Wedding Planning Checklist
Congratulations! You’re engaged, you’re in love, and you have an amazing wedding to plan… Don’t stress, enjoy the moment(s) and use our wedding planning checklist as a helpful tool to keep things organized leading up to the big day. Whether you’re having a grand country club wedding or small intimate gathering, this checklist will help you stay on track.
9 – 12 MONTHS BEFORE WEDDING DATE
- Get Inspired
Start a wedding folder, Pinterest page, or story board where you can collect and store your ideas in one place. Check out user friendly sites for sharing like Google Docs or Dropbox. Pull inspiration from all types of print and digital sources focused on bridal, fashion, food or lifestyle to help you identify the perfect color scheme, formality, theme and special wedding details.
- Work Out Your Budget
Break down your budget by figuring out who will be contributing and prioritizing what is most important to you on your wedding day. Create an honest budget that will not put unnecessary strain on your marriage or other relationships.
TIP: Create a detailed spreadsheet to help keep you organized and on track with your budget. (note: have one to share/download?
- Reserve Your Date and Venues
Decide where your ceremony and reception will be and factor in the travel time between the two locations to include in your wedding day timeline. If your venue does not offer its own catering service, look for one. Look at potential venues in person, online and on their social media pages to get a full picture of what they have to offer.
TIP: Ask potential venue sites about their built-in onsite amenities like overnight accommodations, bar for after party, restaurant for day after brunch.
- Select Your Bridal Party
When selecting your bridal party, you can simply ask your bridesmaids and groomsmen to stand by you on your big day or get creative with a bridesmaid / groomsman proposal.
- Draft a Guest List
Consider your budget and venue when deciding upon your guest list. How many guests will your budget accommodate? Make sure to ask the venue how many guests they can accommodate.
- Research & Book Your Vendors
Note: good place to link to your preferred vendors Research for a photographer, band, DJ, caterer, florist, wedding planner, rentals, officiant, etc.
If there is a vendor that you really want and know they book up quickly, book them immediately.
Once you have booked your vendors, set up meetings with them either in person or over the phone to go over your vision. Check and ask for references!
TIP: Add a sheet to your budget spreadsheet with the due dates of payments to each vendor so you can track how much you have paid and can easily see any balances due. Note: Again cloud solution suggestions to combine all in one place that is easy to share and access anywhere
- Start Dress Shopping
You may know exactly the kind of dress you are looking for since you were six years old. Others may have never even look at a wedding dress. Either way, make a day (or two) out of wedding dress shopping and bring along your closest friends and / or family members for their honest opinion. Don’t forget the champagne!
(Choosing your bridal party is an important part of your wedding. Try to let these special people know that you’d like to include them in your big day as soon as possible, so they can help with the planning and make sure they are available for the festivities. Photo Credit: Krista Patton Photography)
- Take Engagement Photos
This is a great time to practice being in front of the camera, especially since most photographers include a session in their wedding package.
- Send out Save the Dates
Let everyone know when and where you’re making it official! Even if you don’t have your guest list finalized, you can still send out save the dates to those who you absolutely want to be there on your big day.
- Say Yes to the (Wedding) Dress (and Shoes)
Remember you’ll need time to schedule fittings before the big day.
- Reserve a Block of Hotel Rooms for Out-of-town Guests
It’s a thoughtful gesture to reserve a room block (and secure a discounted rate) for your guests. Don’t forget to book a room for the newlyweds!
- Register for Gifts
As you register for gifts (at a minimum of three retailers), think about the staples – china, kitchen supplies, bedding, etc. – so you’ll have what you need as you begin your new life together.
- Create a Wedding Website
Create your own personal, easy to build, wedding website of all the details for your wedding such as the wedding date, travel information, registry places, and accommodations. This is also an opportunity to share your love story, so have fun with it!
- Meet with Your Florist
Discuss your vision for the wedding with your florist to make sure you’re on the same page. It’s important that you find someone who is able to deliver on your vision and budget.
7-6 MONTHS BEFORE WEDDING DATE
- Select and Purchase Invitations
Remember your invitation is your guests’ first impression of your wedding day. Use this as an opportunity to showcase your wedding theme and style.
- Start Planning the Honeymoon
Make sure you have time to get any necessary shots and your passport is up to date.
- Choose Bridesmaids Dresses and Schedule Fittings
After researching what color and style you would like your bridesmaids to wear, schedule dress fittings to see how everyone feels and looks.
- Firm Up Miscellaneous Rentals
Now is the time to order any necessary rental items such as specialty chairs, linens, lighting, draping, lounge furniture, dance floors, etc.
- Arrange Transportation
Wedding day transportation is another opportunity to personalize your entrance and exit, get your bridal party to and from the ceremony and reception, and sometime to take your guests to their overnight accommodations. Consider limos, trolleys, party bus, vintage cars, etc.
- Hire Ceremony Musicians
Speak with your ceremony venue and ask for recommendations for organists, soloists, trumpeters or even a string quartet.
- Start Composing a Day-of Timeline
When you are mapping out your day, try to be realistic with your timing. Leave room for any hiccups that might occur.
- Finalize the Menu
Schedule a food tasting with your caterer or venue and finalize your wedding menu! From hors d’oeuvres, salads, main course, and desserts – this is the time to make your selections, especially if you’re going to ask for guests to make a selection when sending back their response cards.
Tip: Some venues offer private food tastings as part of their wedding package. This is an added bonus and an opportunity to have a really special night with your fiancé and a few others from your inner circle.
- Finalize a Date, Time and Location for the Rehearsal Dinner.
Traditionally, the groom’s parents will arrange and pay for the rehearsal dinner. Talk with your groom and his parents to see where would be most fitting and what would be most accommodating to the bridal party and out of town guests.
- Order Invitations
Ask for and proof a sample from your wedding invitation vendor before printing so you can look over and revise if needed.
- Share a Bridal Shower Guest List with Your Host
You can always send this sooner, once your guest list is finalized.
- Schedule Your Wedding Cake Tasting
Don’t worry too much about what everyone else would want, this is your cake as a couple! Pick a style and flavors you both love. You can add always add in a groom’s cake as well.
- Purchase or Rent the Groom’s Attire
The formality of the wedding will help determine whether your groom goes tux or suit. Next discussion is to rent or to purchase? Both have pros and cons.
- Select Hair & Make-up Artists and Schedule Trial Appointments
Research hairstyles and make up that you love so you can give your hairstylist and make up artist an idea of what you’re going for. Then schedule an appointment and see what you think.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to tell them what you don’t like. After all it is your wedding day and you should love the way you look!
3 MONTHS BEFORE WEDDING DATE
- Shop for and Purchase Wedding Bands
Unless you’re looking for a custom piece, this should give you plenty of time to pick the perfect wedding bands to exchange on your big day.
- Finalize Ceremony Details
Meet with the officiant, pick readings, and make sure to notify your ceremony participants of their special duties.
- Send Out Invitations
We recommend setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.
TIP: If you’re a little behind on this, it’s still ok to get invites to guests 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding.
2 MONTHS BEFORE WEDDING DATE
- Obtain Your Marriage License
Do your homework in advance to find out where to go, their hours of operation, what to bring, and how long it will take so this is easy to check off the list.
- Meet with the Photographer
Discuss specific shots and do a walk through of the wedding ceremony and reception spaces to note specific spots that appeal to you.
- Pick Your Playlist
Take time to sit down to think about the mood for all those special moments throughout your wedding day and share with your DJ or band so they know just what to play to make your day even more enjoyable.
- Bachelorette and Bachelor Party Time
Enjoy and let loose!
TIP: Try not to schedule this too close to the wedding. You’ll need some time to recover.
- Purchase Favors, Gifts and Welcome Baskets
Welcome baskets for out of town guests are a nice gesture along with a favor for all wedding guests and a personal gift for each member of the wedding party.
(Silver, gold, platinum, jeweled… there are so many options to choose from for your wedding bands. Give yourselves plenty of time to select the best bands to exchange on your big day. Photo Credit: Duca Studio)
- Gather all RSVPs and Put Together a Seating Chart and Escort Cards
Enter all RSVPs into your spreadsheet of who is coming and who is not. Call anyone who has not RSVP’d back. Then you can create your guest seating floorplan for the reception. Select and order your escort cards once you have created the guests seating.
- Mail Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
Include your bridal party, out of town guests, parents, grandparents, ceremony participants and officiant on the rehearsal dinner guest list.
- Have Your Final Dress Fitting
Bring your shoes, veil, and undergarments that you plan to wear on your wedding day along with the maid of honor to your final dress fitting so she can learn how to properly perfect the bustle.
TIP: Try to break in your shoes before the big day.
- Send Out Final Payments and Confirm Logistics with Vendors
Share your day-of timeline and finalize all details and payments with vendors before your wedding day.
- Write Vows
If you and your partner have decided to write your own vows, now would be the time to do so.
- Assemble the Welcome Baskets and Give to the Hotel
Don’t put this off until the week of. You’ll regret it.
- Print out Ceremony Programs and Reception Menus
Remember to proof read first before printing.
WEEK OF THE WEDDING
- Reconfirm Arrival Times with Vendors
Make sure they have addresses for each location that they are assigned to and that you exchange cell phone numbers.
- Book a Spa Day
Refresh your look by getting your hair, eyebrows, and nails done – maybe even throw in a massage and facial while you’re at it – and bring the bridesmaid along!
TIP: Look for places that specialize in spa parties which are a great way to relax and refresh with your closest friends and family members before the wedding day.
- Share your Wedding Weekend Timeline with the Bridal Party
Send your bridal party the timeline of your wedding day as well as contact information of point people the day of the wedding. It can also be helpful to delegate certain tasks to your wedding party.
- Pick up the Dress and Tuxedo
Arrange date and time for pick up and make sure to have them both covered so they stay clean and stain free.
- Set Aside Tips for Vendors
Put individual envelopes together with gratuities for your wedding vendors.
- Pack for Honeymoon and Confirm Travel Arrangements
Start packing those bags and don’t forget your passport!
We hope our Wedding Planning Checklist will help keep you on track and alleviate some of the stress that can come from wedding planning. Don’t be afraid to delegate and enjoy the special moments you’ll get to create during this exciting time of your life leading up to your incredible wedding day. Cheers!