You’ve gotten the proposal and of course you said, “Yes!” Now comes the exciting, hectic, and sometimes maddening part of pulling everything together for your special day. It’s not unusual to start planning your wedding as soon as you are asked. On average, a typical engagement is 16 months. However long you take to plan out every detail, here is a timeline to help keep you on track when planning your wedding day.
24 -12 Months in Advance
- Make a wedding budget – Experts agree that this is the first place to start. Look over your own personal savings, talk to relatives and your future spouse to determine a realistic budget. This can help you in determining what you can spend on everything from the dress to flowers, meal planning, where to hold the ceremony or reception venue entertainment.
- Determine who will be in your wedding party – The larger the wedding party, the more money you will spend for dresses, tuxedo rentals and other associated costs.
- Hire a professional wedding planner – The best place to hire a planner is at the very beginning. Their experience can be invaluable!
12 – 9 Months in Advance
- Pick a wedding date – What day you choose will depend not only on your preferred days but also on the availability of your choice of venue, the schedules of family members and of the officiant as well. Everything else revolves around this date, so nail it down first!
- Choose your wedding vendors – Now is the time to find a wedding photographer, caterers, florists, entertainment, and salons. During the spring and summer is when these people are under nearly constant booking so be sure to reserve them early, especially if it falls on a weekend date.
- Begin looking at and trying on wedding dresses – One of the biggest single ticket items attached to a wedding is the dress. Therefore, take your time and try on many different dresses! Your perfect dress may have to be special ordered, and there may also be a number of fittings for you and your bridesmaids between now and your wedding day. The time to start is now!
- Make honeymoon reservations – After you and your beloved have decided where you want to go for your honeymoon book your reservations for your flights and accommodations. You can often get a price break for booking several months in advance.
8 – 6 Months in Advance
- Make final guest list – Looking at your budget once again and the cost estimates you have gathered from vendors, it’s time to determine your final list of invitees.
- Set Up Your Wedding Registry – Both the bride and groom can sign up for wedding registries at their favorite retailers so that guests have an idea what to get them as a wedding gift.
- Select your dresses – The wedding day will be here sooner than you think! Now is the time to make your choice of wedding gown and bridesmaid’s dresses and order them.
- Book venue and officiant reservations – When you have a fixed wedding date, talk with your officiant. Make reservations for your reception venue and be sure to give this to the vendor who is handling your wedding décor.
5 – 4 Months in Advance
- Send out wedding invitations – You’ve determined who is definitely on the guest list. Send out your invitations in the mail. Organize a list of those who have responded or who have sent their regrets.
- Order your wedding cake – Most bakers need a month minimum before a wedding cake order. Get your reservation in early!
- Set the reception menu with the caterer – Deciding on what to serve to your guests can come down to cost and taste preferences. Try to be aware of any special dietary needs of your guests so that everyone can celebrate.
- Order the groom’s suit – Shopping for the perfect groom’s suit can be almost as stressful as finding the perfect dress, but it is often much simpler.
3 – 2 Months in Advance
- Get your marriage license – This is one of the important pieces that you can’t forget! Depending on your state or municipality, you may be required to have a waiting period of a few days or a week before your wedding license as issued. Be sure to bring it to the church with you for your officiant to sign!
- Schedule dress fittings for bride & bridal party
- Purchase wedding bands – This is a perfect time to make the selection of wedding bands for you both. No doubt you’ve been looking, but now it’s time to decide to have your rings engraved, now would be a good time to do this so they are finished in time for your wedding day.
- Create the schedule of the day’s events
1 Month in Advance
- Make wedding reception seating chart – Determine who will be sitting beside whom during your reception dinner.
- Schedule your bachelor & bachelorette parties – This is something you may want to coordinate with your bridal party. Don’t be surprised, however, if they end up surprising you with plans of their own.
- Purchase wedding favors & bridal party gifts – The members of the bride and groom’s party have probably gone above and beyond. Select something that is special and unique as a way to say thank you to them for their friendship and hard work.
- Arrange transportation for the bride & groom – Getting to the church on time for the wedding ceremony & to the reception is important. Make arrangements with limousine service for your wedding day.
- Confirm all reservations
1 Week in Advance
- Cut or trim your hair – If you are thinking of a haircut before your wedding day, schedule it at least a week in advance in order to give your hair and you time to settle on how to best style your new look.
- Make sure the wedding party has a copy of the schedule – Your maid or matron of honor and best man should be especially aware of what is happening so that they can answer in your stead should any questions come up on your wedding day.
- Have your wedding rehearsal – Usually this is held at the same place you will be getting married. You can also make arrangements with your wedding décor planner to help during this process.
- Start packing for your honeymoon – Everything is going to be absolutely frantic this last week. Start packing a week in advance so it isn’t last minute.
- Make arrangements with the salon for hair styles and manicures for you and your bridesmaids – The best time to get hair, nails and makeup done is right before the ceremony.
The night before your wedding day
- Finish packing – By now you should have made your final wardrobe selections for your honeymoon. Have your bag packed and ready to go.
- Get a good night’s sleep – Some wedding traditions insist that it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other. Now is the time to get into a quiet frame of mind, maybe do a bit of meditation, and get some rest the night before.
On the Day of your Wedding
You’ve finally made it to your big day! Congratulations! Here are some last minute preparations to make in those final hours before walking down the aisle.
- Eat a good breakfast – You are probably a jumble of nerves right now so food may be the last thing on your mind. Make sure you get some nourishment beforehand
- Get to your stylist appointment – The bride and her party should meet with stylists, manicurists and makeup artists in plenty of time to get ready. Don’t put on the dress till after your makeup and hair are finished. Have makeup, styling tools, and even a small sewing kit on hand just in case any last-minute fixes are necessary.
- Try to take some time to relax – This is the day you’ve been waiting for and you’ve come through beautifully. Soon you and your fiancé will be married and take your first steps into a brand new life!