When planning the perfect wedding, there is so much to think about and sometimes the little things are often overlooked. To plan the perfect celebration, use this comprehensive wedding checklist, with a timeline based on the 16-month length of the average engagement.




Sixteen to Nine Months Before

  1. Determine how much you have to spend, based on your family’s’ contributions and your own.
  2. Start the guest list. As soon as you are engaged, everyone will be wondering who is in.
  3. Reserve your date and venues.
  4. Book your officiant.
  5. Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers.

Eight Months Before

  1. Hire the photographer and the videographer.
  2. Book the entertainment. Attend gigs of potential acts to see how they perform in front of audiences.
  3. Meet caterers. If your wedding venue doesn’t offer its own catering service, look for one now.
  4. Purchase a dress. You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings.

Seven to Six Months Before

  1. Select and purchase invitations. Hire a calligrapher, if desired. Addressing cards is time-consuming, so you need to budget accordingly. Pick an invitation which fits your theme such as pocketfold style wedding invitations for a chic wedding, floral wedding invitations for a rustic country style.
  2. Start planning a honeymoon. Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need. Research Visa Requirements.
  3. Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses. Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
  4. Meet with the officiant. Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
  5. Send save-the-date cards.
  6. Book a florist. Florists can serve multiple clients on one day, which is why you can wait a little longer to engage one.
  7. Arrange transportation. Consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars.
  8. Start composing a day-of timeline. Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).

Five to Four Months Before

  1. Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues.
  2. Negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that place as well.
  3. Check on the wedding invitations. Ask the stationer for samples of the finished invitations.
  4. Select and order the cake. Some bakers require a long lead time.
  5. Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length.
  6. Schedule hair and makeup artists. Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out.
  7. Choose your music. What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing?

Three Months Before

  1. Finalize the menu and flowers. You’ll want to wait until now to see what will be available, since food and flowers are affected by season.
  2. Make a list of the people giving toasts.
  3. Which loved ones would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
  4. Finalize the readings. Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony and by whom.
  5. Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception.
  6. Purchase the rings. This will give you time for resizing and engraving.

Two Months Before

  1. Meet with the photographer. Discuss specific shots, and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you.
  2. Send out the invitations. Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.

One Month Before

  1. Record RSVPs. Phone people who have not yet responded.
  2. Get your marriage license. The process can take up to six days. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
  3. Visit the dressmaker for your last dress fitting.  You may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding.
  4. Confirm times for hair and makeup.
  5. Assign seating. Draw out table shapes on a layout of the room to help plan place settings.
  6. Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts.
  7. Get your hair cut and colored, if desired.

Week of the Wedding

  1. Delegate small wedding-day tasks. Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts . This may be the best man or chief  bridesmaid.
  2. Pick up your dress. Or make arrangements for a delivery.
  3. Check in one last time with the photographer.
  4. Book a spa treatment. Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding.
  5. Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events. Typically, companies close their lists 72 hours in advance.
  6. Break in your shoes.
  7. Pack for your honeymoon.

After all the planning is done, it’s time to kick back and enjoy your big day. One final reminder – don’t forget to breathe!


Image Credit: Bride

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