You finally found the perfect person and you get engaged. But now what? There is so much planning that needs to be done, people to call, plans to be made, arrangements made, so much that it makes your head spin just thinking about it! Don’t fret! Your wedding should NOT be the most stressful thing in your life, it should be the happiest day of your life! Well, until you have kids!
So, the first thing you should think about it is when do you want to get married? A year from now, two years, two months? How much time do you have? I’m going to create you a little checklist here based on about a year in advance to plan. This can be adjusted and spread out if need be, or crunched down if your timeframe is smaller.
12 Months Before The Big Day
- Think about your bridesmaids/groomsmen and inform them that you would like to have them as your wedding party. Believe me, they want to know!
- Decide on a budget. Budget is key, if you only have $1,000 to work with, then stay within that budget, but if you have a $100,000 budget, then you have a lot more room to work with.
- Think about your guest list. You don’t have to start sending out invitations right now, but start thinking about the people you would like to invite. This is important, because before you start looking at venues, you want to know how many people to expect. You don’t want to book a small chapel and invite 400 guests!
- Look into photographers, DJ’s or band, hair and makeup, caterers, florists, etc. This is key because you want to make sure that you get a great deal and that it stays within your budget. But you want to make sure that you are hiring someone that is dependable! You definitely don’t want to hire a florist that you expect to do a great job and find out that everything is all wrong on the morning of your wedding!
- Plan/throw an engagement party. This is not a requirement of course, but if it is something that you would like to have, then now is the time to start thinking about it. Figure out who you want to invite, where to have it and when you want to have it.
6 to 9 Months Before The Big Day
- Book photographer and entertainment. Make sure you are hiring someone that you can trust to show up. Check on deposits to reserve the photographer and entertainment and find out if you can get a refund if something happens and you need to cancel or reschedule.
- Meet with caterers and wedding cake bakers. Do taste tests, check on deposits, policies of changing menus at the last minute. These things are key because if you choose to hire someone to make certain dishes and then find out that someone is allergic, how willing are they to change up one meal to help meet those needs.
- Order invitations. There are many selections to choose from, so sit down with your significant other and pick them out and get them ordered!
- Go shopping!!!!! This is probably the biggest thing for a bride, the perfect dress! So, gather your friends and family that you want with you and go and start shopping for your dress. You will need to make sure you have time for two or three fittings before the big day so you have time for any changes and alterations that need to be done.
- Shop for bridesmaids dresses. If you are purchasing them yourself or the bridesmaids are purchasing them, consider the budget. If you are buying them yourself then you already know the budget but you do not want to plan on a $200 dress for your bridesmaid if they are hard up for money. It’s rude and ends up hurting someone’s feelings and can permanently damage a friendship.
- Having guests from out of town? Research and call up hotels for reservations. Find out if they have blocks of rooms available for the time period and figure out how many rooms you might need. Find out about discounts and refunds if you don’t use all of the rooms that get reserved.
- Book a florist. Many florists can do the flowers for many weddings in one day but they book up fast in the spring and summer seasons, so make sure you do this early. Figure out what flowers you want and talk to the florist and make sure that they are going to have all of the flowers that you want and need on hand and not reserved for someone else.
- Plan the honeymoon! This can be as much fun as shopping for a dress. You are taking your first big trip with your new spouse and you want it to be perfect! If you are planning on going out of the country, you don’t want to show up at the airport and realize that you don’t have a passport on hand, or did not get the correct immunizations if required. So, figure out where you are going and what will be needed before you depart.
- Are you wanting to take a limo from the “get ready” place to your venue? You need to figure out what limo service you want to use and book the limo and driver. If your guests are coming from out of town and need transportation, you need to figure out how they are going to get there to the venue as well.
4 to 5 Months Before The Big Day
- Send out invitations. You can do this earlier if you want, but not too much later. You want to make sure that everyone has plenty of time to ask for time off work, arrange travel and be able to RSVP.
- Are you going to have a rehearsal dinner? Book the restaurant or arrange for food for the dinner. You don’t want to get to the tail end and realize you forgot about this!
- Select and order your cake. Wedding cakes can take a long time to make and decorate, so you want to make sure that your cake baker has plenty of time to get it just right.
- Schedule hair and makeup. Are all of your bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done? Make sure when you book your hair and makeup person that they are aware of how many and if any allergies to certain products. Some even offer a free sample to show you how they would do your hair and makeup. Meet with several choices and see what they have to offer. Many have discount options to get the whole bridal party’s hair and makeup done. Some even go onsite to help with touchups.
2 to 3 Months Before The Big Day
- Finalize flowers and food. This might be closer to the two month mark to make sure that you have given enough time for the RSVP’s to come in. Make sure you know of any dietary restrictions and allergies to make sure that you plan accordingly.
- Make lists of people giving toasts and doing readings. Make sure that they are aware of it and ask them to start preparing.
- Purchase rings. If a bridal set has already been purchased, then only the groom’s ring needs to be purchased, but you want to give yourself enough time to figure out which one you want.
- Finalize the schedule of events for the day of. You want to plan for unforeseen circumstances as well!
- Meet with your photographer and make sure they are aware of how you want your pictures and get lighting ideas and poses.
- Submit wedding announcements to newspaper.
1 Month Before The Big Day
- Last dress fitting!
- Get marriage license! Some places have a waiting period and you don’t want to get to the last day and realize that you can’t even finalize your marriage until you get back off of your honeymoon!
- Send out final payments to vendors.
- Confirm hair and makeup appointments.
- Finalize seating arrangements.
- Purchase gifts for your bridesmaids. A bachelorette party is a perfect time to give them their gifts!
- Write vows! Don’t wing it unless you are really good thinking on your feet. Usually the day of the wedding is filled with nervous jitters so you want to make sure that you have an idea of what you are going to say.
Week of the Big Day
- Start delegating! As the bride, you don’t want to be so stressed out you break out with a bunch of acne the week of your wedding. Everyone wants this to be your perfect day, so let them take up some of the tasks.
- Give yourself a break! Book a spa treatment, or just a small day vacation for relaxing. Get a manicure and pedicure if you want, just relax and know that within a week you are going to be married to your soulmate!
- Pack for your honeymoon! Make sure everything is in order, any lingerie is bought and packed. Make sure your groom is doing this as well! The day of the wedding you don’t want to be packing for him!