He popped the question, the ring is on your finger… So, what now? With so many things to take care of, wedding planning can be a bit overwhelming. But, if you give yourself enough time, it can become less stressful and more fun. Take the stress out of planning with this 12 month wedding planning timeline.
12 months before
- Budget. Do the math, figure out who will pay for what and determine the budget. Decide what’s the priority and what’s not – and allocate the funds accordingly. Numbers will change during the 12 month wedding planning, so it’s a good thing to have a detailed spreadsheet, to help you track your spending.
- Guest list. There are two things you should consider when deciding on a guest list: budget (how much can you spend) and venue (how many guests can fit). You should also consider who will pay for what. If you and your husband-to-be are paying the bill, you will get 70% of the invitations, while your and his parents will split the other 30%. If the parents are contributing, it’s 1/3 for your parents, 1/3 for his parents and 1/3 for the two of you.
- Wedding planner. Hiring a wedding planner will depend on your budget, but if you can afford it, now it’s time to hire someone. Wedding planner will help you with a venue selection, budget tracking and logistic.
- Theme. Talk to your significant other about the wedding theme. You wedding vibe should be a mutual decision between you two. Don’t forget that your venue will affect the theme – you can’t have a glam theme for a barn wedding.
- Venue. This is one of the most important decisions. Choice of the venue will affect almost everything else, from the number of people you can invite, to the type of flowers for tables. It’s important to visit the best contenders, explore all options and select a place that will fit your style, guest count and budget.
- Caterer. Hire the people you trust – caterer recommended by your wedding planner, the venue’s in-house caterer or your favorite fast food truck. Don’t be afraid to be creative with the menu.
11 months before
- Color theme. It’s time to select a color palette. If you’re struggling with inspiration, look at the colors you already have in your life – what are you liking on Instagram, what’s on your Pinterest boards, how have you decorated your house…
- Vendors. It’s time to hire the people who will make your night fun – band, DJ, photographer, videographer.
10 months before
- Start the wedding dress shopping. Visit multiple salons, try a couple of different dress styles. Don’t rush the decision. This wedding dress shopping timeline will help.
- Book hotel-room blocks. See if you can get a discount rate. Offer various price options to your guests.
- Wedding website. Get the website running, because you’ll need the URL for the ‘Save the date’ cards.
- Engagement pictures. Most wedding photographers will include the engagement photos in the package. Don’t be camera shy!
- Invitations. Wedding invitations are your guest’s first impression of your wedding day – so they have to be perfect! For some amazing invitation suites, check out our SHOP. You don’t have to rush the decision, invitations should be sent 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding day.
9 months before
- Purchase the wedding dress. Make the final decision and put a deposit.
- Send ‘Save the date’ cards. Let everyone know when and where will the wedding be. Don’t forget that everyone who gets a ‘Save the date’ card must also receive a wedding invitation.
8 months before
- Registry. When registering for gifts, include your husband-to-be in the decision. Don’t ask for staples, like pans and sheets. Consider your interests and hobbies.
- Bridesmaids’ dresses. If your bridesmaids live close by, ask them to go to shopping with you. It will be helpful to see them in dresses. You can also ask how they feel wearing dresses you are considering. Let your girls choose what they’ll wear.
- Hire a florist. Scroll Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. Ask your wedding planner and venue coordinator if they have a recommendation.
7 months before
- Rehearsal dinner venue. You should start looking at venues for the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, the family of the groom should pay for the rehearsal dinner. Although they are paying, you are the one who should choose the theme and venue.
- Ceremony musicians. If you’re going to have a band, now’s the time to book them. Don’t go with the generic songs, make it personal.
- Order rental items. Linens, chairs, lounge furniture, draping… Don’t think of these items as extras, they are the essentials of your wedding day decor. If your budget allows it, don’t skimp on cozy furniture and upgraded chairs.
- Officiant. If you won’t be married in a place of worship, you should hire someone to make the marriage official. You can hire a professional officiant or ask a family member or a close friend to do the honors.
6 months before
- Lighting technician. Lighting is very important. Candles and bulbs you choose will light the venue and also make the wedding photos just right. Hire a good lighting technician.
5 months before
- Transportation for guests. If needed, book transportation for your guests. Check the venue’s parking space, access to public transportation, car services and the cost. If it’s going to cost guests more than $20 (especially if they already have to travel because it’s a destination wedding), think about renting a shuttle bus.
- Transportation for newlyweds. Book the specialty car, limo, horse-drawn carriage…
- Honeymoon. Traditionally, the groom should plan a surprise honeymoon for his bride. If you’re planning the honeymoon together, try to have everything semi-sorted by now – timing, budget, travel arrangements, trip activities.
- Tuxedo. The groom will walk out first, so be sure that he leaves a good impression on the guests. Choose between a suit or tux (depending on the wedding formality) and then decide will you rent or buy. Focus on the function and fit – good outfit will look flattering, but it will also allow the groom to dance without fear of seams splitting.
- Premarital counseling. Both the experts and the couples say that the premarital counseling will do wonders. It’s helpful to have an objective third-party that will encourage you to address the issues you might have. You will also be provided with healthy conflict resolution strategies.
4 months before
- Final tasting with the caterer. If you are nervous about food tasting, bring your consultant or wedding planner. They have attended a dozen of tastings, so they’ll pay attention to the details. Food tasting is very important, especially if you have chosen to customize cocktails, dessert, etc.
- Cake. Talk with your partner about the look of the cake and flavors you both love. This is your wedding cake, so don’t stress about pleasing your guests. When you decide on a cake, find a reputable baker.
- Wedding bands. Purchase the wedding bands (rings). Traditionally, the bride should purchase the groom’s wedding band.
- Groomsmen’s attire. Select the groomsmen’s suits and schedule the fittings within one month. If you need help, get the groom involved.
- Hair and make-up. Research before you come to your stylist for the hair and make-up trial. Look at old photos of yourself. Search social media. Bring photos and be very specific about what you want (and what you don’t want).
3 months before
- Order invitations. Order 10-20 extra invitations, in case there are some mistakes. Make sure the invitations arrive on time. Set a system for RSVP replies. Double-check spelling and addresses. Your invitations should match the wedding vibe. If needed, hire a calligrapher.
- Menu. It’s time to finalize the food. You can hand-pick every main dish, side dish, dessert and drink. Or you can tell the chef to ‘handle it’. Either way, make sure that items on the menu fit your taste and budget.
- Favors. It’s time to decide on the favors and gift bags. You can also make a donation to charity instead of favors.
- Photo booth. Photo booths have become the reception staple, so book a rental.
- Vows. Start thinking about your vows. Traditional? Millennial? Tear-jerking? Pop-culture inspired?
- Readings. Obvious choice are Bible verses, but there are also plenty of non-religious options. Your readers can choose their own, just be sure to give them as much guidance as possible.
- Officiant. When considering who will marry you, check eligibility, availability and fee. Make sure the officiant is on the same page with you about the tone and expectations for the ceremony. Invite him/her to the rehearsal dinner.
- DIY. If you haven’t, start crafting DIY items. If needed, ask your friends to help.
2 months before
- Send invitations. Print and assemble the invitations. Respond by date on RSVP cards should be one month before the wedding day.
- Send rehearsal dinner invitations. You can send them with the wedding invitations. If your partner and his family are organizing the rehearsal dinner, be sure they have the accurate list of addresses.
- First dress fitting. First fitting should be around 2-3 months after ordering. Second fitting should be around 6 weeks before the wedding. For more details, check the wedding dress shopping timeline.
- Marriage licence. Google the requirements and laws for your state. If you’re having a destination wedding (international or domestic), check the paperwork requirements as well. Then, you as a couple, witness(es) and officiant should sign the marriage licence.
- Bridesmaids’ gifts. Buy something that is functional, thoughtful and personalized.
- Floral samples. These will vary depending on the florist and your decor ideas, but they will usually include a mock-up centerpiece, wedding bouquet and the reception table setup. If needed, ask for additional tweaks. Finalize the care and delivery strategy.
- Song selection. Give the song selection to the band, DJ and ceremony musicians.
- Buy small items. Table numbers, flutes, cake knife, cake stand, cake topper, card box, guest book, flower girl accessories, ring bearer accessories. Also, don’t forget the signs (Cards and gifts, Guest book, Signature cocktails, Welcome…).
1 month before
- Gift bags. Now it’s time to assemble the gift bags. Make this task fun, not frustrating. Be sure to add a cute favor tag!
- Pay the vendors. Keep track of when did you pay each vendor – and how much. If there are vendors you mast pay on the wedding day, delegate a relative or a bridesmaid to handle this.
- Seating chart. Creating of seating chart will be a balancing act of egos, relationships and crisis-management. Consider the venue’s floor plan, will there be a head table and who will be sitting there.
- Escort and place cards. Both escort and place cards are showing where the guest will be seated during a wedding. Place cards are more formal and more specific than escort cards – they direct guests to their table and are also pointing them to their particular seat. You can buy them or make them – just be sure the cards complement the wedding theme.
- Final venue tour. Prepare a list of questions. Bring your close friends or a wedding planner, in case you forget something.
- Tip envelopes. Put cash in envelopes for your wedding planner to issue. Be sure to label the envelopes. You don’t have to tip people with their own business – videographers, photographers, florists. You should tip DJs, musicians, makeup artist, hair stylist, bartenders, drivers and servers. Many brides also tip the wedding planner.
- Break in the wedding shoes. Walk around the house. Dance in the kitchen. Do everything you can to avoid painful blisters on the wedding night.
1 week before
- Refresh the hair color.
- Manicure and pedicure.
- Get your eyebrows done.
- Final dress fitting (take a bridesmaid or a close friend with you – to learn how to bustle the dress).
- Pack the bags for the honeymoon and confirm the travel arrangements. If you’re leaving the country, don’t forget to pack your passport.
- Clean the wedding ring.
- Check RSVP and deliver the final guest count.
- Practice the vows out loud.
- Eat a good, healthy meal.
- Drink water.
- Get a good sleep.
- Pack a small bag (clutch) with personal items.
- Put bags, suitcases and survival kits for the ceremony/reception in the car.
Day of the wedding
- Don’t skip breakfast.
- Drink water.
- Stay off your feet as much as you can.
- Take the veil and wedding dress out of the bag. If needed, have someone steam it.
- Prepare all items you want the photographer to capture (invitations, rings).
- Say ‘thank you’ to the people around you.
What are your thoughts on this 12 month wedding planning timeline?
Don’t have 12 months for a wedding planning? With our guide, you can plan the wedding in only 6 months!
*For wedding invitations, games and other ideas, check out our SHOP!