It's been a whirlwind of excitement since your engagement which is why I've created the ultimate wedding planning checklist for you. It's time to take a deep breath, then plan your wedding and the reception. It's helpful to keep a journal and calendar to ensure you stay on track and have a place to jot down all your questions and ideas along the way.
Wedding planners say 12-14 months is ideal for planning the magical event, but it doesn't have to be a long engagement. You can plan your wedding in under a year. Let's say you have eight months to plan; tick all of the tasks off your list for months 12 through eight, and you'll be right on schedule.
12 Months Before Your Wedding
Set the Budget
And stick to it! In some cases, the bride's parents set the budget. It's more common for the happy couple to foot their bills in modern times. While adding lovely extras along the way is tempting, sticking to the budget means you don't end up with a financial wedding hangover. It's not a great way to begin a marriage.
As a starting point, wedding planners generally agree that if you keep the guest list under 50 people, you can pull off a lovely wedding for around $15,000. When you're planning the meal, check into a buffet option rather than a plated meal. If you're thinking of a big wedding for 140 guests, the food, alcohol, rentals, and staff will easily run you $17,000. You are bringing the total costs to around $30,000. Be realistic about your current financial status and expectations for the next two to three years, and manage your money accordingly.
Book the Venue
The most popular wedding and reception venues book quickly, so reserve early, put down a deposit and get the whole deal in writing as soon as possible. Get an idea of your food and drink options and how much each cost.
Make the Guest List
This can be a budget buster. You have an idea of what you're able to spend, so you may have to play with lower price food and beverage options or keep the head count down.
11 Months Before Your Wedding
Select Your Photographer
It's incredibly important you have a good rapport with your photographer. The right photographer will make you feel comfortable while capturing all the beautiful details of your celebration and the emotions that come with taking such a big step.
To be sure you're a match, have an engagement photo shoot. You'll both be more comfortable in front of the camera, and it's a beautiful personal touch to use the photos on your "Save the Date" cards and tucked into the invitations.
Make & Send "Save the Date" Cards
Book the Band or DJ
10 Months Before Your Wedding
Choose Who Will Officiate
Whether a leader from your place of worship or a justice of the peace, you must be sure you're on their schedule. You should also invite them to the rehearsal dinner.
Have a Meeting with Your Venue Event Planner
Set the menu and the list of beverages you'll provide for your guests.
9 Months Before Your Wedding
Register for Gifts
Include your fiance. The gifts will be for both of you, after all!
Pick Bridesmaids' Dresses and Schedule Fittings
8 Months Before Your Wedding
Pick Your Florist and Flowers
Have your bridal bouquet arranged as a test run to make sure it's exactly what you imagined; there's still time to make adjustments.
Book the Rehearsal Dinner Venue
7 Months Before Your Wedding
Book Hair & Makeup Tests
Have photos of what you like and try a couple of different looks with suggestions from your stylists. Once you decide, book your appointments for the wedding day, so there aren't any scheduling conflicts.
Piece of Cake!
Bring your fiance along and try four or five options. Can't decide? You can always have a wedding cake AND a groom's cake if the budget allows.
6 Months Before Your Wedding
Plan Personal Touches
Buy the book for guests to sign, and the thank you gifts for your wedding party.
Pick up Your Wedding License
5 Months Before Your Wedding
Begin Premarital Counseling
Counselling doesn't mean there's anything wrong. It means you want to be on the same page with your fiance when you walk down the aisle with them.
Plan Your First Dance
4 Months Before Your Wedding
Finalize the Wedding Reception Meal
Buy Your Bands
Be sure to keep them in a safe place; you'll have a lot on your mind for the next four months. The store where you buy the bands may be able to hold onto them until a groomsman picks them up the night before the wedding.
3 Months Before Your Wedding
Shop for the Groomsmen
Pick their suits or tuxes and get them all in for a fitting.
Order the Invitations
2 Months Before Your Wedding
Mail the Invitations
With a one-month “RSVP by” date.
Give your Song Selections to Your Band or DJ
1 Month Before Your Wedding
Make a list of every check or charge you'll need to pay in full by the end of the event.
Break in Your Wedding Shoes
Walk or dance around your house in your shoes. It's fun, and you're less likely to have aching feet at the reception.
The week leading up to your big day should include pampering. Have hair color or roots touched, get a mani/pedi with friends, and maybe get a massage.
You'll have your final fitting for THE dress. Have one of your bridesmaids go with you so they know the ins and outs of your gown. That way, they'll be ready in case of a wardrobe malfunction.
The night before your wedding should be a peaceful time to enjoy a healthy meal, a hot bath, sip water and get a good night's sleep.
On the morning of the first day of the rest of your life, eat breakfast; even if you don't feel like it, you need the fuel. Also, stay off your feet; you'll probably be on them late into the night.
Yes, it is your special day. Still, remember to show kindness and gratitude to all the people pitching in for you and your fiance.
Congratulations, your wedding is going to be fantastic!
Share this story