The Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist

Every bride dreams of the perfect wedding.  As a bride yourself, you know the importance of planning for your big day.   To help lessen the stress and strain of planning your wedding day we have prepared an ultimate wedding planning checklist.  There are so many small details that can be overlooked, and we think we have everything covered for you to ensure that your dreams of the perfect wedding become a reality. 

16 to Nine Months Prior to Your Wedding Day

Start a wedding binder or folder.  You will have months and months (as you likely already know!) of looking through bridal and fashion magazines, new home magazines, food magazines and more, and you are going to have plenty of pages that you’ve clipped from the magazines for wedding day ideas.  Start a binder or folder to keep each page you clip neatly organized. 

Determine Your Budget

Determine the amount of money you have to work with. 

Choose Your Wedding Party

Choose your wedding party early in the planning of your wedding.  You will find that once you announce your wedding you’ll be flooded with questions about who you will include in your wedding party. 

Start the Guest List

Begin your guest list.  Your guest list is something that you will access throughout your wedding planning.  Design the guest list so that there are columns after each name.  Columns should be labeled RSVP, gifts, dinner selection (if you are having a menu to choose among for the main entrée), and any other relevant information. 

Courtesy of A Lake Wedding

Hire a Wedding Planner if Desired

A wedding planner is ideal for brides that doesn’t want to handle the thousand and one details of the wedding themselves. They are the ideal professional who will have many helpful recommendations and knowledge of vendors.

Reserve Your Wedding Venues for Your Wedding Date

Decide when and where you’d like to have your wedding ceremony and reception.  Be sure that you take all factors into consideration, including the time it will take to travel from one place to another, and the color scheme of the venue which you choose for your wedding reception.

Book Your Officiant

Whether you’ll be wed by the family priest or some other official, you will need to reserve the date, and book their services, and this should be done no less than nine months before the wedding date.

Interview Photographers, Florists, Bands and Caterers

Begin researching your vendors and keep all the information on them in your binder.  If you have a wedding planner here, she / he will provide many suggestions, which will be helpful. Be sure to research and interview no less than three vendors of each, unless, of course, you find the perfect vendor during your first session.  For caterers you should sample their foods, especially the food that you plan to serve at the reception. 

Throw an Engagement Party

An engagement party is not mandatory, but, it is certainly a nice celebration for the bride and groom to be.  All guests that you invite to the celebration should be on your wedding guest list. 

Eight Months Prior to Your Wedding Date

Hire Your Photographer and the Videographer

Although it isn’t necessary to sit down and work out all the fine details, it is necessary to arrange for your photographer and videographer in the eighth month prior to your wedding date.  You should be sure that the professionals are the professionals that you want for the day, that they understand your needs, and that they are open to taking the photographs you want.

Courtesty of Digital Photography School

Book the Band

The best way to know if the band is the right band for your wedding is to listen to them in person.  Attend performances of the bands you are interested in to see how they perform in front of an audience.  Then reserve the one that is best suited for your wedding day celebration.

Meet Caterers

If your wedding is being catered, then begin to meet with the various caterers.  Here, you’ll want to look at their portfolio, and sample foods, and ask plenty of questions.  When you find the caterer that is the best choice for you, book the caterer.

Purchase a Gown

Begin to shop for your wedding gown.  Keep in mind that you will need to arrange the time for no less than three fittings.  The veil does not need to be ordered now, but, the gown definitely should.

Courtesy of Racked

Reserve Hotel Rooms for Out of Town Guests

If you’ll be having guests arrive from out of town for your special wedding day celebration than book a block of hotel rooms.  You should choose three different hotels in three different price ranges that are close to the location of the reception.

Register

Choose your favorite stores, and sign up at no less than three of the retailers. 

Launch a Wedding Website

While a wedding website isn’t mandatory it is a nice detail that many modern brides and grooms are choosing to include in their wedding planning.  Create a personal page that allows you to publish all the details of your wedding, accommodations, travel information, and personalize it with your plans, your emotions, and pictures.  WeddingChannel.com offers free websites.

Seven to Six Months Prior to Your Wedding Date

Select and Purchase Invitations

This year’s wedding invitations are plenty!  The designs and colors are fabulous, and you’ll want to spend at least a half a day selecting your invitations.  Also, brides have the option to hire a calligrapher if they do not choose to address the invitations themselves.

Courtesy of Mar Jeane

Start Planning a Honeymoon

Be sure that you have applied for your passports or that they are current if you are planning to travel out of the country for your honeymoon.  If you already have your passports than be sure that they will remain valid for the required time while you are in the country that you’ll be traveling  to.  Also, schedule all doctors’ appointments and arrange for any shots you may need.

Shop for Bridesmaid Dresses

During the seventh to sixth month it is time to shop, choose, and order the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Meet with the Officiant

Meet and discuss your wedding ceremony details with the officiant and confirm that you have all the necessary documents in order.

Send Save the Date Cards

Reserve Necessary Items for the Ceremony and Reception

Reserve your seating, tableware and linens, dance floor, portable toilets, lighting components and any other necessities that are required for your “Big Day”. 

Reserve Your Florist

Begin to shop for your florist, and book one.  While florists can fit several clients in on one day, it is important that you reserve the necessary time for them to service the wedding.  It is also important that you begin to choose your flowers at this stage of the planning.

Arrange Transportation

Arrange for transportation for you and your groom to be as well as both sets of parents, the wedding party and guests.

Courtesy of Christopher Limo

Compose a Schedule of Events for Your Wedding Day

Make a day calendar with a time slot for each component for your wedding day- your first dance, the cake cutting, etc.

Five to Four Months Prior to Your Wedding Date

Reserve Your Rehearsal Venues

Take into consideration that when you book your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venue, you can negotiate the cost of the menu. 

Visit Your Stationer to Get a Sample of Your Wedding Invitations

Get samples of your finished invitations to ensure that they are what you expect and that there are no necessary revisions to be made.

Select and Order Your Wedding Cake

Begin to shop for your cake and order the cake.  You should taste several samples from the various bakers before you decide on the baker for your wedding day cake. 

Provide the Host of Your Bridal Shower Your Guest List

Let the host of your bridal shower know who’s on your guest list.

Purchase Your Shoes for Your Wedding Gown and Go to Your First Dress Fitting

Before your first dress fitting you will want to have your shoes so that your tailor can properly choose the appropriate length of your wedding gown. 

Arrange for Makeup and Hair Artists

Now is the time to begin to try out your local hair and makeup artists.  Sample several and take photos after each session so you can compare the beautiful works of each.

Choose Your Music

Begin to select your music for the ceremony and reception and when it should be played.  For instance, your first dance together, what you’d like to be played during dinner, etc.

Courtesy of SA Venues

Three Months Prior to Your Wedding

Finalize Your Wedding Day Menu and Flowers

Three months prior to your wedding is the time to finalize your wedding day menu and flowers.  Foods and blooms should be in season for your wedding date, and you can make all the last minute decisions.

Order Favors

Pick out your favors for guests of the wedding and welcome baskets for any out of town guests.

Ask and List the People Who will Give Toasts at Your Wedding

Ask your friends and family what you would like to toast you and your groom at your wedding reception to do so, and jot down who will be toasting you and your groom to be.

Finalize the Readings

If you’ll have readings at your ceremony, then determine who will do the readings.

Purchase Your Undergarments

Purchase your garments for under your gown and arrange to have your second wedding gown fitting.

Finalize the Ceremony and Reception Order

Create Programs and Menu Cards if You Desire

If you’d like to save costs here is a place where you can cut some corners.  Print your menu cards and programs from your own computer.

Buy the Rings

Start to shop for your rings and have any modifications such as engraving or resizing done.

Courtesy of A&M Church of Christ

Send Your Schedule of Events to the Vendors

Send your vendors a schedule of events on your wedding day so that they have ample time to prepare and discuss the schedule of events with you.

Two Months Prior to Your Wedding Date

Once Again, Contact All Your Vendors

Contact all your vendors and discuss any questions you have or they may have since your last meeting.

Meet with Your Wedding Photographer

Discuss pictures you’d like taken and walk through the locations to determine photo spots that appeal to you and your groom to be.

Review the Playlist with the Band or D-Jay

Go through your wedding music selection with your band or d-jay.

Send Out Your Wedding Invitations

Your wedding invitations should be mailed roughly between the eight to sixth week before your ceremony.  Set the time to respond at three weeks after the postmark date.

Submit a Newspaper Wedding Announcement

Have Your Bachelorette Party

Typically, the Matron of Honor is in charge of the bride’s bachelorette party, which should be planned some evening before the wedding.  Definitely don’t arrange it for the night before! 

Courtesy of Ask Miss

One Month Prior to Your Wedding Date

Enter Your RSVPs into Your Guest List Database

For any guests that have not responded give them a call on the phone to ask if they’ll be attending the wedding.

Get Your Marriage License

When you pply for your marriage license typically it is not an “on the spot” document.  In fact, it can take up to six days to process, so allow plenty of time.  Also, if you plan on taking on your husband’s name, then request several copies.

Mail the Rehearsal Dinner Invitations

Arrange for Your Third Dress Fitting

Purchase the Beverages for Your Wedding Day

Courtesy of I Love FC

Take Care of As Much of the Debt as Possible

Print and / or Email Directions for Drivers of transport Vehicles

Confirm Appointments for Your Makeup and Hair

Determine Guest Seating

Here you should sketch out the shapes of the tables and who will sit where. 

Purchase Bridesmaids Gifts

Write Your Wedding Vows (if you are creating your own wedding vows!)

Have Your Hair Cut and Colored, if coloring

Week of the Wedding

Reconfirm the Times of Arrival with Your Vendors

Assign Individuals to Small Tasks

Appoint someone to “watch over” the flower girl, bustle your dress, someone in charge of handing out tips, someone in charge of gifts, someone to carry your things, and someone to be the “contact” person, and so on.

Provide the Wedding Party with a Timeline

Include all the contact information of each person in wedding party as well as the point people that you’ve asked to handle any problems that may occur during the day, as well as, the vendors.

Pick Up or Have Your Wedding Gown Delivered

Have Checks to the Side for Vendors

Book a Spa Treatment

The day before your wedding day, have your nail and hair done and any rejuvenation you feel necessary.

Send Your Caterer as well as All Venues Your Final Guest List

Assemble and Hand Out Your Welcome Baskets

Pack for Your Honeymoon

The months leading up to your wedding day feel as though they create the quickest year of your life.  The entire wedding process is filled with fun and emotional moments that last a lifetime.  Enjoy those special moments, and your perfect day.  May your dreams come true.  Congratulations!