A 12-Month Wedding Planning Timeline

A bride and groom posing in a rocky, desert landscape.

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

A bride and groom walking through a lavender field at their wedding venue.

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

A wedding ceremony space with a macrame hanging decorated with greenery.

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

A groom and two groomsmen in their suits standing with their arms crossed.

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

A wedding invitiaton suite decorated with deer and caligraphy.

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

A man and woman walking into a hotel with luggage.

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

A bride and groom standing in front of a classic car at their wedding.

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

A bride holding a large bouquet of greenery and soft pink roses.

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

A group of women at a bachelorette party blowing confetti at the camera.

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

A bride and groom signing their 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

A woman relaxing before her wedding at a spa with a mask on her face.

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!

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