Did you know that one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding that most couples report is the desire to please both families? The other top two stressors are developing and sticking to a wedding budget as well as finalizing the guest list.
Simply put, planning a wedding is stressful enough without having to worry about whether you’ll get everything done in time for the big day. So, if you’re getting married soon we suggest you follow a timeline to plan a wedding.
Understanding when you should take care of certain tasks can help ensure you stay on track. There are certain wedding planning milestones you should hit before your wedding day and we’re about to help you figure out what those are.
Before you can plan a wedding you need to get engaged (at least, that’s how it works in most cultures and traditions). If you’re planning on popping the question, congratulations! Proposing is a nerve-wracking experience, but it doesn’t have to be.
To help ensure the proposal goes off without a hitch, try to get a sense of what your partner wants first. Next, start planning the proposal itself. Will you do it in private or in front of a crowd? Will you write a speech or simply say a few words from the heart? Whatever you do, make sure it feels genuine and authentic to who you are as a couple.
Finally, don’t forget the ring! This is probably the most important part of the proposal, so take your time picking out the perfect one. Once you have the ring, all that’s left is to say those four little words: “Will you marry me?” Best of luck!
How Long Do You Need to Plan a Wedding?
You’ve just gotten engaged, and you’re already thinking about the wedding. But how long do you need to plan a wedding? The answer may surprise you. While it’s possible to plan a wedding in as little as a few months, most couples spend at least a year planning their big day.
And while that may seem like a long time, there’s a lot to do. You’ll need to choose a date and venue, decide on your budget, and start planning the details of the ceremony and reception. You’ll also need to book vendors, including a photographer, caterer, and florist.
And don’t forget about the dress! With so much to do, it’s no wonder most couples take their time planning their wedding. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. Just take your time and enjoy the planning process!
Timeline to Plan a Wedding
As mentioned above, a good wedding planning timeline is at least a year. A year is long enough for most couples to secure a great venue and coordinate the rest of the details of the wedding. To help you figure out what you should be doing each month during that year, we’ve created a handy timeline you can use to help stay on track.
One Year Before
You’ve just gotten engaged so everything is super fresh and new. As you both enjoy the bliss of engagement and what’s to come, the only thing you should be worried about now is insuring your engagement ring.
When you insure your engagement ring, you protect one of your most valuable possessions if it’s lost, stolen, or damaged. After the initial excitement has worn off, you’ll also want to take care of the following tasks:
- Create a wedding budget
- Make a guest list
- Hire a wedding planner
- Decide on a theme
- Choose a venue
- Select a caterer
The budget is going to be the basis of everything you do from here on out. Start by thinking about how much you can realistically afford to spend. This will help you set a spending limit.
Don’t forget to factor in additional costs such as wedding favors, invitations, and thank-you cards. All in all, if you hire a great wedding planner, they should be able to help with this as well as with choosing a wedding theme and catering options.
11 to 9 Months Before
Now that you’ve taken care of all the big basics, it’s time to start ironing out the details of your big day. If you have decided on a theme then it’s time to consider the actual color scheme of your wedding. Look at different types of weddings for inspiration if you need to.
You should also spend this time hiring your photographer, videographer, DJ, and any other form of entertainment you plan to have at your wedding. While it might seem a bit early for this, these types of wedding professionals tend to book out far in advance so you want to book them early.
As you start to book photographers and entertainment, it’s also a great idea to set up your wedding website if you’ll have one and start looking at invitations. You don’t need to send them out just yet, but you need to at least be starting to narrow down your options.
Likewise, it’s a great time to start looking for a wedding dress!
8 Months Before
About eight to nine months before your wedding you should be purchasing your wedding dress. Wedding dresses almost always need to be altered and bridal shops have a lot of brides year-round to cater to so you don’t want to incur rush fees for that.
Additionally, now’s a great time to send out save-the-dates. Again, you don’t need to be sending out the invitations, but you do want to give your guests a heads-up far in advance so they can plan.
If you’re going to be hosting a destination wedding that requires a lot of air travel or international travel then it’s best to send these invites out as far in advance as possible. Once you send out save-the-dates you can formally set up your wedding gift registry and start looking for bridal party clothing. Be sure to always request fittings in person if possible.
7 to 6 Months Before
At this point in the wedding preparation process, you should be contacting florists. Your wedding planner likely has a few contacts they’ll be able to schedule meetings with. Trust their professional opinion but ensure you find someone that fits within your wedding budget.
You should also be:
- Looking for and booking the rehearsal dinner venue
- Hiring an officiant
- Ordering large rental items such as a dance floor
- Hiring a lighting technician
Again, if you’ve hired a great wedding planner then these are all areas in which they’ll have some recommendations. Chances are, if they’re great at what they do, they’ll be reminding you of these tasks as well.
5 Months Before
Things are starting to get serious now! At about the five-month mark is when most couples seem to get hit with the reality of what’s to come. This is when most couples start pre-marital counseling and booking their honeymoon.
Likewise, now’s a great time to book limo transportation from the wedding to the reception as well as booking transportation for guests if that’s something you’ll provide.
Finally, five months before the wedding the groom should have a tuxedo. Take time to consider the fit and style of the groom’s tux and it’s an important part of ensuring he feels confident on the big day.
4 to 3 Months Before
It’s finally time to start looking for wedding bands. While this isn’t as pressing as other tasks on this entire wedding planning checklist, you do need to do this a couple of months before your wedding day just in case there are sizing issues.
Whether you opt for a Damascus wedding ring or something more golden and classic, it’s worth taking your time to search for a wedding ring you’ll love to look at and wear for the rest of your life.
Other tasks you’ll want to take care of during this time include:
- Scheduling a final menu tasting with your caterer
- Choosing a wedding cake
- Scheduling groomsmen fittings
- Scheduling a hair and makeup trial
- Ordering the invitations
If you have time, now’s a great point in the preparation process to start thinking about wedding guest favors as well. If you think you’ll take some time writing your vows, starting a few months beforehand can be a great idea so that you have time to think and edit.
2 Months Before
Sending out your official wedding invitations two months before gives your guests enough time to formally RSVP. Because you’ve planned, though, this process only requires you to print, assemble, and send them off!
You should also be sending out your invitations for the rehearsal dinner, scheduling your dress fitting, buying wedding party gifts, and picking up your wedding license (yay!).
To help destress from all the craziness, take time out with your partner to plan a DJ set list or at least come up with some songs that you know are going to be a must to listen to during the reception.
1 Month Before
You’re almost there! If you’ve planned then hopefully this last month won’t be too stressful. Now is the time to tie up loose ends and enjoy the excitement of saying I do.
Finalize your seating chart, make guest placement cards for that seating chart, and plan a final walkthrough of the venue a few days in advance.
One thing that most couples forget to do during the month leading up to their wedding day is to book appointments in advance. If you’re going to have a spa day beforehand or need to get your nails done and your eyebrows waxed, book these appointments ahead of time!
Get More Wedding Planning Tips
This timeline to plan a wedding provides you with a great starting point to work from. However, several factors go into planning a successful wedding. To help you figure out everything from florists to DJs, we’ve created several articles for you with tips and resources.
Click here to browse through all of our wedding planning resources.