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The How-To Lounge: Wedding Time Line

As much as you would love to fast forward to your wedding day immediately after your fiancé pops the question, weddings take time and careful consideration to plan. There are many caveats to making your day everything you always dreamt it would be, so it is imperative to create a time line leading up to your wedding day.

Whether you have hired a wedding planner or are orchestrating the big day yourself, you will need to keep track of important tasks, vendors, participants, and most importantly, deadlines. Having every detail accounted for and mapped out will help alleviate any unnecessary stress. Since most engagements last a year, I am here to give you some tips on mapping out your wedding time line.

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One year before your wedding

  • Since you have already chosen your wedding party, it's now time to decide the formality of and style of the big day
  • Create your budget. Consider everything from the dress to the wedding officiator, including everything in between
  • Start interviewing and booking wedding professionals: ceremony site, receptions sites, caterers, waiters, bartenders, photographer, videographer, florists, etc.
  • Finding your wedding dress is extremely important to most brides, so get shopping ASAP. Most gowns take at least 5-8 months to make, and don't forget to account extra time for multiple fittings once your dress is ready. Bridal gowns are nonrefundable, so be certain you pick the right one
  • Once you choose your dress, decide on colors and attire for your bridal party
  • Start mapping out your guest list and compiling addresses. Start big and after you lock down your budget, you will have a better grasp on how many people you can invite and then you will be able to thin out your list
  • Start a gift registry. A year before your wedding is when engagement parties and showers will be thrown in your honor, so make sure your guests know where to shop and what to purchase
  • Start planning your honeymoon and book your travel as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more expensive your flight and hotel accommodations will be

6 months before your wedding

  • Finalize your guest list and send your save your dates
  • Reserve accommodations for out of town guests. Research hotel blocks and rental car deals
  • Order your wedding invitations, thank you cards, place cards, programs and any additional personalized stationery you desire. It is important they are all ordered at the same time in case there is a difference in the paper run
  • Choose and book a location for your rehearsal dinner. It might be difficult to find a venue that can cater to a large party, so if you have a place in mind, sign a contract ASAP
  • Start tasting wedding cakes. If your wedding is during high season, you need to make sure to place an order sooner than later

4 Months before your wedding

  • Shop or rent formal wear for the groomsmen and purchase their ties
  • Shop and purchase wedding bands. Account for any time needed for engraving and additional sizing if need be

3 months before your wedding

  • Book appointments for hair and make up for your wedding day and make sure to sign a contract with your stylist
  • Look into wedding day transportation
  • Finalize your menu

2 months before your wedding

  • Send your wedding and rehearsal dinner invitations
  • Decide on music set lists including your first dance and any specific processional music

1 month before your wedding

  • Pick up your marriage license
  • Go in for your final dress fitting, and remember to break in your shoes
  • Make sure your bridal party has received their dresses, tuxedos and suits
  • Create and print your wedding program
  • Review final RSVP list and create your seating chart
  • Conform all reservations and vendor contracts
  • Determine wedding party precession

The week of your wedding

  • Get your final beauty treatments: haircut, hair color, wax, facial and a much needed massage
  • Purchase and wrap bridesmaids' gifts
  • Purchase and wrap a gift for your husband if applicable
  • Plan out the morning of your wedding. If you choose to get ready with your bridal party, organize the venue, food, photographer, transportation, etc.
  • Touch up your manicure/pedicure
  • Designate a dress handler. The last thing you want to be worried about the day of your wedding is leaving your dress at home
  • Remember to load up on water the week before your wedding> Nerves can do strange things to your body, so make sure you stay hydrated

I know this seems extremely cumbersome, but it's everything you will need to remember and plan for your perfect wedding day. Although all these steps are critical for your planning, the most important thing to remember is to have fun and really enjoy this experience. Your wedding is meant to happen only once! Good luck.


Join The Conversation
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
yeah, i'm not of the "most important day of your life" view. the decision to get maried, but in the end the ceremony is 30 minutes and the marriage a life time. sadly many people think the majority of the work goes into the "party" and very little in the day to day life afterwards. in reality, who will even notice that your bridesmaids dresses just matched the ribbon in your center pieces. and if they do will the care? my sil asked be what the "theme" was for my wedding. wtf? its us getting married. if that isn't enough don't bother to join us.
andaman andaman 10 years
I watched a program once where the bride spent about 2000 dollars on a dress. Blind me..she wasn't a celeb or anything like that. Just someone who wanted to look beautiful. I could go somewhere nice for that money!
stefsprl stefsprl 10 years
My husband and I got engaged on January 1st and married on March 11th -- all with me living 12 hours from my family and working full time. I got laughed out of wedding dress stores when I told them I was getting married in less than two months and there were several times we almost eloped. But the day came, and was beautiful, and we are married, which was the main objective anyway. Not every girl dreams of a big princess wedding...some of us just want to skip all of that and be married! :)
andaman andaman 10 years
It's just so not me. I admire anyone who can organise this alone :)
andaman andaman 10 years
My god I am so very glad we didn't have party! We spent the money on a honeymoon in the far east instead! Just the two of us. I can't be dealing with this!
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