The wedding checklist is something you should start immediately after he pops the question and you say “Yes!”.
There are a million things to fuss over, and it’s far too easy to forget some important details or completely blow deadlines. Working with this detailed wedding checklist will keep you organized, on time, and on budget.
In short, we’ll teach you exactly how to plan a wedding.
The very first step is to write down what you want.
- What did you dream about when you were younger?
- How do you want to FEEL on this day?
- What kind of moments do you want to experience along the way?
This isn’t just a party you are planning, this is a story you are telling about how 2 people met and fell so deeply in love that they’re determined to spend the rest of their lives together. Before you can even start to think about the million little details that go into telling this story you have to understand the big picture. Once you have this on paper, everything come together much easier.
If you want to make this as efficient and low-stress as possible, we recommend adding the following details to a Trello Board or any other project management app that you may prefer. You can add your maid of honor, wedding planner, and family members that will be helping you execute the entire plan. Stay on top of this complete wedding checklist to keep track of who’s doing what, share photos, and check items off your list as you move along.
10-12 Months Before The Wedding
The easiest way to stay on budget throughout your wedding planning timeline is to avoid late fees. Many of your vendors like DJ, wedding cake baker, or photographer will charge a premium for rush jobs. To stay on track, start with the most important items that take the longest to organize. Start your wedding checklist a good year in advance beginning with:
- Create your wedding guest list
- Make a list of 3-5 Photographers/videographers you’d like to interview
- Compare the price, delivery time, and customer service from 3-5 Printers
- Musicians should have videos you can sample on YouTube. Or take advantage of your early planning and go see them play live to see how they interact with a crowd
- Venues are a major part of the ceremony. Visit as many as you like and start envisioning your theme and wedding decor
- Find a good wedding insurance policy. Most couples don’t consider this until it’s too late
- Start your wedding gown hunt. This process can take months so you’ll want to get started right away
- Send save the date cards
- Order to your favorite wedding subscription box
Comparison shopping and early booking are key at this stage of the game. This gives you the time to find the best prices on photographers and musicians that you really love and know for sure you’ll be happy with.
But remember, the price isn’t everything. It’s nice to save a few dollars – on printing for example – but if something goes wrong you’ll need some great customer service in your corner.
Sending save the date cards out early avoids disaster. For destination weddings are celebrations occurring during busy times of the year this is imperative. Letting your guests know early will make sure that there are no last-minute scheduling conflicts to deal with.
6-9 Months Before The Wedding
Once you’ve gone through the process of sampling all of your photographer, musician, and videographer options, it’s time to place the deposit. Really great photographers, for example, are in high demand and can slip through your fingers if you don’t secure them as early as possible.
Another high-priority item is booking your honeymoon. This is another great opportunity for some savings. Booking early lets you get the best price for your hotel and airfare. Some travel agents even have a low price guarantee for early birds.
Other critical tasks on the 6-9 month to-do list include:
- Arrange accommodations for your guests
- Book your venue
- Book your photographer & videographer
- Book your DJ
- Order your dress. We know you’ve found “The One” by now!
- Hire an event planning company for your venue decor and entertainment
This last item is a list on it’s own. Your event planning company should be responsible for tables and chairs, decorations, tents, photo booths, karaoke, games stations, and a lot more. Make sure to reserve some extra time to speak with a few event planning companies so that you get the best price and all-in-one treatment. You’ll also want to start on your wedding vows, the first draft anyway. For Bride’s who want to write their own vows, it’s not as easy as you think. You’ll thank yourself later for starting early, finding the perfect words, and rehearsing so that you know it’ll come out just right at the big moment.
Wedding Checklist: 3-5 Months Before
Working in logical order from choosing your theme and venue and then choosing your gown naturally leads you to the bridesmaid’s dresses. Having this framework makes it much easier to choose the fabrics, cut, colors, and style. You’ll want to decide on the gowns at the 3-5 month mark at the latest to allow your bridesmaids to complete their fittings.
Several other major wedding puzzle pieces are due at this point:
- Buy the wedding bands
- Order the groom’s and groomsmen’s suits
- Confirm your passports are valid
- Update your travel vaccinations and insurance
- Take care of ALL the legal work (your registrar needs about 3 months notice)
- Hire a florist
- Settle on stationery
- Make sure your best man and maid of honor are planning the bachelor and bachelorette parties
- Book your Cake!
Many brides don’t realize how much time in advance the cake has to be booked. Most talented cake shops can only do a small number of cakes per weekend and reservations book up extremely quick, especially for the more popular wedding dates. Sorting this out early means tastier cakes and better prices.
You also have to finalize the menu at this point. For those of you with a larger guest list, you must consider the diversity that will be attending. Check your guest list for any special requirements like kosher, halal, and vegetarian/vegan. Religion-based diets require a very specific. Reach out to your caterer to make sure that they can accommodate, and make sure that this food is noticeably labeled so that your guests don’t have to awkwardly ask. They’ll all feel really good about how considerate you are and will enjoy the meal much more.
Checklist For 6-8 Weeks Before The Wedding
This is crunch time for all of your gifts. On top of the general wedding favors for all of your guests, you’ll have to arrange unique gifts for the parents, bridesmaids, maid of honor, groomsmen, and the best man. You’ll also want to consider a welcome basket for some of your favorite out of town guests.
This is also the time to start thinking about all of the finer details that truly make this wedding Yours:
• Hire a Makeup artist & attend a makeup trial
• Schedule a hair stylist, and visit the salon with your ideas
• Send out the wedding invitations
• Start the second draft of your wedding vows
• Order all printables
This includes programs, rehearsal dinner invitations, bachelor/bachelorette invitations, bridesmaids luncheon, and (come on, it’s still cute) newspaper announcement. All of these can be a little bit confusing, so you may want to consult a professional guide to invitation wording.
Doing this a little earlier than really necessary gives you the chance to make up for re-prints. With everything going on you would be forgiven for a spelling error, or there may just be a problem with the printer. Small problems don’t need to turn into huge disasters.
By now you’ve had a lot of time to think about your wedding, all of the details, and the person you are about to spend the rest of your life with. Reflect back on the first draft of your vows and start adding some details. This can include a passage from the Bible or your favorite extremely romantic quotes. You’ll have plenty of time to practice your vows out loud and make adjustments as the big day approaches.
3-5 Weeks Before The Wedding
This is usually when things get super stressful and you start realizing how many things you haven’t organized. But, lucky you! You have this list. No doubt you’ve been following along and staying on track. The big day is just around the corner and it’s time to double check all of the careful plans you’ve laid out.
• Review and update order specifications
• Final wedding gown fitting
• Review RSVP list and call any unconfirmed guests
• Call all of your appointments to re-confirm the time
• Organize all of the wedding transportation
This last one is a little more in-depth than you would suspect. Depending on the size of your guest list you may find yourself having to schedule a fleet of limos or even renting a party bus. Destination weddings are exponentially more complicated, but even a local wedding needs to coordinate guests to the ceremony, guests to the reception venue, and (of course) the world-famous “just married” getaway car. Put extra effort into arranging safe rides home after the party’s over. It’s not very likely that everyone will be 100% sober when it’s time to go home. Make sure they get there safely with pre-arranged taxis, Ubers, or limos.
Wedding Checklist: 1-2 Weeks Before
Regardless of how well you’ve planned, it’s near impossible not to feel like you have a million things to manage. But, don’t worry, we’re holding your hand.
• Pack for the honeymoon
• Visit the spa
• Break in your shoes
• Finalize your seating plan
• Print out a timetable for the big day to keep track of when all of the suppliers will arrive and all of the contact details
• Supply the wedding planner/venue with any special requests from the suppliers
• Organise all payments for suppliers and venues
• Confirm the final headcount with the venue and caterers
• Groom’s final fitting
• Groom’s party final fitting
• Bridesmaids final fitting
• Finalize and rehearse wedding vows
• FULL (from lingerie to veil) wedding gown rehearsal
• Full Blown Spa Day
Use these last 2 items to talk yourself out of BrideZilla mode. Sure there are a few reasons to be nervous, but there’s absolutely no reason to feel overwhelmed. The worst is over, and there’s nothing left but to feel beautiful and look forward to I Do. Looking your best means feeling your best. Reserve an entire day for the spa, and bring your bridesmaids with you. Indulge in hot stones, deep massage, and all the primping and pruning that your heart desires. Our best advice is to pour a mimosa or two and talk about something other than the wedding. You’ve been living and breathing the event for a year now and it’s best to clear your mind before show time.
This is also the best time to pick out and purchase your wedding lingerie. If you’re like most brides, you’ve been exercising and dieting in order to look your best in your wedding gown. With only a few weeks left until the big day, you’re as fit as you’ve ever been and will look absolutely stunning in your special surprise for him. It’s great to get a second opinion, so bring one of your besties along to help narrow down your choices.
The Day Before The Wedding
Think back to the first step. Did you accomplish the big picture you had in mind all along? Today’s your last chance add that little something extra that will make everything just perfect. Perhaps it’s the Something Borrowed, Something Blue, or perhaps it’s a song you can’t believe you forgot that you want your DJ to add to the list.
The day before requires a lot of quick errands. It’s best to delegate as much as possible to your reliable bridal party and family
• Check on the cake a final time; there’s an optimal time between coming out of the over and smooshing a piece in your beloved’s face
• Get a mani/pedi
• Drop off all of your printed items with the wedding coordinator
• Plan a leisurely rehearsal with the full wedding party
A lot of brides want to rush through the rehearsal because there’s so much else to do. They want it fast and they want it right. But, this is ill advised. We recommend planning an early rehearsal followed by a late brunch. This allows tons of time to work through the jitters and to get the pacing and speeches right. The promise of a good meal afterward will leave everyone in good spirits and give your wedding party a chance to form some comradery before the big show. This is the best time to dish out your wedding party gifts which will add another layer of happiness and best wishes. The big day is always better when everyone comes together and knows their steps and lines.
The last and possibly most important tip for the day before; get a good night’s rest! We could explain why, but we think you know 🙂
The Wedding Day
With everything planned in advance, contingency plans in place, and all the help exactly when you need it, all you have to worry about is feeling perfect. This day is filled with dressing in the gorgeous gown, photoshoots, delicious food, brilliant speeches, friends, family, and of course, Happily Ever After.
The chores to keep in mind today are simple and few:
• Give the best man the wedding bands
• Assign someone to point out to the photographer who everyone is
• Give the best man an envelope with the officiant’s fee and any tips you wish to dish out
• Assign someone to pack up your gifts and lay out the wedding favors
While you’re whisked away to your honeymoon, someone will have to take care of some leftover arrangements.
1. Any rentals will have to be returned
2. The bride’s gown will need to be sent to the cleaner
When the dust settles you’ll also have to make sure to send out thank you notes. Make sure to keep track of which gift came from which guest to make your notes personal, and remember to send a special thank you to the vendors and service providers who helped make this day as perfect as you planned.
So there you have it! 12 months of planning all wrapped up in one neat checklist. Follow this map and you’ll have everything timed perfectly with zero stress or frustration. All you have to do is enjoy your wedded bliss.
If you can’t keep everything in your mind, so use this helpful Wedding Planning Timeline!