Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now what? Let’s face it, planning a wedding takes a lot of preparation, especially if you don’t hire an event planner. We’ve found the best way to take on the celebration is by creating a checklist for the wedding.
Stressing about where to start? Don’t worry! We’ve created a wedding planning guide to help with your wedding planning timeline. This guide will include a wedding to do list, and a wedding checklist timeline to help breakdown each activity into manageable bites.
Our wedding check list is broken down month by month for you, so that you can accomplish small amounts of tasks at a time. It will make it less overwhelming and actually more fun for you to plan everything! For many people, the ideal engagement period for planning is 12-14 months. However, don’t feel pressured if you want to take a little longer in order to save up!
If you’re planning with a year or more, you’ll probably be able to get the dream venue of your choice. Remember – wedding venues book up very quickly!
Your 12 Month Wedding Planning Checklist
12 Months (or more!):
While this may not be the most fun, the first thing you and your partner need to do when planning a wedding is to determine your budget. Budget planning is perfect when you have a 12 month gap (or more) to plan the rest of your big day. From there, you can start creating a detailed spreadsheet with allocated costs that will help you stick to that budget.
Once you have your budget, you can realistically start sorting your guest list. Your budget will determine your venue and the number of seats that you can allocate for your guests. Although ideally, you would invite all your loved ones, now is the time to make some tough decisions toward how many guests you actually can afford to invite (and how many your venue can seat!). Some venues might have limited seating, but more standing options available. This means that you could consider a more casual buffet-style affair if you’re really struggling with seating. When you’re getting down to the nitty gritty in head-count, you should take into consideration who is paying. If you and your partner are solely paying for the wedding, you should decide the majority of the guest list with your parents suggesting a smaller amount of must-haves. If your parents are helping to foot the bill, you might consider splitting the guest count with them.
We recommend starting with a master list of all the people you ideally would love to invite, then slowly reduce the list until it fits your budget. It’s important to note that you might want to factor in declines in your initial invites (allowing you to invite more guests than seats!).
Not all weddings require a wedding planner. However, if you’re new to planning events and don’t know the first thing about wedding planning, you might want to consider hiring someone to organise your big event for you! Again, this will depend on your budget.
Once you do the hard work who should be on the main guest list and what budget you want to have, it’s time to have a heart to heart with your partner on what feel you would like your wedding to have. What style can your budget afford? What kind of venues are you looking for (a barn, a formal venue, an outdoor festival wedding)? What type of feel do you want for your wedding (formal, romantic, boho, quirky, rustic?). Once you start deciding the type of vibe you want, selecting the venue will start becoming clearer.
Choosing the right venue is one of the most important decisions you need to make. Most venues book up around a year or so in advance, so it’s really one of the more important decisions you have to make pretty quickly. Decide what location you want your venue to be. City venues are gorgeous, urban and chic but can be more expensive than countryside venues. Venues outside of big cities might be more affordable, but are they easy for your guests to get to? If you pick a wedding that is a long way away from where your guests live, you’ll have to factor in if there is nearby accommodation for your guests. We recommend that you visit top contender venues, ask tons of questions and sleep on it. Securing a venue is a massive purchase. You want to make sure you have one that can accomodate your guest count, style as well as your budget.
This is another factor that is dependant on your budget and venue. Some venues only want you to use their in-house caterers or their wedding packages. Some venues only want you to use their recommended supplier list. Others keep your choices opened. Once you factor what food options fit into your budget, you can then decide the food! Your wedding is probably one of the biggest and best dinner parties you will throw! You want to make sure that the food you pick is good and the suppliers trustworthy. Don’t be afraid to get creative with the meal, as well!
It’s your day! Don’t be afraid to get creative! You can look at Pinterest and Blogs if you need some inspiration. One helpful hint is to look at photographers blogs who have shot at your venue before – you can see how other people decorated the space! You’ll want to select a colour palette and possibly start creating a mood board.
Hire Photographers and Videographers:
There are certain vendors who also book up about a year ahead of time. You will want to start securing your photographer, Band, DJ or Videographer. Booking these vendors provide very important services towards making your night amazing and booking them should be pretty fun!
It’s time to start securing your Band, DJ and any ceremony musicians you might want for the big day. Believe it or not, sooner is better than later with booking wedding entertainment!
At Headliner, we find music to be the most important part of the day! The right artists will make your special day even more fabulous.We have a range of different options to choose from.
With the reception soon to follow, we recommend rocking your guest’s world with an awesome wedding band to get everyone off their feet!
Close the night out with a professional DJ.
It’s time to start looking for your dream wedding dress! You want to give yourself enough time to purchase, and do a fitting!
Once you have your venue and guestlist sorted – it’s time to start getting your website going! There are plenty of free wedding websites out there dedicated to celebrating YOU! You may want to consider taking engagement photos to put on the website.
Want to preserve that lovey-dovey feeling and get those photos on the website? Consider asking your photographer to do an engagement photoshoot for you!
Your first impression and the staple that will set the tone of your big day! The wedding invitation is important! Your invitations can be looked at as a sort of preview for the event! It should show your style and flair.
Around this time you should choose your wedding dress!
Let everyone officially know when and where you’re making it official. And remember: Everyone who gets a save-the-date gets a wedding invite. No exceptions.
Time to set up your registry! You and your partner have to decide who you want to list with and what kind of gifts you might want!
Involve your partner this one—after all, you two are building a life (and home) together.
Time to pick out your bridesmaids dresses. These will fall within the color scheme of your wedding. You’ll also want to schedule a dress fitting as well. If you’re more modern, you might want to let your bridesmaids pick their own dresses or do miss-matched colours so that they can feel and dress to their best!
It’s time to start thinking about flowers! What kinds do you want throughout the venue and what do you want in your bridal parties’ bouquets to look like?
Book the rehearsal-dinner venue:
If you’re having one, now is the time to book the rehearsal-dinner venue! It’s your chance to impress your new inlaws. You also get to give your guests a taste of the wedding theme. Order rental items, such as specialty chairs, linens, draping, lounge furniture, white dance floor, etc.
Do you need to rent special chairs, nice linens or dance furniture? Now’s the time to ensure you can rent those special and needed touches to make the ambience and experience perfect for your guests.
Now’s also the time to hire an officient to help guide your ceremony. If you’re getting married in a church or other house of worship, this portion will already be taken care of.
Check out your venue and confirm with your entertainment if they are bringing lights to the event. If not, you might have to hire these yourself! Lighting can seriously set the tone for the event.
If you have a destination wedding, you may want to consider hiring a shuttle bus for your guests to get to your venue. Also, consider the parking situation at your venue and the public transportation access. If a guest needs to spend a lot on parking, you might want to consider booking transportation.
Or, some car services, such as Uber, allow you to book rides on others’ behalf. For everything else you need to know about wedding guest transportation, check out our handy guide.
Book the bride and groom’s transportation (limo, specialty car, etc.):
Time to think about you two! Whether you’re into getting in to a stretch Escalade limo, or all about hopping on a tandem bicycle—get around in a style that’s all your own with these 20 creative transportation ideas.
If you want to go on your honeymoon directly after the wedding – you’ll need to start thinking of booking this once-in-a-lifetime trip now! Time to sit down with your partner and map out your dream destination.
While you may have already gotten your dress, the Groom also needs to look fabulous! Decide on how formal your wedding will be and the Groom can decide between a tux or a suit. He can either buy one to own or choose to rent one for the big day.
Now comes the fun part if you love food! You’ve gone through the food options for your big day, but now you can actually taste it! Your caterer will probably be able to give you both a food tasting and a suggested wine pairing to go with it.
Time to decide what kind of cake you want! Now-a-days there are so many cake options to choose from. You could go traditional. Maybe you want to spice things up and look for a naked cake (this is one without frosting and looks quite nice for rustic weddings). Additionally, you can ditch the sweetness all together and opt for a cheese cake (a literal cake made of CHEESE!).
You have your engagement ring already, but now is the time to get wedding bands for both you and your partner. Some couples opt for a special engraving.
Hair and makeup trial:
Hair and makeup trials are super important to help you get the look you want for your wedding! Booking the trial will let you know if a particular style is actually good for you! Make sure to bring photos and be as specific as possible about what you want and don’t want.
It’s time to order and send the invitations if your wedding is local! If you are having a destination wedding, you will want to send the invites at least 6 months in advance!
Create or plan your menu:
Now that you’ve had a successful tasting, it’s time to create a menu! The menus should be set out for your guests to see on the big day.
Traditionally, it’s nice to send your guest away with a small momento of the day. You can also decide to donate to your favourite charity in its place, if you’d like.
Photo booths have become a reception staple, but if you’re hoping for something with a little more pizzazz than your standard step-and-shoot, check out these seven creative alternatives.
Make sure you have more than enough time for your vows! It’s time to start thinking of what you want to say to your one and only.
Do you want to include Bible verses? How about poetry or a special passage? Now is the time to think about it and include it in the program.
Send the wedding invitations (with RSVPs due one month before the wedding).
You already did the hard part—the selection process. Now, just print and assemble.
Pick up your marriage license:
Make sure that your dress fits fabulously to you! You’ll be having your second fitting within the six-week mark.
Legal things! It’s time to get your marriage license to really seal the deal! It will cost a fee so make sure you’ve got that covered.
Buy wedding-party gifts:
Time to show your bridal party how thankful you are to have them. Start creating beautiful gifts that are personalised, thoughtful and functional!
Floral samples vary depending on your florist and your own wedding decor choices, but most of the time they’ll include a mock reception table set-up, centerpiece, and bouquet. Now is also the time to talk tweaks and finalize your delivery and care strategy.
Give the song selections to your band or DJ:
Chances are your Band or DJ will already be in touch for this. But at this point, you have to send your choices to them to incorporate.
Pay your vendors:
THis is the hard part! You’ve booked everything but now it’s time to pay for things! Keep careful track of when and how you pay each vendor and you should be good to go! Once this is all paid for you can start focusing on actually enjoying the day!
Now that you’ve got the guest list, you’ve got to create the seating chart! Time to pair the right people together who will be able to keep conversation going and be comfortable with sitting with each other.
Once you have the seating chart, it’s time to make place cards! These will let the guests know where they are sitting.
Have a final venue walk-through:
Make a list of questions beforehand, and bring your planner or another close friend or family member to bring up anything you forget.
Take care of personal things like getting your hair colored or manicure done. Perhaps even look into having a couple’s massage. If you’re going on a honeymoon right away, make sure your bags are packed! Also, make sure to clean your ring – you want it to SPARKLE!
Finally, we suggest writing your partner a note to read on the morning.
Night Before / Day of the Wedding:
Congratulations! You’ve made it – the best day of your life is finally here!
The night before:
Sleep early the night before so that you’re well rested. Make sure you have a healthy meal and drink plenty of water.
The wedding morning:
It’s finally here! You’ll want to stay off your feet as much as possible (you’ll be standing all day). Make sure you have a nice breakfast and keep drinking water to stay beautifully hydrated. Lay out your dress and veil. Have a beautiful morning with your bridal party! Say thank you and get ready to party – you deserve it!
So there you have it! A detailed wedding checklist that will carefully guide you through having the best party of your life! If you like this wedding planning list please let us know in the comments! Think we’ve missed something on this wedding check list, also let us know!