This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
You’re engaged, you’re incredibly excited, and at some point it hits you – you’ve got an entire wedding to plan, have no clue where to begin, and are feeling completely & utterly overwhelmed. Take a deep breath – here you’ll find a master wedding planning timeline to keep you organized and on-task, from engagement to wedding day!
Of course, every couple will have a unique timeline based on how long your engagement spans. To map out yours, imagine dividing the length of your engagement into 3 equal parts. For example, if you’re engaged with a wedding date set for 18 months from now, you would organize things in 6-month increments.
In this example, 18 – 12 months is the “beginning” of your engagement, 12-6 months the “middle”, and the end is the last 6 months before the big day.
THE BEGINNING of your engagement …
Once you’ve announced your engagement, you’ll want to work with your partner to formulate your wedding budget and an outline of your guest list. You’ll also need to choose a wedding date and start shopping for your dream venue.
Shopping for Vendors
Once you’ve checked those items off your list, it’s time to start the search for your dream team of wedding vendors – including a photographer, videographer, wedding planner, caterer, florist, DJ, and officiant, just to name a few.
Keep in mind that many vendors will not sign a contract to work with you until your venue is booked, so that should be your first priority.
Save the Dates
It’s official! Once you have your wedding date and venue set, sending out Save the Date notices to your guest list is your next exciting milestone. This is also a great time to start creating your wedding website – it doesn’t have to be 100% finished, but make sure to include the website address on your save the dates so your guests know where to go for more info!
Attend a Wedding Fair or Bridal Expo
And finally, attending a wedding fair or bridal show at the beginning of your engagement is a wonderful way to interview dozens of vendors in person and see their work in action. Make a list of what your main goals are for the day and commit a few hours to walking around and meeting various local wedding professionals. You’ll save yourself a ton of time versus placing phone calls, sending emails, waiting for responses, and setting up individual meetings.
THE MIDDLE of your engagement …
Once you have your venue and main vendors booked, it’s time to start shopping for your wedding dress and tuxedos and/or suits.
You’ll also want to choose your wedding parties, begin to shop for their attire, and finalize a color palette.
With your color palette chosen, you can move into selecting fun details like reception decor, invitations, and flowers. Now is the time to gather inspiration for any projects you’d like to tackle yourself, and make a plan with your wedding party and loved ones for delegating specific tasks.
Plan Your Honeymoon
Check your Honeyfund balance, and start planning the honeymoon of your dreams! If necessary, leave plenty of time to renew passports so you’re not stuck panicking at the last minute.
THE END of your engagement …
It’s almost time for “happily ever after”, but there’s still a lot to do in the final months and weeks before your wedding! Here’s a bullet point list of the items you’ll want to prioritize in the final months before the big day:
- Dress fittings & alterations
- Shop for wedding rings
- Complete any premarital counseling
- Work with your officiant to write ceremony & vows
- Send invitations
- Plan rehearsal dinner
- Hair and makeup trials
- Schedule beauty regimens like haircut, color & highlights, waxing, tanning, & teeth whitening
- Create reception seating chart
- Arrange for guest place cards & favors
- Thank you gifts for parents & wedding parties
- Check-in and final follow up with all vendors
- Final guest count to venue & caterer
- Pick up dress, tuxedos, and/or suits,
- Pack for honeymoon
- Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, take lots of deep breaths …
And finally … CELEBRATE!
You made it! Your wedding day will be one of the most special days of your life – be prepared to take in every last minute. Grab your champagne glass, kiss your new husband or wife, and enjoy the beginning moments of your happily ever after!
Biography: Kara Lamerato is the Producer & Host of the top-rated Wedding Planning Podcast, a totally free resource for engaged couples who are looking for fresh, down-to-earth wedding advice delivered in convenient podcast format. When not in the recording studio, you’ll find Kara running Sail Bay in sunny San Diego, camping & hiking with her family, practicing yoga, & watching Food Network.