Recently engaged? Let us be (probably not) the first to wish you congratulations! If you’ve landed here, you’ve likely begun the daunting process of planning the big day. Even though it can seem like an overwhelming task, we’ve compiled a step by step wedding planning timeline for getting your day underway. Depending on the size, formality and engagement length of your wedding, this timeline can be adjusted to fit your specific needs. Above all, we suggest that you try and enjoy the process. You will be married for many years to come, but will only experience the newly engaged couple feeling once!
- Send engagement announcements: We know you probably posted a beautiful ring selfie on Instagram already, but don’t forget to share the good news with loved ones and friends who aren’t so social media savvy with an announcement or celebration invitation. Pro tip: Are you celebrating something else at the same? Combine your engagement announcement with another announcement or celebration like the New Year, a birthday, or a new shared address!
- Assemble your squad: This can include (but is certainly not limited to) bridal party, wedding planners and more.
- Pick your date: The starting point for all your wedding plans is what day will actually be the big day. Pro tip: Before making any commitments, it wouldn’t hurt to mention your date to close family and friends, or vendors that you absolutely can’t imagine your wedding without.
- Make a guest list: The number of guests you want to invite can help dictate decisions throughout the planning process. Pro tip: It can vary, but plan on 10-20% of your invitations RSVPing ‘no, with regrets’.
8-10 Months Before
- Set up a registry and/or a wedding website: Before you send save the date cards, set up your registry for guests to peruse, and link it on your wedding website if you have one.
- Send save the date cards: This is the first impression your guests will have about your wedding, so spend some time thinking about a design that will coordinate well with your invitations and decor. Pro tip: If you’re getting married during a busy time of year (like the summer, or near a holiday) or are having a destination wedding, think about sending them out even earlier so your guests have time to make travel arrangements.
- Say yes to a dress: If you’re custom ordering a gown, make appointments with boutiques to find your dream dress and get it ordered with plenty of time for alterations.
4-8 Months Before
- Order your invitations: With so many possibilities and styles, it might help to order a few samples in advance to see what you like. Pro tip: There’s no minimum on invitations, order 1 or 100!
- Arrange your vendors: Food, entertainment, florist, photographer, etc.
2-4 Months Before
- Mail your invitations: If you’re hiring a calligrapher or having someone address your envelopes, now is the time to do so.
- Have your cake and eat it too: Research bakeries in your area, decide on a design and order away!
- Attend any showers or parties planned for you/your partner: Traditionally this means bachelor and bachelorette parties, but some couples are opting for combined parties to enjoy together.
- Hire or arrange for day-of transportation: This can refer to how you’ll get to and from your venue, but don’t forget the little things too! You do not want to be the one saying “Did anyone pick up g
randmafrom the airport?”
- Shop for gifts: Research and order gifts for parents, attendants, bridal party members and each other, if necessary.
1 Month Before
- Apply for a marriage license! Check the local government policies where you will be getting married for details about this.
- Create a wedding program: Traditionally these are paper handouts, but feel free to explore other options to fit your wedding! Some alternatives are hand fans or a sign posted outside your ceremony space.
- Review your guest list: You’ll want to start giving final numbers to your vendors soon, so call any guests who have not yet sent a response.
- Final touches: Make any last minute alterations to attire for you and your bridal party, and pick up anything else you’ll need day of.
Days Before/Day Of
Hand offtasks like placing the welcome baskets, arranging place cards, table cards, place settings, favors, unity candles, aisle runners, and any other day-of tasks/items to your planner, a venue employee, etc. Pro tip: Passing these tasks off to a family member or friend can work, but be sure that they are reliable and won’tmind arriving early/missing another part of your event.
- Line up: Determine the order of your bridal party for the procession/recession, and rehearse your ceremony as a whole.
- Settle up: Give your planner, day of organizer or a trusted family member any day-of tip envelopes or checks for outstanding fees. Pro tip: Give this person’s phone number to EVERYONE who could possibly need it. You don’t want to be fielding calls about a catering emergency on the big day.
- Pack up: Staying in a newlywed suite after your nuptials? Don’t forget to pack an overnight bag, and assign someone to drop it off for you.
- Send your thank you cards: Don’t forget to thank your friends and family for their gifts, but also for attending and being a part of your special day! Pro tip: Tradition says you have a year to send them out, but realistically shoot for within 3 months.
- Something borrowed: If you rented or borrowed anything, make sure it is cleaned and returned back to its owner. Pro tip: If you bought supplies and have tons of decor hanging around, look at second-hand wedding websites to see about selling or donating those items.
And just like that, you’re done! Chances are your wedding day will be a whirlwind of excitement, but remember that once it’s over you’ll have a partner to Netflix and chill with for life!
Erika focuses on email marketing, copywriting and merchandising at Zazzle, but she has a secret obsession with all things wedding! During the week you can find her writing punny subject lines while also pinning the latest wedding trends, and outside of the 9-5, she is usually cheering on the San Jose Sharks, reading a good murder mystery, or hunting for the best Philly Cheesesteak in the Bay Area.