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The Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist

STORIES (15)12 Months prior

  • Start a wedding folder or binder. Begin leafing through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration.
  • Pick a date and time. Select a few options, and then check with your venues, officiants, and important guests before finalizing.
  • Work out a budget. Determine how much you want to spend, based on families’ contributions and your own.
  • Pick your wedding party. As soon as you’re engaged, people will start to wonder who’s in.
  • Start a guest list. Make a head count database to use throughout the planning process, with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and other relevant information.
  • Assemble a “planning team.” You may want to consider hiring a wedding planner.
  • Optional: Have an engagement party. Remember that your invitees should also be on your wedding guest list.

8-10 Months prior

  • Bride: Think about, shop for, and order your gown.
  • Research and book your wedding professionals.
  • Hire the DJ/Entertainment for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception
  • Decide on arrangements for your floral designer
  • Do tastings for your wedding cake
  • Discuss the style and wording of your invitations with the stationer
  • Research and reserve accommodations for out-of- town guests
  • Launch a wedding website. Create a personal page that includes the wedding date, travel information, and accommodations.
  • Shop for bridesmaids dresses
  • Register for gifts (at a minimum of 3 places) and remember to update your wedding website.

6-8 Months prior

  • Order bridesmaids dresses
  • Start planning honeymoon
  • Send save-the- date cards. This is a particularly good idea if you’re marrying during a tourist or holiday season or having a destination wedding.
  • Select and purchase invitations.
  • Start composing a day-of timeline. Draw up a schedule of events and slot in each component.

4-6 Months prior

  • Attend pre-wedding counseling, if required.
  • Shop for formalwear.
  • Renew or get passports, if necessary.
  • Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues. If you’re planning to host a day of brunch, book that, too.
  • Check on the wedding invitations.
  • Select and order the cake. Some bakers require a long lead time.
  • Send your guest list to the host of the shower.
  • Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Bring the shoes along to your first fitting to the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
  • Choose your music. What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick of dancing? Keep a running list of what you want, and don’t want, played.

3 Months prior

  • Attend your shower (It may be earlier, depending on when your host decides to have it.)
  • Groom: Rent men’s formalwear
  • Hire wedding-day transportation, limousines, and other cars. Look into transportation sooner if you’re considering renting streetcars or over-the- top travel.
  • Finalize menu and flowers. You’ll want to wait until now to see what will be available since food and flowers are affected by season.
  • Order favors, if desires. Some safe bets: monogrammed cookies or a treat that represents your city or region.
  • Make a list of people giving toasts.
  • Finalize the readings. Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony, and who will do it.
  • Purchase your undergarments and schedule a second fitting.
  • Put together your rehearsal dinner guest list.
  • Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs.
  • Purchase the rings. This will give you time for sizing and engraving.
  • Consider taking dancing lessons if you’re not feeling confident in your dancing abilities. It’s also a good way to break in your bridal shoes.

2 Months prior

  • Mail out your invitations. General rule of thumb: Mail invitations 6-8 weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff 3 weeks after the postmark date.
  • Submit a newspaper wedding announcement. If you’re planning to include a photograph, check with the publication’s website.
  • Enjoy a bachelor/bachelorette parties. Arrange a night out with your closest friends.
  • Write your vows.
  • Send out thank you cards for shower gifts.
  • Purchase gifts for parents, attendants, and each other.
  • Book your stylist and try out big-day styles.
  • Book a make-up artist and go for a trial run.
  • Finalize and confirm:
    • Wedding vows and readings with officiant
    • Shot list with your photographer
    • Song list for ceremony, cocktail hour and reception with DJ or band
    • Timeline for the reception and who’s giving toasts
    • Wedding night and honeymoon accommodations
  • Start researching marriage license requirements and name-changing paperwork. Start with the local bureau of the town you’ll be married in.

1 Month prior

  • Apply for marriage license. The process can take up to six days, but its’ a good idea to give yourself some leeway. If you’re changing your name, order several copies.
  • Bride: Have final gown fitting. Bring your maid of honor along to learn how to bustle your dress. For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel if your dress fits perfectly.
  • Call all bridesmaids. Make sure they have their gown ready for the big day.
  • Order and plan in-room welcome baskets for out-of- town guests.
  • Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database. Phone people who have not yet responded.
  • Mail rehearsal dinner invitations.
  • Sent out as many final payments as you can.
  • Confirm times for hair and make-up with vendors.
  • Assign seating. Draw out table shapes on a layout of the room. Use pink sticky notes with names for females and blue sticky notes for males, so you can easily move people without having to re-draw the plan.

2 Weeks prior

  • Bride: Get last pre-wedding haircut and color.
  • Put together Bridal Emergency Kit.

1 Week prior

  • Give reception site/caterer final guest count. Include vendors such as photographer or band members, who will expect a meal. Ask how many extra plates the caterer will prepare.
  • Supply venue manager with any special requests from vendors such as DJ tables or set up space needed by florist.
  • Finalize seating plan.
  • Print place and table cards.
  • Call all wedding vendors and confirm arrangements.
  • Give ceremony and reception site managers a schedule of vendor deliveries and set up times, plus contact numbers.
  • Groom: Get your hair trimmed.

2-3 Days prior

  • Bride: If you haven’t already, have your gown pressed or steamed.
  • Groom: Go to final fitting and pick up your formalwear.
  • Groom: Ask the best man to make sure all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits.
  • Determine wedding party positions during the ceremony and the order of the party in the processional and recessional.
  • Hand off place cards, table cards, menus, disposable cameras, favors and any other items for setting the table to whomever is responsible for setting the décor.
  • Reconfirm final details with all vendors. Discuss any last minute substitutions. Provide all wedding professionals with emergency phone numbers to call the day of the wedding.
  • Call the limousine or car rental company for pick up times and locations.
  • Arrange for guests without cars to be picked up from the airport/train station. Ask friends’ attendants, and relatives for help.
  • Deliver welcome baskets to hotel concierge; make sure to include names and delivery instructions.
  • Book a spa treatment. Make an appointment for a manicure and pedicure the day before the wedding.
  • Pack for your honeymoon.
  • Send a timeline to bridal party. Include every member’s contact information, along with the point people you’ve ask to deal with the vendors if problems arise.

Day prior

  • Write checks and/or talk to the wedding hosts (usually your parents) about any balances to be paid at the end of the reception.
  • Make sure all wedding-day items are packed / laid out and ready to go. (Don’t forget the rings and marriage license.)
  • Assign someone to pack up gifts/belongings after the reception (don’t forget the cake topper.)
  • Enjoy mani-pedi.

Night prior

  • Rehearse ceremony. Meet with wedding party, ceremony readers, immediate family, and your officiant at the ceremony site to rehearse and iron out details.
  • Bring unity candle, aisle runner, yarmulkes, or other ceremony accessories to the site.
  • Give marriage license to officiant.
  • Attend rehearsal dinner.
  • Present attendants with gifts at the rehearsal dinner. You’ll want to do this especially if the gifts are accessories to be worn during the wedding.
  • Try to go to bed early… You’ll need your beauty sleep.

Day of

  • Allow plenty of time to get ready.
  • Present parents and each other with gifts.
  • Give wedding bands to best man and maid of honor to hold during the ceremony.
  • Give best man the officiant’s fee envelope to be handed off after the ceremony.
  • Introduce your reception site manager to your consultant or maid of honor for any questions or problems during the reception.
  • Assign family members or attendant to be the photographers contact so he/she knows who is who.
  • Do the rounds at your wedding – Greet and thank everyone.


  • Prearrange for someone to return all rentals
  • Preplan for attendants to take the bridal gown for cleaning and return the grooms tux to the rental shop.
  • White and sent thank you notes to gift-bearing guests and vendors who were especially helpful. Don’t procrastinate.
  • Complete your registry and return or exchange any duplicate or unwanted gifts.
  • Keep in touch with photographer / videographer as they work on albums.
  • Enjoy wedded bliss…

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