You just got engaged, and you’re ready to start planning your big day, but have no idea where to start. That’s a pretty typical feeling for most brides. It can get overwhelming when you start to think of all the different steps required to plan your wedding. Sd Special Events staff is here to ease your mind and break down the steps to planning your big day. As seasoned event planners, we know what needs to get done and when. Our goal is to make the journey to your wedding day as seamless and stress free as possible with this step by step planning timeline. So, put on a smile and take a few deep breaths. Our timeline is going to be handy from day one to the day you say, “I do”.
12 or more months away from your wedding:
First off, congrats! Take some time to celebrate your engagement. Have a backyard BBQ, grab drinks with friends to celebrate, or go all out with invitations to an engagement party. This should be scheduled anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months after your engagement depending on when your wedding is.
Next, you need to sit down with your fiancé, and grab a calendar. Decide what season you want to get married in. Choose 3 dates that both of you can agree on during your preferred time of year and go from there.
We suggest you set a budget next. Knowing how much money you want and need to spend will determine the type of venue you can afford, plus you won’t panic if you know how much you can spend on your décor and catering.
8-12 months away from your wedding:
Create a rough draft of your guest list. This by no means must be your final list of friends and family, but its good practice to have a loose head count. Some venues have a guest capacity. No one wants to fall in love with a venue that can’t host all your guests.
Now that you have an idea of your spending limit and guest numbers, you can envision your wedding style and determine where you want to get married. You don’t have to pin down your wedding style completely just yet but understanding how you want things to look will make shopping around for the perfect venue much easier.
This next step is important for those of you who want a stress-free wedding day. We highly suggest that you get a wedding planner to help you plan, keep track of vendors and coordinate your day of timeline to ensure your wedding goes according to plan. We want you to enjoy your special day to the fullest.
You have a venue and a coordinator, now it’s time for some fun. It’s time to determine your wedding party. Who do you want next to you at your wedding? Is it your 3 best friends or your siblings? Surprise them by putting a little gift together that you present to them when you ask them to be a member of your wedding party.
Do some research and find a wedding photographer and book your engagement photos. These photos can be a great option for your save the dates that you will be sending out in a few months. You can also share them on social media or on your wedding website if you chose to make one.
(We know this feels like a lot of work but keep your spirits up and stick to our timeline.)
Schedule some tastings with a catering company. Some venues offer in house catering or you can opt into finding one that fits your wants. Meet up to taste what they currently offer or go all in and create a custom menu that fits your budget.
During the first months you also want to nail down your wedding entertainment. Do you want live music or a DJ? Booking entertainment early allows you to focus on other aspects of wedding planning. Trust us, it will relieve some unnecessary stress later.
6-8 months away from your wedding:
You will want to start finding a florist and the type of cake or desserts you want to have. Set up cake tastings and a meeting to pick out your florals.
Who is going to be your officiant? Discuss with your fiancé who you want to ask. You will need to find out if they are certified in the state you are getting married.
Create a website that represents you and your fiancé. They are great for keeping your guests up to date, sharing your story and an easy way to give guests access to your gift registry and RSVPing. We recommend using The Knot or Zola.
Now is also a good time to pick out the gifts you want or need. Your gifts can be items you need for your new home or you could even have a honeymoon fund that guests can contribute to.
Grab your bridesmaids and hit the shops. It’s time to go dress shopping. You can make a day of it and schedule in multiple fittings at some local boutiques and larger bridal stores. Have your bridesmaid dress colors picked out so they can shop around too. Celebrate with some pictures of your perfect dress, but make sure you don’t share them with your fiancé.
Nail down your final guest count and send out your save the dates. Remember those engagement photos you took a few months ago? They are perfect quick and cute save the date cards. You could even find a set so all your wedding stationary matches.
If you are renting decorations and furniture, now is the time to lock those reservations in. This includes tables, chairs, linens, photobooths, centerpieces, etc.
Every couple deserves to go on a honeymoon. Choose some spots and start researching prices and dates. Once you’ve decided on when you will go, request time off from work for your wedding and your honeymoon.
4-6 months away from your wedding:
If your maid of honor or family members are throwing you a bridal shower, finalize your guest list so they can plan accordingly and get your invitations in the mail.
If you haven’t already done so, you should start shopping for you wedding rings and booking a stylist for you, your groom and wedding party so everyone’s hair and makeup can look great. Be sure to wear your waterproof mascara just in case you shed some happy tears!
Book your rehearsal dinner space and schedule out your actual rehearsal time. Send out invitations to the dinner if you so choose.
1-3 months away from wedding:
It’s time to attend your wedding shower! This is your time to relax and enjoy everyone showering you with good wishes and love.
Mail your wedding invitations anywhere between 6-8 weeks out from your wedding date. It’s a good idea to ask your guests to RSVP no later than 4 weeks from the big day. Keep in mind some guests will forget to RSVP at all.
Finalize your wedding outfit if you haven’t already. Make sure you have accessories and shoes to match your outfit.
If needed, hire wedding day transportation. Will you be leaving in a getaway car? Book one now. And if you are providing transportation for any guests or your wedding party, you need to finalize this now.
Meet with your officiant to go over ceremony timelines and any other specific details he or she needs to be aware of.
You should also start finalizing things such as your music selection, cake (if you already haven’t), hair styles, and catering menu.
Will you be sticking to the tradition of “Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue”? If so, think about if you want specific women in your family to gift you these items or if you want to choose them out yourself. Just remember to make the items represent you!
Start writing your vows. This is something you don’t want to wait until the last minute to do. Find a quiet place and get to writing.
Apply for your marriage license. This can typically be done at your local county clerk office.
Sit down with your wedding planner and create a day of timeline to make sure you know what’s going on and so your wedding planner can make sure the day runs smoothly. Make sure all vendors are up to date on what’s going on.
Provide your wedding photographer with a shot list for both the ceremony and the reception. Provide them with a copy of your day of timeline, too.
If you are having a bachelor/bachelorette party, attend it! Have fun with your closest friends. Go for an all-out weekend party or enjoy a night out on the town. This is usually done 4 weeks out from the wedding day.
Finalize any outstanding balances or payments. Double check expenses to see if you are in budget. Give yourself a pat on the back if you have.
less than one month away:
Meet with your wedding planner to discus seating charts and finalize your guest RSVP list one last time. If you want to reach out to those who have not RSVP’d, now is the time to do that.
Pre-pack for your honeymoon. Make sure you have all the essentials like sunscreen, proper attire, and all your documents in order if you are leaving right after your wedding.
This is next piece of advice is more a tip than anything. BREAK IN YOUR WEDDING SHOES. No one wants to wear shoes that make your feet ache. Wear your shoes a few times before your big day to get comfortable in them. Just remember not to wear them anywhere they can get dirty.
Get a final haircut and color before the big day. You should also confirm that everyone in your wedding party has their outfits purchased and fitted.
1 week away from wedding:
Provide your wedding planner, venue, and vendors with your official final head count. You or the wedding planner should also confirm details with each vendor.
If you haven’t already, print out reception seating cards and have your wedding planner set them out for your guests’ day of.
Purchase or put together a bridal emergency kit. Your maid of honor can be responsible for the kit on your day. It’s a good idea for the kit to include backup makeup and hair accessories, water, tissues, a sewing kit, fashion tape and a list of important phone numbers.
1 day away from wedding:
Get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling well rested on your wedding day.
Double check that all balances are paid off and make any final payments.
Attend your rehearsal ceremony. Finalize the procession of the party and positions of each person at the ceremony. Check in with the officiant for any final details. This is a great time to give the officiant your wedding license.
Take some time to relax and pamper yourself. Go get a manicure and pedicure with your bridesmaids if there is time. Pack a bag for tomorrow that includes your makeup, getting ready outfit and thank you gifts for your wedding party, too.
Attend your rehearsal dinner with your wedding party and family members. Remember to have fun, but it’s smart to have an early night so you get your beauty sleep the night before your big day.
it’s your wedding day!!!
Wake up and eat a good breakfast. It doesn’t need to be a huge meal, just make sure its healthy because you might get caught up in all the events of the day and not get to eat again for a while. We don’t want you getting lightheaded!
Make sure your maid of honor and the best man have the wedding rings for the ceremony.
Assign a family member to be in contact with the wedding planner and the photographer. They can be the point of contact for questions and comments so you can enjoy your day. Make sure the family member can help the photographer round up family and friends for all your photo requests.
Get your hair and makeup done and put on your dress.
Take any pre ceremony photos like first look photos with your fiancé and your father. Some brides have a short bridal shoot or have the photographer snag some photos of the wedding party getting ready.
Get Married!!!! Attend your ceremony and then celebrate with your guests. You are the host, so remember to take some time to try and talk with as many guests as possible. Most importantly, have fun on your special day!!!!
We know this timeline is lengthy, but we promise if you can stick to it then your wedding planning will go smoothly. Keep in contact with your wedding planner throughout the whole process. You are hiring them to do the stressful stuff like coordinating, budgeting, and day of logistics. Now that you have read our timeline guide, we hope you know where to start! Get inspired by your favorite steps of wedding planning and remember those things when the planning gets a little stressful. Your wedding is meant to be a beautiful stress-free day, and with this guide we know that you can plan for an amazing wedding that is the first step in your new life together with your partner.