Wedding 101

How to Plan a Wedding in 12 Months

by loverly on

You've announced your engagement and you're ready to start planning your big day...hooray! But where exactly should you start? If you're feeling at a loss about where to jump into the whole planning process, here's a rough timeline of the major things you'll need to do over the next 12 months. Use this as a starting point to help you collect your thoughts and then get your planning on. Good luck, Loverlies, and have fun!
12 months before:
- Come up with a tentative budget and talk to your love about what your ideal wedding would look like.
- Decide when you want to get married. If your date is flexible, check with several venues you like to see when exactly they're available and how much they will cost.
- Research venues.
- Draft a guest list.
- Talk to your parents about their ability to contribute and finalize your wedding budget.
- If you've decided to hire a wedding planner, interview and select yours.
10-11 months before:
- Book your ceremony and reception venues.
- Choose your wedding party.
- Book an officiant.
- Find and order your wedding gown.
- Start interviewing wedding vendors and professionals (florist, stationer, DJ/musician, band, videographer, etc.).
- Plot out the decor scheme for your wedding: Will you hang twinkly lights or chandeliers? Line the aisle with candles? Use hay bales for reception seating? Consider any rentals you'll need to execute your vision.
- Meet with caterers; sample and choose reception food.
- Book your wedding photographer.
- Take engagement photos.
- Send out save-the-dates for a destination wedding.
8-9 months before:
- Finalize bar service.
- Register for gifts.
- Reserve any necessary rentals.
- Reserve room blocks for out-of-town guests.
- Book wedding band/DJ.
- Book florist.
- Finalize stationery suite.
6-7 months before:
- Set up your wedding website.
- Order bridesmaid dresses.
- Send save-the-dates.
- Finalize wedding entertainment.
- Order formalwear for the groom.
- Start researching honeymoon travel.
4-5 months before:
- Purchase wedding rings.
- Order invitations.
- Order formalwear for groomsmen.
- Attend cake tastings; choose a baker and cake.
- Choose attire for flower girl/ring bearer.
- Finalize ceremony order; ask friends to do readings.
- Book honeymoon.
3 months before:
- Hire calligrapher for invitations (if necessary).
- Have a wedding shower.
- Book venue for rehearsal dinner.
- Purchase accessories, including jewelry, shoes, veil, cuff links, bow ties, etc.
2 months before:
- Mail your invitations.
- Meet and book stylists/makeup artists and test out wedding hairstyles and makeup looks.
- Purchase gifts for your wedding party.
- Order wedding programs.
- Write or choose your wedding vows.
- Book any necessary day-of transportation.
1 month before:
- Confirm playlist/do-not-play list with musicians or DJ.
- Send rehearsal dinner invites.
- Purchase wedding favors.
- Wrap up DIY projects.
- Have a final gown fitting; ensure your maid of honor knows how to bustle your gown, if necessary.
- Apply for your marriage license.
- Create welcome bags for out-of-town guests.
- Confirm all day-of details with vendors; make any necessary substitutions/changes.
- Confirm all important details with wedding party members (e.g. arrival times, attire fittings, etc.).
- Confirm that necessary space for all vendors and equipment is available at the venue.
- Arrange for care of pets/home during your honeymoon.
- Have bachelor/bachelorette parties.
3 weeks before:
- Contact any MIA guests to get their RSVPs.
- Finalize guest list and give head count to caterer/venue.
- Confirm vendor meals with caterer.
- Prepare must-have shot list with photographer; give names of all VIPs.
2 weeks before:
- Get final haircut and color.
- Confirm all honeymoon travel.
- Plan reception seating chart.
1 week before:
- Print or DIY your escort cards.
- Call all vendors and confirm delivery/setup/takedown arrangements.
- Give your day's schedule to ceremony/reception site managers, including deliveries, setup, takedown, etc.
2-3 days before:
- Make sure your dress is ready to go; get it steamed or pressed if necessary.
- Pick up the mens' formalwear.
- Finalize bridal party positions and order they'll walk down the aisle.
- Deliver place cards, programs, menus, etc. to appropriate venue or site managers.
- Drop off welcome bags at guest hotels and give delivery instructions to the front desk.
- Designate someone as the emergency contact person and give out their phone number to all vendors. Make sure to pick a trusted relative or responsible member of the bridal party.
- Rehearse ceremony at venue.
- Write final checks to vendors and professionals.
1 day before:
- Attend rehearsal dinner.
- Give gifts to attendants.
- Give marriage license to officiant.
- Print out your vows if you're writing your own.
- Get a mani and pedi.
On the BIG day:
- Eat something hearty for breakfast!
- Give wedding rings to a member of the bridal party for safe keeping.
- Introduce your vendors and site managers to your emergency contact.
- Ensure final checks, including tips, are in envelopes and ready to be handed off to vendors and professionals.
- Eat, drink, and be married!
In the weeks after the wedding:
- Send thank-you notes.
- Return any remaining rentals.
- Have your gown cleaned and/or preserved.
- Return formalwear.
- Enjoy your honeymoon!
Happy planning!
Browse some real weddings on to find inspiration for your own big day!
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