Planning a wedding could certainly be a full time job. I now completely understand why people hire a wedding planner. That being said, hiring someone was not in the cards for us and I know it’s not realistic for most people. So if you’re planning a wedding (congrats!) here’s a good place to start…
I’ve teamed up with WeddingWire to share a helpful timeline. It’s by no means a comprehensive one (seriously every time I check something off the list, something else comes up!) but I’m hoping it’s a start. The most important thing I’ve learned through this process is that nothing is ever going to be perfect. I swear there should be a “We Just Got Engaged” Handbook like the first time you buy a car or a house…
Our wedding (August 12) is a few days short of a year after we got engaged. So I’m going to use this timeline assuming about you’d have about a year between your engagement and wedding. You’ll probably notice that the list gets longer each month closer to the wedding, so do as much as you can in the beginning. We’re definitely in overdrive right now with less than a month to go!
| 12 Months To Go |
- Venue Selection and Date— we knew right away we wanted a wedding near the ocean, so our venue selection was fairly limited. We narrowed ours down by availability, price (tip: even though the room fee may seem low, check to see if there is a food/drink minimum, especially on a Saturday night) and location.
- Engagement Party— we opted not to have an engagement party simply because September is the craziest time of year for my fiancé and I. Instead we got our wedding party together for drinks and dancing in the city. It was a great way for them to meet and mingle so that the first time they were all together wasn’t the wedding.
- Wedding Website— download the WeddingWire app. Seriously. Do it. It has the most helpful checklist that I’ve been using to keep myself on track. You can also create your website through WeddingWire’s site designer tool.
Check out WeddingWire’s Venue Guide for tips for selecting a venue.
| 10 Months To Go |
- Engagement Photos— we did ours a few months earlier knowing that we wanted a summertime feel to them to match our wedding. (There’s a sneak peek below, but see more from our Engagement Story post ) I had known for a long time that I wanted a friend to photograph our wedding, so we quickly booked her for a sunrise shoot (so early!) and couldn’t have been happier. Did you know that many photographers will do your engagement shoot and then apply that fee towards a wedding package? It’s a great way to get to know your photographer and make sure you are comfortable working with him/her. The most important thing about photos is making sure you are able to be yourself– you may spend more time with your photographer on your Big Day than your groom/bride!
- Create a Guest List— we used Google Spreadsheets and I can’t recommend this enough. Even if it changed a million times, it was so helpful to keep addresses, save the dates, invitations and everything else in one place. We’ve added columns along the way and now are in the fun stage of receiving RSVP’s and marking dinner selections and table numbers.
- Send Save The Dates— I know this probably seems early, but with so many out-of-town guests and limited hotel options around our venue we needed to get an early start with these. I’m so glad we did because it made me feel less stressed when our invitations ended up a bit delayed going out (see 2 Months To Go below…) There are so many options out there for ordering, but we found ours through Zazzle and used our engagement photos.
- Wedding Dress Selection— depending upon where you want to look for a dress, the timing can vary. But if I learned anything it’s to give yourself a cushion for ordering… because when you’re ivory wedding dress arrives looking like it’s been dipped in tea, you’re going to need to have the time for them to make a new one (I wish I was kidding…)
| 8 Months To Go |
- Book DJ or Band— our venue is on the smaller side, so while I would have loved a live cover band (playing 90s all night, duh) we opted for a DJ. It’s crazy how quickly they book for wedding season, so hop on this ASAP. We did a phone “interview” with our DJ before booking him, so see if you are able to do this. It’s a great way to get to know them and be sure that what you want for your reception is clear.
- Register— I definitely kept our registry “secret” for the first month or so while I was changing my mind (a million times) about colors, styles, etc. of many of our items. It’s so hard to imagine picking out things like china and linens that you’ll (potentially) have forever! We did a combination of an in-store and online registry with two different companies. It gave us great options to register for things beyond the “houseware” items we already had.
- Bridesmaid Dresses— another thing that is SO hard to decide on, especially if you haven’t thought through color schemes, flowers, what the groomsmen will wear, etc… I went a few weeks before our actual appointment with just my sister to narrow down some styles. I’d definitely recommend doing this as it made the appointment with all my bridesmaids super smooth and easy!
| 6 Months To Go |
- Plan the Honeymoon— flights are expensive and hotels can quickly add up as the dates get closer, so we booked our honeymoon on the earlier side. Of course, people will want to give you wedding gifts towards your honeymoon, so we figured we’d use those gifts for small excursions or to purchase something nice to ship home. We are also breaking up our wedding/honeymoon with a mini-vacation right after the wedding. With our wedding being almost mid-August and back-to-school at the end of the month there just wasn’t enough time to do a trip to Europe (can you guess where?!) right away.
- Book a Florist— this could possibly be the most overwhelming part, at least it was for me it was. I had so many ideas (hello Pinterest) and was worried that they wouldn’t be possible to actually create. While we booked our florist early, I didn’t actually visit until about 6 weeks to go. Flowers can get really expensive, very quickly, so if you are able to book through a wholesale distributor you can save a lot! The only downside is that if you have very specific set-ups in mind for the ceremony and/or receptions, they might charge extra for delivery/set-up fees.
- Schedule Rehearsal Dinner— typically this is hosted by the grooms’ parents (although I’ve seen it hosted by the couple if they are hosting the whole weekend). We are doing a small “welcome party”, which is much more informal than a rehearsal dinner and allows us to spend more time with out-of-town guests. Since we are doing a welcome party, our invitations are much less formal and we’re including a wedding map/directions/parking information for the whole weekend on the back side
- Arrange Transportation— this may be the most overlooked, but highly critical, step of the process. We are getting married in a church that’s very close to our venue, but not walking distance. Add in the fact that my fiancé and I are getting ready in two different places, we quickly realized we’d need to have a way to get around that day. Depending upon who you’d like to include in transportation and the size of your wedding party, you have lots of options. We opted for a trolley that fits about 30 people so that our whole wedding party and both families could be taken care of. Although if anyone has a sailboat like this one, I could be convinced otherwise…
| 4 Months To Go |
- Groomsmen Outfits— this decision for us was very much dictated by the bridesmaids’ dresses since we got them so early, but it was also very helpful to have a dress to bring with us. We used my sister’s boyfriend for “dress up” to try things on and make sure it was the look we were going for.
- Order Wedding Invitations— you may want to do this earlier depending upon how intricate your invitations are. We ordered ours at the beginning of June (way too late for an August wedding) and it was a scramble to the finish line. I still got them out 6 weeks before the wedding thanks to my amazing team (thanks Mom!), but it was a close call.
- Bridal Shower– my amazingly talented sister took complete charge of this and it was the most magical afternoon! Just make sure you have a more finalized guest list you can send to whomever is hosting the shower (this is when the Google Spreadsheet comes in real handy).
- Dress Fitting— it’s amazing how time consuming (read: expensive) bridal gown alterations are. I have a friend who (no joke!) spent more on alterations than her dress. Also make sure you purchase the shoes you plan on wearing and bring them to your fitting.
- Hair & Makeup— trials, trials, trials! It’s not the most cost-effective way to do it, but you really want to make sure you end up with your hair and makeup EXACTLY how you want it. The artists book up fast, especially for summer weddings. Ours didn’t need a final count for bridesmaids, MOB, flower girl, etc. at the time of my trial but make sure you reach out to your bridal party about who is interested. That’s not a cost you want to surprise them with a week before the wedding.
- Draft a “Day Of” Timeline— this was THE most helpful thing we did. Visualizing the whole day was daunting for sure, but it helped so much to be able to send information to vendors about drop-offs and start times. Make sure you send the details to your wedding party, vendors and anyone else who will play an important role in making your day go smoothly!
| 2 Months To Go |
- Final Details Meeting— this is a chance to make sure all of the above was done. It’ll leave you feeling really good about your planning or panicked about details you forgot (believe me, even if you consider yourself organized, there will be plenty of missed details ). As our wedding coordinator said, it’s her job, not mine, to think of these things.
- Marriage License– the earliest you can do this is 60 days before the date (and for all my last-minute folks, the latest is 3 days before the wedding). We just went to our town hall and filled out the paperwork and waited a few days for the printed license. As long as you are getting married in your home state you can use any town hall you’d like!
- Purchase Rings– many places will suggest a matching band to go along with your engagement ring. For convenience (and because nothing else looked nice enough on my dainty size 5 finger) I chose a matching band. My fiancé requested one of those “rubber rings” so that he could “still play golf”. I assured him that his golf career wasn’t over and then led him to a nice, simple platinum ring. Also, a lot of places will do free engraving as well, just make sure you ask!
- Send Invitations– I decided to get fancy (because I had SO much time on my hands…) and add vintage stamps to our invitations. Etsy has a bunch of shops, but I highly recommend working with Virginia of Verde Studio.
| Month Of |
- Write Vows— I’m still writing mine and the jury’s out on whether my fiancé’s written his, but we still have plenty of time, right? It’s a tough (and very personal) decision about whether you’ll share these out loud or whether you’ll write them in a card and share them with each other on the day of. Either way make sure you take some time alone and write your thoughts.
- Snapchat Filter— seriously SO underrated! We chose one of the Tuckernuck filters (can you guess which one?) from WeddingWire. Thanks to Wedding Wire to helping me put ours together! It was really easy to do and you can create one as early as 90 days before your wedding. You can customize fonts, choose how long it’s available and pick from so many cute filters! I’m psyched to reveal ours on our wedding day.
If anyone is exhausted reading this, yes it’s just as insane as it sounds. But the most important thing to remember is no matter what you plan, over-plan or under-plan the day is going to be beautiful because it’s about what matters most– LOVE!
This post is sponsored by WeddingWire. Opinions expressed are my own.