Need to Plan
the Perfect Wedding?
Don’t know where to start? Frazzled? Unsure? If you feel any of the above, then this checklist is for you!Get on the right path with the right checklist to guide your wedding. The average engagement is sixteen months, so this guide follows that time frame.
Before you start doing anything, make sure you include your other half. This is going to be one of the most important and memorable days of your lives. Remember, it’s important to discuss every decision and make sure that you’re both on the same page throughout the whole process. Whether it is the color of the rose petals that will be strewn on the aisle or the cost of renting the reception hall, make sure to include your fiancé.
The first thing to do is to start a wedding folder for inspiration and fill it with ideas from websites, bridal or fashion magazines, and caterers, for later. You could do this by cutting out pictures that you like and creating a scrapbook, or by creating a folder on your computer to save the photos and links in. This could help you explore different ideas and figure out what you like and don’t like.
One of the most important things to do first is to determine a budget – remember to consider your spouse’s, your families’, and your own ability to contribute. A wedding doesn’t have to destroy your savings to be perfect.
Now you can start thinking about your loved ones and select the wedding party. Choose your maid of honor, best man, bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring bearers, flower girl/child, and who is going to walk the bride down the aisle. Let the people closest to you know that you want them to be an important part of your special day. This is also a good time to decide on an officiant.
You should also start the guest list as early as possible and decide who you’ll invite to your big day. Remember that your budget will affect how long that list is. One of the easiest ways to keep track of this list is to create an Excel spreadsheet with a column for the name, contact information, RSVP, number of guests they’ll bring, and other information.
You can hire a planner if you wish, since they will help by taking the pressure off of you and your fiancé. You can make the decisions, and your planner will carry them out. They would also have connections and insights about certain vendors and venues.
Now it’s time to decide on the time and location for your wedding. Find a date and venue that both you and your fiancé love, and check with important guests to ensure that they can all make it on the day that you have chosen. Make sure that the venue you choose can accommodate all the people on your guest list, but that it suits your tastes, as well.
Research and keep the information of bands, DJs, photographers, florists, and caterers that you want to hire for your wedding. You can also look into makeup artists, hair dressers, or even dressmakers, if you’re looking to have a dress made.
Finally, you can choose to throw an engagement party to celebrate your upcoming wedding. Make sure that if you do throw one the guests to your engagement party are invited to your wedding as well.
Your wedding day is slowly coming up, so now is the time to visit and book the venue location with your fiancé. Go see the venue that you have decided on and book it if you like it. The earlier you can do this, the better; just in case your first choice falls through, you’ll have time to find another option.
Hire a videographer and photographer to capture all the beautiful moments. It’s important that you interview them and see samples of their work before you decide on one. It’s also a good idea to book your entertainment early, especially if they have a very busy schedule. Depending on what DJ, band, singer or entertainer you want at your venue, you may have to reserve them very early on.
Meet with the caterers and begin discussing the menu for your reception. Sometimes the venues will offer this service, but, if not, it’s a good idea to hire one this month. Choosing a caterer is not as easy as it sounds. You can choose between buffets, sit-down-dinners, food stations, and then all sorts of different cuisines. It’s a good idea to conduct interviews with the caterers before your decision, too.
Finally, it’s time to buy your wedding dress! Unless you already bought one out of excitement, now is the right time to find your dream dress. Do you want to wear the same dress that your mom wore down the aisle? Or do you want to have one custom made? Whichever one you choose, it is best to pick it out this month. Make sure to schedule at least three fittings between now and two months before your wedding so that, when the time comes, the dress will be ready for you.
When you’re done shopping for yourself, it’s time to buy the attire for the wedding party. Find the dresses for your bridesmaids and flower girls, and the outfits you want the ring bearer or groomsmen to wear. These may match with the overall theme of your wedding that you decided on. If you want, you can also coordinate the attire with the décor of the venue or the flower arrangements
Launch a wedding website for all the information about your wedding day. You can use providers such as ewedding.com or weddingchannel.com to make a personal page with all the important information on it to share with your guests. You can include photos, travel information, dates and times, addresses, and contact information. When you’re done, send the link to your guest list!
Lastly, don’t forget to book hotel rooms for out-of-town guests ahead of time. Pick two or three hotels near the venue for guests with different budgets, and book them in advance. You should consult with your guests and have them inform you if they’ll need special accommodations.
Choose and purchase the invitations that you like, and send out your save-the-dates to your guests 7 to 6 months before your wedding. You want to give your guests time to plan ahead. Make sure you budget enough time to address and mail all of the invitations.
It’s also important to start planning your honeymoon early. It’s always good to plan ahead when it comes to vacations,
especially ones as important as your honeymoon. Usually you can get better deals, and cheaper tickets and rooms, if you book them earlier. Remember to make sure that your passports are up to date if you’ll be traveling out of the country.
Pay attention to the little things and make sure that you have all the necessities reserved. For example, if you have an outdoor wedding, you might need portable toilets, lights, seating, and a tent. Make a list of everything you need. Now is also the time to book a florist. Consult with different florists and ask them about their style, costs, availability, and other information before you decide.
Plan for all the necessary transportation on your wedding day, and arrange for any limos, buses, or town cars that you’ll need. Depending on the theme of your wedding, you may even need to reserve a horse-drawn carriage. It would also be helpful to start constructing a general timeline of the wedding day, starting from when you’ll wake up and the time of your makeup appointment, to the moment you say “I do.” Try to include as many details and events of the day as possible.
Your big day is only 5 months away! Now is the time to start envisioning what it will look like. Planning for the practice run is just as important as planning for your wedding day, to ensure everything goes smoothly. Make your rehearsal dinner arrangements now, and book the rehearsal dinner venue. Don’t forget to negotiate the menu and discuss the costs, as well.
This is also a good time to start on one of the most fun activities in wedding planning: ordering a wedding cake. This could take some time, since you and your fiancé may need to visit several bakers and taste many cakes before you decide on the perfect one for your wedding, but it’s a great excuse to indulge a little with your other half! Between cake tastings, though, you should check on your wedding invitations by asking for samples, and make any changes that you need before sending them out
Since you already have your wedding dress picked out, now is the time to find shoes to match, as well as start on the dress fittings. Be sure to bring your shoes to the first fitting so that the tailor can adjust the length of your gown accordingly. You should also schedule the beauty appointments now, but try out different options before choosing, if you can. You could make this fun by visiting with your friends and having your hair and makeup done together. Compare the results at each of the options, and book your favorite.
Your wedding is only 3 months from now, so final decisions need to be made. Starting thinking about the music you like and make a list of songs you want and don’t want played on your wedding day. You should also begin to finalize the plans with your florist, decorator, photographer, officiant, caterer, and any other vendors or personnel involved in your wedding.
This is a good time to make a list of the people you want to speak for you at your wedding. Ask your friends and family to give speeches, and let them know earlier so they have time to prepare.
A couple of months before your wedding, remember to print menu cards and programs. You can have these done professionally at a printer, or at home on your computer. These aren’t absolutely necessary, but you could choose to include them.
Finally, purchase the wedding rings 2 to 3 months before the wedding. This is a fun and exciting thing to do with your fiancé! Buy your rings a few months ahead to ensure that you have enough time for resizing and engraving them.
Your wedding day is now closer than ever, so you should check in with everyone and make sure that you’re still on the same page with all your vendors. For example, caterers and florists are important to talk to at this time, since food and flowers are available by season, so your original plans may have been affected. Talk to your officiant and go over the order of the ceremony. You should also talk to the band or DJ you’ve decided on and choose what music you want to have played during the ceremony, dinner, your first dance, to get people dancing, and so on. However, you’ve already met with all of these people a few months ago, so this should just be the final touches.
Your invitations should also be ready by now, so make sure to mail them out to the guest list six to eight weeks before your wedding day. Set the RSVP cutoff around three to four weeks before the wedding. Now is also the time to submit a
newspaper wedding announcement if you’d like.
It is to be hoped that all of your guests have RSVPed by now, but call the ones who have not responded. When you start getting responses, enter them into your spreadsheet for your guest list. Once you have the final head count, you can order the food and stock the bar accordingly. Talk to your caterer and the venue one more time to discuss these plans. Then, mail out the rehearsal dinner invitations. Don’t forget to buy your bridesmaids’ presents to give out during the rehearsal.
Many important things should be taken care of this month. You should try to make as many final payments as you can, confirm your appointments and times with the salon and your vendors, and send out the final timeline to your wedding party. It would also be a good idea to email and print
directions for the drivers, to avoid confusion on the day of. One last thing you’ll need to take care of is the seating. It would be a good idea to draw a layout of the room and create name cards.
Get your marriage license early so you don’t have to worry about this later, but be wary of the expiration date that varies between states. The process can take several days, and it depends on factors such as whether or not you’re changing your last name. This is a good time to start writing your vows, too!
Finally, you should have your last dress fitting, if all goes well. You can also begin to break in your shoes – nobody wants to have blisters on their wedding night.
Just to be extra sure about the schedule on your wedding day, reconfirm the arrival times with all your vendors. Also, remember to send in the final guest list to your caterer and venue. Have your last meeting with the photographer, and give him or her a list of the moments and locations that you want captured. Everything should be just about done now; just double check that everything is going as planned!
There shouldn’t be much to worry about this week, since you’ve been planning ahead for months now. All there is left to do is to set aside the checks for your vendors and put them in envelopes with their tips, to be distributed at the event. Don’t forget one for the officiant.
You should have your rehearsal dinner this week, usually a day or two before the wedding day. Don’t forget to pick up your dress. Now that everything is done, treat yourself to a massage and begin packing for your honeymoon!