By: Emma E. Olson
Ah, can you believe it—you’re engaged! Your partner proposed in the most special way. There’s a beautiful ring on your finger. You’re thrilled to share the news with friends and family, and you’re feeling dizzy in love. And that’s only the beginning! So, what’s next? We spoke with wedding planners Molly Fuschel of Celebration Concentration, and Erica Boe of Piece of Cake Minnesota Weddings to better understand the wedding planning timeline, and guide you from proposal to party!
Wedding Timeline & Checklist
Your wedding timeline often depends on the length of your engagement. Luckily, wedding vendors commonly work with a variety of timelines. The top recommendation from most wedding planners is to book your vendors as soon as your wedding date is set—typically, the availability of your preferred venues will determine that date for you. Follow the list below to keep yourself on track as you start your wedding-day count down.
Remember, it is never too early to start the items in the 18 – 10-month range. It’s also important to talk to your vendors, as their timelines and expectations may differ from what’s suggested below.
18-10 Months Before The Wedding
- Select date and venue(s) for ceremony and reception
- Book your officiant
- Start a wedding folder or binder
- Record keeping is an important step in the planning process. Keep everything from research to receipts together in a folder or binder to stay organized.
- Determine a budget
- Choose your wedding party
- Start the guest list Hire a planner, if desired
- Research and book your photographer, videographer, decorator, DJ/band, caterer, florist, transportationGo wedding dress shopping!
- If planning a destination wedding, send out save-the-dates at least 1 year in advance
“Getting vendors locked in is a huge stress relief, and then you can focus on other wedding items.”– Erica Boe, Piece of Cake Minnesota Weddings
9-8 Months Before The Wedding
- Reserve a block of hotel rooms
- Register for gifts and/or create and launch your wedding website
- Start planning a honeymoon
- Verify that your passports are up-to-date if planning to travel outside of the United States. Research if your destination country requirements.
- Choose dresses for bridesmaids, mother of the bride/groom, flower girl, etc.
- Meet with your officiant to confirm ceremony details and required documents (which vary by county and religion)
- Send out save-the-date cards and begin designing your formal invitations
- Reserve rental items (e.g. decorations, chairs, lighting, draping, generators, portable toilets for outdoor events, etc.)
- Book hair and/or makeup artists
- Start composing a day-of timeline
- Work with your event planner, photographer and other vendors to determine the when and where for the wedding day. You don’t have to have it all figured out now—you’ll continue to refine this throughout the months ahead.
6-5 Months Before The Wedding
- Book the rehearsal space and rehearsal-dinner venue
- Request and review samples of final invitations
- Book cake tastings sooner than later, then select and order cake
- Send your guest list to the host of your shower(s)
- Purchase wedding shoes and begin dress fittings
- Choose the music for your ceremony, dinner and reception
- Groom, groomsmen, father of the bride/groom and ring-bearer attire
3 Months Before The Wedding
- Finalize the menu
- Select wedding flowers
- Order favors for your guests, if desired
- Select ceremony readings and readers
- Purchase your bridal undergarments (and bring them to your second fitting!)
- Purchase the rings (allow time for resizing)
- Work with your vendors to begin the first draft of your wedding day timeline
2 Months Before The Wedding
- Meet with the photographer
- Review the playlist with the DJ/band
- Pre-wedding celebrations: bridal shower, bachelorette/bachelor parties
- Send out the invitations
“I encourage my couples to send their invitations eight weeks prior to their wedding, with a RSVP request date of four weeks prior to the wedding. By giving yourself a month before the wedding for RSVPs, that gives you time to reach out to the guests who inevitably won’t RSVP on time, and still meet deadlines. ”– Erica Boe
1 Month Before the Wedding
- Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database
- Get your marriage license
- Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations (if desired) and/or provide rehearsal details to applicable parties
- Visit seamstress for final dress fitting
- Confirm headcounts with caterer and bartending company/service
- Determine reception seat assignments (if desired)
- Send out any final payments to vendors
- Confirm times and other details with all vendors
- Print stationary, including programs, menu cards, etc.
- Purchase gifts for your bridesmaids, groomsmen and parents
- If writing your own, begin preparing your vows
1 Week Before The Wedding
- Re-confirm timeline, contact information and final details with vendors
- Delegate wedding-day tasks
- Provide the timeline to your bridal party
- Supply your photographer with a list of names and moment to capture
- Pamper yourself with a mani-pedi and a massage!
- Send the final guest list to the venue and caterer
- Pack for your honeymoon
“Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts and cards, and someone to be the point person for each vendor.”– Molly Fuschel of Celebration Concentration