wedding planning checklist

One of the hardest things about wedding planning is knowing what to do when.

Use this checklist as a guide. Not everything might apply to you here, but it’ll at least give you an idea of what order to do things in.

This is for a 12-month engagement, but you can certainly have a shorter or longer one!

My engagement was 9 months, and while it worked out fine, I think a few extra months would have been great. If I was going to do it all over again, this is the checklist I’d use. I hope you find it helpful!

Happy planning!

12+ months before your wedding:

☐ Take a moment to enjoy your engagement. If you want to get engagement photos done, feel free to do it now or wait a few months. It’s totally up to you if you want to get engagement photos, but many couples like having professional snapshots for their Save-the-Dates and/or wedding website. If you already have photos you love of the two of you, don’t feel like it’s a must do!

Envision what you want your wedding to look and feel like. Talk it over with your partner.

Establish your wedding non-negotiables. These are the 3-6 things that are the most important to you and your partner. These non-negotiables will help you prioritize, keep things in perspective and keep your wedding enjoyable, simple and low stress.

☐ Decide who you want to be in your wedding party (if you want to have one), and ask each person if they want to participate.

Set your target wedding budget.

☐ Start planning your guest list. You don’t need to have the final list just yet, but you need an estimate of how many people will be there, so you can find the right size venue.

☐ Decide on a few possible wedding dates. You’ll want to have a few dates picked out in case the venues you’re looking at are booked on your desired date.

☐ Start looking for a ceremony site and wedding venue.

11 months before your wedding:

☐ Book your ceremony site and wedding venue and finalize your wedding date and time.

☐ Think about what kind of food you want to serve. Your venue may offer you a tasting session around this time.

☐ If your venue does not include catering, research and book caterers.

10 months before your wedding:

Start thinking about what kind of wedding dress you want (if you’re planning on wearing one) and start shopping.

9 months before your wedding:

☐ Book your wedding vendors:

☐ Photographer

☐ DJ (or Band)

☐ Florist

☐ Videographer

☐ Officiant

☐ Ceremony musicians (if applicable)

☐ If you need to rent a tent, make arrangements now.

☐ Make any necessary changes to your guest list and start collecting addresses. Record everything in a spreadsheet.

8 months before your wedding:

☐ Order your wedding dress.

☐ Create your wedding website. Research travel and hotel information for out of town guests, include info on the website. Reserve hotel room block if necessary.

☐ Finalize your guest list and start collecting addresses. Record everything in a spreadsheet.

☐ Design and buy your Save the Dates.

6-8 months before your wedding:

☐ Send Save the Dates.

☐ Start thinking about your ceremony. Will you write your own vows or go by a script? Do you want a family member or close friend to read a poem or sing a song? Now is the perfect time to ask.

☐ If you’re going to go on a honeymoon, start planning now. (I’d recommend taking at least a couple days and going somewhere together, even if it’s not far away.)

☐ If you want to take dance lessons for your first dance, book your first lesson.

6 months before your wedding:

☐ Find a baker for your wedding cake.

☐ Start researching wedding invitations.

☐ Create your wedding registry.

☐ If you need any rentals, such as a photo booth, aisle runners, special lighting, chairs, etc. make those arrangements now.

4-6 months before your wedding:

☐ Design and buy wedding invitations and RSVP cards.

☐ Buy wedding rings.

☐ Buy shoes and accessories for your wedding dress (if applicable).

☐ Make arrangements for the night of (if necessary) and book honeymoon.

☐ Plan rehearsal dinner.

☐ Think about what kind of music you want to play at your reception. Start creating a document with a list of songs that MUST be played—as well as songs that must NEVER be played.

3 months before your wedding:

☐ Finalize your menu with your caterer if you haven’t already. Find out when they need the final head count.

☐ Collect any missing addresses you have and record them on your guest list spreadsheet.

☐ Start addressing invitations.

☐ Get alterations done on your wedding dress, if applicable.

☐ If you or your partner is wearing a tux or suit, buy or make arrangements to rent.

☐ Make sure everyone in your wedding party (if you have one) knows what they are wearing.

☐ Start addressing your wedding invitations.

2 months before your wedding:

☐ Send your wedding invitations.

☐ Finalize wedding ceremony details, including vows, readings, music, etc.

☐ If you are having your hair and/or makeup professionally done, book your trial run appointments now.

☐ Decide what kind of photos you want (“First Look,” family and friend combinations, etc.) and send to photographer.

☐ Finalize your songlist and send to your DJ or band. Also let them know if you want to do any traditional dances and what songs you want played for those (first dance, father/daughter dance, etc.)

☐ Create your wedding timeline and send to your Day of Coordinator, Event/Catering Manager, DJ, Photographer and anyone else who needs it.

6 weeks before your wedding:

☐ Update your guest list spreadsheet with RSVPs as they come in.

One month before your wedding:

☐ Create your reception seating chart. If you are having a buffet, a seating chart is not required, but it’s recommended.

☐ Create reception placecards.

☐ Apply for your marriage license.

Two weeks before your wedding:

☐ Call, text, email etc. anyone who hasn’t RSVPd.

One week before your wedding:

☐ Give your venue and caterer the final headcount if you haven’t already.

One day before your wedding:

☐ Drop off placecards, favors, etc. at wedding venue.

☐ Rehearse your wedding ceremony and enjoy rehearsal dinner.

Day of your wedding:

☐ Relax, breathe and enjoy every moment as much as possible! It’s here! 🙂