Wedding Planning Timeline: A Month-by-Month Guide For Your Big Day
Weddings require months, sometimes years of planning, that culminate in one of the most special days of your life. Between selecting the venue, sending out invitations, choosing the caterer, and picking flower arrangements, wedding planning can quickly turn chaotic, leaving you overwhelmed before you walk down the aisle. Having a plan of attack will help you stay organized and sane during the wedding planning process. It will also ensure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. We’ve put together a wedding planning timeline with a month-by-month guide to help you break down the process into more manageable steps. If you follow this guide, we promise you’ll feel confident and more relaxed on your big day.
12+ Months Out
Set a Budget
The first step in your wedding planning timeline is determining your budget. Figuring how much you’re willing to spend will determine the guest list size, venue, catering, and every other aspect of your wedding. Be realistic and decide what you’re willing to splurge on and where you can cut back. Recycled materials from friends’ weddings, DIY projects, and help from family can reduce the cost. Get clear on your budget right away and consider making a wedding budget spreadsheet to keep track of expenses.
Start Your Guest List
Take into consideration that the more guests you have, the more expensive your wedding will be. Focus on inviting people you want to share your special day with, not just those you feel obligated to invite.
Book Your Wedding Planner
Wedding planners often have connections and can help you negotiate with vendors. This isn’t a requirement by any means, but if it’s something you want, now’s the time in the process to book one.
Secure Your Venue and Pick Your Date
Your wedding venue will completely set the tone for your big day. Use this wedding venue checklist to help you select the appropriate right place for you.
While venues that fall on the cheaper side like outdoor parks and banquet halls seem great for your budget up-front, you’ll need to factor in the extra work and money it takes to get them ready. You’ll have to plan for decorations, catering, lighting, stages, technology that you’d like to use, table, and chair rentals and anything else the venue doesn’t include.
Opting for a full-service wedding venue will take a ton of stress off you and your budget. Flora is a versatile venue with high-end furnishings, premier equipment, security services, a catering kitchen, and a site manager. Our amenities, services, dynamic layout, and striking design is the perfect backdrop for your unforgettable day.
Once you’ve secured your venue, you can lock in the date for your big day.
Determine Your Wedding Party
Send out personalized invitations and gifts to those who you want in your wedding party. Focus on choosing people who love and support you and who will help you through this wedding planning timeline.
9 Months Out
Set Up Your Registry
Get your gift registry set up early so that people have something to reference for the engagement party, shower, and reception. A wedding website can be an excellent place to host your registry and other important information your guests can access before the wedding.
Buy Your Dress
Now’s the time to go dress shopping, whether it be a bridal shop or resale store. If you’re buying a custom dress, order it during this part of the wedding planning timeline to ensure you’re not rushed.
Book the Band, Caterer, and Photographer
All of these book-up well in advance, so get them locked in sooner than later. Find a catering company based on the type of food you’d like and the size of your guest list. When it comes to hiring a photographer, make sure to review their portfolio, and ask to see an entire wedding that they’ve shot. Book your DJ or band during this time as well.
Send Out Save the Dates
Send out save the dates as early as possible, especially if you’re having a destination wedding.
Reserve a Hotel Room Block for Guests
This is a good time to reserve a block of hotel rooms for any guests coming from out of town or for your wedding party if you’ll all be staying together. Add this information to your wedding website so that guests know where to book rooms.
6-8 Months Out
Pick Out Your Invitations
Your invitations should be in line with the theme or style of your wedding. Many sites offer custom invitations designed by independent artists for a reasonable price. If you’re using a calligrapher to address the invites, you’ll want to hire them now.
Select Floral Arrangements
Working with a florist to get the perfect floral arrangement for your bouquet, centerpieces, and additional decor will ensure you get flowers that are in season and cut appropriately. If flowers aren’t your thing, look into alternatives like potted trees, succulents, foliage, and branches.
Choose Your Officiant
Whether you’re getting married in a church or a different type of venue, choosing the right officiant that caters to you and your partner’s needs is vital. A clergyperson, unitarian minister, or justice of the peace are all viable candidates depending on your religious and cultural needs. If you want to be married by a friend or family member, this is the time to ask and have them get ordained online.
Order Wedding Party Attire
Have the dresses and tuxes for your wedding party members ordered well in advance to give yourself enough time for fittings and alterations. Get creative with your dresses by using different shades of one color or different lengths and styles for each member of your party.
Plan the Honeymoon
An important part of your wedding planning checklist that many people tend to forget about is the honeymoon. Make travel plans for your honeymoon, including flights and hotel reservations. This is also a great time to renew your passports if you’re planning an international vacation.
4-6 Months Out
Order the Cake
Set up a cake tasting and order your cake from a bakery at least four months before the wedding, especially if you want a more extravagant cake.
Finalize the Menu
Work with your caterer to develop a menu and serving style that suits your theme. Decide if you want to do a buffet, plated service, or a series of food stations then select your menu accordingly. There are no rules for your reception dinner; it should just reflect your tastes and appeal to a wide variety of people.
Create Your Wedding Day Agenda
You’ll want to create an hour-by-hour agenda for your big day so that everything runs smoothly and in a timely fashion. Your wedding day checklist should include getting ready, wedding party photos, the ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrance, first dance, toasts, dinner, cake cutting, and your grand exit. Make sure to include your schedule in the wedding programs and share it with your vendors to keep everyone on track.
Secure Your Rental Equipment
Secure your reservations for tables, tents, linens, chairs, and any other rentals you’ll require. It’s also the best time to contact a transportation service if you’re planning on renting limos, cars, or party buses.
Dress & Tux Fittings
Schedule your dress and tux fittings for the entire wedding party during this timeframe of the wedding planning to leave ample time for alterations.
Plan Your Rehearsal
Book the space and make dinner reservations for your rehearsal dinner. Then, make sure to inform your wedding party of the details.
2-4 Months Out
Wedding invites should be sent at least six weeks in advance to give your guests enough time to plan and respond. Keeping track of your RSVPs will ensure you have a proper headcount for the caterer in time for adjustments.
Plan the Ceremony
Start planning the wedding ceremony early, so you have plenty of time to make adjustments if necessary. Determine the order your wedding party will walk out, specific seating arrangements for immediate family, and processional and recessional songs. This is also an ideal time to start writing your vows, so you have time to edit and revise them before the wedding. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to the ceremony and vows, as long as it’s personal and reflects you as a couple, it’ll be perfect. Visit our event gallery for a bit of wedding ceremony inspiration.
Book your Hairstylist and Make-up Artists
Schedule the wedding party’s hair appointments three hours before the event and make-up appointments at least an hour before giving yourself some wiggle room in case of mishaps. This is also the perfect time to try out some different hair, and make-up looks so you know exactly what you’re in for on the day of the ceremony.
6 Weeks Out
Order Wedding Favors, Finalize the Seating Chart and Print Programs
Now that you’re getting closer to the big day, it’s time to start on the little details like wedding favors, the reception seating chart, and the programs. This is a great time to flex your creative muscles and add personal touches wherever you can.
Get Your Marriage License
Don’t forget to get your marriage license to make everything legal! You have to know where and when your wedding will take place to obtain your license. So whenever you nail those details down, you can file the paperwork. You can do this through a quick and easy process with your county clerk.
2 Weeks Out
Confirm Any Final Details
When it comes to weddings, double-checking and triple-checking everything is always a good idea. Your photographer should have a detailed shot list by now, and your band or DJ should have a playlist with the specific songs you want for each significant part of the reception. Your site manager and transportation service should have a detailed day-of agenda, and your caterer should have a final headcount with information about any dietary restrictions. This is the time to tie up any loose ends.
Break-In Your Shoes and Try On Your Dress Again
If you’re wearing new shoes, make sure to break them in by walking around your house with them for a few days, so you don’t get blisters on the big day. You should also try on your dress one more time to make sure it doesn’t need any last-minute alterations.
Pick Up Your Dress & Rings
You can do this yourself or recruit a member of your wedding party to pick up your dress. Take your dress to get steamed a day or two before the wedding as well.
Manicures & Pedicures
Schedule nail appointments for your wedding party for a day or two before the wedding. This is a great time to relax and get some TLC in before things start picking up.
Reconfirm final details with vendors, set up the place cards for the reception, give transportation services pick up times, and put together tip envelopes for anyone servicing your wedding.
Practice makes perfect, so make sure everyone knows exactly where they’re supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be there during your rehearsal. Once that’s finished, enjoy the rehearsal dinner with your closest friends and family and then head to bed early so you can get a good night’s rest.
Take Some Time for Self Care
Carve out some alone time in the morning to collect yourself and relax your nerves before the hustle and bustle start. Make sure to eat a hearty breakfast, hydrate, and take some deep breaths. Now that all the hard work and preparation is done, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and truly savor the moment.
Work with the Right Venue to Execute Your Wedding Planning Timeline
Wedding planning can be daunting, especially when you first get engaged. Breaking it up into small tasks according to a monthly timeline will help you get everything done without losing your head. A venue with the appropriate amenities and services can take a lot of pressure off you. Flora’s elegantly decorated event space and our collection of services and features will allow you to focus on the big picture while we take care of the little details that will make your wedding special and impress your guests. Whether you’re looking for a venue for your engagement parties, wedding showers, ceremony, or reception, Flora can help you make your big day unforgettable. Contact our team to learn more about our packages and plans.
Download the wedding planning checklist here: Wedding Planning timeline: a month-by-month guide