River Winds Farm and Estate

Here’s a Helpful Wedding Planning Timeline

You’re engaged – Congratulations!

You will soon be entering a brand new phase of your life, and we know you are anxious to get started planning your wedding! Whether it’s a day you have been imagining since you were young, or an event you haven’t given much thought, you may need to get right on with the details of planning.

We find many couples are overwhelmed with where to start. People’s tendencies are to jump in on the “fun stuff” – picking out flowers and entertainment maybe. But will your flowers be in season (if you haven’t chosen a date); can the band of your dreams fit in the venue to book? Before you put the cart before the horse, here is a helpful breakdown of a wedding planning timeline to help you out:

Right Away (12+ Months Before)

Hiring a Wedding Planner

There are some critical components of planning a wedding that you will want to decide upon right away. If you plan to hire a Wedding Planner, you should hire them as your first item of wedding business. Planners have a lot of insights and resources that will help make the rest of the process much easier on you (after all, that’s why you hire one!). They have a lot of resources, insights into venue options, and know the local vendors you will need for other aspects of the event.

Choose a Wedding Date

The next thing you must decide upon before you can move forward is you wedding date! Basically, all of your other wedding details will revolve around this timeframe, and couples who are wishy-washy about their date make it next to impossible for any vendor to commit to you. If you have other elements of your wedding that are a must-have, such as venue, you may need to be flexible about your date. If you are not set on any exact date, choose two to three potential days you would prefer to work from.

Determining a Wedding Budget

Before you can really begin to plan your wedding in earnest, you need to have your budget figured out. Work with your future spouse to outline an overall limit on the expense, then project the budget for other major elements. Once the excitement of looking at venues and planning menus begins, you need to set a realistic budget for yourselves so you don’t get in over your head. If you determine your budget together, you will avoid potential conflicts down the road.

Select Your Wedding Venue

Where are you going to host your special day? Your wedding venue is the next important consideration. Think about your vision for the day:

  • Inside or Outside?
  • A country wedding or urban setting?
  • How many guests do you plan to invite?
  • What do you want your guests’ experience to be?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What amenities do you want to have?
  • Keep true to your vision as a couple.

Start Thinking about Your Guest List

The number of people attending your wedding and reception is another critical factor in figuring out a lot of other details. The size of your guest list may have a big impact on your choice of wedding venues. Vendors such as caterers may also have limitations on the number of guests they can serve.

If you are planning a destination wedding that your guests will travel to, they may need some time to schedule their time off or perhaps save up for the trip, not to mention making their own accommodations. Sending out a ‘Save the Date’ card is a thoughtful way to give people a heads-up for planning to share your day with you.

Guest lists can also bring up a lot of “debate” among couples and their immediate families. So that you aren’t having a blow out with your future mother-in-law two months before the wedding, or finding yourself at a standoff with your future spouse about whether to invite co-workers the day you are ordering invitations, work some of these details out early on.

Here’s a recap of the immediate To-Do’s for planning your wedding:

  • Determine your budget
  • Hire your wedding planner (if applicable)
  • Narrow down your date
  • Research wedding venues
  • Start creating your guest list

10 – 12 Months Before

So by now, you have your wedding date nailed down, and your venue(s) booked. Now you can begin to fill in some of the other aspects of your ceremony and celebration. Whomever will be officiating your ceremony needs to be reserved.

Many wedding vendors such as photographers, bands/DJ’s, and caterers often book out far in advance. If you have a must-have professional among this group, you may even want to move them up to the “immediately” timeframe.

You should start researching and shopping for your wedding gown about 10 months prior to your wedding date. You want to order your gown no later than six to eight months prior to the wedding.

Here are some of the wedding components you want to schedule:

  • Choose an officiant
  • Hire your photographer/videographer, band/DJ, and caterer
  • Create your wedding website (if applicable)
  • Register for wedding gifts or donations
  • Take engagement photos
  • Choose your bridal party
  • Begin shopping for dresses and attire

8 Months Before

With so many details squared away, it may seem like you can take a breather for a bit. BUT it’s actually really getting to be crunch time for a lot more of your wedding particulars! Florists also have busy calendars, so to make sure your flowers and floral decorations will be to your vision, you want to determine your florist and get on their calendar.

Wedding attire that needs to be ordered and/or altered also needs to finalized. If you are letting your wedding party choose their outfits and gowns, these individuals need some time to shop and get things ordered if necessary.

Around the 8 Month Mark:

  • Select your florist
  • Order your cake
  • Plan ceremony and reception decorations
  • Finalize your guest list
  • Order your gown, attendants attire, begin fittings process
  • Plan and book your honeymoon

6 Months Before

Now is the time to dig into the finer details. Give yourself enough time to order supplies for DIY projects such as wedding decorations and wedding favors. You also want to revisit your list of vendors and the schedule. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, confirm dates with vendors, and make final decisions on things such as the cake, florals, and invitations.

If you wedding is local, but you want to be sure your guests are aware of your date, send out ‘Save the Date’ cards so people can get it on their calendar.

When You’re Down to 6 Months to Go:

  • Send out Save the Date cards
  • Order wedding decorations and favors
  • Order wedding invitations
  • Purchase your wedding bands and other jewelry
  • Finalize wedding party attire

4 Months Before

If you are going to be handling any of the ceremony or reception details such as set up and decorating, order your tables, chairs, linens, etc. now. People often forget that vendors for items such as linens can run out of options if you don’t reserve early. If your venue is going to handle the setup, this is a good time to confirm details with them as well.

At 4 Months to Go:

  • Make arrangements for any rentals needed
  • Touch base with your photographer, entertainment and venue
  • Begin to choose wedding and reception music

2 Months Before

Wedding invitations should get in the mail to your guests 6 – 8 weeks before the wedding date. At this point, you can also finalize your menu with your venue or caterer, and reserve any accommodations or transportation you will need for your wedding party or guests. Be sure to check in with your wedding party at this point to make sure everyone is on schedule with their fittings and alterations. There’s always one groomsman…

Now is also a good time to test out some hairstyles and makeup looks for your special day. Schedule an appointments with professionals that you are considering using to test out some styles.

Now is the time to:

  • Mail invitations
  • Finalize the menu
  • Reserve and confirm accommodations and transportation
  • Check in with wedding party
  • Decide on hair and makeup

4 – 6 Weeks Before

It’s getting exciting now! RSVP’s are coming in and your wedding is pretty much all that you think or talk about. Be very attentive to the finer details at this stage. You still have time to correct some issues, and you probably also have plenty of final details to complete. You want your day to go off without a hitch, so the more you confirm and compete at this point, the better chances you will have for a smooth event.

Don’t forget your marriage license! Some municipalities take weeks to issue licenses, so get yours taken care of now.

Tick Tock, Stay On Track:

  • Get everything printed (place cards, signs, programs)
  • Work on DIY projects
  • Apply for your marriage license
  • Plan the bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette parties

2 Weeks Before

Don’t leave things to the last minute. Work to enjoy the final days leading up to your wedding, visit with guest that are visiting, and have fun with your wedding party. A couple weeks before the wedding, finalize your seating chart, wedding day decorations, and any other DIY projects. You’ll have your final dress and other fittings, and finalize the guest list. Be sure to have one last check-in with all your vendors, and go over the schedule for your wedding day.

It’s Almost Here! Don’t forget:

  • Final dress fittings
  • Finish up all DIY projects
  • Check in with all vendors
  • Go over music with band/DJ
  • Put together wedding favors
  • Finalize guest list and seating chart

If you get started early, keep yourself to a schedule, and have a good checklist, your wedding planning will feel under control and be WAY less stressful!

Happy Wedding Day!