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Guide to Planning a Wedding in 12 Months

Congratulations, you are engaged! You have posted the “I said yes!” ring pictures to all your social media accounts, toasted your engagement with your closest friends and family, and now you are ready to start planning your big day. So where do you start? You are definitely not alone in feeling overwhelmed when jumping into the wedding planning process, it is something everyone goes through, except for maybe professional wedding planners. To help make the process a little less stressful, here is a rough timeline to help you plan your wedding from 12 months out.

11-12 months before you say I Do:

  • Discuss about what your ideal wedding would look like with your love (i.e. size, setting, formality, etc.) and draw up a tentative budget to turn it into a reality.

  • Pick the date that you would like to get married. Try to choose several possible dates, then call several venues you like to see if they're available and how much they will cost. Also check with the officiant and important guests to make sure they are available.

  • Research ceremony and reception venues, and the schedules times to go visit the ones you like after you find out if they are available.

  • Compile a guest list.

  • Decide who will be paying for the wedding and how much they will be contributing.

  • If you will be hiring a wedding planner, interview and select yours at this point.

9-10 months before you say I Do:

  • Choose who will be in your wedding party.

  • Schedule and take your engagement photos.

  • Book the officiant.

  • Find and order your perfect wedding gown.

  • Start meeting with and book florist, stationer, DJ/musician, band, photographers, videographer, caterers, bar service, etc. When booking vendors, make sure to get a contract that states wedding date, time, and location for each vendor, as well as the schedule for payments.

  • Select the color scheme for the wedding.

  • Book your wedding photographer.

  • Send out save-the-dates for a destination wedding.

  • Book makeup artists.

6-8 months before you say I Do:

  • Register for wedding gifts at your favorite stores.

  • Reserve a block-of-rooms for out-of-town guests.

  • Order invitations and other stationary you need for the wedding.

  • Start shopping for wedding rings.

  • Decide on and order bridesmaids dresses.

  • Start planning the honeymoon.

  • Launch a wedding website through a free provider such as Make sure to include the date of the wedding, travel information, lodging accommodations, and any important information.

  • Contact rental companies if you need to rent anything, such as chairs, tables, or linens.

  • Mail save-the-date cards.

  • Order formalwear for the groom and groomsmen.

4-5 months before you say I Do:

  • Purchase the wedding rings.

  • Attend cake tasting, and select and order the cake.

  • Select attire for flower girl/ring bearer.

  • Finalize ceremony order; ask friends to do readings.

  • Book honeymoon, and renew or get passports, if necessary.

  • Attend prewedding counseling, if required.

  • Arrange transportation for day of the wedding

3 months before you

say I Do:

  • Hold a wedding shower.

  • Book venue(s) for the rehearsal dinner.

  • Purchase any remaining accessories, including jewelry, shoes, veil, cuff links, bow ties, etc.

  • Start dress fittings

  • Book hair stylists

  • Start compiling list of music for the ceremony and reception

  • Finalize menu with the caterer.

  • Finalize flower arrangements.

  • Determine and order wedding favors.

  • Begin working your vows.

  • Finalize the readings and who will be performing the readings at the ceremony.

  • Confirm the order of the ceremony and the reception.

2 months before you say I Do:

  • Mail out your invitations.

  • Schedule appointments with the makeup artists and hair stylists to try out wedding hairstyles and makeup looks.

  • Purchase gifts for your wedding party.

  • Order wedding programs and menus

  • Purchase undergarments and schedule second wedding dress fitting.

  • Start name change paperwork for bank accounts, insurance, etc.

  • Finalize music play list and send to band or DJ.

  • Confirm date and times with your wedding vendors; florist, caterer, DJ, etc.

1 month before you say I Do:

  • Confirm playlist and “do-not-play” list with musicians or DJ.

  • Send rehearsal dinner invites.

  • Schedule your final gown fitting and bring your maid of honor to ensure that she knows how to bustle your gown.

  • Confirm that all bridesmaids have been fitted for their gowns

  • Apply for your marriage license.

  • Order or create welcome bags for out-of-town guests.

  • Confirm all day-of details with vendors.

  • Confirm all important details with wedding party members (e.g. arrival times, attire fittings, etc.).

  • Arrange for care of any pets and your home(s) for while you are on your honeymoon.

  • Have bachelor and bachelorette parties.

  • Finalize guest list and give head count to caterer and venue.

  • Confirm vendor meals with caterer.

  • Determine the must-have shot list with photographer and include names of all VIPs.

  • Assign seating for the reception

2 weeks before you say I Do:

  • Get haircut and color, if necessary.

  • Confirm all honeymoon hotel, travel, and wedding night reservations.

  • Pick up wedding rings.

  • Review final guest list.

1 week before you say I Do:

  • Call all wedding vendors and confirm arrangements.

  • Give your day's schedule to ceremony/reception site managers, including deliveries, setup, takedown, etc.

  • Schedule appointment for Groom to get his hair trimmed.

  • Print place and table cards.

  • Notify caterer and reception hall if there were changes to the final guest total.

  • Pack for honeymoon.

  • Make final payments to vendors and put gratuities in envelopes for the wedding day.

  • Delegate small wedding day tasks to family and wedding party members.

  • Break in the shoes you will be wearing at the wedding.

  • Schedule a massage or spa treatment for the day before or the morning of the wedding day.

2-3 days before you say I Do:

  • Pick up your wedding dress and make sure it is ready to go; get it steamed or pressed if necessary.

  • Pick up the mens' formalwear.

  • Finalize bridal party positions and order they'll walk down the aisle.

  • Deliver place cards, programs, menus, etc. to appropriate venue or site managers.

  • Drop off welcome bags at guest hotels and give delivery instructions to the front desk.

1 day before you say I Do:

  • Bring unity candle, aisle runner, yarmulkes, or other ceremony accessories to the site.

  • Attend rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

  • Give gifts to attendants.

  • Give marriage license to officiant.

  • Print out your vows if you're writing your own.

  • Get a mani and pedi.

  • Go to bed early.

  • Decide who will be the emergency contact person for wedding day and give out their phone number to all vendors.

Time to say I Do:

  • Awake early and eat something hearty for breakfast!

  • Give wedding bands to the best man and the maid of honor to hold during the ceremony.

  • Ensure final checks, including tips, are in envelopes and ready to be handed off to vendors and professionals.

  • Eat, drink, smile and enjoy your big day!

To help make the planning process even smoother start a wedding binder before you even kick off the planning process. The Knot has a great one you can buy on Amazon. In the binder you can keep pages from bridal magazines for inspiration, all the information and contracts from your vendors in one place, guests lists, seating charts, etc. Congratulations! Remember to relax, enjoy, and laugh. The planning process is a wonderful time to create great memories with loved ones and friends.

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