A handy step-by-step timeline for planning your wedding
Whether you have two years or three months to plan your wedding, it can be stressful. If, like us, you constantly create lists in your head (or on scraps of paper) only to forget them minutes later, our Ultimate Wedding Checklist is for you. It’s a step-by-step wedding planning timeline that details all of the major tasks required to pull off a flawless wedding day. Wedding planning can be intimidating, what with the research, budget management, and figuring out what to do when. As a result, we created a comprehensive, downloadable checklist of everything you’ll need to do, from finding a wedding venue to dress shopping, and from planning a honeymoon to organising the RSVP list.
The Wedding Checklist and Timeline for Planning
This timeline is based on a 12-month engagement, but it’s important to remember that each wedding is unique – some brides organise their entire wedding in just ten weeks, while others take two years (like me!) – but this planning checklist contains general guidelines that will benefit every couple. Additionally, you can download our three-month planning guide here.
Begin by reading through the list below, then creating your own free printable at the bottom of the page, highlighting the items that apply to you, your significant other, and your wedding. This way, you can cross tasks off as you complete them (there is nothing more satisfying!).
As soon as you become engaged/as soon as you are prepared to begin wedding planning
- Discuss your ideal wedding with your partner to ensure you’re on the same page.
- Create a budget
- Begin by compiling a guest list. Determine the approximate number of guests – this will affect your venue selection.
- Dates for potential weddings – confirm with significant guests to avoid clashes
- Conduct research on potential wedding venues and ceremony locations – if they are distinct (if you are unsure where to begin, this may help).
- Possibility: Host an engagement party!
Twelve Months Prior To The Wedding
- Visit and reserve the venue for your reception and ceremony.
- Conduct research on potential wedding vendors and services such as a photographer, florist, invitations, cake, décor, music, and hair and makeup.
- Consider and review the various types of wedding insurance available.
- Determine the type of entertainment you wish to have at the ceremony, the drinks reception, and the dancing.
- Appoint a photographer
- Hire a videographer
- Conduct research and consider your venue and ceremony decor options.
- Conduct research and consider hiring a wedding planner or venue stylist – this is especially beneficial if you are responsible for the venue setup or have a lot of logistics.
- Begin your wedding gown research by sending Save the Date cards – critical if you’re marrying abroad or at a particularly busy time of year
- Propose to your wedding party
- Enlist the assistance of any family members or talented friends to assist with various aspects of the wedding (for the cake, flowers, dresses etc)
Eight to ten months prior to the wedding
- Arrange for a band and/or DJ to perform at the reception
- Conduct research and make reservations for guests’ accommodations.
- If you require rental items for the ceremony/reception, such as chairs, tables, or a tent, contact decor hire companies.
- Book your honeymoon package, including flights and accommodations.
- Purchase a wedding cake
- Register for a pre-marriage course if your church or celebrant requires it.
Six to eight months prior to the wedding
- Order your wedding gown – many boutiques consider orders placed less than six months in advance a ‘rush order,’ and will charge an additional fee.
- Engage musicians for your ceremony
- Ascertain that passports are valid for the honeymoon and, if necessary, order replacements.
- Prepare for your honeymoon by planning activities and excursions.
- Not you, but your best man/bridesmaids/friends should begin planning hen and/or stag parties!
Between 4-6 Months Prior to the Wedding
- Select bridesmaids’ gowns
- Wedding invitations and stationery can be chosen and ordered online.
- Attend pre-marriage counselling if Catholic ceremonies require it.
- Consult your florist to discuss your options.
- Purchase a groom’s suit
- Men’s suits are available for rental.
- Organize the legalities — in Ireland, this means notifying your registrar or priest/religious celebrant at least three months in advance.
- Create a wedding gift registry with a wedding registry service – we adore wedding registry services. The Wedding Boutique
- Choose prayers, readings, and music for the ceremony booklets — consult your priest/registrar/celebrant for assistance.
- If necessary, arrange for travel vaccinations.
- Arrange for wedding transportation
- Begin collecting guest list addresses or create a wedding website – create a spreadsheet for RSVPs
- Arrange for a hair trial and make an appointment with a hairdresser.
- Arrange for a makeup trial and make an appointment with a makeup artist.
2-3 months prior to the wedding
- Send invitations to guests
- Participate in dress fittings
- Wedding rings to choose from and order
- Arrange gifts for parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and yourself.
- Purchase shoes, accessories, hairpieces, and bow ties – allow additional time if ordering online.
- Arrange for flower girls or page boys to wear appropriate attire.
- Participate in a menu tasting with your venue’s or caterer’s staff.
Four Weeks Prior to the Wedding
- Finalize wedding gown fittings
- Make any necessary last-minute changes with suppliers.
- Finalize details for, and place an order for, mass booklets/ceremony orders
- Complete any wedding-related do-it-yourself or craft projects.
- Conduct a final review of the RSVP list and contact any guests who have not yet responded.
Approximately 2 Weeks Before the Wedding
- Provide photographer and videographer with must-have shot lists – include who should be in portraits and when portraits will be taken.
- Provide the venue/caterer with the final guest count.
- Make a table plan.
One Week Prior to the Wedding
- Provide the wedding coordinator with a list of vendor requests, such as a table for the DJ or additional setup space for the florist.
- Make place cards.
- Contact all wedding vendors to confirm arrangements – create a daytime schedule
- Provide a schedule of vendor delivery and setup times, as well as contact information, to the ceremony and reception site managers.
- Receive a manicure, a massage, a waxing, and all other necessary grooming and preparation.
- Conduct a complete wedding gown rehearsal, from underwear to veil.
- Pack a bag for the reception’s overnight stay.
- Prepare for your honeymoon
Approximately 2-3 Days Before the Wedding
- If necessary, make last-minute changes to the table plan.
- Grooms: Proceed to the final fitting and collect your outfit.
- Grooms: Solicit the assistance of the best man in ensuring that all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits.
- Confirm pick-up times with the wedding limousine service.
- All vendors should be contacted to confirm final details. Discuss any last-minute substitutions that may be necessary.
- Create a sheet with the day’s schedule and the contact information for the day’s major suppliers; distribute copies to your best man and maid of honour.
The Morning of the Wedding
- Place cards, table cards, menus, favours, and a table plan should be delivered to the reception coordinator.
- Provide an emergency phone number for all wedding professionals to call on the day of the wedding.
- Arrange payment (write checks/organize cash) for any remaining balances due at the conclusion of the reception.
- Ascertain that the cake is on time for delivery to the reception venue – delegate this responsibility!
- Rehearse the ceremony with the entire wedding party, ceremony readers, and your officiant on-site to iron out details.
- Have a restful night’s sleep!
Today is the Wedding Day!
- Give the best man/bridesmaid the gifts for your parents for after the speeches.
- Flowers delivered to the bride’s preparation area – buttonholes may need to be delivered to the groomsmen
- Provide the best man with wedding bands to wear during the ceremony.
- Give the best man the envelope containing the officiant’s fee, which will be distributed following the ceremony.
- Introduce your reception coordinator to your wedding planner (if you have one) or bridesmaid/best man in case of any questions or issues during the reception.
- Assign a family member or attendant to act as the photographer’s point of contact to ensure the photographer is aware of who is who.
Following the Wedding
- Arrange for the return of any rentals in advance.
- Arrange for someone to clean the wedding gown and suit or to return a rented tux to the rental shop in advance.
- Thank-you notes should be written and sent to gift-bearing guests and vendors who were especially helpful.
- Take possession of your marriage certificate.