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