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The Best Wedding Planning Timeline

Congratulations, You’re Engaged!

A couple holds hands to show off a square engagement ring on the bride-to-be’s finger in the foreground while the couple kissing is out of focus in the background

So What Comes Next?

Embarking on your wedding planning journey is a thrilling adventure, and this comprehensive guide is here to help you navigate each step seamlessly. Remember to enjoy this time! Don’t let the little details stress you out. Planning your wedding with your partner is an unforgettable experience. From establishing your budget to securing reservations for your honeymoon, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about the wedding planning timeline. Happy planning!

Setting the Foundation
18-12 Months Before the Wedding

In the initial months of your 18-month wedding planning timeline, it’s crucial to set the foundation for the process. Begin by establishing a budget, a fundamental step before delving into any other details. This financial plan will guide decisions related to your guest list size and venue options. Once you navigate through the necessary money discussions, which can be admittedly stressful, it’s time to transition to the enjoyable aspects of your wedding planning timeline!

Booking Essentials
12-10 Months Before the Wedding

After spending a few months doing research on venues and vendors, it’s time to start booking! You should start with the venue and photographer/videographer because these book up fast! Once you pick a photographer, schedule your engagement shoot. This is a good time to start thinking about your wedding party, hotels for out-of-town guests, bridal attire, etc. Don’t forget to continue working on your guest list; this tends to be the trickiest part of the wedding planning timeline.

  • Book your venue
  • Pick your wedding party members
  • Meet with a planner/designer
  • Book your caterer, photographer, florist, and entertainment
  • Pose for your engagement photo session
  • Finalize your guest list
  • Reserve hotel rooms for any out-of-town guests
  • Send save-the-date cards
  • Purchase bridal attire and accessories

Continued Booking and Planning
10-8 Months Before the Wedding

Keep on booking! Try to stay organized and keep up with your payments for everyone that you’re booking. Another thing for you and your partner to start working on is your music selections for your DJ. It sounds pretty simple and fun, but this part usually takes more time than couples realize in their wedding planning timeline! Simultaneously, turn your attention to planning your honeymoon, adding layers of excitement to your detailed wedding planning timeline!

  • Book your officiant, live music/ DJ, rentals, lighting, and videographer
  • Make sure your planner reviews all vendor contracts before signing
  • Choose your ceremony and reception music
  • Start planning your honeymoon!!!

Detail-Oriented Planning
8-6 Months Before the Wedding

Your photographer will most likely present your engagement photos around this point in your wedding planning timeline! Order your invitations (using some of your engagement photos, if you like) and send them out soon. You will probably end up spending a lot of time shopping in these months! Go ring shopping with your partner for your wedding bands and take your friends to browse for the perfect wedding party attire, like bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos!

  • Pick out your wedding rings
  • Order wedding invitations and paper details
  • Select your wedding attire
  • Select attire for your wedding party
  • Pick bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette party dates

Getting Closer
6-4 Months Before the Wedding

Now that you have your bridal party all set and most everything booked, it’s time to start focusing on some of the smaller items in your detailed wedding planning timeline! Schedule a day to meet with your planner to figure out your day-of timeline and design your event diagrams. Start thinking about where you’d like your rehearsal dinner to be held, and call in a reservation! Select a rehearsal dinner venue that’s close to your main event location, and be sure to account for travel logistics at this point in your wedding planning timeline.

Countdown to the Big Day
3 Months Before the Wedding

Did someone say cake? It’s time to do your cake tasting to pick out your absolute favorite flavor! Vanilla, chocolate, and yellow cake have been wedding favorites for decades. If you prefer a unique flavor, consider pink champagne or peppermint fudge! In these concluding months of your wedding planning timeline, focus on selecting party favors and special gifts for your bridal party and parents.

  • Attend your cake tasting… Yum!
  • Choose your must-have songs for the big day
  • Pick out party favors for guests
  • Choose gifts for parents and the bridal party
  • Finalize invitations and paper details
  • Plan your ceremony readings and write personal vows

Application for Marriage License
2 Months Before the Wedding

It’s the phase in your detailed wedding planning timeline when you and your partner apply for your marriage license! It’s getting real! You should make sure your invitations are mailed out by the 60-day mark to ensure your guests have plenty of time to respond. Of course, all brides want to look their best on their big day, so this is the perfect time to start trials for all things beauty! Schedule a hair and makeup appointment for your wedding day once you’ve completed your trials and decided on your look!

  • Conduct a final fitting for bridesmaids
  • Apply for your marriage license!
  • Schedule hair, makeup, and nail appointments
  • Decide on reception design details
  • Mail out your invitations
  • Develop seating arrangements
  • Buy additional accessories like toasting glasses, the ring bearer pillow, your cake serving set, etc.
  • Do a trial run for hair and makeup; bring your hairpieces and veil

Final Preparations
1 Month Before the Wedding

As you enter the final month in your wedding planning timeline, embrace the excitement of the day you’ve dreamed about. Use this time for crucial final appointments, including your last dress fitting, accessory shopping, seating chart creation, and making honeymoon reservations. Most RSVPs should be back by this time, so update your final guest list and reach out to those you have yet to hear back from.

  • Do a final bridal fitting with your closest friend(s)
  • Confirm your honeymoon trip reservations
  • Write thank-you notes for gifts that come your way
  • Pick up all wedding attire from tailors and bridal shops
  • Confirm the ceremony rehearsal time with your venue and notify your party members
  • Provide DJ/emcee with all announcements for your grand entrance and the rest of the evening

The Home Stretch
1-2 Weeks Before the Wedding

In the home stretch of your wedding planning timeline, focus on the final details. Circle back with vendors and coordinate with your wedding party and family to ensure everyone is on the same page for the big day. As a helpful tip, remember to leave room in your detailed wedding planning timeline to start packing for your honeymoon—avoid putting off packing until the night before!

  • Submit any final payments to your caterer and venue
  • Review your ceremony lineup procedures, processional, and recessional
  • Pack for your honeymoon
  • Your planner can confirm all of the final details with your vendors and service providers
  • Conduct final fittings for groom and groomsman attire
  • Finalize your personal vows
  • Press or steam your gown with the bridal salon’s guidance, if needed

The Day Before: 1-2 Days Before the Wedding

As you approach the most exciting moments in your wedding planning timeline, take a moment for relaxation! Treat yourself to a spa day with a mani and pedi and perhaps even a massage. Prepare your payments to be handed off to your coordinator, eliminating worries on the big day. Enjoy the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner—your wedding is hours away!

  • Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure
  • Rehearse the wedding ceremony and attend the rehearsal dinner
  • Present your attendants with gifts, especially if they are to be worn at the wedding
  • Pack and label personal items to take to the venue (unity candles, guest book, marriage license, etc.)
  • Make sure all vendors are paid in full
  • Decide who will distribute tips to your vendors

The Wedding Day
Enjoy the Moment!

The much-anticipated day in your 18-month wedding planning timeline has arrived! All your hard work has paid off, and today, your only responsibility is to marry your best friend and be present with your family. Everything is under control, and any minor issues will pass. Simply relish being pampered and savor the day with your loved ones!

    • Get your hair styled and your makeup applied
    • Prepare your marriage license for signing
    • Give the rings to the Best Man and Maid of Honor
    • Relax and have FUN!

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