You know the scene from Runaway Bride where Julia Roberts decides to book it on a horse minutes before tying the knot? Yeah, we would like to attempt to keep that from happening. So how do you do that? How do you keep a wedding from wreaking havoc or going extremely unplanned? The simple and sometimes overlooked answer is to create a checklist, of course!
Even though you love them, weddings are going to have their crazy moments. Even if they appear put-together, there is probably someone in the back room pulling their hair out or reapplying mascara because they have just cried their eyes out. Weddings are no joke, so you should make sure that you are adequately prepared for the big day. We are going to help you organize your time into blocks so that you will have 2-3 months to complete everything for that month’s checklist. Without further ado, let’s get started!
16 to 9 months Prior
You must feel over the roof right now! Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times in an individual’s life, and we are going to fill you in on what you need to do in the preliminary stages.
- Start a Binder: As with any type of preparation, you are going to want to stay organized. The best way to do this is to make sure that you have all your materials in one place and organized so that you can find things easily. Additionally, you can start leafing through wedding and bridal magazines to cut out pictures and ideas that you might like to include in your wedding. You can look to the internet too, and you will realize that there are so many themes, ideas, and creative ways to go about your wedding. Try not to get too overwhelmed!
- Budget: Of course, this is where things might start looking a bit more real. You might have to scrap that idea of a Paris wedding or that tropical Hawaiian beach wedding that looked so refreshing. Figure out how much you can put into your wedding, and talk to your family members to see how much they would be willing to contribute as well.
- Guest list: This can be fun. You still have enough time left to add people in later, but it is nice to have a general headcount of how many people you and your groom are going to want. Keep your budget in mind as you are counting, since you will also need to feed your guests. If it is helpful, try to think in terms of how much one person is going to cost.
- A Planner: If things are feeling a bit too overwhelming for you, and it fits into your budget, it might be a good idea to consider hiring a Wedding Planner, or a professional to help you with your big day. Depending on what you need, you can choose a day-of planner or a general wedding planner for overall help. However, if a Planner does not fit into your budget, recruit your best girlfriends who are enthusiastic enough to help you out with your planning!
- Venues and Dates: It might seem like you have a lot of time, but couples generally book their venue a year in advance. While searching for venues, you might notice that a lot of dates are already taken, so it is important to start early! This might take awhile, so be patient as you and your groom look for the perfect place to host your special day. Keep in mind your number of attendees and the season that your wedding is going to take place in as well.
- Officiant: After you book your venue, book your officiant as well once you have a date set.
- Research: Now is a good time to research any things that you think you might need services for. For instance: photographers, florists, and caterers. Ask around with people you know to get referrals.
6 to 8 Months Prior
- Camera People: Time to hire your photographer or videographer. You can also ask your photographer to take some engagement pictures, if you desire.
- Entertainment: If not during the wedding, your reception will probably be in need of some live entertainment. After you do your research, book your favorite acts. Make sure they are appropriate for everyone who will be attending!
- Food: Do some research for any catering or food options that you would like to have at your wedding. Determine if you will have a buffet or individual plates for your reception.
- The Dress: Hopefully you have started looking for your wedding dress! Once you find your perfect dress, things might start seeming more real. It can be handy to fit in at least three fittings for your dress as well. Feel free to bring along your Mother, sister, or your bridal party to get their opinion on your fittings.
- Hotels: Depending on how much family you have out of town, and where your wedding will be, it can be helpful to call a local hotel and ask to set aside a number of hotel rooms for guests that will need to stay overnight.
- Register: It is time to pick out what you might need for after your wedding! Save guests the time of searching for things you might not want, and register at up to three of your favorite retailers.
4 to 5 Months Prior
- Invitations: Purchase your invitations and decide how you would like to go about addressing and sending them out. You may want to have them printed or delegate this task to someone else, as it can be rather time consuming.
- Bridesmaids Dresses: Allow at least 5 months before the wedding for your Bridesmaid dresses to be picked out and ordered. This will give you a fun chance to spend time and bond with your wedding party. Do not forget about the shoes!
- Transportation: Book any transportation you will need for you and your wedding party on the day of the wedding.
- Flowers: After you have done your shopping, book your florist of choice. Let them know your color themes and the overall feel you want for your wedding flowers.
- Honeymoon: Start thinking about your honeymoon! If you have decided to go on one, now is a good time for you to book it.
3 Months Prior
- Cake: Yum! Now is the time to go taste testing with your partner to select and order the perfect sweet treat for your big day. Additionally, make sure that you have finalized any other food plans, and catering needs, that you have for the reception.
- Hair and Makeup: Book hair and makeup appointments for yourself and your wedding party for your wedding day. Shop around and do some trial runs to see which looks you prefer.
- Gifts: Generally at weddings there is a small wedding favor that guests go home with. If you decide to do this, now is the time to order and monogram any wedding favors you would like to give out.
- Timeline: It is a good time to start mapping out what is going to happen on the day of your wedding, including the times and places that things will occur. Make sure you also know who is giving toasts that day so that they can prepare as well. If you have a wedding planner, you two can work together.
- Rings! If you have not already, purchase your rings. This will allow time to get them engraved or sized if needed.
2 Months Prior
- As you get closer to the time of your wedding, you should take the time to meet with you different vendors, including your photographer and officiant.
- Make sure that all your invitations are sent out.
- Enjoy a Bachelor or Bachelorette party if desired!
1 Month Prior
- Get your RSVPs sorted out and assign seating now that you know who will be attending.
- Obtain your marriage license.
- Have your last dress fitting for you and your wedding party.
- Purchase any gifts for your parents, in-laws, bridesmaids or groomsmen.
- Start writing your vows!
One Week Prior
- Take a few deep breaths each day – your big day is just around the corner!
- Send out a timeline of the wedding to the wedding party.
- Pick up your dress
- Have checks or payments squared away for your vendors.
- Pack for your honeymoon.
Day Of The Wedding!
Get married! You have made it down the final stretch, and the one thing left is to ride away with your significant other. This is a once in a lifetime (hopefully!) experience, so you can rejoice in knowing that you will not have to go through this type of stress again, and relish in the beauty of the ceremony.