The Countdown Begins: Wedding Planning Checklist

It’s never too early to start planning. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to matrimonial bliss
Quyen Luu and Michael Hom’s sunny and chic May 2014 wedding

First things first:

* Tell friends and family.

* Set the date.

* Choose what type of wedding you want (formal, semi formal, informal; which season).

* Set a wedding budget and decide who will be able to contribute and how much.

* Visit, choose and book your ceremony and reception sites.

* Pick a photographer/videographer.

* Have engagement photos taken.

* Start shopping for your gown.

* Start working on your guest list.

* Arrange for both sets of parents to get together.

9 to 12 months before:

* Sign up for any pre-marital counseling or classes.

* Announce your engagement in local newspapers, if desired.

* Choose your wedding party members.

* Arrange the first meeting with your minister, priest or rabbi and wedding planner (if using one).

* Throw an engagement party.

* Gather wedding inspiration. Start a Pinterest board. Search magazines and websites for ideas.

* Begin inserting the names of vendors and their contact information into a master contact list.

checklist

6 to 9 months before:

* Select a caterer.

* Choose a baker, schedule cake tastings.

* Shop for bridesmaid dresses.

* Hire a florist.

* Book a band/DJ.

* Start researching honeymoon spots.

* Finalize the guest list.

* Book a stationer (and calligrapher, if using one).

* Mail save-the-date cards.

* Purchase your shoes, headpiece, jewelry and lingerie for the big day.

* Order your gown and schedule fittings (remember to bring your shoes).

* Book hair and makeup artists for the big day.

* Reserve structural and electrical necessities. Book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs, linens, lighting and so on.

* Start making a day-of timeline, determining what should happen when (speeches, first dance, etc).

* Book a block of hotel rooms near the reception site for out-of-town guests. Pick more than one hotel at different price points.

* Register for gifts at two to three places. Remember that some guests will use your registries for showers and engagement gifts, so be sure to register for enough.

* Start to keep track of favorite songs.

4 to 6 months before:

* Order all wedding stationery (invitations, envelopes, thank-you notes) and work out pricing for programs, menus and place cards, which will be printed closer to the date.

* Hire wedding-day transportation.

* Book flights and hotel reservations for your honeymoon.

* Arrange the rehearsal dinner.

* Schedule any beauty treatments (brow-waxing, facials, teeth-whitening) that you’d like to have done before the wedding.

* Send a guest list to the host of your bridal shower.

* Prepare map or directions to include with invitations.

* Have physical examinations and updated immunizations if traveling out of the country for your wedding or honeymoon.

* Order passport, if necessary.

* Purchase wedding rings; order engraving.

* Remind mothers and mothers-in-law to start shopping for their dresses.

2 to 4 months before:

* Order the tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen.

* Meet with the caterer or facility manager to discuss menus, wine selections, serving style, etc.

* Choose and order wedding favors and welcome baskets, if desired.

* Order the wedding cake.

* Meet with your officiant to discuss your ceremony; invite loved ones to perform readings, if appropriate.

* Choose songs for the ceremony and reception.

* Buy thank-you gifts for your attendants.

* Confirm group hotel rates for out-of-town guests.

* Finalize your honeymoon plans.

* Send invitations to the calligrapher if you’re using one.

* Plan your bachelorette party with your attendants.

* Send a day-of timeline to your vendors so they’ll have ample time for tweaks and feedback.

* Sign up for dance lessons, if desired.

checklist

1 to 2 months before:

* Mail invitations.

* Do a hair and makeup run-through (with headpiece).

* Meet with the caterer to finalize a menu.

* Send programs, menus and escort cards to the stationer to be printed (if not using a calligrapher).

* Make arrangements for a place for you and the bridesmaids to dress before the wedding.

* Send your wedding announcement to local newspapers, if desired.

* Write thank-you notes as you receive gifts. Maintain a list of all presents received and thank-yous written. Store all gifts in the boxes in which they came so you can return multiples.

2 to 4 weeks before:

* Plot the seating for the reception.

* Confirm times with all vendors.

* Have your final dress fitting.

* Write your rehearsal dinner toast.

* Compose your vows, if desired.

* Visit the salon for one last cut and color.

* Send escort cards and the seating chart to your calligrapher to fill in guests’ names and table numbers.

* Enter RSVPs into a guest-list database, and call invitees who haven’t yet responded.

* Get your marriage license. If you’re changing your name, order several extra copies.

* If changing your name, make arrangements with Social Security, Department of Motor Vehicles, credit card companies and your bank.

* Arrange to have your fiancé become the beneficiary of your life insurance.

* Mail the rehearsal dinner invitations, if applicable.

* Stock the bar using your final head count as a guide.

* Send out as many final vendor payments as you can.

* Provide addresses and directions for drivers of transport vehicles.

* Create a must-take “shot list” and discuss it with your photographer.

checklist

1 week before:

* Compile the fees that will be due on the wedding day.

* Give the caterer a final head count.

* Appoint a reliable pal to transport the cake knife, toasting glasses, etc. to and from the reception site.

* Get final beauty treatments (facial, waxing, brow-shaping, etc).

* Pack for the honeymoon. Ask someone to bring your luggage to the reception if you’re leaving from there.

* Give your honeymoon itinerary to a friend or family member in case of emergency.

* Pick up your dress or make arrangements for it to be fetched or delivered.

* Arrange for the cake to be delivered to the reception venue.

* Buy a guest book, if you choose to use one.

* Delegate small wedding-day tasks: someone to carry your things; someone to bustle your dress; someone to manage the gifts; someone to hand out tips; someone to watch over the guest book; and someone to be the point person for vendors.

* Send a timeline to the bridal party, including every member’s contact information.

* Break in your shoes.

* Assemble and distribute welcome baskets to out-of-town guests, if desired.

* Pick up wedding rings, check engravings and sizes.

* Remind men to pick up formalwear and shoes, and check them for fit.

* If you don’t have a personal attendant, ask a friend to help you get dressed on the big day.

* Talk to head usher about any special seating arrangements.

* Arrange for a light snack for the wedding party to eat while getting ready for the ceremony.

Last 24 hours:

* Help decorate the venue, if necessary.

* Have a manicure, pedicure and any other last-minute pampering treatments.

* Distribute thank-you gifts to the wedding party, special attendants and parents.

* Organize for a note or gift to be delivered to your fiancé on the wedding day.

* Give marriage announcements to an attendant for mailing after the wedding, if relevant.

* Take a relaxing bath, go to bed early and start getting excited. You’re about to get married!

This article originally appeared in our sister publication Minnesota Bride's Spring/Summer 2015 issue.