Creating a practical wedding timeline checklist is truly the key to nuptial success.
This simple organizational tool is the foundation to:
- Set priorities
- Space out tasks so that they are manageable
- Stick to a budget
- Leave room to breathe
The most practical way to create a productive wedding planning timeline is to start with the big picture and chip away at your to-do list until you reach the fun, finer details.
In reality, the stress associated with wedding planning schedules is an avoidable stereotype, and we want every bride to experience maximum enjoyment and relish each moment.
Here is our approach:
12+ Months Until The Wedding
Start with the When:
The date of your wedding is arguably the most influential aspect of your wedding checklist timeline. It determines if the venue will be indoors or outside, how easy it will be to attend, how financially competitive your choices will be, and what foods and florals will be in season.
It’s also a very personal choice. Once you land on a decision, make your announcements!
Choose your budget:
Decide what you can reasonably afford and plan to spend about 85% of that figure. The remainder will be reserved for unexpected expenses. Dedicate a percentage of your budget across all major wedding categories based on your priorities.
Setting a firm budget will create boundaries around all of your decisions. Defining categories will guide you to where you are willing to make compromises.
Tip: If money is tight, check out these fall wedding ideas on a budget.
Style and Assistance:
Choose your theme, color pallet, guest list, destination, and structure (religious or civil), and make a shortlist of honeymoon locations. Decide if you will be hiring a wedding consultant as well as the headcount of your guest list. All of this should fit within your budget.
Keep Your Friends Close:
Name your bridesmaids and groomsmen and get commitments from everyone you will rely on for help and wedding planning advice. Give them a copy of your wedding planning timeline so they can keep up with your schedule and adhere to their portion of the budget.
Look Into It
Begin your research into hotels, transportation, florists, DJs, caterers, and photographers. Often, early contracts are far less expensive than last-minute service.
At this point, you can feel free to start populating your wedding website.
6-12 Months Until The Wedding
With the major decisions out of the way, things start to get a little more interesting. In this portion of the wedding timeline, you will make some fun decisions and begin juggling your day-of schedule.
Dress To Impress:
Choose your wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses, groom’s suit, and groomsmen attire. Finalize these decisions and then order. This allows the entire group to coordinate. Reserve any rentals now, providing plenty of time for try-ons and alterations.
Related: Corsage trends 2022
Interview your shortlist of vendors and sign some contracts. Make sure to review the language so that expectations are mutual and responsibilities are transparent.
Choose your retailer and create your wedding registry. If you accept gifts from other retailers, handmade items, donations to a charity, or cash, make it a clear statement so that guests aren’t confused.
Decide if you want children in attendance and finalize your guest list. Keep a master list of contact info so that you send your guests updates and thank you notes once gifts are received.
Don’t Stay Stationary
The earlier you order your Save The Dates, invitations, and other printed materials, the better. This will give you a buffer in case of shipping delays or correcting your order if need be.
Schedule rehearsal dinners and organize accommodation options for out-of-town guests. This is also a great time to plan for the Honeymoon. Even if you can’t yet settle on a destination, you can update your passports, alert your credit card company to international charges, and schedule inoculations.
3-6 Months Until The Wedding
As the big day approaches and the major arrangements are accounted for, it’s time to start ironing out the details. Your vision has been defined. Now it’s time to coordinate with the people responsible for bringing it to life.
All About Them
Provide your wedding rehearsal dinner hosts (traditionally the groom’s parents) with contact information for the guest list. Verify that they’ve been sent, received, and responded to a few weeks later.
Research options for childcare for yourself and your guests. If budget allows, some sitters will work at the venue to keep kids occupied while the adults celebrate.
It’s always best to communicate with your officiant to discuss expectations and any special instructions.
It’s the bride and groom’s responsibility to outfit the ring bearer and flower girl. Get sizes from their parents and place your orders.
Provide instructions to your ushers to ensure that seating assignments are distributed properly. Ushers can also act as bouncers, so feel free to give them the names and photos of any undesirable guests.
The Big Items
Order rings and arrange to get them engraved if that’s your preference.
1-3 Months Until The Wedding
Until now, your vision has been strictly in your head or sampled on paper. Now is the time to bring your plans into the physical realm and put your personal touch on everything,
All About You
See it in person:
Schedule a walkthrough of your venue to get a feel for the atmosphere. Work with the venue manager to determine lighting, linens, and your A/V setup.
Contact the appropriate people and agencies (newspaper, banks, license bureau) to announce and change the last name in your files.
Making your final deposits to vendors is a great opportunity to refresh your memory, discuss any changes, and tighten up your itinerary. Make sure that caterers, florists, and other vendors are aware of each other so as to coordinate their activity.
Have a final look at your wedding gown and accessories to ensure proper fit and aesthetic.
Mail your wedding invitations. A 6 to 8 week timeframe allows them proper time to schedule time off work and make travel plans.
Final Weeks Before The Wedding
This is the point in time when many brides begin to crack under the pressure. But not you. You’ve followed our wedding planning guide and only have to worry about a few more details.
Finalize where all your guests will sit. Do your best to arrange your reception in a manner that allows your guests to socialize with people they know as well as people they would be happy to meet.
Final caterer consultation
Meet one more time with your caterer. Review your entire order, costs, responsibilities, and share any special instructions like allergies.
Attend pre-wedding parties
Showers, luncheons, and bachelor(ette) parties allow you to reward yourself for all the hard work, destress, socialize the group, and transition into wedded union.
Talk to the best man, bridesmaid, flower girl, and everyone else who plays a role in the ceremony and reception so that everyone knows what to do and when to do it.
List of photographs
Your photographer knows what’s trending, what’s classic, and what’s artistic. What they can’t do is read your mind. Tell them what you expect your wedding album to look like.
Pack for honeymoon
You’ve made your honeymoon plans well in advance. You know what your itinerary is and what the weather will be like. Last on your wedding prep checklist is to pack for the occasion and enjoy!
Sylvia Silverstone is a passionate writer who loves to share her knowledge and expertise on a wide range of topics, including beauty, life hacks, entertainment, health, news, and money. With a keen eye for detail and a talent for storytelling, Sylvia's engaging writing style keeps readers coming back for more.