The Wedding Countdown

The Wedding Countdown

📸: @sabrina_scolari_photography

According to WeddingWire, 40 percent of all engagements take place between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, per the latest wedding survey. Now, it’s time to start cranking the wheels. If you’re planning a one-year engagement, use this as a guide to know where you should be in your planning timeline.

12 to 9 Months Prior

  • Set date and time. 
  • Begin a wedding binder, excel sheet and/or Google Doc for your planning needs. Include information on vendors, costs and contracts. 
  • Browse for local resources and vendor suggestions. 
  • Determine a budget (and who is paying for what).  
  • Determine an overall theme/style and colors. 
  • Book reception venue based on budget and theme.  
  • Book officiant (and reserve ceremony location if needed). 
  • Put together a rough guest list head count. 
  • Figure out who you want in your wedding party (and see if they are available/willing to participate). 
  • Interview wedding planners (if applicable). 
  • Set up a wedding website and include relevant info for guests. 
  • Book your engagement session (if applicable). 
  • Announce your engagement in local newspaper or on
  • Have an engagement party (if so inclined). 
  • Begin researching (budget-friendly) wedding vendors. 
  • Begin making bridal boutique appointments to find wedding dress. 

8 Months Prior

  • Book photographer and/or videographer. 
  • Book entertainment (DJ, band, etc.). 
  • Book caterer.  
  • Set up your wedding registries (and make sure  the link is included on your wedding website).  
  • Block hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.  
  • Order passports if traveling out of the country for your honeymoon. 
  • Purchase dream dress at a bridal boutique;  schedule additional fittings.  
  • Shop for wedding fashion accessories. 
  • Book day-of transportation. 
  • Order save-the-dates. 
  • Get started on any time-intensive DIY projects.  

7 to 6 Months Prior

  • Shop for bridesmaid/mother-of-the-bride dresses. 
  • Visit a men’s clothier for groom and groomsmen attire. 
  • Meet with jewelers to discuss options for wedding bands. 
  • Order invitations and favors; mail save-the-dates. 
  • Book honeymoon (if applicable). 
  • Book florist. 

5 to 4 Months Prior

  • Set up rehearsal time and book rehearsal dinner venue. 
  • Select and order the wedding cake/desserts. 
  • Send guest list to bridal shower point person (if applicable). 
  • Schedule hair and makeup trials.  
  • Finalize/order the groom and groomsmen attire. 
  • Purchase items for welcome bags (if applicable). 
  • Purchase wedding bands to give you time for any last minute re-sizing needs. 

3 to 2 Months Prior

  • Finalize all menus with caterer. 
  • Reserve rental equipment (chairs, linens, etc.). 
  • Mail wedding invitations.  
  • Finalize hair and makeup looks. Work out wedding timing with hair stylist/makeup artist (based on yours and bridal party’s needs). 
  • Finalize flowers and decorations with florist. 
  • Finalize toasts for reception.  
  • Purchase lingerie/undergarments for dress fittings. 
  • Plan bachelor and/or bachelorette parties. 
  • Print menu cards, programs and any other stationery. 
  • Apply for marriage license at your local town clerk’s office.  

1 Month Prior

  • Finalize ceremony with officiant (including readings/vows). 
  • Fill out documents for any name changes. 
  • Go for final dress fitting (bring shoes and accessories). 
  • Purchase thank you gifts for wedding party and family members. 
  • Finalize all transportation for wedding day. 
  • Review photography shot list with photographer. 
  • Review music playlist with DJ or band. 
  • Buy or create a guest book for guests to sign. 
  • Create seating chart for reception and print place cards/signage. 
  • Finalize any and all DIY projects. 

2 Weeks Prior

  • Give caterer/venue final head count for reception. 
  • Finalize any and all honeymoon plans. 
  • Break in wedding shoes. 

Week of Wedding

  • Send a timeline of the wedding day and a responsibility sheet to the wedding party and family members so that you will be stress-free. 
  • Have checks ready for vendors; include gratuity. 
  • Pack wedding day emergency kit (granola bar, makeup, safety pins, extra pair of hosiery, etc.). 
  • Pack for the honeymoon (if applicable). 
  • Pick up wedding dress at the bridal boutique. 
  • Confirm tux rentals (or pick up suit from tailor). 
  • Head to a spa or salon for a relaxing massage, manicure and pedicure (invite your bridal party!). 
  • Rehearse for the ceremony and attend rehearsal dinner; pass out any thank you gifts. 
  • Drop off welcome bags for out-of-town guests.  

The Wedding Day

  • Eat small, light meals. 
  • Have hair and makeup done. 
  • Have the wedding certificate signed by the best man and maid of honor. 
  • Switch engagement ring to index finger on right hand.
  • Exchange any presents with soon-to-be-spouse. 
  • Be ready to party! 

PLEASE NOTE: This timeline is based on a one-year engagement. Vendor booking needs can vary widely depending on popularity and availability, so do your research! If you have the time to spare, remember that the earlier you book, the better. 

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