You’re engaged! Congratulations! This is so exciting! You’ve told your family, you’ve told your friends, now what? Now, it’s time to get planning! This is a fun, exciting and scary time, but don’t worry, there are many resources available to help you through this next year (or more!).
Step One: Before you do anything, make a binder, a place to keep everything! I know it sounds ridiculous, but it will come in handy. Put a printable calendar in the binder and write down the tasks you have for each month in the calendar. Keep a printable checklist in your binder so you can keep track of what has been done and what still needs to be done. I recommend about 11 tabs in the binder; budget, guests, ceremony, reception, DIY projects, clothing & beauty, photographer, DJ/band, florist, honeymoon, and misc. You should also keep sticky notes and colorful pens in the binder so you can make notes, and also color coordinate certain tasks. Finally, you will want sheet covers to protect any loose papers that you collect during meetings and other planning.
Step Two: A month by month breakdown of the planning process for your big day!
- Decide on a budget
- Make this reasonable, talk to both of your parents if they are planning on giving you anything and set it so that you have a little extra for anything unexpected that might come up
- Choose the style and formality of the wedding
- Choose something that embodies both of your personalities and go with it!
- Start shopping for a wedding dress
- Yes, this early! You never know what you’re going to find and where, keep an eye out for sales, and if you want to save money, shop for dresses that are not specifically designated as a wedding dress.
- Pick 3 or more possible dates
- The date will be finalized based on the availability of the venue you choose
- Start researching venues and making appointments to visit them
- Make a list of what you need from a venue before you go
- Visit early and find out if they are available on your chosen dates
- Start researching photographers and book an engagement shoot for 3 months from now
- A lot of photographers will give you a discount for booking an engagement session and a wedding at the same time
- Choose your wedding party
- Or don’t, if you don’t want a wedding party, it is completely your choice
- Finalize your date and venue
- Once you’ve visited all the venues, pick the one that suits your needs best
- Block off hotel rooms for wedding guests that will need to travel
- Make sure you check about all the extra fees that are associated with cancellations, and consider this when picking the hotel and how many rooms you think you are going to need for guests.
- Choose your decor and vendors
- What’s your style? What decorations do you want? Start thinking about what vendors you want to use and make a list
- Go supply shopping and begin your DIY process!
- It’s time! If you are DIYing, plan everything out over the next 10 months and get to getting creative! You’ll really want to stick to the schedule you outline for yourself so that you are not rushed at the last minute
- Meet with and book caterer
- That is if your venue doesn’t offer catering. Decide what kind of food you want and contact local caterers that offer it. Don’t just pick one, make sure you shop around for the best deal
- Gather your guest list
- Start collecting names and addresses. The easiest way would be to put them in an excel file so that you can export and print them later and they are easy to read when writing your invitations
- Time to shop! Well, more like window shop, but still! Have fun with it, and don’t think that you need to register for things just because it’s what you’re supposed to do. If you don’t want china, because you know you’re never going to use it, don’t ask for it
- Finalize your guest list
- It’s time to make sure you have every address!
- Book your officiant
- This can be a minister, or a friend or whomever. If you choose to use a friend, just make sure that they register online in time
- Book your band or DJ
- Let’s get this party started! Well, in 9 months, but still. Make sure you’ve done your research and have chosen someone that you trust.
- Buy your wedding dress if you haven’t already
- It’s time! You need to make sure that you have time to get alterations done if they are needed!
- Start shopping for bridesmaid dresses
- It’s time to think about what you’re going to dress your ladies in! Color, style, etc.
- Research and book hair and makeup
- Have your engagement photos taken
- Buy your accessories! Shoes, jewelry, etc.
- Start really thinking about what you want to wear other than your dress on your big day! Are you going to borrow jewelry or buy it?
- Book your honeymoon!
- Woop woop! Arrange the time off with your workplace as well
- Apply for passports, if needed
- Begin designing the invitations
- You can use an online tool or you can find a graphic designer to do it for you
- Do a hair and makeup trial
- Be very specific about what you want. Do this as many times as you need to, to make sure that you have what you really want
- Finalize the bridesmaids dresses
- They need time for alterations too, so make sure you have enough time
- Book any rental vendors- linens, tables, chairs, tents, etc.
- Most tent companies also rent furniture and linens. You can also rent plates, cup and silverware if needed, but check with your caterer first, they might supply them
- Check in with your other vendors- photographer, band/DJ, caterer, etc.
- Make sure they are all set, and update any information that might be necessary
- Cake tasting!
- Yum, yum!
- Book florist
- Start talking about your arrangements. Bouquets, boutonnieres, tabletop, etc.
- Order invitations
- Don’t forget to order extras in case of possible mistakes when addressing or if you’ve forgotten someone
- Shop for groom and groomsmen attire
- Mens alterations generally take a lot less time than women’s, but you still want to allow for enough time
- Visit doctor for any shots you might need for honeymoon
- A lot of out of country destinations require shots, so check in with your doctor to see what you might need
- Send save the dates
- These can be traditional paper, or you can get creative!
- Book your accommodations for the wedding night if you haven’t already
- Arrange transportation needs
- How are you getting to the ceremony? Is there travel between the ceremony and reception?
- Order favors if needed
- Unless you’re making them, then forget this
- Begin counseling if necessary
- If you’ve chosen a minister or similar, they may require that you go through counseling before they perform the wedding ceremony
- Send invitations
- Finalize food and drink choices
- Finalize wedding music
- Send a list to your DJ/band about what songs you have chosen for your formal dances, and suggestions or specifications for what they should and SHOULD NOT play during the ceremony. Yes, you can ask them not to play specific songs
- Book rehearsal dinner location
- Check in with seamstress
- Bridesmaids try dresses
- Book alterations if necessary
- Buy thank you notes and updated address labels
- Purchase address labels with your updated name, if you are changing it so that when you send your thank you’s they are personalized and up to date
- Buy the rings!
- Shits. About. To. Get. Real.
- Connect with the florist
- Make sure they are on track with everything for the wedding
- Begin the seating chart
- You should have gotten some RSVP’s by now, and it’s time to start deciding where people are going to sit. You can always opt to do non-assigned seating
- Finish all DIY projects and stop Pinning!
- Seriously, stop with the Pinterest. You’re just going to stress yourself out.
- Plan the schedule for the day of your wedding
- Send it to all the vendors so that they know what to expect. Photographer, DJ/band, caterer, tent/rentals, etc
- Apply for marriage license
- Final dress fitting
- Call people who have not RSVP’d
- Have hair cut, if needed
- You want time for it to grow out a little JUST IN CASE
- Give final count to caterer
- Finalize seating chart
- Confirm arrival of all vendors
- Finish rehearsal plans
- Give the final schedule to the party and any other friends and family that you’ve invited
- Pick up all attire and accessories
- Dresses, shoes, etc. Pack it all in one place so that you are ready to go to the hotel, or wherever you are getting ready
- Confirm honeymoon
- Final check of all lists, make sure everything is completed
- Pack wedding day ‘emergency kit’
- Tampons, because sometimes mother nature can be a real b***h. Lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, DEODORANT (I don’t know how many brides I’ve met that have forgotten their deodorant)
- Get mani-pedi
- Give rings to best man
- Go to bed early! Get your rest!
You can use Thumbtack to find service professionals in your area. Everything from photographers to caterers and everything in between.
Good luck and congratulations!