The Countdown Begins: Wedding Planning Checklist
First things first:
* Tell friends and family.
* Set the date.
* Choose what type of wedding you want (formal, semi formal, informal; which season).
* Set a wedding budget and decide who will be able to contribute and how much.
* Visit, choose and book your ceremony and reception sites.
* Pick a photographer/videographer.
* Have engagement photos taken.
* Start shopping for your gown.
* Start working on your guest list.
* Arrange for both sets of parents to get together.
9 to 12 months before:
* Sign up for any pre-marital counseling or classes.
* Announce your engagement in local newspapers, if desired.
* Choose your wedding party members.
* Arrange the first meeting with your minister, priest or rabbi and wedding planner (if using one).
* Throw an engagement party.
* Gather wedding inspiration. Start a Pinterest board. Search magazines and websites for ideas.
* Begin inserting the names of vendors and their contact information into a master contact list.
6 to 9 months before:
* Select a caterer.
* Choose a baker, schedule cake tastings.
* Shop for bridesmaid dresses.
* Hire a florist.
* Book a band/DJ.
* Start researching honeymoon spots.
* Finalize the guest list.
* Book a stationer (and calligrapher, if using one).
* Mail save-the-date cards.
* Purchase your shoes, headpiece, jewelry and lingerie for the big day.
* Order your gown and schedule fittings (remember to bring your shoes).
* Book hair and makeup artists for the big day.
* Reserve structural and electrical necessities. Book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs, linens, lighting and so on.
* Start making a day-of timeline, determining what should happen when (speeches, first dance, etc).
* Book a block of hotel rooms near the reception site for out-of-town guests. Pick more than one hotel at different price points.
* Register for gifts at two to three places. Remember that some guests will use your registries for showers and engagement gifts, so be sure to register for enough.
* Start to keep track of favorite songs.
4 to 6 months before:
* Order all wedding stationery (invitations, envelopes, thank-you notes) and work out pricing for programs, menus and place cards, which will be printed closer to the date.
* Hire wedding-day transportation.
* Book flights and hotel reservations for your honeymoon.
* Arrange the rehearsal dinner.
* Schedule any beauty treatments (brow-waxing, facials, teeth-whitening) that you’d like to have done before the wedding.
* Send a guest list to the host of your bridal shower.
* Prepare map or directions to include with invitations.
* Have physical examinations and updated immunizations if traveling out of the country for your wedding or honeymoon.
* Order passport, if necessary.
* Purchase wedding rings; order engraving.
* Remind mothers and mothers-in-law to start shopping for their dresses.
2 to 4 months before:
* Order the tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen.
* Meet with the caterer or facility manager to discuss menus, wine selections, serving style, etc.
* Choose and order wedding favors and welcome baskets, if desired.
* Order the wedding cake.
* Meet with your officiant to discuss your ceremony; invite loved ones to perform readings, if appropriate.
* Choose songs for the ceremony and reception.
* Buy thank-you gifts for your attendants.
* Confirm group hotel rates for out-of-town guests.
* Finalize your honeymoon plans.
* Send invitations to the calligrapher if you’re using one.
* Plan your bachelorette party with your attendants.
* Send a day-of timeline to your vendors so they’ll have ample time for tweaks and feedback.
* Sign up for dance lessons, if desired.
1 to 2 months before:
* Mail invitations.
* Do a hair and makeup run-through (with headpiece).
* Meet with the caterer to finalize a menu.
* Send programs, menus and escort cards to the stationer to be printed (if not using a calligrapher).
* Make arrangements for a place for you and the bridesmaids to dress before the wedding.
* Send your wedding announcement to local newspapers, if desired.
* Write thank-you notes as you receive gifts. Maintain a list of all presents received and thank-yous written. Store all gifts in the boxes in which they came so you can return multiples.
2 to 4 weeks before:
* Plot the seating for the reception.
* Confirm times with all vendors.
* Have your final dress fitting.
* Write your rehearsal dinner toast.
* Compose your vows, if desired.
* Visit the salon for one last cut and color.
* Send escort cards and the seating chart to your calligrapher to fill in guests’ names and table numbers.
* Enter RSVPs into a guest-list database, and call invitees who haven’t yet responded.
* Get your marriage license. If you’re changing your name, order several extra copies.
* If changing your name, make arrangements with Social Security, Department of Motor Vehicles, credit card companies and your bank.
* Arrange to have your fiancé become the beneficiary of your life insurance.
* Mail the rehearsal dinner invitations, if applicable.
* Stock the bar using your final head count as a guide.
* Send out as many final vendor payments as you can.
* Provide addresses and directions for drivers of transport vehicles.
* Create a must-take “shot list” and discuss it with your photographer.
1 week before:
* Compile the fees that will be due on the wedding day.
* Give the caterer a final head count.
* Appoint a reliable pal to transport the cake knife, toasting glasses, etc. to and from the reception site.
* Get final beauty treatments (facial, waxing, brow-shaping, etc).
* Pack for the honeymoon. Ask someone to bring your luggage to the reception if you’re leaving from there.
* Give your honeymoon itinerary to a friend or family member in case of emergency.
* Pick up your dress or make arrangements for it to be fetched or delivered.
* Arrange for the cake to be delivered to the reception venue.
* Buy a guest book, if you choose to use one.
* Delegate small wedding-day tasks: someone to carry your things; someone to bustle your dress; someone to manage the gifts; someone to hand out tips; someone to watch over the guest book; and someone to be the point person for vendors.
* Send a timeline to the bridal party, including every member’s contact information.
* Break in your shoes.
* Assemble and distribute welcome baskets to out-of-town guests, if desired.
* Pick up wedding rings, check engravings and sizes.
* Remind men to pick up formalwear and shoes, and check them for fit.
* If you don’t have a personal attendant, ask a friend to help you get dressed on the big day.
* Talk to head usher about any special seating arrangements.
* Arrange for a light snack for the wedding party to eat while getting ready for the ceremony.
Last 24 hours:
* Help decorate the venue, if necessary.
* Have a manicure, pedicure and any other last-minute pampering treatments.
* Distribute thank-you gifts to the wedding party, special attendants and parents.
* Organize for a note or gift to be delivered to your fiancé on the wedding day.
* Give marriage announcements to an attendant for mailing after the wedding, if relevant.
* Take a relaxing bath, go to bed early and start getting excited. You’re about to get married!
This article originally appeared in our sister publication Minnesota Bride's Spring/Summer 2015 issue.