groom jumping in air holding brides hand

Your Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline

Apr 10, 2019
By Wedding Spot

There are so many moving pieces when planning a wedding that it can be difficult to prioritize what needs to be done first. It’s easy to miss a step or execute tasks in the wrong order.

Knowing not just what tasks need to be completed, but also when to complete them, will help you stay sane while wedding planning. To give you a helping hand, here is an easy-to-follow wedding timeline.

Over One Year Ahead

After basking in a few weeks of newly-engaged bliss, start tackling the initial wedding planning tasks over a year in advance:

  • Announce your engagement

  • Choose a wedding date and time

  • Determine your budget and decide who will pay for what

  • Book a photographer and schedule engagement photos

  • Create a guest list

  • Research potential wedding venues

  • Settle on your wedding style, color palette, and inspiration

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10-12 Months Before

Now that you have done the initial legwork, it’s time to get the ball rolling and make some major decisions:

  • Invite bridesmaids and groomsmen to be in your bridal party

  • Register for gifts or a honeymoon fund

  • Purchase wedding dress and veil

  • Book ceremony and reception venues

  • Create a wedding website

  • Research and book your florist

  • Collect guest list addresses

  • Mail the save the dates

8-10 Months Before

Now that you’ve settled all of the foundational elements of your wedding, it’s time to drill down on some finer points:

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

  • Choose everyone’s bridesmaid dresses and confirm they all have ordered everything

  • Create general wedding schedule outline

  • Hire your caterer

  • Hire your videographer

  • Determine your lighting and equipment rental needs and then make reservations

  • Book your honeymoon

  • Schedule an on-site design meeting to visualize everything

bride and groom wedding chairs reception.jpg

6-8 Months Before

You are halfway there! Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. It’s time to continue making some of the last major decisions for your big day:

  • Decide on wedding cake style and flavor

  • Book hair and makeup artists for the bride

  • Meet with your officiant and plan your ceremony

  • Choose everyone’s groomsmen attire and confirm all have ordered

  • Book transportation

  • Purchase wedding rings

  • Order photo booth, if desired

  • Order wedding invitations, programs, and stationery

  • Book ceremony and reception entertainment

  • Book rehearsal dinner venue and make menu selections

4-6 Months Before

Now that you’ve gotten all of the major decisions completed, you can begin working on some of the details that will help make your big day work logistically:

  • Order alcohol and book bartenders for the event

  • Finalize menu and service details

  • Purchase bridal party gifts

  • Determine reception audio needs and make reservations for appropriate equipment

  • Research marriage license

  • Confirm ceremony rehearsal time and location

  • Decide where you will be getting ready for the wedding

  • Order welcome baskets for guests coming from out-of-town

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3 Months Before

You’re only three months away from the big day! It might just be starting to feel real. Three months out you should be in the weeds on the details, including planning your looks for the wedding weekend:

  • Create music playlist for ceremony and reception

  • Request speeches for those that you would like to make a toast

  • Consider your Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

  • Shop for a rehearsal dinner outfit

  • Schedule hair and makeup trial session

  • Begin taking dance lessons for your first dance, if desired

  • Purchase ring pillow or an alternative for taking your rings down the aisle

  • Select favors and determine where they will be placed at reception

2 Months Before

It’s time to mail out the invitations and start solidifying all of the more last-minute essentials:

  • Mail wedding invitations

  • Schedule haircut and color 2 week prior to wedding

  • Solidify the exit plan for bride and groom - sparklers, confetti, etc.

  • Finalize floral arrangements

  • Begin writing personal vows, if desired

  • Purchase a garter, if desired

  • Designate greeters to welcome guests

  • Determine your alternative option for inclimate weather, if needed

1 Month Before

It’s only one month until all of your hard work pays off. Feeling any heart palpitations yet?:

  • Track all RSVPs as they arrive

  • Confirm all of your payments to vendors

  • Finalize the shot list with photographer and videographer

  • Establish a seating plan

  • Pick up your wedding rings

  • Attend the final dress fitting

  • Follow up with guests who have not responded to RSVP

  • Obtain your marriage license

2 Weeks Before

The final few weeks are what help make all of the magic happen. Perform a few last checks to ensure that you’ve dotted all of your i’s and crossed all of your t’s:

  • Give your caterer a final head count for reception

  • Adjust the cake order for the appropriate headcount

  • Update your final layout based on final head count

  • Prepare the wedding toasts and thank you speeches

  • Steam your wedding dress

  • Pack your wedding night and honeymoon suitcases

  • Assemble wedding favors

  • Make sure musicians/DJ's have playlists

  • Provide any readers "scripts" for readings

  • Arrange for someone to transport gifts & cards after wedding

The Day Before

It’s finally the day before you say “I do.” While you should try to relax as much as possible before the big day, you still have a few more tasks to accomplish:

  • Deliver welcome baskets to hotels where your guests are staying or have them delivered

  • Confirm that the groomsmen picked up their formal wear

  • Get your manicure/pedicure

  • Attend the ceremony rehearsal and dinner

  • Give presents to bridesmaids and groomsmen

  • Get a great night’s sleep! You’re getting married tomorrow!

How Do I Stay Organized?

Staying aware of your wedding planning timeline is essential for keeping yourself (and your wedding) organized. Want a quick and easy way to track all of the wedding planning tasks you need done and in what order? Download our free wedding workbook!

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Wedding Spot

Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.