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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.

checklist

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.

checklist

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.

checklist

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.