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.

pink wedding invites

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.

Socially distant wedding with only family outside in the outdoors

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.

Research vendors

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.

bridesmaids in burgundy dresses

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.

wedding gifts with flowers

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.

wedding party

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?

Wedding decorations with personalized wine glass and customized plaque

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.

Plan transportation

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.

ombre pink invites

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.

Two grooms smiling and laughing at wedding

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.

Married couple in black tie attire.

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!

Couple cutting small wedding cake.

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.

Woman writing in a notebook

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.

wedding hashtag examples

Track RSVPs

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.

Save the dates on a pink background with a variety of different cards

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.

Wedding invite cards in different festive layouts

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.

Delegate tasks

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.

Two brides smiling at wedding in nature

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.

Couple in nature just married embracing their wedding day

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.

Couple kissing.

Order photo keepsakes

Design a wedding photo book, custom canvas or slideshow to easily view and remember your special wedding moments.

Return rentals

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: