Wedding Planning Checklist

Giving yourself plenty of time to plan your wedding is crucial, as the stresses of everyday life continue unabated. Breaking it down into chunks of time with assigned tasks to complete will allow you to feel in control and less overwhelmed by the myriad of details you will need to address.

How to Plan a Wedding in 12 Months [Wedding Timeline]

12 months before:

  • Come up with a tentative budget and talk to your love about what your ideal wedding would look like.
  • Decide when you want to get married. If your date is flexible, check with several venues you like to see when exactly they’re available and how much they will cost.
  • Research venues.
  • Draft a guest list.
  • Talk to your parents about their ability to contribute and finalize your wedding budget.
  • If you’ve decided to hire a wedding planner, interview and select yours.

10-11 months before:

  • Book your ceremony and reception venues.
  • Choose your wedding party.
  • Book an officiant.
  • Find and order your wedding gown.
  • Start interviewing wedding vendors and professionals (florist, stationer, DJ/musician, band, videographer, etc.).
  • Plot out the decor scheme for your wedding: Will you hang twinkly lights or chandeliers? Line the aisle with candles? Use hay bales for reception seating? Consider any rentals you’ll need to execute your vision.
  • Meet with caterers; sample and choose reception food.
  • Book your wedding photographer.
  • Take engagement photos.
  • Send out save-the-dates for a destination wedding.

8-9 months before:

  • Finalize bar service.
  • Register for gifts.
  • Reserve any necessary rentals.
  • Reserve room blocks for out-of-town guests.
  • Book wedding band/DJ.
  • Book florist.
  • Finalize stationery suite.

6-7 months before:

  • Set up your wedding website.
  • Order bridesmaid dresses.
  • Send save-the-dates.
  • Finalize wedding entertainment.
  • Order formalwear for the groom.
  • Start researching honeymoon travel.

4-5 months before:

  • Purchase wedding rings.
  • Order invitations.
  • Order formalwear for groomsmen.
  • Attend cake tastings; choose a baker and cake.
  • Choose attire for flower girl/ring bearer.
  • Finalize ceremony order; ask friends to do readings.
  • Book honeymoon.

3 months before:

  • Hire calligrapher for invitations (if necessary).
  • Have a wedding shower.
  • Book venue for rehearsal dinner.
  • Purchase accessories, including jewelry, shoes, veil, cuff links, bow ties, etc.

2 months before:

  • Mail your invitations.
  • Meet and book stylists/makeup artists and test out wedding hairstyles and makeup looks.
  • Purchase gifts for your wedding party.
  • Order wedding programs.
  • Write or choose your wedding vows.
  • Book any necessary day-of transportation.

1 month before:

  • Confirm playlist/do-not-play list with musicians or DJ.
  • Send rehearsal dinner invites.
  • Purchase wedding favors.
  • Wrap up DIY projects.
  • Have a final gown fitting; ensure your maid of honor knows how to bustle your gown, if necessary.
  • Apply for your marriage license.
  • Create welcome bags for out-of-town guests.
  • Confirm all day-of details with vendors; make any necessary substitutions/changes.
  • Confirm all important details with wedding party members (e.g. arrival times, attire fittings, etc.).
  • Confirm that necessary space for all vendors and equipment is available at the venue.
  • Arrange for care of pets/home during your honeymoon.
  • Have bachelor/bachelorette parties.

3 weeks before:

  • Contact any MIA guests to get their RSVPs.
  • Finalize guest list and give head count to caterer/venue.
  • Confirm vendor meals with caterer.
  • Prepare must-have shot list with photographer; give names of all VIPs.

2 weeks before:

  • Get final haircut and color.
  • Confirm all honeymoon travel.
  • Plan reception seating chart.

1 week before:

  • Print or DIY your escort cards.
  • Call all vendors and confirm delivery/setup/takedown arrangements.
  • Give your day’s schedule to ceremony/reception site managers, including deliveries, setup, take-down, etc.

2-3 days before:

  • Make sure your dress is ready to go; get it steamed or pressed if necessary.
  • Pick up the mens’ formal wear.
  • Finalize bridal party positions and order they’ll walk down the aisle.
  • Deliver place cards, programs, menus, etc. to appropriate venue or site managers.
  • Drop off welcome bags at guest hotels and give delivery instructions to the front desk.
  • Designate someone as the emergency contact person and give out their phone number to all vendors. Make sure to pick a trusted relative or responsible member of the bridal party.
  • Rehearse ceremony at venue.
  • Write final checks to vendors and professionals.

1 day before:

  • Attend rehearsal dinner.
  • Give gifts to attendants.
  • Give marriage license to officiant.
  • Print out your vows if you’re writing your own.
  • Get a mani and pedi.

On the BIG day:

  • Eat something hearty for breakfast!
  • Give wedding rings to a member of the bridal party for safe keeping.
  • Introduce your vendors and site managers to your emergency contact.
  • Ensure final checks, including tips, are in envelopes and ready to be handed off to vendors and professionals.
  • Eat, drink, and be married!

In the weeks after the wedding:

  • Send thank-you notes.
  • Return any remaining rentals.
  • Have your gown cleaned and/or preserved.
  • Return formal-wear.
  • Enjoy your honeymoon!
  • Change your last name.
  • Order your wedding album.

Happy planning!