Welcome to your wedding planning lifeline! This blog post will go more in-depth in breaking down the wedding planning timeline that I have posted under my "Freebies" tab. The timeline is broken down into 4 phases to help give you a better visual of the tasks that should be completed and the importance of them. This timeline is not a one-size-fits-all template and you may have to change some things around to fit your personal wedding needs. It is based on a wedding that will be 9-12 months out. You'll want to adjust it accordingly if you're working with a different timeframe.
9 Months Out- Research and Planning Preparation Phase
Tour/ Research Venues- It is so important to do your research! Don't just look at one venue, even if you think you're set on it. I encourage you to tour multiple venues (I know it's time-consuming but it pays off!). See my blog post "It's All About Location!" for some insight on what to look for in a venue to ensure it's perfect for your big day.
Start Dress Shopping- You want to be sure and do this early on, because it can take a while to get your alterations done, and you may even need to get another round of alterations done because there's a good chance that your weight will fluctuate in a year.
Work on Guest List-This is a great thing to start brainstorming on day 1 of wedding planning. Deciding on what size you would like your guest list is on of the most important factors in constructing your budget.
Start Wedding Website- Another great thing to start early on in the wedding process. The wedding website is something that's easy to work on in little chunks over time. For more advice on designing your wedding website and developing content for it, check out my blog "Bios, Registry, and Website- Oh My!" Remember, your invitations and your wedding website are the first impression that people will be getting of your wedding. It sets the tone for what kind of wedding you are having (romantic, eclectic, rustic, modern, vintage, industrial, etc) and what your colors or theme is/are.
Mail out Save-the-Dates- It's a good idea to mail these out as soon as you have a date secured at both a ceremony and reception venue. You'll want your guests to put the date on their calendars ASAP so they can make travel arrangements and ask for time off if needed. All you need to put on the save-the-dates is a date, your venue, your names, and maybe a link to the wedding website. You don't have to figure any other details before sending them, which is nice.
Ask Your Wedding Party-This task can be a fun one! There are so many great ideas for how to propose to your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and flower girl/ring bearer. Check out my Pinterest board "Wedding Party Proposals" or my blog post "Proposal #2" for some fun and clever ideas!
Pick Out Wedding Colors/Theme- This is important to do early on, because everything in the wedding will rely on these colors/theme.
Start a Wedding Planning Binder/ Notebook- This will help set the tone for how organized your wedding planning process will be. A very neat and organized, easy-to-use planning binder or notebook will make your life so much easier when planning.
Research/ Reach Out to Vendors- Start this ASAP. Vendors get booked pretty fast (especially for weddings in spring or fall and on weekends), and you want to make sure that you have multiple options to be able to choose the best fit for you.
Create a Vision Board (Digital or Physical)- This is a great activity to complete with your fiance. It will help you both get on the same page about what you want your wedding will be like, and it will help you both focus on the important things. If you get in a planning funk, it can be a great inspiration to have a physical vision board to look at.
Create a Budget- Not sure where to start on this? Check out my wedding budget blog post for some inspiration. It's important that you get this aspect of your wedding right, and that you and your partner are able to come to an agreement when it comes to budget.
Hire a Wedding Planner- I can help take some of these tasks off of your plate! Hiring a wedding planner will give you peace of mind on your big day, and will ensure that all last-minute hiccups are taken care of.
Take Engagement Photos- Most people opt to take engagement photos during this time. The engagement photos can be used on social media and on your save-the-dates and invitations. If you have chosen a photographer for your wedding, you might want to check with them to see if an engagement shoot is part of your contract (it often is!).
Engagement Party- Some couples opt out of this. If you're going to have an engagement party, you should have it soon after you get engaged.
Book Venue- Venues sell out fast. Especially in Fall or Spring and on weekends. If you have a dream venue it's best to book it first and ASAP.
Get Insurance for Engagement Ring- Sometimes this expense gets overlooked, but it is another important cost associated with a wedding. If you're anything like me, you will like having that piece of mind early on.
6 Months Out- The Getting Down to Business Phase
Order Invitations- Look at sites like Zola, Minted, Zazzle, Vistaprint, Shutterfly. You'll want to make sure that you outline an rsvp deadline of a month prior to the wedding date so that you can give your caterer a final headcount. Don't forget to order rsvp cards and song request cards (if you want) at this time, too.
Pick Out a Dress- You will for sure want to have a dress picked out by the 6 month mark. This will allow for time for alterations to be done so that your dress can be ready for your wedding.
Order Wedding Party Dresses/ Tuxes- You'll want to have your wedding party order these with ample time for alterations.
Hair and Makeup Trial- Make sure that you opt for a hair and makeup trial before you choose a makeup artist. You'll want to make sure that the makeup can look just the way you want it and that your money will be well-spent. It may take a few trials to find your favorite.
Buy/Rent Groom's Tux- Make sure you leave yourself enough time for alterations.
Buy Wedding Bands- Don't forget this important item!
Sign Vendor Contracts- Ideally, you should have all of your vendor contracts signed by now. This will give you peace of mind and ensure that you lock in all of your top vendors (or someone else might!).
Cake/Food Tasting- This is one of the more fun parts of wedding planning- enjoy!
Update Budget- Make your budget early on and update it often!
Order Rentals- If you have any furniture rentals (chairs, tables, lounge chairs, barstools, belly bars, stage, dance floor, etc) you'll want to make sure that you lock those down asap before anyone else has the chance. This goes for linens, lighting, and any other event enhancements, too.
Book Honeymoon- This takes time. You'll want to make sure that you have enough time to do ample research on different locations, hotels, and airfare deals before booking anything.
3 Months Out- Tie Up Loose Ends Phase
Create a Seating Chart- Not sure where to start on this? Check out my blog post "Take a Seat: We're Talking Guest List, Wedding Party, and Seating Charts."
Get Dress Alterations- (if applicable)
Pick Out Bridal Accessories- This means shoes, veil, jewelry, garter, underskirt, etc.
Send Out Invitations- You'll want to do this about 3 months out from your wedding to give guests enough time to make travel arrangements and ask for work off. Make sure you put an rsvp deadline of about a month out from your wedding, so that you can provide a final headcount to your caterer.
Start Your Wedding Registry- This is the fun part! Pick out 2-3 of your favorite home goods/everyday essentials/ kitchen supplies stores and make a wish list of everything you want that you might not buy for yourself. Don't be afraid to put more expensive and less necessary items on the list. A good registry has a good mix of essentials and non essentials, more expensive and more cost-effective options. Remember, you'll need about as many items on your registry as people attending the wedding (at least) to make sure that everyone has the chance to get you something.
Update Budget- Make sure you do this often! The last thing you need is an oversight on your budget.
Write Vows- Something as special as your vows to your spouse should not be rushed. You'll want to start writing these a few months before your wedding (or even further out) so that you have time to really reflect and come up with something meaningful by the time the wedding comes around.
1 Month Out- The "Oh Sh**" Phase
Bachelor/ Bachelorette Parties- Your Best Man/ Maid-of-Honor should be planning this. Traditionally it takes place the night before the wedding; however, I strongly recommend that you do it the month before the wedding. This limits the possibility of anyone showing up to the ceremony still drunk or hungover, and you can focus on just having a good time (without the stress of a wedding the next day).
Last-Minute Meetings With Vendors- This is where you and your planner can tie up any loose ends with vendors and finalize your timeline.
Request Last-Minute RSVPs- All rsvps should be in by now, and you'll need to be sure and send that headcount to your caterer (and maybe your venue).
Finalize Seating Chart- Now that all of your final rsvps are in, you can add the finishing touches to your seating chart to make sure everyone who rsvp'ed has a seat and everyone who did not is no longer on the chart.
Song List to DJ- This song list should include the songs you walk down the aisle to, the song you retreat down the aisle to, the wedding party and bride and groom reception entrance song, the first dance song, the parent dance songs, the last song, and any songs on your do-not-play list. For inspiration on which songs to choose, visit my blog post "The Best Songs For..."
Buy Wedding Party Gifts- Usually, gifts are given to the wedding party before the wedding as a thank-you for helping make your special day so special. These can be customized robes, customized champagne glasses, makeup bags, etc (for the ladies) or customized shot glasses, customized flasks, their favorite alcohol, fun socks, etc (for the fellas). Some couples also opt to get thank-you gifts for their officiant and/or their planner.
Marriage License- Marriage licenses in California are good for 3 months, so you'll want to get one closer to your wedding date so that it doesn't expire before your wedding. Don't forget to budget for about $80 for this item.
Get Together Wedding Emergency Kit- (if your planner doesn't have one) You'll want to include things like hairpins, hairspray, band-aids, 5 hour energy, tums, allergy medicine, advil, a water bottle, extra makeup, etc. Think about anything you might possibly need on your wedding day- it's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Update Budget- This should be a no-brainer by now. This will be around the time that most of your last vendor payments will be due, so it is especially important to update the budget with those final numbers.
Plan Out Rehearsal Dinner- You'll want to plan out where you're going to have it, who's invited, who's going to pay (may be something else you need to budget for).
Bridal Shower- This is usually planned by the Mother of the bride or groom, the Maid-of-Honor, or some other positive female role model in the bride's life. It is usually a month or two before the wedding.
Final Dress Fitting- Your final fitting should be this month (or earlier) to make sure that your dress will fit (and that you'll have it) in time for your wedding day.
Final Payments to Vendors- Don't forget these payments! In some cases it may make your vendor contracts void if you miss your last payment, or you may incur late fees. Nobody wants that.
Day-of Timeline- This is something that your planner should handle. It will incorporate everyone's role in your big day so you'll know exactly what should happen when.
Follow this timeline, and you'll be on your way to an amazing wedding day! Check out my other blog posts so help with other parts of the wedding planning.
Until next time,