From picking your venue and managing a budget and guest list to nailing down your wedding planning timeline, you’ll want to have every detail accounted for to make your big day perfect. From personalized wedding invitations to personalized wedding decor, this extensive wedding planning timeline will assist you in planning your dream wedding with ease.
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—not only will it keep you organized from day one, but it will help you enjoy the process with your fiancé.
Wedding Planning Checklist & Timeline
- 8 – 12 months out
- 6 – 8 months out
- 4 – 6 months out
- 3 months out
- 2 months out
- 1 month out
- 2 weeks out
- 1 week out
- 2 – 3 days out
- Day before
- The big day
12+ months out
With a few dates in mind, schedule tours at your top picks for venues. Consider the general look and feel of your wedding day, in addition to details like guest count, weather and nearby hotels and transportation for guests.
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.
Capture your love in a favorite setting and use the images on your engagement party invitations, save the dates and wedding website. Keep in mind that many photographers offer engagement shoots for free or discounted if you’ve booked a wedding package with them.
Celebrate your upcoming marriage with family and friends at a casual party, intimate dinner or unique idea of your own. For more inspiration, check out these engagement party tips and ideas.
Through conversations and research, you’ll get a feel for caterers, photographers, bands, florists and videographers that fit your wedding vision.
With the season and venue in mind, browse Pinterest, wedding magazines and online resources for inspiration on a color scheme that best fits your day.
8 – 12 months out
Choose a wedding theme based on your personal style and preferences to incorporate in your decor, favors, food and drink and more.
Typically a venue will ask for half payment upfront and half on your wedding day.
Pick a dress, suit or tux that makes you feel most like yourself.
Taste top choices from a caterer and design your own menu, whether it’s seated, buffet or something else.
Review wedding photographers’ portfolios to determine your preferred style, such as photojournalistic, lifestyle or classic. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and book early. Booking an engagement session can also get a good practice run in before the big day.
Live band? DJ? DIY wedding playlist? Whatever you choose, make sure the music selection reflects your style as a couple.
Ensure your wedding has the necessary extras like tents, tables, chairs and outdoor bathrooms, along with special touches like wedding arches, themed platewear, lighting, linens and photo booths.
Give guests a heads up with unique save the dates so they can request time off and make travel arrangements. To learn more about how to address them, check out this helpful save the date guide.
Pick gifts to add to your registry based on what you and your partner may be short on or want to upgrade. Be sure to include a link to any registry in your shower invitations.
Have fun designing a wedding website, and be sure to include important details like ceremony and reception addresses, lodging, registry information, engagement photos and more. Invite guests into your love story by including your URL on save the dates, invite inserts or Facebook.
6 – 8 months out
Discuss important ceremony details with your fiancé. Will you incorporate religious verses, family traditions or your own vows?
Collaborate with your bridesmaids on their dresses to ensure everyone feels comfortable, beautiful and clear on ordering instructions, including your flower girl!
Research ideas, options and price points for your romantic getaway. You may jet off right away or in a few months, but we suggest having a day or two after the big day to unwind and say goodbye to guests.
With your wedding theme and colors decided, work with your florist to finalize centerpieces and other wedding decor.
For those you want along for the ride, reserve a mini bus, trolley, limo or getaway car from your wedding to reception. Make post-reception transportation arrangements for you, your fiancé, wedding party and close family if needed.
Write down a flow of events for your wedding reception including the timing of introductions, toasts, first dances and the bouquet toss to provide to the venue coordinator and other vendors.
4 – 6 months out
Select a wedding invitation that matches your style and theme. Order extra just in case and plan to send them at least six to eight weeks before the wedding.
Order your rings in advance and give yourself a chance to proofread engravings or adjust the size. Pick what makes you happy—you’ll be wearing it for a lifetime!
Check off another task by scheduling the rehearsal with your ceremony venue and securing a dinner spot for after the practice run.
Spend your first night as a married couple in a hotel, beach house, cabin or at home. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s reserved and ready for some wedding night fun.
Ship over your guest list to the host of your wedding shower, marking the people you’d especially appreciate being there.
Pick out those small details like shoes, jewelry, a veil and undergarments. Schedule fittings and be sure your dress or suit is tailored to length with your shoes on.
If you’re having a destination wedding or heading on a honeymoon abroad, double check your passport is up-to-date. If you’re taking your spouse’s last name and leaving soon after the wedding for your honeymoon, your passport and airline ticket should list your current last name, as name changes usually take several weeks.
Have your thank you cards looking gorgeous and ready to send post-wedding.
3 months out
If cake isn’t your thing, try a wedding pie, donut wall or assortment of smaller desserts.
Leave your wedding planning checklist at home and enjoy being celebrated amongst family and friends. Explore all the best bridal shower gifts you want to add to your gift wish list.
Choose personalized and unique wedding favors to say thank you to your guests.
Think about who you’d like to speak at your reception. Maid of honor, best man and each couple’s parents traditionally give toasts, but don’t be afraid to mix up the list. Select whoever means most to you and your partner.
If your budget has room for personalizing your invite envelopes, menus or place cards, pick a calligrapher that matches your style.
Work with your florist and choose wedding flowers that’ll be in season. Make sure to select flowers not just for your bouquet, but also boutonnieres and corsages for your wedding party and family members.
While most people will do this on their own, assist by recommending or arranging babysitters. Some kids may attend a reception then connect with a babysitter for bedtime.
2 months out
Give yourself time to prepare by writing your vows now. This also gives you plenty of time to revisit or refresh your vows before the big day.
Bring photos of hair style ideas and any accessories you plan to wear like a veil or comb. Try to run through at least one test appointment before your wedding day. Make sure to book time for your bridal party too.
Properly address your wedding invitations, ensuring accuracy of postage by weighing them and having the envelopes hand canceled for smooth arrival.
Meet with you photographer to review your photography checklist and ensure all your must-have wedding day photos are taken. Discuss with your DJ a clear run-down of special songs, key music details and do-not-plays.
Contact your local newspaper, alumni association and any other place you’d like your wedding announced.
Check in to ensure everyone has their accessories along with their wedding wear tailored, steamed and ready for pick up.
1 month out
This is one of the most important components of your wedding planning timeline—you don’t want to say “I Do” without it being official, right? A month before your big day, head to your local county clerk’s office with your ID, paperwork and payment in hand.
Are your bridesmaids and groomsmen ready and excited for the big day? Ensure they’ve got accessories purchased and understand the schedule for the big weekend.
When guests travel from afar, especially for a destination wedding, consider a welcome basket in each hotel room with items like water, snacks and information about the area.
A wedding day timeline will keep you and your bridal party on track for appointments and arriving to the venue. Add buffer time so you feel relaxed and in control.
You’re most likely recording this along the way, but now’s the time to make sure you’ve marked down who’s who’s coming with their meal choice and plus one.
Get creative with welcoming guests. Design a seating chart that will ensure guests have fun and choose place cards that match your wedding theme.
Almost as anticipated as the wedding day itself, have fun with your girl or guy friends.
Make final payments to musicians, officiant, photographer, florist and caterers.
Verify details and times with your vendors. Your wedding day’s going to run beautifully!
Pull your theme together by ordering decor details like ceremony programs, reception menus, place cards and more.
2 weeks out
Communicate with your photographer and videographer the must-have portraits, people and moments you want captured. You’ll have these special memories for years to come.
Give your musician or DJ the details, like your processional, recessional, first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance and must-play songs—along with other key plans like a bouquet toss or dessert cutting.
With instructions in tow, your taxi, bus or trolley drivers will know exactly where to go.
Plan for a smooth weekend by giving your party a detailed run down.
1 week out
Review your plans for decor, photography, transportation and food. Send any adjustments to your vendors.
Confirm your final guest numbers with your caterer, bar and venues and account for any potential under or over charges.
Start dreaming for when all the planning is done and you and your partner can relax.
Men will especially want to make sure their hair is the ideal length for the wedding and pictures.
You probably won’t need it but pack a small bag with items like band-aids, a stain-remover pen, breath mints, aspirin, tissue and a sewing kit.
Assign last minute tasks to your wedding party or family members.
2 – 3 days out
Choose how your wedding party will line up during the ceremony—arranged by height, age, length of friendship or any way you want.
Leave no wedding party member behind! Confirm pick-up times for a final time.
Drop off your welcome baskets for out-of-town guests along with helpful information like a city map, parking information and contact info of a family member in case they have questions.
Ensure someone will return all rentals on time after the wedding, like floral arrangements, extra linens, tables and chairs and more.
Fill in your final checks and hand them off to a bridal party or family member to deliver. Include tips in the final check or post-wedding.
Fix any small final details, like order of wedding party or order of ceremony events.
Giving your marriage license to your officiant now ensures you don’t forget it on your wedding day. Your officiant can then sign and send the license for you.
Show your appreciation by giving your bridal party and anyone who helped a thank you gift.
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. Include a wedding day emergency kit as well with essentials like tissues, a sewing kit and more.
The big day
Enjoy a morning of pampering with your bridal party. Don’t forget to eat breakfast before all your makeup is set!
Introduce your maid of honor or best man to the reception site manager and other vendors in case there are any questions.
If you’re doing a first look, enjoy this intimate moment with your husband-or-wife-to-be.
Make the rounds at your wedding by greeting and thanking as many people as you can.
Share a favorite photo and show your love and appreciation—and don’t forget the hashtag.
Purchase a wedding photo book, custom canvas or slideshow to easily view and remember your special wedding moments.
Confirm all rentals, including tuxes and suits, have been returned on time.
Make writing thank yous easy and enjoyable by keeping yourself organized, pouring your favorite drink and personalizing your notes on thoughtful cards.
Send a card or email to your vendors thanking them for bringing the magic to your big day. If budget allows, consider including a tip for those who went above and beyond.
If you’re taking on a new name or address, start the paperwork for your ID, passport and voter registration.
If there are things you’d still like for your home, head to the store with any gift cards in hand.
While wedding planning may have caused some stress and headaches along the way, this is your time to relax, unwind and look forward to a lifetime together.