. 

Wedding Plan 1 Month Out

Pay Your Vendors in Full

Be sure to keep track of any payments that are due in order to secure your reservation with all of your vendors. You do not need your vendor cancelling on you due to a late payment.

Create a Seating Chart

Depending on your guest list, you may or may not need to create a seating chart. Use your judgement and determine if a seating chart is necessary. If so, make sure to get this done and out of the way.

Have a Final Venue Walk-Through

Make a list of any remaining questions or request for you final walk through. Bring your wedding planner in or a close family member or friend for additional set of eye to ensure everything is in place.

Break in Your Wedding Shoes

wedding  shoes

Walk around your bedroom, go up and down the stairs, dance in you living room, do everything possible to help break in your new shoes. This practice will help prepare you to be on your feet in these shoes for a long period of time.

Wedding Plan for Final Week

The date is right around the corner, it is the final week! This week take care of any last minute wedding plan details or requirements such as:

  • Getting your eye brows done
  • Refreshing your hair color
  • Manicure and Pedicure
  • Getting a massage
  • A final dress fitting
  • Practicing your vows
  • Packing your bags for your honeymoon

This week is suppose to be as least stressful as possible. Try to have everything taken care of so this last week you can regroup and refocus on the life that yourself and your groom are about to start together.

The Night Before and Day Of Wedding

The big day is finally here! All of your organized planning has come into a clear vision and you are about to live it out. Now it is time to enjoy the wedding. Here are a few final tips for your big day:

The Night Before:

  • Eat a healthy meal
  • Pack a clutch or small bag for personal items
  • Drink water
  • Get a goods night’s sleep
  • Pack any bags, suitcases, boxes, or etc in the car that will be needed at the ceremony or the reception.

The Morning of:

  • Stay off your feet as much as possible
  • Eat breakfast
  • Drink more water
  • Hang up your veil and dress early, get any wrinkles out with a steamer
  • Have your photographer take photos of items (invitation, ring, etc.) and your progress throughout the day
  • Say thank you to those around you

Yay! You’ve did it! You are married, the day is complete. Enjoy every moment of this special time between you and your spouse. I hope this guide was extremely helpful with your preparation for the big day! For more event and gift Ideas, check out the below links

Atiya Cheung
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