Plan your celebration with this 50-step guide

  1. Pick the Date Choosing the ‘Date’ is very important in the fact that this is going to be the day you tie the knot! This is a huge day where the next chapter of your life begins, you want to be aware of the season and climate, as well as if the location is convenient or not. Depending on whether having a lot of blooming flowers is important you will want to go for the spring months when everything is in bloom.

    Another thing to consider is if you are going to want your friends and family there, or business associates as well. If you are going for just an intimate setting with friends and family, a holiday weekend date will be great, but if you are thinking about business associates as well, think about a date where they will be able to attend too because they have families as well.

  2. Decide on Your Budget Many people do not figure out their budget until it is too late. Save yourself the stress and the hassle and figure out what your allotted budget is going to be. It is suggested to leave a little room as a ‘buffer’ just in case you want to splurge on some flowers, or a cake. Perhaps the location and music is much more important, just allow yourself a descent amount for everything but know going into it what you can comfortably spend. This will allow you to narrow your choices significantly. If you have difficulty with budgeting and saving/spending money, perhaps you may want to consider a wedding planner, this can save you significant amounts of money and keep everything on track.
  3. Create Your Guest List It never hurts to create your guest list early. This will give you a better understanding on how large a venue to look at, catering options, places for rehearsal, etc. Additionally, you can mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come, know how many invitations and also see if people will be brining a + one or not. The more organized you are in the beginning, the smoother the entire planning process will go.
  4. Find a Caterer Again, the sooner you can line your ducks up in a row, the smoother everything will go. Do you have a caterer in mind? Does the venue offer catering? These are questions to consider, but make sure you know what type of food and service you are looking for. How traditional is the wedding going to be? You will want to consider the deposit and know exactly when the full payment amount is going to be expected to be paid.
  5. Choose the Cake Choosing the cake should be one of the most relaxing options, although there is an incredible amount of choices to choose from. The sooner you go do different cake shops in the area, you and your groom can try different flavors and really choose something you are both going to be pleased with. Allowing yourself a lot of time in the beginning reduces stress levels and things can get out of control with weddings pretty quickly! Choose you cake and put the order in as soon as possible.
  6. Find Your Officiate This is something that you don’t want to hesitate on. If you belong to a church already, there may be someone you already have in mind, if not, there are numerous officiate to choose from. Make sure you start calling in the beginning part of your wedding planning to ensure you have time to meet up and go over intricate details. This is one detail you have to set in place as soon as you can so you know you wedding vows will be official.
  7. Ordering the Save-the-Date Cards This is especially important if you have decided on a destination wedding or are going to have many guests that are from out of town. It allows everyone the proper amount of time to ensure that they can be there for your special day. Being able to book flights early will save everyone tons of money.
  8. Book You DJ or Set Up Your Musical Performers Whether you have chosen a local band, DJ, etc. It is important to set this in place as well. In addition you may want to look for photographers and/or videographers for the special day. Perhaps you have friends that can take pictures for you but setting up a music play list, and ensuring that you will have proper pictures taken may be important to you.
  9. Finding Flowers This does come down to personal preference. Some people choose to have tons of flowers at their wedding and the more time allowed to prepare the floral arrangements the better. Booking a florist will allow them proper time to get the ‘right’ flowers and colors for your wedding.
  10. Choose the Dress and Purchase or Order It There is nothing more important to a bride than her gown. Everything else can essentially fall apart, but the gown is what makes the bride look even more beautiful than they already are. Finding the perfect dress can take quite a bit of time so choosing one and starting the process helps in the long run. Perhaps you have thought about using a dress that has been handed down through the family or are choosing a new one, just make sure it’s one you love.
  11. Booking the Honeymoon Depending on personal preference, the honeymoon may be in the works or not. With destination weddings growing in popularity the event itself is somewhat of a honeymoon and wedding in one. If you have decided to have a separate honeymoon, booking the destination sooner than later is best. This will save money but also set everything in stone as far as when and where. Working with travel agents can help you with packaged deals and they can also make great suggestions on places to go.

Four Months Prior to the Wedding

  1. Guest Gifts Gifts for the guests is something to consider especially if you are having a bridal party. Ordering them in bulk or having them personalized takes a little time but you want to allow some ‘buffer’ time as well in case they are not what was expected.
  2. Invitations This may have been done in one fail swoop with the save the dates, but if not four months prior is a good time to do invitation. They can usually take up to six weeks’ time to be printed, so making sure they are completed is imperative. If you are having someone handwrite the invitations/place cards (calligrapher) book them at least a week prior to the wedding itself.
  3. Choosing a Registry Now that people have received save the dates they may also ask for a registry. The sooner you can create one the better it gives everyone time to choose what they would like to get for a gift, or gives than an idea on which direction to go.
  4. Can’t Forge the Rings Perhaps the wedding bands have been chosen but if not, this is a great time to choose them. If you are going to have the bands engraved, it should be done at this point as well.
  5. Tux’s The groom needs to have his tux ready and fitted as well as the groomsmen.
  6. Reserve Equipment If you are having an outdoor wedding and need tents, chairs, etc. it is best to make the reservations at least four months in advance. Depending on the time of the year your wedding is going to be, the rentals can be gone rather quickly!
  7. Lessons for Dance Many opt to have a special dance for the wedding reception, allow yourself some practice time and sign up for lessons!
  8. Limo/Car Rental Not everyone has access to the cars that they are expecting to arrive in. If you are looking into getting a vintage car or limo for your wedding day, make sure you book it in advance and it going to accommodate your specific needs. Another suggestion is hiring an expediter from the actual rental company to meet and greet your guests, and/or assist them to their vehicles after the ceremony.
  9. Booking the Hotel Reservations If you have already booked hotel reservations, that’s great, but if you have a lot of people traveling in from out of town, you want to make sure that everyone will have a place to sleep comfortably. Go ahead and book your reservations, the earlier the better. If you have chosen a place out of the country, make sure that everyone has allowed up to six weeks to receive their passports.

Two Months Before

  1. Write Your Vows You may either choose to write your own vows or you can pick some. There are tons of choices on the Internet which may spark some ideas and/or your officiate will definitely have plenty to choose from. Gifts may have already begun coming in. If this is the case, start writing you thank-you cards, when they arrive.
  2. Menu Options Now is the time to really start fine tuning everything. You want to double check your menu options and make sure that everything you want is going to be available. Perhaps you would like to choose an alternated option as well for those who may be vegetarians, vegans, kids’ what have you.
  3. Mailing Invitations If you haven’t mailed your invitations yet, two months prior is a great time frame. This means the invitations will arrive within no more than two weeks allowing people a solid six weeks to prepare for your special day.
  4. Salon Reservations Times are changing and onsite hair and makeup options are becoming more popular, but if you have your favorite salon, make the appointments now! If not, choose an onsite bridal makeup and hair specialist around this time. You can meet with them, discuss future plans and go from there. Their schedules are definitely more flexible and accommodating.

One Month Before

  1. Time to finalize everything. Do a quick review of all reservations and double check that everything is ‘set in stone. If something has to be adjusted, or what not, this allows enough time to figure out alternate options if need be.
  2. Fitting the Dress You may have had your dress fitted already, but a month prior to the wedding is a perfect time to check the dress again. Make sure no last minute alterations need to be made and that is fits exactly how you want it to.
  3. Required Paperwork Depending on your location of where you are getting married, there will be different requirements, but make sure your paperwork is legit and complete. This can include marriage license, blood tests, but also check in to, welcome/visitor’s paperwork for the surrounding areas. This is something you can hand to guests so they don’t feel obligated to stay in one spot and not have anything close in the area to do. Many out of towners won’t know where awesome restaurants and movie theaters are, or parks, etc.

Seven Days Before

  1. Breaking in Your Shoes A week before the actual ceremony is a good time to start breaking in the wedding shoes so you don’t find your feet hurting during your big day. Go for a walk, wear them around the house you will be thankful you did.
  2. Prepare Mentally Daydream a little and run through the entire even tin your head. This may help make sure you didn’t forget last minute touches and everything is as you imagined. It is suggested to make a ‘call’ list of all the vendors that are supposed to be arriving, and where all reservations are with contact information. This is just in case something happens, someone (other than you) will know who to contact.

One Day Before

  1. Handing Out Gifts Handing out gifts to your bridal party and groomsmen is typically done a day prior to the event. This allows for pictures, everyone to gather and go over everything one last time (rehearsal) and relax. The gifts could be a specific time or done after a rehearsal dinner when everyone is already gathered.
  2. Confirm the Transportation there would be nothing worse than not having the proper transportation for the wedding all set. Confirm with your transportation company, or whomever is helping with transport so it’s not all crazy the day of.
  3. Get a good night’s rest! Even more sleep if you can get to bed a little early.

Eight Hours Before

  1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast Today is going to be a long, emotional day, make sure you get it started off right with a healthy breakfast.
  2. Pack the License and Make Sure to Have the Rings Ensuring that the license is going to arrive with you is something to be double checked as well as the rings are in a secure spot. Additionally, remember to place your engagement ring on your opposite hand so your groom can put your wedding band on at the base of your finger.
  3. Walk Down the Aisle and Enjoy! This is it, the moment where everything comes together. Just breathe, relax and really enjoy this magnificent day.