12 Months Out – Your Wedding Planning Timeline

  1. Pick a Date 

    Start by selecting the time of year that appeals to you. Next, you will want to check the caledars of your families to see what weekends you have to work with. If you already know the exact ceremony and reception sites you want, you will want to visit those sites and choose your date based on availability.

    • Tip: Other factors you will want to consider when picking a date are: weather, insect activity at outdoor ceremonies, sunset times and travel for guests (holidays are expensive).
  2. Get OrganizedExpand your “ideas” notebook into an official wedding file or binder. You’ll want to keep your wedding contacts, documents, appointment dates, etc all in one organized place for easy access.
    • Tip: Purchase dividers so you can split your folder into categories such as Budget, Guest List, Dress, Bridesmaids, Invitations, Cake, Flowers, Entertainment, and Honeymoon.
  3. Build Your BudgetIt’s not the most romantic task, but now is the time you will need to determine your wedding budget. The longer you put this very important step off, the more likely you are to spend beyond your means.
    • Tip: Now is also the time for that “who will pay for what?” discussion. Are you and your fiance paying for everything? Or are the bride’s parents covering the whole event? You need to know where the money is coming from in order to plan.
  4. Get the Guest List in OrderBefore you select your location but after you’ve built your budget, you will need to come up with a preliminary headcount. Start by organizing your own contact list into a format you like. Now ask for his list, his family’s list, your parents’ list, etc. and add them to your own. If you know exactly how many guests you can invite (for budget or capacity reasons), let your families know exactly how many guests they can put on their lists. It sounds harsh, but it will help avoid conflict later.
    • Tip: As you combine all the lists, create a color-coding system so it remains clear who wanted to invite that person. This way, you’ll know who to go to as you begin to gather addresses. You may want to include an additional column on your list to indicate who is a “Must,” a “Hopefully,” or a “Maybe” to be invited, which will help as you edit and refine your combined lists.
  5. Select your Location(s)You’ll want to make appointments at the locations first, and take your husband-to-be and a few friends for second opinions. You should know that reservations for possible locations are booked for more than a year in advance in many cases. If the site is available and you fall in love with it, ask for a copy of the cancellation policy, put a security deposit down, and secure the date.
    • Tip: Put some thought into the style and level of formality you want for your event. Think about your personalities, your style, and your budget. It is possible to transform that wild garden into a sophisticated black tie party, but it will take a lot more time and money than transforming an already elegant reception room..
  6. Wedding Registry TimeAs early as your engagement party, people will be looking to celebrate by buying you the things you want. Make it easy on your guests (while ensuring you receive the items you want and need) by signing up at multiple registry locations. It will be important to register for gifts in a wide variety of price ranges to appeal to the budgets of all your guests.
    • Tip: Especially if you do register early, make sure to update your registry often so there are always items available. And of course, be prepared to start sending thank you notes! We have several articles on thank you card etiquette to help you.

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