FREE Wedding Planning Timeline Guideline and Checklist

Planning your wedding is a big deal! There are so many details and things to do in order, that it can get stressful for you. Don't let it stress you out! Below you'll find a checklist that will help walk you through your big day preparation step by step. Print a copy of this and keep it with your planning book to reference and help keep you on track. Most of all, enjoy the process - this is supposed to be fun!


12 - 16 Months Before the Wedding

  • Communicate - announce your intention to marry to both of your parents. If they haven't already met, arrange for them to do so.
  • Style - Start thinking about the style and theme of the wedding. (formal, semi-formal, informal, themed, destination, etc.)
  • Organize - Get a 3 ring binder and call it your wedding planner. Start paying attention to magazines for inspiration - and don't just look at bridal magazines. Keep in mind the following as well for inrpiration: fashing, outdoor or gardening, lifestyle, design, food magazines, travel, etc. Cut out clippings of things you like and add them to your binder.
  • Budget - Talk with your fiance and both sets of parents to determine how much you have to work with and who is comfortable paying for what. Don't forget your own contributions!
  • Officiant - It's time to book your officiant. Talk with your clergy/officiant and review styles, dates and any synagogue or church requirements.
  • Date & Place - Agree on 2 or 3 different dates together and start looking at your preferred wedding venues. Remember that some venues book out as far as 2 years in advance, so be flexible and don't get your heart broken. Also think about whether you want to have two different locations for the wedding and reception, keeping in mind travel times. Then, reserve your venues.
  • Wedding Planner - A wedding planner can have certain insights into different vendors and has a wealth of knowledge to use. After all, they plan wedding all the time, you're only going to do this once. If you're going to use a wedding consultant - start looking and book one.
  • Wedding Party - As soon as you announce that you're getting married, your friends and family will be wondering what role they'll be playing. Pick your party and let everyone know - don't forget to let them know what their duties will be.
  • Guests - Make your life easy from the start. Create a database to keep track of potential guests for your total headcount. You'll be able to use this list to easily keep track of RSVPs, gifts, travel arrangements, and any other info you'll need to easily access. This can also be a great tool to easily calculate your wedding costs by $ per head - and can be a great budgeting tool if you need to cut people.
  • Research - Start checking out potential important vendors, including: photographers, videographer, bands, florists, and caterers,etc. Keep their contact information in your binder.
  • Party - If you're the party type consider throwing an engagement party. Keep in mind, however, that those you invite to the party should be on your guest list. If you're not sure, you might consider postponing your party until your list is finalized.

9 - 11 Months Before the Wedding

  • Hire the Help - Finalize your interviews and research and start hiring your help. You don't need to talk specifics yet, but make sure you get on their books, and keep information about them and your contracts in your wedding book.
    • Photographer
    • Videographer
    • Caterer
    • Officiant
    • Florist
    • Band or DJ
  • Idea Mining - Keep up your research - look online, in magazines, etc. for additional wedding idea
  • Final Look - Finalize your wedding colors, theme and style.
  • Rings - Choose and purchase your wedding rings.
  • Honeymoon - Begin looking at honeymoon options. Discuss where you both would like to go, and if needed visit a travel agent. Make sure your passports are up to date if you'll need them, and schedule an appointment with a Dr. if you need special shots for where you'll be going.
  • Pick the Dress - Start looking for your wedding dress. Purchasing at this point would be recommended as well. Keep in mind you'll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Your veil and accessories can wait.
  • Out of Town Guests - If you have guests coming in from out of town, reserve a block of rooms at local hotels. It's a good idea to find different price points close to the reception venue.
  • Register - Schedule some time for you and your fiance to register at anywhere from 1-4 locations. If you're dealing with out of town guests and family, make sure that at least one of the retailers is a chain available in their area.
  • Go Online - Consider launching a wedding website. You can get personalized pages through free providers online or a simple pay service. Use this website to promote your wedding date, travel info, accommodations, RSVP info, places you're registered, etc. Share this website with your potential guests!

6 - 8 Months Before the Wedding

  • Music - Begin choosing your music choices for the wedding and reception.
  • Gown & Accessories - If you haven't already done so, finalize the purchase of your gown and accessories.
  • Bridesmaids' Dresses - Shop with your bridesmaids and get their dresses ordered. Keep in mind that you might need up to 6 months for their dresses to be ordered and fitted.
  • Prenup - Are you going to have a prenuptial agreement? If so, now's the time to take care of it.
  • Counseling - Do you need to have pre-marriage counseling before the I Do day? If so, arrange for your counseling now.
  • Officiant - Meet again with your chosen officiant. This is a great time to map out your ceremony as you'll want it - and coordinate which official documents you'll need to have with you on the wedding day.
  • Invitations - Select and purchase your invitations. Consider also the addressing - if you'd like professional calligraphy then add that into your budget.
  • Save the Date - Send out your save the date cards or even a newsletter (could be from your wedding website.)
  • Transportation - Consider what types of transportation you'll need for the wedding party and guests. You might need limos, trolleys, town cars, mini buses, etc. Get them booked now.
  • Structural - Do you need extra chairs, a stage or any other structural elements for your wedding and/or reception? Maybe you need portable toilets? If so, get them reserved now.
  • Electrical - Are you planning creative lighting outdoors or a DJ in the middle of a field? Be sure to book someone to handle the electrical for you now.
  • Day of Timeline - Start to detail the events as they'll happen on your actual wedding day. (Ceremony start, cake cutting, first dance, etc.)

4 - 5 Months Before the Wedding

  • Floral Arrangements - Work with your florist to finalize the look and costs of your arrangements.
  • Announcement - Place a wedding announcement in your local newspaper.
  • Groomsmen - Get the tuxedos ordered for the groom and groomsmen. Fittings can come later.
  • Decorations - Start finalizing your wedding decorations and favors.
  • Wedding Cake - Time to pick the goodies. Visit some bakeries for tastings and samples. Don't forget a Groom's cake if you're having one.
  • Rehearsal Dinner - Make arrangements for the date, time and location of your rehearsal dinner. Don't forget that you can negotiate the cost and menu.
  • Calligraphy - Did you want professional calligraphy on your invitations? Book a professional now.
  • Coordinator/Assistant - If you're not using a professional wedding coordinator, consider asking a close friend or family member at this time to help you be your personal assistant as you're closing in on the final details and for the day of.
  • Invitations - Check on the wedding invitations, ask for a sample of your final piece or make sure they're on time.
  • Bridal Shower - Provided you know about your shower, send your guest list to the coordinator.
  • Wedding Shoes & Fittings - Your shoes will be an important investment. Consider how long you'll be on your feet. Do you want something stylish, comfortable or both? Once you've decided on your shoes, schedule your first dress fitting.
  • Hair & Makeup - Start making some appointments with professionals in your area. Go in for "test" appointments and take a photo from each so you can compare the results.

3 Months Before the Wedding

  • Cake Order - Finalize your choice and place your order.
  • Guest List - Finalize the list.
  • Invitations - Drop off your invitations with the calligrapher or schedule an "invitation addressing" party with your close friends and family.
  • Cake Accessories - Buy the cake knife, guest book, signing pen, toasting glasses, garter, etc.
  • Gifts - Don't forget to take care of your parents, helpers and wedding attendants. Choose and purchase their gifts now.
  • Tuxedo Fittings - Get those guys in for their fittings!
  • Honeymoon - Finalize or confirm your honeymoon arrangements now so there are no surprises.
  • Vows - Are you writing your own wedding vows? If so, start working on them now, or work with your officiant on variations you feel comfortable with.
  • Menu - Finalize your menu with the caterer.
  • Wedding favors - Are you considering favors? Maybe gift baskets for out-of-town guests? Consider something that represents you as couple or even your city or region. Get those items ordered now.
  • Toasts - Who do you want to give toasts or make speeches at your wedding? Decide now and ask each person.
  • Ceremony - Finalize the order of your ceremony. Also finalize any readings or special ceremonies that will take place and purchase any necessary accessories.
  • Reception - Finalize the events that will take place at your reception, who will be speaking, etc. Make sure all those helping to run the event have the final list.
  • Menu & Programs - You can do these yourself or work with a professional. Print up menu cards and a wedding/reception program if you'd like.
  • Share the Schedule - Since you've finalized your event schedule, send copies to all of your vendors so they can make sure that they're prepared to meet your timeline.

2 Months Before the Wedding

  • Invitations - Time to send them out!
  • License - Arrange time to go with your fiance to get the wedding license.
  • Thank You - Write thank you notes for any gifts that have started showing up already.
  • Name Change - If you're planning on changing your name, gather the necessary documents you'll need and complete what you can.
  • Wedding Portrait - Have a formal wedding portrait taken, and a Bridal portrait. This will give you a chance to test the comfort and fit of your dress and accessories - and you can display the pictures at your wedding. This will also give you a chance to meet with your photographer and finalize a shot list and timeline for what photos you want on your wedding day.
  • Finalize Vendors - Meet with each vendor to finalize your choices and timelines. Make sure they fully understand your needs. Trade reliable contact names and numbers for any questions that might come up on the day of.
  • Wedding Room - Are you planning on spending your wedding night at a hotel? If so, reserve your room now.
  • Bachelorette Party - Consider having a fun night out with your wedding party and schedule your party now!

1 Month Before the Wedding

  • Seating Chart - Start working on the chart for your reception.
  • Gown Fitting - Schedule your final wedding gown fitting. If you discovered any issues during your wedding portrait, have those items taken care of at this time.
  • Undergarments - Time to purchase your undergarments for the day of, if you haven't already.
  • Babysitter - Are you inviting a lot of guests who will have kids? Arrange for a reliable babysitter for the reception at this time.
  • Vows - Finalize your wedding vows now.
  • Payments - Confirm all final payment amounts with each vendor. Send out as many as possible right now. If payments need to happen the day of cut your checks and ask your coordinator or personal assistant to handle the vendor on your wedding day.
  • License - Confirm that you have your license in your possession or arrange to pick up.
  • Rehearsal Dinner - Mail out the rehearsal dinner invitations and confirm final details.
  • Bar - If you're having a bar at your reception, you should have a close to final head count by now. Purchase and plan accordingly.
  • Hair & Makeup - If you haven't already, set appointments for you and your bridal party and confirm. If you're planning on having a hair cut or color, now is a good time do so as well.
  • Transportation - Print out or email directions, locations and times to all those involved in the transportation of you and your guests. Be sure to trade contact information with all drivers and provide them with the number of your coordinator.
  • Seating - Finalize your seating chart. A good tip is to use sticky notes. Pink for girls and blue for boys - move them around until you're happy then take a picture of the final seating chart.

2 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Florist - Confirm delivery time and locations.
  • Guests - If you still have guests that haven't responded to the invitation, time to contact them.

1 Week Before the Wedding

  • Gown - Pick up your wedding gown, attendant's gowns and all of your accessories. Store them somewhere safe!
  • Catering - Finalize head count, delivery time and locations with your caterer.
  • Final Confirmations - Reconfirm one more time with all vendors and helpers. Make sure everyone knows where they're supposed to be when and that emergency contact information has been shared.
  • Tuxedos - Arrange to have the men get their final fittings for the tuxedos.
  • Tasks - Time to delegate small tasks. Choose helpers to carry your things, watch over gifts, bustle your dress, take care of tips, etc. Make sure each person is aware of their responsibilities and has money or other necessary items.
  • Timeline - Your wedding day timeline should be finalized. Send it to your wedding party and include contact information for each person and for all vendors.
  • Checks and Tips - If you haven't already, write and set aside the checks and tips for your vendors. Make sure that the person responsible for handing the money off knows where it is or has it in hand.
  • Relax! - Book a spa treatment for yourself and your bridal party if you wish. Get a pedicure, manicure and even a massage so you're all relaxed for your big day!
  • Guest List - Send the final guest list and head count to the caterer and to any venues you are using.
  • Pack - Time to pack for your honeymoon. Don't wait until the last minute on this one. Pack it and set it aside.
  • Shoes - Break in your shoes. Wear them around the house or somewhere where you'll be able to break them in comfortably without adding any scuffs.
  • Gift Baskets - If you're giving out gift baskets to helpers or out-of-town guests, put them together and arrange to have delivered as needed.

1 Day Before the Wedding

  • Rehearsal - Attend the rehearsal and dinner. Give your attendants their gifts at this time and express your gratitude for their help.
  • Nails - If you haven't already gotten a manicure and pedicure, do so now. Or, if you simply need a repair or touch-up do so now.
  • Hair & Makeup - Reconfirm your hair and makeup appointments for tomorrow.
  • Setup - If you have access to your venues for the next day, deliver decorations to locations or hand off to someone in charge of helping to decorate.
  • To Dos - Ask everyone in your party if they have any questions or need anything to handle their responsibilities for the following day.
  • Sleep - Try to get to bed early and be well rested!
  • Food - Discuss what options you're planning on using for meals before your event and make sure you have ingredients and a preparer ready or a runner ready to run to grab something for you and your party.

Your Wedding Day

  • Eat - Even though the jitters may be making you think you're not hungry, eat breakfast. We don't need any fainting brides.
  • Fiance - Before the day gets in full swing, take some time to share a few moments with your fiance. Don't forget, this day is ultimately about your relationship!
  • Hair & Makeup - Show up to your appointment and let yourself be pampered!
  • Rings - Make sure that the groom's ring gets to the best man and that your ring is handed off where needed as well.
  • Dressing - Allow yourself two hours to dress. Try to use the facilities before you get fully ready.
  • Enjoy the Moment - It's time! Since you've followed this checklist, everything will go very smoothly and you're about to enjoy the biggest day of your life. Take a moment to take in your own beauty and start of a new life before you walk down the aisle.

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