12-Month Wedding Planning Timeline for Your Big Day
The question has been popped and the champagne has too! By now, everyone has seen the bling. And the next thing out of their mouths will be: “When’s the big day?”
When planning your blissful event, some decisions actually need to be made relatively immediately, others can be down the line. But how do you know what
8b needs to be done at what time? Luckily, Zola.com has a handy printable wedding planning checklist to take with you everywhere and make sure you are on track. This is not meant to stress you out, but rather to give you a series of positive goals and help you organize and plan.
Here are some of the major benchmarks when getting into your year of wedding planning (but there are more details in the full printable wedding planning checklist).
First, how to choose a date:
- The weather: What season would you prefer? Do you want to be outdoors?
- A special day: Is there a date that is special to you both that would be nice to match?
- A terrible day: Are there dates to avoid? Maybe ones that have melancholy or negative connotations to you or your family?
- Check in: Ask major players like parents, siblings, and best friends before going ahead.
Expert tip: Pick three dates that are acceptable before you dive into your 1 year plan.
A year before your may wedding seem like a lot of time, but consider that weddings are generally booked on the weekends and there are only 52 weekends per year. Take out weekends that wouldn’t be ideal (big holidays, nasty weather, the Superbowl) and you’ve got fewer and fewer options.
12 Months to go:
- Consider your wedding aesthetic: Are you more rustic or more elegant?
- Start researching venues
- Set a budget
- Start researching vendors: look around for recommendations including planners, florists, photographers, and caterers — John Ragusa of JRM Music for example, says to start with what you are thinking as far as your musical needs and see where that takes you.
8-12 months to go:
- Request time off from work: Make sure your timing is doable for what is in store at your job.
- The wedding party: Are you planning a bevy of bridesmaids? If they are excited about the job, they may help you with other wedding details.
- Wedding size and guest list: Start to hone your guest list based on the size of your venue and your budget.
- Book a Venue/Caterer: Take tours and start tasting cakes and food options.
- Look at hotels: Reserve a block of rooms for guests (and one for the married couple).
- Book Musicians or DJ
- Talk to an Officiant
- Try on wedding gowns / tuxedos
- Launch a wedding website with a save the date
The Bubble Bros and their Prosecco Van for wedding catering
6-8 Months to go:
- Send “Save the Dates” to your guest list
- Be sure to have booked all of the vendors by now: for instance the cake, the music, the flowers, any rentals like chairs and tablecloths, the photographers/videographers, and any other contracted people who will be needed on the big day.
- Dress up: This is also the time to settle on your wedding attire.
- Begin planning your honeymoon: Will you leave directly after the wedding or take some time? Remember international travel requires a passport.
4-6 Months to go:
- Book your honeymoon
- Purchase wedding bands
- Register for gifts: Think about a fancier place for people that want to get you more expensive gifts that you would never get yourself and a more practical place for those who are more into getting you gifts you will use regularly in your married life.
- Consider a Wedding Shower: If you are having one, then remember everyone invited must also be invited to the wedding.
3 Months to go:
- Musical selections: Think about the ceremony as well as special dances — make sure to tell musicians in advance.
- Book transportation: How are you getting to and from venues for all guests, particularly considering those with mobility issues (and yourselves).
- Reception and Vendor timing: How will the event go? When will the ceremony end? Who will make speeches?
2 months to go:
- Gifts for guests: For example, will you have welcome bags for out of town guests? Presents for your wedding party? Something for your fiance?
- Secure the ceremony text
- Confirm menu
- Confirm musical selections with musicians
- Send invitations: Generally invitations should land about 5 weeks before the date — with the RSVP deadline at three weeks out.
1 month to go:
- Marriage license time: This can take longer than you think — obtain a few copies just in case.
- Write your vows
- Check in with all vendors on logistics and timing
- Make a day of timeline
- Design and print a program for the ceremony
- Have your bachelor or bachelorette party
2 weeks to go:
- Seating chart & RSVP’s: Review all attendees and make sure you know who is sitting where.
- Get your wedding attire and rings ready
- Send a final timeline to wedding party
- Get snacks: It’s notoriously hard to eat at your wedding – make sure you have things to sustain you.
1 week to go:
- Check in one more time with vendors: Including transportation, musicians, and caterers.
- Finalize the ceremony: Including any necessary scripts printed.
- Arrange clothing rental returns
1 day to go:
- Have a ceremony rehearsal: as a part of this make sure you give your officiant the marriage licence.
- Pack your bags
- Get yourself prepared: If this means spa treatments or massages, get what you need to be ready.
- Don’t party too hard: Get some solid sleep (if you can!)
The day of the show:
- Eat! Eat! Eat!: It’s difficult to have time to eat during the wedding reception so make sure you are fueled and hydrated.
- Get your game face on: Set your clothes, hair and makeup.
- Wedding band check: Make sure whomever is going to get you the bands during the ceremony has them safe.
- Walk down the aisle and say “I do”!
- Breathe a sigh of relief: You did it!
A few tips for post-wedding:
- Clean or return your wedding attire
- Send thank you notes: Make a note of all the gifts you received as soon as you receive them to make this chore less onerous.
These are just some of the highlights of the more comprehensive wedding planning checklist. Download the full version to begin down the path of wedding planning with the confidence you need to make sure that the best day of your life is as stress free as possible.