Next up in our Ask the Expert series, we are conquering the TIMELINE. I know it may seem overwhelming and at times nail biting, but rest assured, we have you covered (so keep that pretty manicure intact!)
We will be breaking down the ever-intimidating wedding planning process into a simple and straightforward timeline. This timeline gives you a general idea of what to expect and how to be best prepared.
We know how overwhelming this time can be, so we hope this helps get a general idea for the basic order of events.
12 Months Before
- Wedding Theme & Style: Get inspired & start to get a general idea for the look and theme you want to project on your special day! Pinterest will be your new BESTIE!
- Budget: Compose a rough draft- research average prices in your area to get a better feel for what the going rates are for each service/vendor.
- Draft Guest List: Include your parents and groom’s parents in this task, as they may have family or friends that are important to them to invite. Keep in mind- you can always trim the list later! This will also give you an idea for your budget, as most venues/caterers quote based on guest count.
- Research & Book Ceremony & Reception Venue: Now that you have your general wedding look & theme figured out, start to visit venues that align with your overall vision. Venues book up fast—make sure to inquire early to see which dates are available!
- Pick your Bridal Party– Have fun with it! Ask in a way your closests won’t forget and make it meaningful! Let them know how much they mean to you and how important it is to have them by your side!
- Research Vendors– Begin to research the vendors that book up fast, such as Photographers, Officiants,Bands/DJ, etc.
- Schedule your Engagement Photos– Better sooner, rather than later (especially if going into the colder months- depending on the look you want) so you can then use them for your save-the-dates.
- Book Officiant: Like venues, officiants book up fast.
- Meet with & Book Vendors: Caterer, DJ/Band, Photographer/Videographer, Florists
- Mail Save-the-Dates for Destination Wedding: Give your guests and wedding party enough time to plan.
- Schedule Wedding Dress Appointments
- Meet with & Book Vendors: Caterer, DJ/Band, Photographer/Videographer, Florists
- Host an Engagement Party: Completely optional- if decide to have, traditionally the parents of the bride host the engagement party.
- Order your Dress, Veil, Accessories: Believe it or not, a wedding dress can take up to 5 month to receive after ordering
- Finalize Guest List
- Order & Send Save-the-Dates
- Choose Bridal Party Colors & Order Attire & Accessories
- Block Hotel Rooms for Guests– Research three hotels for out of town guests
- Start Planning your Honeymoon– Make sure your passports are up-to-date and start to save!
- Register: Sign up for a minimum of three retailers at different price points
- Delegate: Discuss Attendant’s duties & roles
- Personalize your Special Day: Add touches that represent you & your groom!
- Schedule Invitation Consultation: Determine the design, wording, font, paper stock for your wedding invitations, table & escort cards, & thank-you notes
- Review & Approve Proofs of Wedding Invitations & Stationery
- Order Invitations
- Determine order of ceremony events & choose appropriate wording for your programs
- Choose Groomsmen Attire
- Select Attire for Ring Bearer/Flower Girl
- Reserve Rentals- Chairs, Linens, Lighting, Décor, Tents, Heaters, etc.
- Arrange Transportation & from venues- consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, town cars
- Meet with Officiant- Map out the ceremony & confirm that you have all the official documents needed for the wedding.
- Purchase Wedding Bands
- Research Wedding Day Hair & Makeup
- Meet with Bakeries- Schedule Cake Tasting
- Book Honeymoon Flights & Hotels
- Finalize Menu/Alcohol for Reception
- Plan & Assemble Welcome Baskets for Out-of-Town Guests
- Schedule Hair & Makeup Trial & Book
- Schedule Dress Fittings
- Plan Rehearsal Dinner & Select Menu- Traditionally the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner
- Order Favors, Table/Escort Cards, Menu, Thank-You Cards, Rehearsal Dinner Invitations, & Programs
- Place Cake Order & Arrange for Delivery
- Prepare a playlist of wedding- Play/Do Not Play
- Purchase Bridal Accessories, Shoes, Lingerie, etc.
- Book room for wedding night
- Choose something fun for your guests to throw at your wedding (rose petals, bubbles, confetti, etc.)
- Compose Day- Of Timeline- Slot in each component (cake cutting, first dance, etc)
- Send Guest List to Host of Shower
- Address Wedding Invitations: Allow month to assemble if needed
- Create Hotel Information Cards & Maps to include with invitations
- Finalize Flowers/Décor
- Finalize Readers & Readings
- Finalize the Order of the Ceremony & Reception
- Send Day of Schedule to Vendors
- Plan Ceremony & Reception Seating
- Purchase toasting flutes, serving pieces, guest book, flower basket, & ring-bearer pillow
- Purchase or Rent Groom’s Wedding Accessories
- Get groomsmen fitted
- Write Wedding Day letter to give to Fiancé on wedding
- Discuss Bachelorette Plans with Attendants
- Write or Decide on Vows/Ceremony
- Secure Wedding Day Dressing Room for your Girls
- Weigh, purchase postage for & mail wedding invitations: Wedding invitations are typically sent out 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding.
- Develop system to organize RSVPS
- Apply for Marriage License: Order 2-3 extra; Check US Marriage Laws for your local requirements and details.
- Finalize Day of Timeline
- Review Ceremony Details with Officiant: send timeline
- Confirm vendors: Check-in & update with timeline
- Go to Final Gown Fitting/Groom’s Tux Fitting
- Finalize Fittings & Attire for Wedding Party Members & Your Parents
- Create Honeymoon Itinerary for Family
- Purchase Ceremony Accessories (unity candle, wine glasses, etc.)
- Confirm Day Of Transportation: Determine how you, your bridal party, and your families will be getting to and from wedding locations.
- Review Playlist with Band/DJ
- Meet with Photographer- Review Shoot List
- Book Spa & Beauty Treatments for you & your party
- Decide “Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue”
- Enjoy a Bachelorette Party!
- Start Recording RSVPs
- Mail Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
- Write Thank-You Notes as you receive gifts
- Write Newspaper Announcement & Gather Images
- Purchase a gift for your spouse to be
- Purchase Honeymoon Clothing, Luggage, etc.
- Arrange for transportation to and from airport
- Bridal Shower: Traditionally, the groom’s mother’s close friend hosts the bridal shower. Or your bridesmaids can host a shower as well.
- Arrange for Table Card Setup at Reception Venue
- Arrange for distribution of programs/placement
- Coordinate for Photographers Storage Area at venue
- Finalize Seating Arrangements for guests
- Meet with Ushers- assign duties
- Confirm floral order & arrange delivery times
- Pick- Up Wedding Bands
- Pick-Up Marriage License
- Pack for Honeymoon
- Send out final payments to vendors
- Confirm Times for Hair & Makeup
- E-mail & Print directions for drivers of transportation
- Get a facial, hair-cut & colored, schedule manicure/pedicure
- Finalize List of Reception Guests
- Give Final Headcount to Caterer
- Arrange for Delivery/placement of flowers, candles, etc. to ceremony
- Contact anyone who has not responded to wedding invitation
- Update Registries
- Break in Wedding Shoes
- Delegate wedding day duties: gift table, guest book, etc.
- Delegate someone to return tuxes, rentals, and tend to wedding dress (bustle dress, carry bouquet), point people- ask to deal with vendors
- Reconfirm Arrival Times with vendors
- Send Timeline to Bridal Party (include everyone’s contact information, point people asked to deal with vendors and vendor contacts)
- Pick-up Dress
- Set aside checks for vendors (tips in envelopes)
- Final Headcount: Once you have reviewed your RSVPs, you will then need to confirm the numbers with your rental companies (chairs, tables) as well as your caterer.
- Finalize Seating Chart: Sit friends and acquaintances together whenever possible..
- Prepare Wedding Day emergency Kit
- Lay out Wedding Clothes/Rehearsal Dinner Outfit
- Give Readers their Scripts
- Get your tan on!
- Give Shot List to Photographer: Figure out what photographs are important to you and put together a list of shots you would like taken for your photographer. I’ll go over this in more detail later.
- Arrange for transportation of your gifts
- Attend Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner: Enjoy!
- Deliver Welcome Baskets to Hotels for out of town guests
- Get manicure/pedicure
- Give Bridal Party Gifts: Typically the day before the wedding the bride will give her bridesmaids’ a gift.
- Eat a hearty breakfast- can’t stress this enough, the last think you want to be all day is hangry (hungry + angry = hangry).
- Mail Wedding Announcements
- Get Hair & Makeup Done
- Give Wedding Rings & Officiant fee to best man
- Get married & live happily ever after! Just remember to enjoy the moment (it goes by fast) and have fun!
”Every bride and groom should think about how they want to start their special day. Whether it’s a walk or yoga class with bridesmaids or a golf game for the guys, it’s important to have some ‘me’ time and just relax to enjoy the day ahead.”
After the Wedding
- Return tuxes, rentals
- Preserve Wedding Gown
- Arrange for transfer of gifts
- Send thank-you cards