The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline

So you’re recently engaged? Congratulations! Being engaged is one of the most exciting times in your life. You’ve probably been dreaming about this moment since you were a little girl. There are parties and dresses and, at the end of it, you get to marry your best friend. However, while it is fun and exciting, there is a lot of planning that has to go into creating the perfect wedding day.

Decisions have to be made, and it can get to be very overwhelming and stressful. One way to make sure that you don’t get in over your head in wedding planning is to know what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how to stay organized throughout the process.

If you need a little help, check out this timeline to help keep you on track and help you make sure your big day is everything you’ve dreamed of:

12-18 Months to Go

Create a Budget

Creating a budget to pay for the big day can be one of the most stressful parts of the whole planning process. However, stressful as it might be, having a budget that is decided on is one of the most important parts of your planning, and it needs to be done very early on in the process.

You don’t want to start looking at dresses and venues, and fall in love with something that you can’t afford. You want to sit down with everyone involved and determine how much that you have to spend altogether, based on your families’ contributions and your own contributions.

Make sure that you are realistic about the budget. After you have a total budget, you need to decide what you want to spend it on. Some people want to have a ton of flowers at the wedding, which can cost a lot. That might not be important to other brides. There are a lot of wedding calculators that you can find online that will help you see how much you should spend on each part of the wedding.

Create a Guest List

The second thing that you need to do once you have a budget in place is to create a guest list. You can’t start planning a wedding if you don’t know how many people you need to account for. Sit down with your significant other, and all of your family, and ask who needs to be invited.

It’s better to have a large list of people, and then narrow it down, than not invite everyone you want. After you know who you want to invite, make sure that you create a document with all the names in it. You’ll want to include their addresses, RSVPs, and any food allergies or special requests in there, as well.

Choose Your Wedding Party

While the budget and guest list can be somewhat stressful to create, deciding who is going to be in your wedding party shouldn’t be. This should be a fun and easy part of the planning. Basically, as soon as you get engaged, people want to know who is going to be in the wedding. Think about the most important people in your life, and decide who you want up there as you marry your significant other.

Set a Date

Some brides know that they want to get married in June or sometime during the winter. Some people don’t have a specific time when they want to get married. Talk this over with your significant other and decide on a general timeframe in which you want to get married. It’s better not to decide on a specific weekend until you can talk with a venue. They book up fast, and you need to be open when deciding on a specific date.

Determine the Location

Again, some people know they want to get married in their hometown. Some people know they don’t want to get married in their hometown. Decide on a general location for the wedding. It might be where you are living now, your hometown or somewhere that is special to you and your significant other.

Create a Wedding Folder

You should definitely create a wedding folder so that you have a place in which to put everything. You can keep all of your contracts and information all in one place, and it will be much more organized.

Start an Inspiration Board

Head over to Pinterest and start looking at wedding pins. Make sure that you keep any ideas that you see in one place so that you can later find them. Getting inspiration is a big key to your wedding. Find things that you like, and keep them so you can incorporate them into your big day. Consider opening up your board to your wedding party or those who are helping you with the planning, so that they can get a better understand of what you want your wedding to be like.

Hire a Wedding Planner, If Needed

If you are thinking about hiring a wedding planner, you want to make sure that you contact them early. Not only do wedding planners book up fast, but they also have a lot of connections and relationships with venues and vendors that can help you. Don’t think that you have to have a full-service wedding planner, either. You can get a wedding planner for just day-of coordination to help make sure that everything runs smoothly.

Book a Venue

Like wedding planners, venues are going to book up fast, so, after you have your budget and guest list, you should start researching venues. When you have your location, start searching local venues. You also need to decide if you want to have everything at the same place, or if you are going to need both a ceremony and a reception venue. After you do some research, narrow down your choices of your favorite venues to just a
couple, and contact them. Pick the one that you like the best, but also ones that work with your timeframe, budget, and guest list.

8-12 Months to Go

Hire a Photographer

This is something else that books up fast, so you need to start your research as soon as you have a venue set. Some people think that they can skimp on a photographer or videographer, but that’s not the case.

As exciting as it is, your wedding day will probably end up being a little hazy in your memory. Without quality photos and videos, you won’t be able to remember all the little details and won’t be able to relive the day. While you won’t be able to keep the food or the flowers, your photos and videos are things that you get to keep forever.

Find your Dress

You need to think about whether you want a DJ or a live band at your wedding. It might be that you want both, or want them at different parts of the day. Make sure that you look into a couple of companies before you pick one. Also, see if you can check out some of their gigs beforehand so you know what it will be like at your wedding,

Book a Dj or Band

You need to think about whether you want a DJ or a live band at your wedding. It might be that you want both, or want them at different parts of the day. Make sure that you look into a couple of companies before you pick one. Also,see if you can check out some of their gigs beforehand so you know what it will be like at your wedding,

Create a Wedding Website

This is another fun part of the planning process. Create a wedding website so you can get all of your information to your guests in one location. Make sure that it notes the date of the wedding, the location, any travel information and accommodations, the dress code, and anything else you want your guests to know. You also want to make sure that it is personable, and reflects you and your significant other.

Book a Florist

Get in touch with your florist sooner, rather than later, to make sure that they can accommodate what you are looking for. It might be that the flowers that you fell in love with on Pinterest aren’t going to be in season when you are getting married. Take visuals with you when you go to meet your florist so that they understand what you are looking for. You don’t want to end up with something that you don’t want or like.


Most people think that registering is just a fun part of planning, where you get to go around stores and just pick anything that you like, but you need to have a little more organization than that.Generally, you want to have twice as many potential presents listed as you do guests, and you want to make sure that you have gifts that are in all different price ranges. Also, you should register at three different places to give your guests different places and varieties from which to

Decide on an Officiant

You and your significant other need to decide on someone to officiate the ceremony. Some couples decide on someone who is special to them, whether it is a minister, family member, or friend. Whomever you decide on, get in contact with him or her and make sure he or she is available that day. Also, go over what type of ceremony that you are looking for with them beforehand.

Reserve any Extras you Might Need

If you are going to need anything extra, like chairs, tents, or lighting, you want to go ahead and book those so you can make sure that you’ll have them available when you need them.

Take Engagement Photos

Make sure that you take your engagement pictures ahead of time so that you can use them throughout the wedding process. You can use them for save the dates, wedding announcements, and at the showers or the wedding itself.

6-8 Months to Go


Send Out Save the Dates

Not everyone sends out save the dates, but they are nice for your guests. This is especially important if you are going to be getting married out of town or on a very busy weekend. Make sure that you send them out with the date and the location so that your guests can plan accordingly.

Order Your Bridesmaid Dresses

Dresses can take a long time to get ordered and altered, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to get them all.

Start Planning Out Your Honeymoon

You and your significant other need to decide on when and where you want to go on your honeymoon. If you are considering going out of the country, you need to make sure that your passports are up to date, and you have all the shots that you need.

Order a Cake

Wedding cakes take a lot of time and effort, so bakers will normally only do so many each weekend. Make sure you contact a baker and order your cake with time to spare.

Block Off Hotel Rooms

If you are having an out of town wedding, or you are expecting a lot of out of town guests, you need to block off rooms at a hotel so they know where to stay. Hotels will normally give you a small discount, too.

4-6 Months to Go

Get Your Invitations


Start looking at what type of invitations that you want, and go ahead and order them so you can get ready to send them out.

Book Your Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is normally taken care of by the groom’s family, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what is going on. Make sure you have everything reserved and ready.

Find an MC

You are going to need someone to keep the wedding running. Sometimes, your DJ will cover this duty, but not always. If not, decide on someone who is responsible, and who is comfortable in front of large crowds.

Decide On a Hairdresser/Makeup Artist

The rehearsal dinner is normally taken care of by the groom’s family, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what is going on. Make sure you have everything reserved and ready.

Three Months to Go

Decide On a Menu

This should either be done with the venue or your caterer. Decide exactly what you are going to have on your menu. Make sure that you have options for everyone, like vegetarians and people who have food allergies.

Pick Your Music Selections

Go over all the music that you want played at the wedding, and make sure that you get it to your DJ or band in time for them to get the right versions.

Finalize Your Ceremony

Talk with your officiant and decide on everything that is going to happen and everything to be read.

Purchase the Rings

You want to go ahead and purchase your rings so that you have time for any resizing or engraving that you need.

Two Months to Go

Mail Out Invitations

Generally, your invitations should be mailed out 6-8 weeks before the wedding, with your RSVP deadline 3-4 weeks before the date.

Reserve Tuxedos for the Groomsmen

Decide on a tuxedo for your groomsmen, and anyone else who is going to be in the wedding, and get their measurements to the tux shop

Submit Your Wedding Announcement to the Newspaper

If you are going to put your wedding announcement in the newspaper, go ahead and do it. If you are including a photo, check with the publication first to find out any rules that they might have.

One Months to Go

Get Your Marriage License

Generally, it doesn’t take long to get your wedding license, but you want to give yourself extra time, just in case. If you are changing your name, consider getting multiple copies to have for all of the different places you will have to go.

Create a Shot List for Your Photographer

Sit down and decide exactly what photos you want on your big day. You might want certain photos with family members and friends, but your photographer doesn’t know that, and you will probably forget during all the craziness. Get this list to your photographer and go over it ahead of time.

Confirm and Finalize with Your Vendors

Contact all of your vendors and make sure that everything is ready to go

Week of the Wedding

Finalize Your Guest List

You should have all of your RSVPs in, and you need to get your guest list to everyone that needs it, like your venue and caterer.

Arrange Final Payments

Make sure that you have all of the payments ready, for the day of the wedding, to give to your vendors. Make sure that you give them to someone responsible to take care of so you don’t have to worry about it.

Create a Timeline for Everyone Involved

Create a wedding day timeline for everyone who is going to be in place that day. You also might want to include phone numbers on there so you can get in touch with whomever you need.

Day of Wedding


Don’t worry. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into this day, and all your planning will soon be worth it.

Have Fun

This is one of the biggest days of your life. Make sure you enjoy it.

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