If you have found yourself on this page, there’s a decent chance you are recently engaged. And if not, perhaps you’ve been engaged for a while and are finally ready to start planning your big day…either way, let us begin by saying, ‘CONGRATULATIONS!’
This is a very exciting time in the lives of both you and your partner, and we do not want this to bring on any of the stress and discomfort weddings sometimes earn a stigma for.
While weddings are a fairly traditional way to express the love of two people, we do believe in making this day about the love shared within your specific relationship. It should be unique and reflect who you are as a couple; not just check off boxes on a list.
However, there are certain elements that go into planning a wedding, or any special event, that should be considered no matter how traditional the event may be (or not). That is where this timeline comes in.
Use this as a guideline to help navigate the can-be-complicated journey that is planning a wedding. If you keep up with this timeline, you will be ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy your wedding day before you know it! (Yes, without the added stress and last-minute running around…we hope.)
You are here – ENGAGED! So, let’s get you married.
12-18 Months Until ‘I Do’
1. Engagement Celebration – host a party or go out to dinner to celebrate this incredibly special time that will be short lived and only happen once!
2. Set a Budget – don’t do anything until you are clear on how much you have to spend.
3. Determine the Guest List – this is another important first step as it will help guide your venue search.
4. Consider the Bridal Party – will you have anyone join you on your special day? Keep these people in mind while building your guest list.
5. Hire a Planner – bringing a planner on early allows you to to get the most help during the planning process. Let us help you from the moment you say “yes!” to the moment you say your final goodbyes at your reception.
6. Book a Venue – this may be two venues, one for your ceremony and an other for the reception. Your budget and guest list will really help guide you here.
7. Set the Date – once you have chosen a venue you will work with them to determine a date amongst what they have available.*
*Dates will vary depending on time of year, day of week, and time of day. This is one way to work within your budget for a venue you love.
12-10 Months Until ‘I Do’
8. Lock in Those Key Vendors – we highly recommend jumping on booking key vendors as soon as you have a date set (photographer, hair and make up, DJ, etc.)
9. Take Engagement Photos – this gives the photographer, and you both, a chance to get to know each other before one of the biggest days of your lives. Taking engagement photos also gives you images to use for save the date cards, a wedding website, engagement announcements, and more.
10. Shop for a Dress – this may take longer than you anticipate and it is not a decision you want to rush, much like your engagement! Take your time and plan a day with the ones you love and trust, to take your time trying on wedding dresses; even styles you never considered! This one of the most special items you will ever wear and one of the most photographed pieces of your wedding day. Make sure you love it! You also want to make sure you have plenty of time for alterations.
11. Come up with your Wedding Design – this may be influenced by your venue, the time of year, or who you two are as a couple. Even if you do not have a defined theme, choosing a color palette, style, and elements you would like to include will help you with the rest of your planning.
10-8 Months Until ‘I Do’
12. Shop for Bridal Party Outfits – make sure your bridal party has plenty of time to choose or order their clothing for the day of, and budget themselves as necessary.
13. Choose a caterer – now that you know who’s attending, where you’ll be, and when, as well as the influence you want to include, it is time to choose a caterer. Consider your budget of course, and work with a professional considering the size of your event.
14. Determine a Celebrant – whether it’s a close friend, family member, or member of the church, make sure the date is on their calendar and they have plenty of time to prepare. You may want to meet the three of you ahead of time to exchange ideas and confirm verbiage and pronunciation.
15. Create a Wedding Website – it’s about to be 2020 and if you have been to a wedding recently, chances are it had a website. It may not be your style, but it is wildly convenient for keeping track of weekend events, registries, and for guests to find information in general. Sites today are highly personalized and can be as simple or extravagant as you’d like.
16. Send Save the Dates – make sure guests have plenty of time to plan for the event, especially if you are hosting a destination wedding.
8-6 Months Until ‘I Do’
17. Book additional vendors – lock in your florist, cake/dessert vendor, entertainment, hair & make up artist(s), etc. You want to be sure you get your top choice before they are booked on your date!
18. Trial Hair and Make Up Artists – make sure you feel your most beautiful the day of by trying a couple different artists before deciding on one. Get your hair and make up done early in the day like you would on your wedding day, and go about your business without being too careful. See how it wears throughout the day. To help you compare, take a selfie before, immediately after, and at the end of the day to see how the look evolves.
19. Order all Attire – if you have not already make sure there is plenty of time for adjustments for the bride and/or groom.
20. Book a Honeymoon – if you are lucky enough to sneak away with your newly-wed, now is the time to make those plans! Even a simple stay-cation can be made special if you take the time to plan out the details, trust us.
6-4 Months Until ‘I Do’
21. Order Bridal Party Outfits – if have not done so, make sure everyone has what they need to wear! Including mom’s, dad’s, grandparents, etc.
22. Send Official Invitations – including a clear date to RSVP by if that is needed for your venue or catering needs.
23. Purchase Wedding Bands – if you have not done so, consider what bands you will exchange during the ceremony, allowing extra time to budget if necessary.
4-2 Months Until ‘I Do’
24. Finalize Décor Details – get all your day of event decor details ready (guest sign in concept, card box, seating chart details, day of stationery, etc.)
25. Finalize Transportation Details – the last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is how you, or anyone else, is getting from one place to the next on time. If you aren’t providing transportation for the entire guest list, be sure you figure out your logistics for arrival and departure.
26. Buy Bridal Gifts – including parents or anyone else significant to the wedding day. It is an important day for all involved and a nice touch to give a thank you gift for all your loved ones have done to support you along the way.
27. Write your Vows – if you are writing your own vows give yourself plenty of time to write them. Allowing yourself to practice and adjust as you feel necessary.
6 Weeks Until ‘I Do’
28. Order Marriage License – this may vary depending on your location, but be ready to get this important detail covered!
29. Confirm Details – it’s a good idea to touch base with all vendors one last time to confirm details, and even visit your venue for a final walkthrough prior to the rehearsal so there are no last minute surprises.
3 Weeks Until ‘I Do’
30. Last Hair Cuts – give yourself time to grow out that freshly cut look and find that sweet spot on your wedding day.
31. Final Attire Fitting – make sure you still have a little bit of flexibility for any final adjustments to the dress/suit/tuxedo, etc..
32. Follow Up RSVP’s – while we hope it doesn’t happen to you, if it does, don’t assume on behalf of your guests! Things get lost in the mail, people forget, and the little slot between the driver seat and center counsel magically eats all things… make sure you follow up with anyone you haven’t heard from so there are no surprises at the ceremony!
33. Finalize Seating Chart – get this part over with if you don’t like it, and if you do, then have fun with it! Consider who might get along, who already knows each other, and who may need to sit with easy access to get up and down. Having a seating chart is a great way to stay organized and let guests feel welcome and wanted without wandering looking for a seat.*
*Send a final headcount to the caterer at this time as well.
34. Final Celebrations – showers, bachelor(ette) events, and more! The time is finally here to sit back and enjoy the last moments of engagement.
1 Week Until ‘I Do’
35. Last Minute Errands – pick up your license, grab a comfy pair of shoes just in case, and finalize anything you may need in the days or hours leading up to your wedding so you don’t have to run around then.
36. Wrap Gifts – make sure all gifts are ready for your bridal party, welcome packages, your partner and/or favors.
37. Pack Your Bags – this gives you one last chance to see if there is anything you forgot.
38. Plan Meals for Wedding Day – yes your guests will be well fed, but you and your bridal party will have a long day leading up to the reception. Make sure you are prepared with snacks or any meals you may want to have before the ceremony.
2 Days Until ‘I Do’
39. Pamper Yourself – or your version of pampering to feel fresh and beautiful. Spray tan? Now is the time!
40. Get Your Beauty Rest – you do not want to be tired or worn out on your wedding day…or worse, look it in your photos! Make sure you get plenty of rest leading up to the big day and make any last-minute plans for relaxing activities. Starting your wedding morning with a walk with your bridesmaids, a private yoga session, or personal mediation are great ways to keep you feeling fresh and ready for the day ahead!
So, there we are. A year or so of wedding planning summed up into one simple blog post just for you. We really do believe in your ability to make this the best day possible, but if you are not as confident, as always, we are here for you.
Photography: Carlie Statsky Photography