your complete wedding planning checklist
written by a Madison, WI Wedding Photographer!
Congratulations! You’ve said yes to your best friend and now you are tasked with planning your dream wedding! Chances are this is the first time you’ve done this so it may feel a little overwhelming. I’ve created this 12 month guide to planning your wedding as part of our wedding experience. It is a tool to help bring clarity and reduce the unknown of wedding prep!
An average engagement is about 12-14 months which is also the ideal amount of time to budget and secure your dream vendors. However every couple is different and there is no right or wrong way to plan a wedding! This is just a general guide for the major steps to consider when planning your wedding and a recommended timeline of when to complete each of those steps.
If you are planning a longer engagement, feel free to take more time on the first steps. If you are looking at a shorter engagement, you’ll just have a few more things to tackle in the beginning.
Month 12+ of the 12 Month Guide to Planning Your Wedding
let the fun begin!
- determine a budget
- choose a date (or a few dates in case one is not available)
- decide if you’ll hire a planner
- start on your guest list so that you have an idea of what size venue you will need
- tour venues and choose one to finalize
- book your caterer
- begin interviewing photographers and videographers
- have fun creating different Pinterest style boards (pssssttt, looking for some inspo? Check out my weddings board!)
Months 9-11 of the 12 Month Guide to Planning Your Wedding
are you used to saying fiance yet?
- finalize your overall vision for style/color/design
- secure entertainment
- ask your party to stand up with you
- begin wedding dress shopping
- secure your hotel blocks (I recommend 3 at different price points to give your guests options)
- schedule your engagement photos (all of our engagement sessions have a two week turnaround time which is great for ordering save the dates! Be sure to ask your photographer what their turnaround, as some can be up to 8 weeks!)
- meet with your stationary designer
- order your save the dates
- begin booking rentals (linens, specialty furniture, etc)
Months 6-8 of the 12 Month Guide to Planning Your Wedding
breathe, the biggest steps of planning are complete
- create your registry!
- design your wedding website
- start shopping for bridesmaid dresses
- send out your save the dates
- meet with a florist
- start making plans for when/where to have your rehearsal dinner
- finalize your ceremony music
- start planning and booking your honeymoon!
- shop for wedding bands
- book your hair and makeup and any spa services
- secure your officiant
- schedule bridal shower, bach party, etc
Months 3-5 of the 12 Month Guide to Planning Your Wedding
Are you starting to feel like a pro planner with this 12 month guide to planning your wedding yet?
- finalize transportation
- order and mail wedding invitations
- create a system for organizing RSVPS
- finalize your menu
- secure your tux
- order your wedding bands
- schedule groomsmen for fittings
- complete your hair and makeup trial
- order your guest favors
- start writing your vows
- choose any special ceremony readings and speakers
Months 1-2 of the 12 Month Guide to Planning Your Wedding
your wedding is almost here!!
- apply for your marriage license (I recommend getting a few copies)
- purchase small items like cake topper, card box, guest book, etc, wedding party gifts
- make all final payments to vendors
- work on place cards and seating
- start breaking in your wedding shoes while you do things around the house
1-2 Weeks Before You Say I Do
By now all of the heavy lifting is done and you can focus on pampering yourself
- follow up with guests who didn’t rsvp
- get a final count to caterer
- get a mani/pedi
- have your eyebrows done
- final touchups to your hair
- practice vows out loud
- write a note to each-other for the morning of
- have your jewelry cleaned
- start packing for honeymoon
The Night Before Your Wedding Day
Um hello feelings. It’s perfectly normal to feel all sorts of emotions the night before. Deep breath, you’ve got this.
- Gather a bag of everything you’ll need in the morning
- Get a good night’s rest
The morning of your wedding!
If you haven’t already, now is the time to let go, relax, and soak it all in. Your day is finally here, your months (maybe even years) of wedding planning have come to an end and you are just about to say yes to forever with your very best friend. Remember to stay hydrated, try to eat something even if your stomach is doing flips, and just enjoy this day surrounded by the people who love and care for you more than anything in the world. Now go pour yourself a mimosa and get ready to CELEBRATE!