Planning a Wedding - The Detailed Version
So, you’re getting married. Congratulations!! There’s only about a bazillion things to do. Hopefully, this planning guide will assist you the process and make things a bit easier. We take a pretty deep dive into the planning timeline so grab a latte and get comfortable. It covers the big stuff (and some smaller things too) but every wedding is different, and each expectation is different. You may need to add some things or delete some items from the guide – but it’s all good. Try to have fun and enjoy the process. Here we go:
One year out -
· Start a wedding folder or binder. Start Checking out bridal, flower, maybe lifestyle and related websites like Pinterest, Etsy etc… for inspiration.
· Work out your budget. Very important. Figure out how much you have to spend, include family help and your own savings.
· Pick your wedding party. Not as easy as it may sound.
· Start the guest list. Start a database. Include contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information. Hint: A great way to lower wedding costs is to limit guests. (I said a great way, not an easy way Lol)
· Hire a planner (optional). Planners have loads of contacts and resources. (If you do hire a planner, make sure it’s included in the budgeting process)
· Research and Reserve your wedding Venue: This can take some investigative time but it will be time well spent. Don’t just go by photos online. Ask lots of questions and remember to think about time of year, indoor or outdoor, all inclusive or a la carte etc..
· Talk to and decide the officiant.
· Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers. Ask friends and co-workers for referrals or do some investigating online to begin the process.
Eight to nine months out –
· Hire the photographer and/or the videographer
· (my favorite part). The photographer and/or videographer are there for you and your day. Make sure your vision for the images and footage are in line with the type of work they offer.
· Entertainment: Do you want a live band? DJ? Both have pluses and minuses. Do you want extra’s like a photo-booth? Now is the time to decide and book.
· Meet caterers. If you are not at an all-inclusive venue, now is the time to enjoy sampling different offerings from the vendors, gather prices and take notes. You will need to make a final decision soon.
· Purchase a dress. Not as easy as it sounds. Often dresses need “tweeking.” Figure at least 3 fittings. If the budget is tight, ask for last year’s styles and try to find something “off the rack.” Another option is consignment shops. You can score huge if you get lucky.
· Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. Pick one or two hotels close to the venue.
· Register. Sign up at multiple sites. Give your guests lots of choices.
· Launch a wedding website. Create your wedding page at any number of online sites. Include the date of the wedding, travel information, and accommodations. Then send the link to invitees.
Six to seven months out -
· Select and purchase invitations. There are many online vendors. Give yourself time to pick your favorite.
· Start planning your honeymoon. Remember to think about passports (if needed).
· Pick bridesmaids’ dresses. Allow several months for the dresses to be ordered and sized. Or, try to buy off the rack. There are some great deals to be had.
· Meet with the officiant. Discuss the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
· Send save-the-date cards.
· Other necessities. If you are at an all-inclusive venue this is likely irrelevant. But, if not consider portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs if you need them, lighting components, and so on.
· Book a florist. Don’t want flowers? Consider homemade center pieces. If it’s a themed wedding – the center pieces can be part of the theme. The Bouquets can be flowers, shells, a plant, or even feathers.
· Transportation. Limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars are just a few of the options.
· Wedding Day Timeline. Work with your DJ or Band and discuss any preferences. (first dance music, announcements etc…)
Four to five months out -
· Rehearsal and rehearsal brunch/dinner. Everything is negotiable. Don’t shy away from price negotiating with the restaurant.
· Order the cake. Some bakers require a long lead time. Attend several tastings before committing to any baker.
· Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
· Schedule hair and makeup artists. Ask friends for referrals or you can go to your local make up store and sample the services of some of the ladies there. Many of them freelance their services.
· Choose your music. This could take a few minutes… things to consider: music during the ceremony, grand entrance music, first dance song, songs for the reception as well as music you DO NOT WANT to be played.
Three months out -
· Finalize the menu and flowers.
· Order favors, if desired.
· Make a list of the people giving toasts. Now is the time to ask.
· Finalize the readings. If applicable. Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony—and whom you wish to do the readings.
· Dress Fitting. This should be the first. Schedule the second.
· Menu cards or programs? If desired. No need to go to a printer, if that’s not in your budget: You can easily create these on your computer.
· Purchase the rings. You may need time for resizing and engraving.
· Talk to your vendors. Give them a first draft of your itinerary. This allows ample time for tweaks and feedback.
Two months out -
· Touch base again with all the vendors. Make sure any questions you or they had on your first draft have been answered.
· Meet with the photographer. Have a “shot list” and discuss special spots for portraits.
· Talk to your DJ or Band. Though you probably won’t be able to dictate every single song played, you should come prepared with a wish list.
· Invitations. It’s time to send them out. Set the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.
One month out -
· Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database. Phone people who have not yet responded.
· Get your marriage license. This can take up to a week. Order several copies.
· Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations.
· Dress Fitting. This is number 2. For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly.
· Alcohol. If applicable. Now that you have a firm head count you can order accordingly.
· Send out as many final payments as you can.
· Vendors. Reach out to them and see if there are any questions.
· Assign seating. If needed, you can draw out the layout of the room and use colored paper/sticky’s for the ladies and the men. That eliminates lots of erasing.
· Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts. Ideas include personalized slippers, bracelets, and makeup bags. You’ll present them at the rehearsal dinner.
· Write your vows. If applicable.
· Get your hair cut and colored, if desired.
Week of the Wedding -
· Reconfirm arrival times with vendors.
· Delegate wedding-day tasks. Such things as: someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to hand out tips, and someone to be the point person for each vendor.
· Your dress. Possibly your final fitting and pick up.
· Check in one last time with the photographer. Supply him or her with your “shot list” and answer any questions.
· Tips. Put tips in envelopes to be handed out at the event by your chosen person.
· Mani/Pedi. Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)
· Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events. Vendors often require 72-hour notice.
· Shoes. Wear them around the house to help break them in.
· Pack for your honeymoon. If applicable.
Now, it's time to get married :)