The Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist
Follow our month-by-month guide to creating a celebration beyond your dreams.
Design each detail of your special day with enough time and energy to enjoy the process. With our wedding planning checklist, you’ll know just what to do every step of the way—right on time. Weddings are meant to be fun and happy occasions – bringing people in love together as a family. Plan every aspect of your wedding out from start to finish using our wedding planning checklist to reduce stress from your big day. From deciding your venue to forming your guest list to sending thank you cards, we’ll remind you of each to-do item. Our wedding planning guide also includes ideas for personalizing your day and making it as special as possible.
To avoid getting overwhelmed with the process, it’s important to understand how long it takes to plan a wedding and manage your to-do list from the very beginning. That’s why we’ve pulled together this wedding planning checklist—to help keep you organized and excited from day one.
Month 1: Get Set
Create your wedding budget
Draft a budget that includes big ticket items like venue and catering, along with smaller costs like wedding party gifts and save the dates. Input your overall dollar amount into our wedding budget calculator to see our suggestions for what to spend in each area.
Recruit help or hire a wedding planner
Based on your budget, consider what you’ll DIY and where you’ll need help from family and friends (think: making centerpieces or helping you taste test). Getting help from a wedding planner will reduce the stress of having to plan your whole wedding on your own and they will give you tips and tricks to make your dream day even more magical.
Pick a date and schedule venue tours
With a few dates in mind, schedule tours at your top venues. Consider the look and feel of your wedding day, as well as guest count, weather back-up plans, and nearby hotels for guests. Having second options are good options to fall back on just in case your first option was unattainable in some way.
Plan and host your engagement party
Celebrate your upcoming marriage with family and friends at an engagement party or intimate dinner. These parties will allow both families to mingle and get more comfortable with one another before the big day and reduce any first meeting jitters anyone may be having.
Insure your engagement ring
Research insurance options and pick one that gives you peace of mind. In the event of anything happening to your engagement ring, it will be nice to know that your engagement ring will be safe. Many people overlook this step, but your engagement ring is a sentimental gift that is the start of your marriage.
Consider local caterers, photographers, bands, florists and videographers that fit your wedding vision and budget. Also, enlist help from your wedding planners and other married friends for the best vendors that will assist in the most important day of your life. Be sure to ask for sample of weddings they’ve done before to make sure they understand the vision you have for your wedding.
Start a wedding planning binder
Keep your wedding details organized with a handy binder and designate a spot for this checklist. Sort out all the must have items of your wedding in this easy to handle binder, include things like your wedding research, pricing and vendors list. Starting a wedding binder will get you more excited about your wedding day.
Month 2: Include Loved Ones in Your Journey
Choose your wedding party
Decide who’ll stand by your side on the big day. Choose the people who’ve stood by you throughout your life and your relationship with your spouse. Make them feel extra special with a heartfelt “Will you be my bridesmaid?” gift.
Start a guest list
Draft a guest list of the family and friends you’d like present on your special day. Adjust the number of guests based on your budget and venue capacity. Start out by calculating how many friends and family members you want to invite, then see if there’s extra space for additional plus one’s or kids.
Register for gifts
Choose a wedding registry that represents your personal style. Select gifts you and your fiancé need or want for married life together, from your kitchen to your living room. Starting a registry at different retailers will allow your guest to get you a wider range of wedding gifts, so that you don’t get the same gift twice.
Hire your picture-perfect photographer
Check out wedding photographers’ galleries to determine who you’d like to book. Ask your photographer questions and book early, especially for high-demand seasons. In addition, ask to see their wedding portfolio, seeing their style of photography that they shoot in will give you a better idea of how you wedding photos will turn out. Give them a list of must have photos – first look, bride and father, bride and her bride’s mates, etc. so that they are prepared for shooting on the wedding day.
Month 3: Get the Big Details in Place
Book your wedding ceremony and reception venues
Seal the deal with your venue by completing paperwork and a down payment.
Find your dream ensemble
Search for a dress, suit, or tux that makes you feel beautiful, comfortable, and like yourself. These outfits will in pictures for years to come, make sure you are happy with your selection of wedding attire.
Plan your food and bar menu
Taste top choices from a caterer and design your menu, including appetizers, entrees, dessert, and late night snacks. Arrange drink options with your bar service. Take into account if you or any of your guest have any diet restrictions, talk to your caterers to see if there are any other options they can provide to cater to those restrictions. In addition, working with your bartending staff to make sure there are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available for everyone to enjoy.
Book your entertainment
Secure a live band or DJ, and create your own wedding playlist.
Reserve additional rentals
Book extras like tents, tables, and chairs. Consider special touches like wedding arches, lighting, linens, and photo booths. These additional rentals will add an additional wow factor to your wedding and be the talk of the town when your guests reminisce on your big day.
Book your vendors
Aim to have your caterer, photographer, entertainment, florist, videographer, and officiant secured about eight months out from your big day.
Send your save the dates
Give guests a heads up with unique save the dates. Learn more with this helpful save the date guide. Save the dates are very important, especially during peak wedding season. Make sure all your friends and family is able to attend your special day by providing them a heads up to keep that day/weekend free.
Determine your wedding theme
Tie your celebration together with a wedding theme based on your personal style and color scheme preferences. Having a theme will make things more memorable for you and your guests.
Month 4: Check Off Some Fun Items
Choose a wedding hashtag
A catchy hashtag will get guests snapping and posting photos—all instantly organized and accessible on social media. Add your hashtag to your wedding website, save the dates, and invite inserts to get your guests excited to share their favorite selfies and snaps.
Take engagement photos
Capture your love in a favorite setting. Print your photos on your save the dates and post them on your wedding website. Of all the items on the wedding planning guide, engagement photos are one of the most fun.
Research and reserve accommodations for out-of-towners
Jot down a few hotel options and price points for traveling guests. Reserve a block of rooms at a hotel to ensure there will be space. Create a map and the best places to sight see of the city or town you plan to get married in so that your out of town guest will be able to navigate the town safely and efficiency.
Design a wedding website
Include important details like ceremony and reception locations, lodging, wedding registry, and engagement photos. Invite guests into your love story by including your link on your save the dates, invite inserts, or social media. You can also add fun extras to your wedding website like song requests and even a link to RSVP.
Choose your special roles
Besides your wedding party, choose your readers, ushers, flower girls, and ring bearers. Ask them in a way that makes them feel extra special.
Begin honeymoon planning
Research ideas, options, and price points for your romantic getaway. Consider relaxing for a day or two after the big day to unwind and say goodbye to guests.
Month 5: Get Next Steps in Order
Decide on ceremony elements
Discuss important ceremony details with your fiancé. Will you incorporate religious verses, family traditions, or your own vows?
Choose your wedding party wear
Collaborate with your wedding party on their outfits to ensure everyone feels comfortable and beautiful.
Settle on your decor and centerpieces
With your wedding theme and colors decided, choose your decorations and centerpieces.
Meet with your officiant
Collaborate with your officiant to plan your ceremony and any special requests.
Create a run-of-show timeline
Draft a flow of events for your wedding reception including the timing of toasts and first dances.
Reserve a minibus, trolley, limo, or getaway car from your ceremony to reception. Make transportation arrangements for you and your fiancé for after the reception, especially if you’ll be drinking.
Month 6: Hammer Out More Details
Order your wedding invitations
Express your creativity by selecting a wedding invitation that matches your style and theme. Order a handful extra just in case and plan to send them at least six to eight weeks before the wedding.
Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues
Schedule the rehearsal at your ceremony venue and secure a dinner spot for after the practice run.
Book your wedding night accommodations
Spend your first night as a married couple in a hotel, beach house, or cabin.
Attend premarital counseling
Depending on state law or religious requirements, sign-up for pre-marriage counseling. This can help with the pre-wedding jitters or concerns that you may be having before tying the knot.
Month 7: Prepare for Your Relaxation
Request time off from work
Check off a fun item on your wedding planning guide: request off the days you’d like for wedding prep and honeymoon adventures.
Renew or get passports
If you’re planning a destination wedding or heading on a honeymoon abroad, ensure your passport is up-to-date. Depending on your honeymoon destination, you’ll need to apply to visa ahead of time, make sure you get those documents ready to go before you take off.
Book spa, hair and beauty treatments
Set up appointments for hair, spa, and beauty treatments for you, your wedding party, and family members like mom or grandma. Make sure every one is in tip top shape for the big day.
Choose your music
Make a playlist of all your dance floor favorites. Select songs for your walk down the aisle, first dance, and more. Check out our wedding song resource for hundreds of songs to choose from.
Month 8: Get Glamorous
Purchase your wedding rings
Order your bling in advance and give yourself a chance to proofread engravings or adjust the size.
Complete fittings and shop for wedding day accessories
Pick out the small details like shoes, jewelry, and undergarments. For your dress or suit, schedule fittings and be sure it’s tailored to length with your shoes on.
Choose your guest book and card box
Find or make a guest book that represents your wedding theme. Make sure all your cards are in one safe place, so when you write return thank you cards you get everyone who attended.
Order your flowers
Work with your florist to choose stunning wedding flowers that’ll be in season. Create a vision for your center pieces and bouquet that you and your florist can work on creating together.
Shop for or borrow the little details
From the ring bearer pillow and flower baskets to toasting flutes and photo booth props, collect your special accessories.
Plan your exits
Will your guests be showering you with bubbles, surrounding you with sparklers or do you envision something private? Decide how you’ll exit both the ceremony and reception.
Purchase just-in-case items
Whether there’s rain or snow on your big day, purchase returnable just-in-case items like umbrellas or warm shawls. Check the fine print before making the purchase.
Order wedding favors
Choose personalized and unique wedding favors to appreciate your guests and help them remember your special day.
Sign-up for a dance lesson with your fiancé
For extra first dance practice or choreography, register for a lesson and break in your wedding shoes.
Month 9: Focus on Food and Gratitude
Order wedding dessert
From cake to macaron towers, order the dessert that gets your taste buds singing. This wedding planning guide item is one of our favorites!
Make a list of people giving toasts
Keep the list short but don’t forget special people like parents or siblings.
Finalize menu and print menu cards
Firm up the details of your wedding menu and print cards that match your wedding colors and theme.
Attend your bridal shower
Let someone else do the wedding planning for a bit! Relax and leave your wedding planning checklist at home.
Select thank you cards
Have your thank you cards ready to send post-wedding. All you’ll have to do is pop in a photo from your big day.
Shop for thank you gifts
Say thanks to all those who helped with wedding planning. Show your appreciation with bridal party gifts and personalized wedding gifts for your parents and new in-laws.
Shop for your fiancé
Surprise your partner on your wedding day with a gift that expresses your love and excitement.
Month 10: Give Things a Run-Through
Write your vows
Draft your wedding vows now, giving you ample time to make adjustments and prep notecards. When you’re in front of a crowd, notes can be a lifesaver.
Book your stylist and test out wedding hairdos
Review salon and stylist options and go for a trial run. Bring photos of hair style ideas and any accessories you plan to wear, like a veil or comb.
Book a makeup artist for a trial run
Test your wedding day style with your makeup artist to ensure you look stunning and natural.
Mail your invitations
One of the most exciting steps of wedding planning has arrived! Send your wedding invites and be sure to properly address them. Ensure accurate postage by weighing them and consider hand canceling the envelopes at the post office for smooth arrival.
Scope out photo spots
Make it a date by checking out a few locales for wedding day photos.
Meet with your photographer
Grab a latte with your photographer and discuss your wedding agenda along with must-have portraits and photos. To make sure you have your bases covered, download and print this wedding photography checklist before you meet.
Review the playlist with the band or DJ
Discuss a clear run-down of key music details and do-not-plays. Go over special songs, like the father-daughter dance, and your processional music.
Submit wedding announcements
Contact your local newspaper, alumni association and other places you’d like your wedding announced.
Month 11: Tie Up Loose Ends
Make sure your wedding party is ready
Check in to ensure everyone has their accessories and their wedding wear tailored, steamed and ready for pick-up.
Attend final fitting
Bring your wedding day accessories and undergarments to try at your final fitting!
Create a wedding program
Design a wedding ceremony program with details like your songs and readings along with a thank you message.
Confirm times for hair and makeup
Ensure your hair and makeup stylists have you on their schedule.
Plan your day-of schedule
A wedding day timeline will keep you and your bridal party on track for appointments and arriving at the venue. Add buffer time so you feel relaxed and in control.
Send final event schedule to vendors
Ensure everyone’s on the same page by sending a detailed schedule to those involved with the big day.
Send the rehearsal dinner invitations
Mail rehearsal dinner invitations or create a fun online invite. If you’re having trouble coming up with the words, refer to this rehearsal dinner invitation wording and etiquette guide.
Month 12: Stay on Top of Final Pieces
Apply for your marriage license
Head to your local county clerk’s office with your ID, paperwork and payment in hand.
Make sure you’ve marked down who’s coming with their meal choice and plus one.
Prepare your seating chart and name cards
Design a wedding seating chart and wedding place cards that ensure guests have lots of fun.
Enjoy your bachelor or bachelorette party
Kick back and enjoy this special time with your girlfriends or guy friends. Whether it’s a night out or a weekend getaway, unwind and celebrate big. Leave your wedding planning checklist at home.
Arrange final payments
Think of your musicians, officiant, photographer, florist and caterers. Mark off final payments in your budget.
Plan drinks and snacks for your wedding party
Whether it’s for getting ready or enjoying the party bus, be sure spirits and snacks are handled.
Last 2 Weeks: Getting it All in Place
Review final RSVP list
Limit last-minute seating changes by checking in early with straggling RSVPers.
Get your pre-wedding haircut and color
Make sure your hair is show-time ready for the big day.
Send a final timeline to your wedding party
Plan for a smooth weekend by giving your party a detailed run-down from hair and makeup to reception and end time.
Get engagement ring cleaned
Stop by the jeweler’s for a cleaning so your ring is extra brilliant on your big day.
Pick up your wedding wear
Check to see if everything’s clean and just how you want it.
Break in your wedding shoes
You don’t want huge blisters popping up on your wedding day. Wear your wedding shoes around home or at the office.
Check the weather report
If rain or snow might affect your day, contact your venue for a just-in-case plan.
Final Week: Last-Minute Reminders
Send the final count
Confirm your final guest numbers with your caterer, bar, and venues.
Pre-pack for your honeymoon
Enjoy post-wedding bliss by packing your bags now for your romantic adventure.
Finalize your vows
Review your vows, make any tweaks, and practice.
Prepare a wedding day emergency kit
You probably won’t need it, but pack a small bag with items like Band-Aids, a stain-remover pen, breath mints, and tissues. Or hand this wedding planning checklist item off to someone in your wedding party.
Get spa and beauty treatments
You’ve put in a lot of wedding planning work, so relax with your wedding party or family before the big week.
Clear your mind by assigning last-minute tasks to your wedding party or family members.
Give readers their scripts
Practice makes perfect. Give your readers time to smooth out their words.
Steam or press your wedding wear
Feel fabulous and confident with a flawless-looking suit or gown.
Provide vendors with special items
Deliver your place cards, menus, favors, hashtag sign or photo booth props with clear instructions.
Confirm details with transportation
Solidify pickup times and locations with your transportation company—factor in any traffic or weather concerns.
Prearrange for rental returns
Whether it’s a parent, mistress of ceremonies or bridal party member, ensure someone will return all rentals on time after the wedding.
Day Before: Be Ready and Stress-Free
Write final checks
Fill in your final checks and hand them off to a bridal party or family member to deliver. Tip your vendors post-wedding or include it in your check amount.
Bring key items to rehearsal
Give yourself less to think about on the day-of. If your venue allows, pack your programs, decorations and flower girl petals.
Attend your rehearsal ceremony
Stay relaxed as you iron out the details, from walking down the aisle to having readers know their order.
Give your marriage license to your officiant
Make your marriage legal. Hand off your marriage license to your officiant so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning.
Attend your rehearsal dinner
Soak in the love and excitement as you celebrate with your closest family and friends.
Present your thank you gifts at the rehearsal dinner
Show genuine appreciation to your wedding party, parents and anyone else who helped a heartfelt thank you gift.
Set out your wedding day items
Be stress-free in the morning. Lay out your must-have items and clothes.
Prepare and hand off overnight bag
Prep your overnight bag and hand it off to someone who can bring it to where you’re staying on the first night of married life.
Go to bed
Feel fresh and full of energy on your wedding day—turn off the lights and get some much needed rest.
The Big Day: Soak It In
Start your morning right
Eat a hearty breakfast and give yourself plenty of time to get ready without feeling rushed. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
Get your hair and makeup done
Sip a mimosa or coffee as you get your hair and makeup styled. You’re going to look stunning!
Hand off wedding bands
Whether it’s your best man or maid of honor, ensure your rings arrive safely at the ceremony.
Make key introductions
Introduce your maid of honor or mistress of ceremonies to the venue manager, videographer and other vendors in case there are any questions.
Assign a point person for your photographer
Connect your photographer with a family member or close friend who knows ‘who is who and can round up the troops for portraits.
Embrace the day
Soak up each little piece of joy, love, and celebration.
Post-Wedding: Celebrate With Gratitude
Post a photo from your big day
Share a favorite photo and show your love and appreciation—and don’t forget your wedding hashtag.
Order photo keepsakes
Design a wedding photo book, custom canvas or slideshow to easily view and remember your special wedding moments.
Confirm all rentals, including linens, tuxedos and suits, have been returned on time.
Bring wedding wear to the cleaners
To preserve your wedding gown or suit, bring it to the cleaners sooner than later.
Write and send thank you notes
Make writing thank yous easy and enjoyable by keeping yourself organized, pouring your favorite drink and personalizing your notes.
Send wedding announcements
Wedding announcements are a formal way to share the good news to your extended family and friends who weren’t able to attend your wedding. Mailing announcements are optional, but they act as an adorable keepsake with your wedding photos.
Thank your vendors
Send a card or email to your vendors thanking them for bringing the magic to your big day.
Back-up your wedding photos and video
Ensure your wedding photos and video last forever. Get an external hard drive or use a cloud-based system to back everything up.
Begin name and address change process
If you’re taking on a new name or address, start the paperwork for your ID, passport and voter registration.
Insure your wedding bands
Add your wedding bands to your insurance. Sometimes it can be done through a home or rental policy.
Prepare for your honeymoon
Bon voyage! Make final arrangements for your honeymoon and pack your bags!
Enjoy your honeymoon and marital bliss
Now that the wedding planning work is behind you, focus on loving your new spouse and building a strong marriage together—forever.
Final Thoughts on Wedding Planning
Enjoying the wedding planning process is just as important as all the little details. With our wedding planning checklist in hand, you’ll never miss a thing—helping you soak in the delight of your engagement. Most importantly, it’s fun to focus on your love story and personalizing your wedding to make it your own.
For additional wedding planning guides, check out the following resources: