Just get engaged and unsure of where to even begin planning your wedding? Having a detailed, month-by-month plan will help you think about the big picture, get a budget together, and get organized to say your “I do’s” in approximately one year. Ready to get your planning started? Here’s our ultimate 12-month wedding planning timeline.
12 Months Before the Wedding
The beginning stages of your wedding planning are all about big picture details—the when, the where, and the “how much we are going to pay for this?”
Establish the Budget
The biggest and most important detail to determine first is the budget. The budget will guide you through decisions of what venue you can afford, how many guests to invite, and how much to spend on your dress. (Unsure of what you should budget for your wedding? We’ve got some tips on breaking down the wedding budget here.)
Tour Venues and Book
Once you’ve narrowed your wedding budget down to a definite number, start touring venues or browsing online and calling for quotes if you’re getting married out of state or out of the country. When it comes to choosing your wedding date—although it would be nice to pick a date to get married and then choose a venue—your wedding date usually chooses itself based on the availability of the venue that you want to book.
11 Months Before the Wedding
Hire a Wedding Planner
If you’re planning on using a professional wedding planner, now is the time to hire one. Get recommendations from friends and family or do a quick Google search on the best pros in your area.
Choose a Color Scheme and Theme
Now is the time to grab inspiration from wherever you can find it (e.g., the not-so-secret Pinterest board that you’ve had since six months into your relationship). When you’re trying to choose a color scheme, look around not only at Pinterest, Instagram, and magazines, but also look at your own house and personal style to get a clue for what you like.
Write Down a Potential List of Vendors and Book
Just like wedding venues, wedding vendors can book up fast. We recommend that you make a list of at least three professionals in each category—photographer, caterer, baker, florist, videographer, and a DJ or a band—and get quotes from all to do a proper compare and contrast. When you’ve made a decision, book as soon as you can to get the date into their calendar.
10 Months Before the Wedding
Narrow Down Your Guest List
Start compiling a master list of guests, seeking input from your partner, your parents, and your future in-laws. Keep in mind the maximum capacity of the venue as well as your price per head in your wedding budget.
Choose Your Wedding Party
If you plan on having a wedding party, you’ll need to let them know they’re included as soon as possible so they can make arrangements to be available the weekend (and maybe a few days before) your wedding.
Shop for the Wedding Attire
The day has finally arrived: it’s time to shop for your wedding dress! Plan to spend at least one or two shopping sessions at your favorite bridal stores to pick out your dream dress. And don’t forget about your future spouse—he or she will need their dream outfit to wear on the big day, as well.
Take Engagement Photos
It’s time to show off that ring—and pose for the camera for your engagement photos.
9 Months Before the Wedding
Send out Save the Dates
Let all your guests know when and where your wedding will be so they can start to make travel arrangements.
Shop for Invitations
It’ll still be months before you send out the invitations, but it’s a good idea to pick out the design right now—and whether or not you want something custom or to hire a calligrapher to address the envelopes.
Book any Additional Vendors and the Officiant
Need any additional vendors for your wedding? Now is the time to tie up any loose ends to ensure that you have all the staff you need for your wedding day (like a hair and makeup artist). You also want to book an officiant for the big day, whether that’s a friend who needs to get certified or your local pastor.
8 Months Before the Wedding
Register for Gifts
Pick up that registry gun and click away at your favorite department stores.
Reserve a Block of Hotel Rooms
Your out-of-town guests will need somewhere to stay for the weekend. Reserve a group of hotel rooms near your venue or give your guests some recommendations on places to stay such as Airbnbs or local bed and breakfasts.
Schedule Bridesmaid/Groomsmen Fittings
Choose the attire for your bridesmaids and groomsmen and have a fitting. If your wedding party is spread out around the country, work with their local bridal and menswear clothing stores to get fittings completed in a timely manner.
6-7 Months Before the Wedding
Plan Your Honeymoon
Aruba? Italy? A tour of the national parks? No matter where you’d like to go on your honeymoon, it’s time to start planning.
Arrange for Day-of Transportation
Trolley? Horse drawn carriage? No matter how you get from one venue to the next, you’ll need to book that now.
Order Reception Linens
If your venue doesn’t provide tablecloths or chair coverings, do a search for local vendors who supply those or purchase them online.
4-5 Months Before the Wedding
Choose Your Menu and Cake Design
When you booked your caterer, you likely had a conversation about what the menu would include, but now is the time to set it in stone. Will you have a buffet where guests can pick and choose, or will you ask them in the invitations which meal selection they’d like to have? You should also have a tasting and a finalized wedding cake design four to five months out before your wedding.
Finalize Your Flowers
Finalize all of your wedding florals—bouquets, boutonnières, ceremony structures, and reception centerpieces—with your florist.
2-3 Months Before the Wedding
Send Your Wedding Invitations
It’s finally time! Address and send out your wedding invitations to all of your guests and wait for those RSVPs to roll in.
Have Your Wedding Shower
It’s likely that your friends and family will be hosting showers for you around this time. (Don’t forget to send thank you notes for all of the gifts you receive!)
Have Your Bachelorette/Bachelor Parties
It’s time for one last night of debauchery—or an evening of pampering with your friends.
Choose Music for the Reception and Ceremony
Choose what song you’ll walk down the aisle to, your first dance, and a list of songs you know your friends will want to get down to at the reception. Communicate you choices with the musicians and DJ.
Book a Rehearsal Dinner Spot
Choose a local restaurant, bar, or host it at someone’s home.
1 Month Before the Wedding
Schedule a Final Dress Fitting/Do a Hair and Makeup Trial Run
Do one final dress fitting before the big day—with shoes, veil, and other accessories—to ensure everything is fitting beautifully. This is also a good opportunity to do a hair and makeup trial run.
Obtain Marriage License
It’s not official until you get that marriage license. Don’t forget to take a selfie afterwards!
Finalize Everything with Your Vendors
Give your caterer and baker a final guest count and go over day-of schedules with all your vendors.
Order Guest Favors
Order all of your guest favors, or DIY them if you’re going that route.
1 Week Before
Carry our Your Beauty Regimen
Your final week is the opportunity to get your hair cut and colored (no drastic changes though!), get a mani/pedi, do a facial, and generally try to relax before the big day.
Tie up Loose Ends
Call your vendors and confirm everything is on track, get your dress steamed, and pack your honeymoon bags. It’s finally time to get married!