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Congrats, lovebirds! You’ve asked that special someone to spend the rest of their life with you, and now it’s time to start planning for one of the biggest days of both your lives.

You’ve got to choose your colors, decide on the menu, and send out invitations – yes, when you sit down to think about everything you need to do, it can be a bit overwhelming.

But don’t worry! We’re here to help guide you through the entire process. With this wedding checklist and timeline, you’ll have a stress-free journey to your magical day.

It typically takes somewhere between 12 to 24 months to plan most weddings. However, every couple is different, and your timeline could be longer or shorter. It’s all up to you!

So let’s dive in!

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10 – 12+ Months Before The Wedding

Picking The Date

Ah, the first step on your grand adventure together – setting a date for your magical celebration! It’s one of the most important choices you’ll make, right up there with selecting the perfect venue (spoiler: that’s the next one).

When choosing the date, you have a world of options. Some couples opt for a date that holds special significance to their relationship, like the anniversary of the day they first locked eyes or shared their first kiss.

Others prefer to consider factors like the season, weather, or even the availability of their favorite wedding vendors. Whatever you do, choose a date that will forever hold a special place in your heart.

Picking The Venue

Next is the wedding venue, where your love story will unfold. But trust us when we say this choice will have a ripple effect on everything else about your special day. We’re talking about the number of guests that can attend, the vibes in your pictures, and the overall theme, and it can even mess with your preferred date if it’s a super popular spot.

You should also expect this to consume a significant part of your budget. So don’t procrastinate on this one. Go check out your dream locations and make that reservation ASAP.

Figure Out What Your Budget Will Be

The money talk might not be as glamorous as finding the perfect venue or tasting delicious wedding cake flavors, but it’s vital.

Have an open and honest discussion with your partner about how much you’re willing and able to spend. Consider your current financial situation, savings, and any contributions from family members who might want to sprinkle some fairy dust on your special day.

Once you have a number in mind, break it into categories: venue, catering, attire, flowers, music, and all the other delightful details you want to include. This way, you’ll better grasp where your money will go and can make informed decisions along the way.

Estimate The Guest Count

Sit down with your partner and create a preliminary guest list. Start with close family members and friends who must attend and grow from there. Remember that every additional guest adds to the overall cost of your wedding. From invitations to catering, each name on that list has an impact.

Also, consider the capacity of your chosen venue when estimating the head count. Some places have limitations on how many people they can comfortably accommodate. Oh, and don’t forget to account for any plus-ones.

Choose Your Wedding Theme

The theme sets the tone, guides your decor choices, and adds a cohesive element to every aspect of your wedding. The possibilities are endless, whether you envision a fairytale romance, a rustic boho affair, or a dazzling Hollywood-inspired extravaganza. The key is to choose something that reflects your personality and creates a memorable experience for you and your guests.

Create a Preliminary Timeline

Yes, we’re giving you a timeline here, but let’s get one thing straight – you must create a personalized timeline that suits your unique wedding journey. Consider this as a starting point and a gentle nudge in the right direction, but ultimately, it’s up to you to craft a schedule that works best for you.

9 Months Before The Wedding

Consider Hiring A Wedding Planner

Planning a wedding can feel like diving into a whirlwind of decisions and details; we get it. But if you don’t want to deal with the nitty-gritty, hiring a wedding planner might be a good idea. They’ll handle the logistics, coordinate with vendors, help you stay on budget, handle negotiations, and troubleshoot any bumps.

Book The Photographer and Videographer

Lights, camera, action! The photographer and videographer can help you capture all the magical moments on your special day. When selecting someone, find individuals whose style resonates with you. Take some time to browse through portfolios, immerse yourself in their work, and envision how their unique perspective can beautifully capture the essence of your love story.

Choose the Caterer

From delectable hors d’oeuvres to mouthwatering main courses and decadent desserts, the right caterer will leave your guests raving about the incredible feast long after the last dance. Start by getting recommendations from friends, family, or your wedding planner. Heck, you can even ask your favorite local restaurant. Remember to taste-test before making a final decision, and have fun with your menu!

Book The Entertainment

Whether you envision a live band, a DJ spinning your favorite tunes, or a combination of both, booking the right entertainment will set the mood and create unforgettable memories for you and your loved ones. Think about the atmosphere you want to create – do you see a high-energy dance party or a more intimate and romantic setting? Remember, wedding entertainment is not just about playing music; it’s about creating an atmosphere that reflects your love story and gets everyone on their feet

Find Your Wedding Dress

Your wedding dress is the epitome of your style, capturing the essence of your beauty and radiance when you walk down the aisle to say, “I do!” Browse bridal magazines, create a Pinterest board, or save images of dresses that catch your eye. Then visit your local bridal boutiques to start trying dresses on. Pay attention to the fit, comfort, and how the dress makes you feel during the fitting.

Female trying on a wedding dress in a shop

6-8 Months Before The Wedding

Finalize The Guest List

Now it’s time to make the final “yes” or “no” on who will attend. Once you’ve finalized your guest list, gather contact information, such as addresses and email addresses, to send out the save-the-dates and invitations. Keep your guest list organized and easily accessible for future reference as you proceed with other wedding planning tasks.

Choose Your Wedding Cake

Your wedding cake is a delectable centerpiece and a reflection of your style and taste. Check online forums, bridal websites, and social media for inspiration. Once you have a general idea of your desired style and design, find a talented baker or cake designer. You want to make sure the cake tastes good and visually makes a statement.

Decide On Decor And Rentals

The right decor can transform your venue into a breathtaking setting. We’re talking specialty chairs & tables, drape, backdrops, linens, and other furniture to set the scene. Look for reputable rental companies that have everything you need.

Booking Accommodations for Out-of-Town Guests

Those loved ones making a long trip to the wedding need somewhere to rest and relax after the festivities. Book enough hotel rooms or Airbnb, so no one is left scrambling to find a bed for the night.

Plan The Honeymoon

The honeymoon is your time to relax, unwind, and create beautiful memories as newlyweds. Whether spending a week on the beach in Hawaii or a ski trip to Vale, this trip celebrates your love and the beginning of your journey as a married couple. If you need help working out the logistics, consider a travel agent.

4-5 Months Before The Wedding

Select And Order Invitations

Invitations set the tone for your special day and give your guests a sneak peek into the coming celebration. Start by exploring various invitation styles and designs that match your vision and wedding theme. Once you find the perfect design, finalize the details and place your order. Consider custom options for a personalized touch. Choose a printing method that fits your aesthetic and budget. Double-check all the information and proofread before giving the final approval

Choose Bridesmaids & Groomsmen’s Attire

Ready to style your squad? Pick an attire that matches your wedding theme and colors. Consider their comfort and personal styles too. Remember the practical stuff like the season and venue. Once you’ve decided, share the details with them and tell them where to find or rent the outfits and any specific guidelines.

Purchase The Wedding Rings

It’s ring shopping time! Finding the perfect wedding band is a big deal. Whether you’re into classic gold or want something more unique, like mixed metals or gemstone accents, everyone has options. Visit jewelers or check out online retailers to compare prices and styles. Don’t forget to try on rings to ensure a perfect fit and feel.

Book Transportation

You and your partner need to arrive in style! Whether it’s the traditional limo with the cans on the fender or a party bus, you can choose from plenty of fun and creative transportation options.

3 Months Before The Wedding

Plan The Rehearsal Dinner

The rehearsal dinner is all about good food, good company, and good times. Whether it’s a trendy restaurant, a cozy venue, or your backyard, make sure it matches your vision. And when it comes to food, go for dishes that will make everyone’s taste buds dance happily.

Finalize The Menu

Get together with your caterer and finalize the foods on the menu. While it’s all about having delicious stuff, consider your guest’s dietary needs, such as vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.

Send Out The Invitations

Your invitations should be ready to go. Now it’s time to send them out and let people know they must RSVP at least a month before the big date. That way, you will have an accurate headcount of who will be there.

Scroll wedding invitation

2 Months Before The Wedding

Apply For Your Marriage License

The marriage license makes it official in the eyes of the government. You’ll need to determine the specific requirements in your state (or country if you’re doing the wedding abroad). The couple, the officiant, and the witnesses must all sign the document, so bring everyone along.

Write Your Vows

Your vows are special promises you’ll make to one another before saying I do. Make sure it’s something unique and specific to your relationship. Of course, if you aren’t a wordsmith, there’s no shame in getting outside help to get your feelings and meaning across.

Confirm Wedding Details

Get all your ducks in a row and confirm everything is ready. Reach out to the venue, the caterers, the rental company, the baker, the entertainment, and everyone involved to ensure everything will be ready for your big day.

Bride and groom is cutting their rustic wedding cake

1 Month Before The Wedding

Confirm RSVPs

We’re in the final stretch. Ensure all your RSVPs are confirmed, and reach out to anyone missing.

Complete Your Seating Chart

Now you need to decide who will sit where and next to whom. You don’t want those cousins who constantly bicker to get into a fight and throw off your day. So take extra care with the seating arrangement.

Finalize The Music Selection

You and your partner should choose music unique to the relationship and pick your favorites and songs to make the event a good time. If you don’t have enough songs, plenty of wedding-related playlists on YouTube and Spotify point you in the right direction.

Pick Up Your Marriage License

It’s official! You should be able to pick up your marriage license from the county clerk’s office.  This paperwork is essential, so make sure to keep it in a safe place.

Pay Your Vendors

You don’t want them hounding you on your wedding day, so go ahead and pay everything in full now so you can focus on enjoying the day with your partner, friends, and family.

The Wedding Day and Beyond!

Now that the big day is here, the only thing left to do is enjoy your ceremony. If you’ve followed this checklist, everything should be in order. There should be fun and laughter alongside intense emotions and tears of joy. It’s the beginning of a beautiful partnership, so take in every moment – we promise it’s a day you won’t ever forget!