Wedding Planning Checklist – Getting Ready for the Wedding

Anyone who’s gotten married can attest to just how many balls you need to juggle at once when planning a wedding. Instead of trying to keep everything in memory, having a good checklist can help. Here’s a list of (almost) everything you need to keep track of when planning for your wedding. 9 to 12 Months Before

  • Announce that you’re engaged!
  • Choose an overall wedding vibe. Do you want it informal, at a beach? Or formal, at a church? Something in between?
  • Plan Your Budget. Factor your spouse’s contribution and your family’s contribution into the budget. Make sure to always leave a 15% to 20% buffer for unexpected expenses.
  • Start some kind of bookkeeping or expense tracking system. Throughout the process you’ll be paying a lot of different people for different things, often not paying in full for a service all at once. Having a good system to track all these expenses can save a lot of headaches later on.
  • Select a wedding date.
  • Choose an Officiant, Minister or Priest.
  • Start building your guest list. Go through your phone book, address books and email contacts to compile a list of everyone that might be invited.
  • Book the wedding venue. The earlier you can book it, the better. You may choose to book two different sites for the reception and ceremony.
  • Look into whether or not you want to hire a wedding planner. They can really help take stress out of the process.
  • Start looking at wedding photographers, catering companies and other professionals you want at your wedding.
  • Choose and purchase a bridal gown.
  • Gather all the paperwork you need to file a marriage license.

6 to 9 Months Before

  • Start a wedding registry.
  • Purchase your wedding invitations.
  • Browse and select your bridesmaid dresses. Ideally you should have a six month window for them to be made.
  • Book your DJ or band. Try to see one of their shows in person first before booking.
  • Book your photographer and/or videographer. Check their samples to make sure their style matches your taste.
  • Interview and book a florist. Again, look at photos of their previous designs to make sure they match your style.
  • Determine the overall colors of the wedding. You should have just one or two main colors, with the rest of the colors to match.
  • Look into honeymoon spots. Plan how long you want the trip to be, where you want to go and let your employer know you’ll need some time off work.
  • Start drafting a list of responsibilities for each person / role. This will save a lot of time and confusion on your wedding day, as well as the weeks leading up to it.
  • Start drafting a timeline for the wedding day.

3 to 6 Months Before

  • Hire a decorator or interior designer.
  • Select and order a wedding cake.
  • Decide what the groom will wear. Start making the arrangements.
  • Finalize your invitation list.
  • Sign up helpers. Family members and friends who will help make the wedding go smoothly.
  • Choose which version of the bible is being read for scriptures, if applicable.
  • Hire a limousine or other transportation for transportation between the reception and the ceremony.
  • Plan your toasts and readings. Ask the people who you want to give a toast or reading at the wedding to do so.
  • Buy your wedding rings.
  • Print schedules and cards for the guests.
  • Book your hairstylist and makeup artist.
  • Hire any babysitters necessary.
  • Talk to performers and DJs about specific songs and sets to play for the wedding day.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from the wedding site.
  • Sort out merged finances, bank accounts, etc.
  • Sort out living arrangements for after the marriage.

1 to 3 Months Before

  • Buy your bridesmaids’ gifts.
  • Get a solid head count. Deliver this head count to your caterer and anyone else who needs a solid number to plan properly.
  • Get a final fitting with your dress maker.
  • Finalize arrangements with all your vendors.
  • Send out the invitations.
  • Send out your wedding invitations.
  • Get your marriage license. Do this within a month of the actual wedding.
  • File for your name change.
  • Talk to a stylist about hairstyles and makeup options for your big day.
  • Finalize the schedule for the wedding day. Make sure all the DJs, songs and bands have appropriate slots of time.
  • Talk to your officiant to hammer out all the final details for the ceremony.
  • Write your wedding vows.
  • Figure out where the bride will get dressed before the ceremony.
  • Start preparations for your honeymoon. Book hotels, flights, get visas, etc.
  • Select your Master of Ceremonies (MC.)
  • Choose an usher to help your guests find their seats.

1 Week to 4 Weeks

  • Keep an up to date RSVP record so you know exactly who’s coming and who’s not.
  • Have a bachelorette party.
  • Finalize the catering plans.
  • Finalize the cake arrangements.
  • Finalize all other food and drink arrangements.
  • Finalize day-of schedule.
  • Give your caterer and staff the final head count.

Week of the Wedding to The Day Before

  • Final confirmation with all vendors.
  • Write the checks for the vendors. That way you don’t have to get out your checkbook the day of the wedding.
  • Pick up wedding gown.
  • Pick up tuxedo.
  • Nail & hair appointments.
  • Email the closed guest list to the caterer and the wedding venue. Usually they’ll want the final list within 3 days of the wedding.
  • Rehearsal.
  • Rehearsal dinner.