Congratulations on getting engaged! You are about to enter one of the most memorable chapters of your life, and I couldn’t be more happy for you.
If you aren’t feeling overwhelmed with wedding planning just yet, don’t worry…it’s coming. And when that wave hits, remember to relax. Everything is going to work out just fine.
To help you get started on your new wedding planning adventure, I put together a rough timeline that should help you prioritize exactly what you need to be worrying about each step of the way leading up to the big day.
Are you ready to get started?
12 Months Before the Wedding
- Celebrate the Engagement. One of the biggest mistakes we see from couples is that they don’t take enough time to enjoy the first few weeks of their engagement. This is a big deal for you, so make sure that you enjoy it. Show off that ring, and think about whether you want to have an engagement party.
- Read as much as you possibly can. There are tons of articles all over the web that can help you with just about every aspect of wedding planning. Read as many of them as you can so that you can make confident decisions on every aspect of your big day.
- Get a rough estimate on your budget. The amount of money you are able to spend will be the biggest factor in many of the planning decisions, and that is especially true for the big choices. This is a good time to nail down exactly who is going to pay for what, and how much they are expecting to spend.
- Choose a tentative date. One of the biggest decisions that need to be made is what date you are going to choose to be the one you remember forever. This will depend on a plethora of factors, including what season you prefer for your wedding and the availability of your venues and vendors.
- Start putting together a list of possible guests. If you’re like most people, you already have a good idea of who you are planning to invite to your wedding, but you might be surprised how large that list gets when you actually write it out. Make sure that you have the budget to afford to invite everyone.
- Start looking at venues and checking availability. With a rough idea of when you want to have your wedding and how much you are going to be spending, you can start to narrow down a list of possible venues for both the service and the reception. Make sure to keep an open mind and explore a wide range of options here.
- Begin thinking about possible vendors. If there are any vendors that you absolutely must have for your wedding, this is the time to make sure that they are available on the dates you are thinking about.
8 Months Before the Wedding
- Book your venues. Once you line up a date that works with all of the venues and vendors that you can’t live without, the next step is to pull the trigger and book the date.
- Take engagement photos. You are definitely going to want to have some great engagement pictures for your wedding website and your invitations, and eight months out is a great time to get those done. It can also serve as an opportunity to test out a photographer you might be considering.
- Pick your bridal party. You’ve always had a rough idea about who was going to be in your wedding, but now it is time to make that list official. Decide with your fiancé and then start asking your bridesmaids and groomsmen.
- Choose your wedding theme. Whether you are going for an over-the-top theme wedding or just a simple color scheme, many of the decisions you will be making down the road will be determined by the theme you choose. What does your dream wedding look like?
- Start shopping for gowns and tuxes. Finding the perfect gowns and tuxes can be one of the most enjoyable or most frustrating parts of wedding planning. Just relax and try to enjoy the process.
- Register for gifts. This is the part that really is fun. Most of the major retailers will let you register with them on their websites today, so kick back with a glass of wine and start picking out the gifts.
- Launch your wedding website. Speaking of websites, if you are thinking about publishing one that includes all of the information about your big day, this is the time to get that ball rolling as well.
- Request time off. You are probably going to want to take some vacation days leading up to your wedding to make sure everything goes smoothly. And if you are planning a honeymoon right after the wedding, you will also need to be sure that you can get those days off as well.
Six Months Before the Wedding
- Decide on vows, readings, and roles. You can have any type of ceremony that you want, but you are going to have to agree with your spouse on what that ceremony actually looks like. This is the time to decide on things like writing your own vows, choosing people for readings, and other ceremony-related details.
- Send “Save the Date” cards. You want to make sure that everyone on your guest list has plenty of time to plan accordingly, so six months out is a good time to let them know with a “Save the Date” card.
- Finalize your vendors. If you are going to be working with a photographer, DJ, cake vendor, caterer, florist, or any other type of vendor, this is the time to finalize all of the wedding details with those vendors.
- Start planning the honeymoon. Are you planning to take off to somewhere spectacular right after the wedding? If so, this is the time to get with a travel agent and get that trip booked.
Four Months Before the Wedding
- Purchase wedding bands. Whether you are going for traditional bands or something outside-the-box, this is the time to get that part figured out. Having a few months of a cushion is a great idea in case something needs to be resized.
- Book rehearsal venues. If you are going to be hosting your bridal party and other guests for a rehearsal dinner, the venue and details for that will need to be planned around this time.
- Order your invitations. This is also the time to get your invitations going, which can be a deep rabbit hole of options that range from completely DIY to amazing Etsy options.
Three Months Before the Wedding
- Enjoy the wedding shower. This one should be a little less about planning and a little more about enjoying yourselves. Let your bridesmaids take care of the details and enjoy a mimosa.
- Order the favors. Once again, this can be something that you decide to make on your own, purchase outright, or source through an Etsy vendor. But there are always bonus points for finding fun favors that work with your theme and colors.
- Choose a guest book. Speaking of working with your theme and colors, you will also want to decide on a guestbook around this time.
- Plan your first dance. You don’t necessarily need to have your first dance pick out three months before the big day, but if you are thinking about some type of production that includes either choreography or participation from your bridal party, this is the time to start getting everyone involved.
- Mail your invitations. Invitations are commonly mailed out anywhere from six to eight weeks before the wedding, but there is nothing wrong with having them ready to go a full three months out. You are likely going to run behind on some of the items on this list, but this isn’t one you want to let slide.
- Pick your four items. If you plan on going the traditional route of wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue,” this is a good time to finalize those four items.
One Month Before the Wedding
- Get your marriage license. This is the official part. Head down to the courthouse and get your marriage license filed. Make sure that you have all of the required documents ready to go.
- Confirm music with your DJ. You have probably been working on a list of music you either want to hear or definitely don’t want to hear for months, but this is about the time that you should start having that conversation with your DJ.
- Enjoy your bachelor/bachelorette parties. Another aspect of wedding planning that won’t be a big burden on you is letting loose and enjoying your bachelor/bachelorette parties.
- Finalize your wedding program. It’s also time to finalize all of the details in your wedding program. Double check to make sure that everyone’s name is spelled correctly.
- Finalize any decorations. If you are planning on making any of the decorations for your wedding, one month out is a good time frame to set as a deadline so that you aren’t scrambling to complete them at the last minute.
- Finalize your seating chart. Once you have the bulk of your RSVPs back, you can take the time to finalize your seating chart for the big day.
One Week Before the Wedding
- Recheck the list and confirm everything. At this point, just about everything is in place and ready to go. All you have to do is recheck and reconfirm every single detail over and over again until you are certain that everything is going to go as planned.
Keep in mind that when you work with us here at Center Stage, you have our expertise at your disposal throughout the entire planning process.
Need to speed things up a bit and plan a wedding in six months? No problem.
Have a little more time and want to get every detail right? We got you.
Let’s get started!