Ahh, planning a wedding. Few things are as stressful for a bride-to-be as planning for their big day. As the groom, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a burden. But I can tell you from experience that women feel a lot of pressure when they’re planning for a wedding.
I’ve seen it from my sister and several friends. I helped my sister plan out her wedding a few years ago and I noticed that she stressed about every single detail.
Her groom was more concerned about the honeymoon and their future AFTER the wedding. The wedding was merely an end to a bigger means.
But the one thing that I noticed about my sister is that she was very organized. Everything was scheduled and planned out before it was implemented. And this really helped her to execute the wedding smoothly and without any major problems.
Except for the weather. But there was a backup plan for that… we’ll get to that later.
So let’s talk about planning your wedding. I want to break it down into time periods so that you will know exactly what you need to focus on and when you need to do it.
1 Year Before The Big Day
So about a year before the big day, you want to lay down the groundwork. Start with some research. Find wedding blogs, bridal and lifestyle magazines for inspiration. Then start a wedding binder or folder and start to get all your ideas mapped out.
Next, you should work out your budget. Figure out how much you have to spend including contributions from family and your own savings. Then figure out some rough prices for what you want. You may want to read this article about planning a wedding on a budget.
After that, you should pick your wedding party. People will start wondering who’s in so you should let them know as soon as possible.
Start your guest list. If you want to keep your costs down, you may want to be selective in whom you invite. If you haven’t seen some of your family members in 10+ years, it’s okay to not invite them!
If your budget allows and you want to use a professional wedding planner, now would be the time to find and hire someone you trust.
Set a date. You should start looking into venues and decide whether the ceremony and reception will be held in the same location.
You should also book the officiant at this time. Additionally, start researching photographers, florists, and caterers. Keep all their contact information in your binder so that you will have them on hand when you’re ready to book.
If you want to, now would be the time to throw an engagement party. Be sure to invite all of these guests to your wedding, too!
8 Months Before The Big Day
Now that you’ve got all your research and rough planning out of the way, it’s time to lock down the photographer and videographer. Make sure that they have openings on the day of your wedding.
If the venue of your choice doesn’t provide catering, now would be the time to meet and hire a catering service.
Now is also the time to purchase a dress. Just in case, make sure that you leave enough time for at least 3 fittings.
If you have many out-of-town guests attending, you should book a block of hotel rooms at this time. Make sure that the hotels are relatively close to the reception venue.
6 Months Before The Big Day
Now would be the time to select and buy your wedding invitations. If you want to, you can hire a calligrapher. If not, get a group of friends together one night and address all the invitations together.
This is also the time to start getting ready for your honeymoon. Make sure that your passports are up to date and that you have travel insurance. Also, make appointments to get any shots that you might need before leaving the country.
You should also be shopping for your bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits. Leave at least 6 months for the clothes to be ordered and sized.
You should also meet with the officiant and map out the ceremony together. Make sure you have all the official documents that you need for the wedding. This varies depending on where you live.
If you’re having an outdoor wedding, now is the time to book the portable toilets. You may also need extra chairs, lighting, sound equipment and so on.
If you choose to, you can also book your florist at this time. By this time, you will be pretty confident in the look and feel that you want at your wedding.
If you plan to use a limo service or provide transportation for your guests, you should book these services at this time.
This is also an ideal time to put together a timeline for the wedding day. Account for all the small events from the cake cutting to the first dance.
4 Months Before The Big Day
Now is the time to book the venue for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
Also, put the finishing touches on the wedding invitations if you made them yourself. If you had them professionally made, ask for samples of the finished product and revise them to suit your needs.
You should also find a baker for the wedding cake. Some bakers require you to order in advance so do that at this time. You may want to attend a few tastings before deciding on which cake you will go with.
Buy your shoes and start dress fittings. The groom and groomsman’s suits and shoes should already be taken care of and ordered.
Find and schedule your hair and makeup artists. Find a few local experts and compare their work before making a final decision.
Put together your music playlist. Which song will be playing when you (the bride) walk down the aisle? During the meal? What song will kick off the dancing? Decide which songs you want and which ones you do NOT want to play.
3 Months Before The Big Day
Food and flowers are affected by season so you don’t want to decide what you want until 3 months before the wedding. Now is the time to finalize the menu and flowers.
If you are going to have wedding favors, now is the time to pick and order those.
Who is going to be speaking, MCing, deejaying, and giving toasts? Make a list of who you want and ask them now.
Also, you should now finalize the order of the events taking place during the ceremony and reception. Send the schedule to all the vendors and venues. You should also print out your menu cards and programs if you will have those.
Purchase the rings. Do it now so that time will allow for any necessary resizing.
2 Months Before The Big Day
Now you should touch base with all the vendors and make sure all of their (and your) questions are answered. Also meet with the photographer and finalize the specific locations and shots you want. Review the playlist with the band or deejay at this time, too.
Send out all the invitations at this time. Some couples choose to hand deliver each invitation. This is time consuming but adds a real personal touch. Ask for an RSVP at least a month before the wedding date.
The bachelor and bachelorette parties are not really your responsibility. But if your wedding party hasn’t mentioned anything yet, feel free to ask them when it will be happening (for scheduling purposes of course!)
1 Month Before The Big Day
Enter all the RSVPs into your “database” and phone those who have not responded yet. Also send out your rehearsal dinner invitations.
Now is also the time to get your marriage license.
Visit the dressmaker for (hopefully!) the last dress fitting. Also send out as many final payments as you can and confirm times for hair and makeup vendors. You may also want to get your hair cut and colored at this time if you want to.
If you are going to be serving drinks, you should also stock the bar at this time as you will have a fairly definite head count by now.
Now is also the time to assign seating. It may be helpful to draw the tables out and use blue and pink sticky notes (for male and female) to make this as painless as possible.
You will also want to purchase the bridesmaid and groomsman gifts, which you will present at the rehearsal dinner.
And if you haven’t done so yet, write your vows. You want to write from the heart, but these wedding vow tips might help to give you some inspiration.
The Week Of The Big Day
The big week is here! Now you should reconfirm the arrival times of all the vendors and delegate the smaller wedding day tasks. Also send a timeline to your wedding party so that everyone will know what to expect.
Also pick up your dress and suits.
Check in one last time with the photographer and set aside payment for all the vendors. Also send the final guest list to all the vendors and caterers.
It’s also a good idea to monitor the weather forecast. At my sister’s wedding, we got a very severe thunderstorm 5 MINUTES before the ceremony was to start. Of course, it was an outdoor wedding… but there was a backup plan for that. We quickly moved all the chairs into the reception hall and simply had the reception inside.
And lastly, pack for your honeymoon and get married!!
So I hope that this list will help in making the planning of your wedding a little bit easier. Just relax and remember, it’s only one day. You can expect some minor things to go wrong…
But you now have a lifetime together with the love of your life to look forward to!
Is there anything that I left out? Do you have any tips to make things go even smoother? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments down below.