Planning a wedding can feel super overwhelming. Even if you love planning like I do, there is A LOT that goes into planning your big day, and it’s helpful to have a guide so you know what you should be doing when. This guide is for brides who have a year or more until their wedding. There are some brides who will have less time, and don’t fret, it’s still possible to get everything done with a shorter timeline! However, if you have a year or longer, here is the ultimate wedding planning timeline, from 12 months to 2 days before your wedding!
Related Post: 12 Things to Do Immediately After You Get Engaged
Wedding Planning Timeline: 12 Months
1) Envision Your Wedding and Decide on a Wedding Theme
Do you have a vision for your wedding yet? Perhaps you’re envisioning a gorgeous rustic wedding in a refurbished barn, or a romantic boho beach wedding in your favourite sunny destination. Maybe you envision a majestic winter wedding or a more causal affair. Deciding on your vision and theme will make everything else that much easier!
2) Create a Budget
Your budget will guide a lot of your decisions when it comes to your wedding, from how many people you invite, to your venue, to your music, photographer and florist. Once you figure out your entire wedding budget, you can decide where you want to allocate the funds, what you’re willing to spend more on and where you’re okay cutting back.
3) Choose a Wedding Date
Choosing your wedding date is an important piece of the puzzle! You may have a certain time of year in mind, or your venue may dictate your wedding date. For instance, if your dream venue is partly or fully outdoors, you have to choose a month with warm weather. If your date is more important than a venue, you may have to do some searching for a venue with your available date.
4) Create Your Guest List
It’s time to create your guest list! Decide how many people you want to have at your wedding. Do you want to keep it small and intimate or throw a huge bash? Your budget and personal preferences will come into play here.
5) Look Into Venues and Book One When You Find “The One”
If you don’t already know where you want to have your wedding, start looking into venues. Once you know your vision and theme, it will be easier to land on your dream venue. The time of year you want to have your wedding can also impact the venue you choose. Start your search, and once you’ve found the venue you and your partner love, get your date booked in!
6) Select Your Wedding Party
Once you get engaged, it’s time to choose the people you want by your side during this exciting year! You may already have your bridal party in mind, or it may be the time to start making some decisions. Some brides opt to have a smaller bridal party while others include all their best friends. Do what feels best for you!
7) Start to Dress Shop
Until I started looking for dresses, I didn’t realize that it’s suggested to buy a dress 8-9 months before your wedding due to the time it takes for alterations (don’t worry, if you’re having a quick wedding, they make exceptions!).
If you have a year or more until your wedding, start looking around the one year mark. You’ll likely go to a number of stores spanning a number of weekends, so you want to make sure you give yourself a couple months to find your dream dress!
8) Attend Your Engagement Party
Your engagement party typically happens pretty soon after you get engaged. If you have a longer engagement, it’s nice to have the party about a year out so you have something fun to look forward to now before the wedding! Typically the party is thrown by your parents and/or in laws or bridal party, but of course you can help with the planning process if you like!
9) Get Engagement Photos Done
One of the best parts about getting engaged is getting your engagement photos done! I have to admit, some engagement photoshoots can be pretty cheesy, but if you find the right photographer and location, your engagement shoot can be insanely dreamy.
Related Post: How to Find a Wedding Venue
Wedding Planning Timeline: 9 Months
1) Order Your Dress
Most bridal shops recommend you order your dress 8-9 months before your wedding to have ample time for alterations. As I mentioned, if your wedding is coming up soon you can definitely get it altered quicker than that!
2) Research, Interview and Book Vendors
Nine months out is a good time to book your vendors such as your photographer and florist. Before booking, make sure to research different vendors, do interviews with them and make sure you guys click. It’s important to get along with your vendors, especially your photographer who you’ll be working so closely with on your wedding day!
3) Research and Reserve Hotel Rooms for Out of Town Guests
Especially if you’re having your wedding during peak season, it’s important to look into reserving hotel rooms for out of town guests. Not only do hotels book up quickly, they also sky rocket in price the closer you get to the date. If you can lock in a lower price for your guests, make sure to do that asap!
4) Send Save the Dates
If you’re planning to send save the dates for your wedding, the 9 month mark is a good time to do this, especially if your wedding is out of town or if you’re having a destination wedding.
5) Launch a Wedding Website
Once you have your engagement photos, and know your wedding date and venue, you can launch your wedding website. Wedding websites are a somewhat new thing in the wedding world, but they’re awesome because your guests can go to one place for all your wedding info.
Your website should have important wedding information such as the date and time, as well as information about accommodations, how to get to the ceremony, if there is any transportation from the ceremony to the wedding, etc. Oh, and of course it should include your registry!
6) Contact Rental/Decor Companies If You Need Things like Chairs, Tables, Lights, etc.
Unless your venue comes with chairs, tables, lighting, etc. you’ll have to contact rental companies to make sure your venue is decorated. Think about the little things too. If your venue provides tables, what about table runners and napkins? Do you want a canopy for your altar? Chandeliers? These are all things that would be rented from a decor company, so now is the time to start shopping around!
7) Book a Florist
Wedding florists (especially the good ones) get booked well in advance! If you’ve had your eye on a florist, don’t wait to contact them! Your wedding flowers can completely transform your venue and the vibes of your wedding, so it’s one of the things you should book quickly!
Wedding Planning Timeline: 6 Months
1) Book Musicians and Entertainment
Musicians and entertainment are a huge part of your wedding! You want your guests to be dancing all night, so your band/DJ has to be GOOD! You may also consider hiring musicians for your ceremony and/or cocktail hour.
2) Wedding Party Attire for Bridal Party
If they haven’t started looking already, it’s time for your bridal party to start shopping for their dresses (or whatever they’re wearing!). Keep in mind, they may have to get alterations done, so you don’t want to wait too long!
3) Look for a Hairstylist and Makeup Artist
The hairstylist and makeup artist you choose are so important! They effect how you look and feel on your big day and you want to feel as beautiful as you’ve ever felt! Don’t rush this! Make sure to do a few trials and find the hair stylist and makeup artist that are best for you and your bridal party!
4) Start Planning the Honeymoon
Have you and your S.O. decided on where you’ll take your honeymoon? If not, it’s time to decide and start planning! The farther out you book, the better deals you’ll likely be able to get!
5) Look Into Transportation for the Day Of
Are you going to be taking a limo to the venue? Are you booking a shuttle for guests from the hotel? Whatever transportation you’re planning to book, start looking into it now, and book when you find something!
6) Book Your Officiant
Now is the time to book your officiant or whoever you are using to marry you on the day of your wedding!
Wedding Planning Timeline: 3 Months
1) Order Invitations and Wedding Rings
It’s time to choose and order your formal invitations! These are the ones you’ll mail out to all your guests! Some couples choose to do everything online these days, and that’s totally fine too, but if you are sending formal invitations, now is the time to order them!
It’s also a good time to pick out your wedding rings! You may need to get them sized or order the right size in so make sure you give yourselves a good amount of time.
2) Order Your Wedding Cake
It’s also time to order your wedding cake. Decided if you’re going to do a big cake or a small one and offer other desserts for guests.
3) Attend Your Bridal Shower
Bridal showers typically happen about 3 months before your wedding. Like your engagement party, it’s typically thrown by either your bridal party or mom/MIL. You may even have multiple showers to attend!
Wedding Planning Timeline: 2 Months
1) Send Formal Invitations
You’ve already told your guests when your wedding will be with your save the dates, and now it’s time to mail out formal invitations. You really don’t need to do this more than 6-8 weeks before your wedding date.
2) Purchase Gifts for Parents and Bridal Party
Your parents are bridal party have been by your side throughout the entire wedding planning process. Whether they helped you monetarily, emotionally, planning-wise or all of the above, it’s important you show them gratitude with a nice gift. Make sure your gifts are special and thoughtful.
3) Attend Your Bachelorette Party
Your bachelorette party can be any time you want it to be! Most brides have them a couple months before their wedding, but if you want to have yours 6 months before or even earlier, you can do that too. Whatever works for you and your friends- that’s what matters! Decide if you want to stay in town or if you’re going to have a destination bachelorette!
Wedding Planning Timeline: 1-2 Months
- Makeup and hair trials
- Finalize your accessories
- Buy a guest book for the wedding night
- Obtain your marriage license
- Go for your dress fitting(s)
- Create your seating plan
- Write vows (if you’re doing them)
- Rehearsal dinner invitations
- Pick up wedding rings and check sizing
- Create wedding day schedule
Wedding Planning Timeline: 2 Weeks
- Practice wearing your wedding shoes
- Prep the wedding party/ parent gifts
- Practice your vows
- Submit final numbers to the venue
- Practice your first dance
- Make final payments to vendors
- Communicate any last minute changes with vendors and venue
Wedding Planning Timeline: 1 Week
- Get engagement ring cleaned
- Have a rehearsal dinner
- Confirm beauty and hair appoints and the morning of schedule
- Confirm details with suppliers/vendors
- Share wedding day timeline with bridal party and parents
- Make a pre-wedding playlist
Wedding Planning Timeline: 2-3 Days
- Get a spray tan
- Go for a mani/pedi
- Primping and waxing
- Pack an emergency kit -deodorant, bobby/safety pins, bandaids, sewing kit
- Wrap bridal party and parents gifts
- Pack overnight bag
- Check in with bridal party to make sure they have everything
- Iron/steam anything that needs it
I hope I’ve covered it all! Depending on your wedding, there may be things on this list you don’t need to do, and maybe there are a few things I left out (make sure to let me know in the comments if so!). But overall, this is your ultimate 12 month wedding planning timeline!
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