Most people only want to plan only one wedding. While you may attend many of them and enjoy the ceremonies and receptions, it’s not until you plan your own that you can appreciate the process. Or in some cases appreciate just how much work goes into planning. And if you don’t have any experience planning, it may quickly become overwhelming. We work with couples on their big day yes, but also in the months prior to the wedding. When we are on location for an engagement shoot we often hear about the stress and struggles of planning. That’s why we have created the only wedding planning timeline you’ll need!
Everyone’s engagement is different! We cannot stress that enough, some people pop the question and are married in 3 months. While others, have engagements that span a couple of years. But for the most part, the average engagement is 12-14 months long!
Wedding Planning Timeline
12+ Months Out
In no particular order! This section of the wedding planning timeline includes aspects that go almost hand in hand with one another!
Determine Your Budget: Money matters and weddings are expensive. Determining the knitty gritty of your finances is the very first step of your wedding planning timeline. Getting help from family? Be sure to have conversations about the kind of help you may be able to expect. For the most part, wedding planning is the most expensive at the beginning when you start to put down deposits for the largest aspects. Then, in the weeks leading up to your wedding when you’ll be expected to pay a good majority of your vendors!
Select Your Date: Keep in mind that there are peak seasons for weddings, and there are season lows. If you’re on a bit of a tighter budget, play around with dates that are less sought after. It will mean you may be able to snag some of the vendors you’re hoping for or book your dream venue.
Determine Your Guest List: Who is going to join you on your big day? Will you have only a select few join you for a reception or will you have a large party? Some couples find it easier to form tiers for their guest lists. You can expect about 10-15% of invited guests to decline the invitation for one reason or another. Be sure to speak to your family as well, while the big day is about you, they may have a few people they would love to have at the wedding as well.
12 Months Out
Start a Pinterest Board: Start pinning! Ideas, inspirations, DIYs, Pinterest is an amazing resource. New to Pinterest? Or looking to learn how to utilize for your wedding. Read our blog post on Pinterest and Your Wedding.
Select Your Themes and Colour Palettes: What kind of vibe are you hoping to achieve? What are the colours that will define the day? Sit down with your significant other and have a conversation about formality, type of location, and the overall aesthetic. Go into this planning period of time together.
Choose a Venue: This is a big one! From a financial point of view it may be the most expensive portion of your big day. Do your research carefully, compare costs, be sure to understand what is included with each venue. Having a good idea of what you’re looking for is crucial as venues go quickly.
11 Months Out
Hire Your Vendors: This includes wedding photographers like us! Get in touch with us to see if we can be a part of your big day! 11 months out is also the point in your wedding timeline that you can book your engagement shoot. If you’re planning on sending Save the Dates, your engagement shoot can provide you with the perfect imagery.
Vendors you additionally should look into booking:
– Day-of Coordinator
– Hair and Makeup Team
Book Your Ceremony Location: Whether you’ll have an officiant or you’ll be saying “I do” in your place of worship, be sure it’s available. Depending on your religious affiliations, you may have to participate in a marriage preparation course of sorts as well.
Choose Your Bridal Party: Certainly, you’re going to want to know who will stand beside you on your wedding day!
10 Months Out
Shop For Your Wedding Dress: The dress you try on at the store is not the same one you’re going to be wearing the day of your wedding! Once you say “yes to the dress” the dress needs to be ordered. Definitely, leave enough time for the dress to arrive and for your alterations to be booked.
Start Thinking About Your Invitations: Are your going to send out save the dates? What kind of invitations will you have? Without a doubt, don’t feel obligated to go the traditional route. If you want to do everything digitally, do it! Hire a designer to create your invitations or make them yourself. Websites like Etsy have a ton of templates that can be purchased to save you money.
Update Your Contact Info: Firstly, you’re going to need either emails or addresses. Secondly, it’s like a pre-save the date or a precursor to your wedding invitations. The last thing you want is for someone not to receive an invite due to an incorrect home or email address.
9 Months Out
Create a Wedding Registry: We personally love MyRegistry.com where you can add gifts from various stores. Moreover, you may want to include this link for other upcoming events like your bridal shower!
Work up a Wedding Website: Certainly, it will help with guest organization to have everything digital and information easily accessible for your guests. There are many options that aren’t too expensive and are definitely worth it. You can use your engagement imagery for your website as well.
Send Your Save the Dates: Either by mail or visit friends and family, and deliver them personally!
Purchase/Rent Day-of Attire for Your Bridal Party: Whether that includes suites and/or bridesmaids dresses, or non-traditional outfits, be sure to book, buy or rent whatever your need. Moreover, keep in mind that some dresses, like your wedding dress, need months to arrive into store.
Book Your Bridal Shower/Bachelor/Bachelorette Party: Get ready for some pre wedding fun. Plan your dates, and begin to think about who you want to invite to which celebration.
8 Months Out
Plan and Book your Honeymoon: You may be dreaming of a far-away sunny destination or a 2-week trip. On the other hand, you may have your sights set on a mini-moon. Iron out the details and book that special trip with your soon to be betrothed.
Finalize Your Vendors: Be sure to have everything and everyone confirmed. Inquire about drop off and pick up times, as certain vendors will require additional time for either.
Book Any Additional Rentals: Your venue may have just about everything that you need. But if they don’t, this is the portion in your wedding timeline to arrange additional rentals.
Secure a Rehearsal Dinner Location: Whether you want to keep it low-key or go a little fancier, 8 months out you should start to speak with your S/O and your families about a potential location. We are anticipating the next few years to be very busy, so book sooner rather than later.
7 Months Out
Send Your Wedding Invitations: Purchase and prepare your wedding stationary; invitations, RSVP cards, location details etc. In preCovid times, we used to recommend pushing this a little closer to the date. But, like many other items on this wedding planning timeline, the sooner you send these out, the better! Need inspiration? Follow us on Pinterest where we have a board dedicated to wedding invites!
Shop for Wedding Bands: Don’t forget about those rings! Often they have to be ordered and sized!
Buy Pre-Wedding Outfits: Will you get ready in a beautiful robe? Will your bridesmaids all wear matchings PJs? Will you change into another outfit at the end of your wedding night? Take time to finalize and purchase any outfits other than your wedding dress/tuxedo.
6 Months Out
Prepare Your Signage and Paper Goods: Think of signage like your “Welcome to the Wedding” or your guest seating chart, table numbers, signature drinks, menu cards etc. If you’re planning on making these yourself, take a look at our favourite free wedding fonts.
Send Bridal Shower Invitations: Depending on when you’re hosting you’re bridal shower, consider sending these invitations about 2-3 months prior.
Devise a Day-of Timeline: Leave plenty of room for getting from one place or another. Think practically about activities you want to include in the day. And leave extra room for family photos. Getting everyone organized, can be super time consuming, for instance.
5 Months Out
Finalize Your Ceremony Timeline: Know what time you need to arrive and what time you need to be on your way to the next stop.
Plan your Music: Think of songs you want to hear, and the songs that will have your guests dancing. Depending on who you’re working with live band/DJ, they’ll appreciate receiving details with more than enough time to prepare.
4 Months Out
Have Your Hair and Makeup Trial: Most hair and makeup vendors include a trial day so that you can nail the look on your big day. This is the perfect time to see if that hairstyle you found on Pinterest will actually look the way you’re hoping it will on you.
Take a Break: This one is definitely not mandatory, but highly recommended. You’ve done so much up to this point. It’s time to plan a lovely date night, or a weekend with no planning to ensure you don’t burn out. Spend some quality time together and celebrate your soon to be nuptials.
Purchase Wedding Favours: It’s better to have more than less, so add a few extras when ordering these small tokens for your wedding guests.
3 Months Out
Get Your Marriage License: Trust us, this is one of those things couples often forget. But it’s crucial. You can get your marriage license up to 90 days before your wedding. Do it sooner rather than later.
Attend Your Wedding Shower: Be showered with love and attention! Relish in the fact that you’ll soon be a blushing bride.
Purchase Your Thank-You Gifts: For your bridal party, your parents, or that friend who has been by your side during the whole wedding planning process.
Think About Personalized Extras: Things like cake cutting knives, or special champagne flutes. Maybe a special surprise for your fiance. This is the time to plan and purchase these little goodies, that make the day even more unique.
2 Months Out
Start Writing Your Vows: The big day is fast approaching, your wedding planning timeline is almost complete! Words don’t come easily to all of us, so give yourself plenty of time to edit and rewrite as needed. We wish you the best of luck in this aspect!
Begin Your Dress Alteration Process: Generally, alterations are broken down into a few appointments as brides tend to shed a few extra pounds as they approach the wedding, either from working on their fitness routines, or unfortunately due to being stressed out!
Make Your Seating Chart: Know where everyone is going to be seated. Try and seat people with at least one other person that they may know to help everyone be comfortable and have fun.
Enjoy your Bachelor or Bachelorette Party: Have fun! Your wedding is almost here!
1 Month Out
Touch Base with All Your Vendors: Be sure to have everyone’s contact information and confirm they arrival times, drop-off and pick-up times.
Book Final Appointments: Think manis/pedis, teeth whitening or any kind of esthetician appointments that you’ll be wanting the week before your wedding.
Confirm your RSVPs: Be sure you double and triple check those final numbers. AND! Don’t forget to count yourself and your fiance. You wouldn’t believe how many people forget about the two most important people on the wedding day.
The Week Before
Pamper Yourself: Head to all those appointments you booked a few weeks ago! Enjoy and relax as best as you can.
Practise your Vows (Out loud): Out loud, being the key word here. In front of a mirror or in front of a friend. If you’re rusty at first, don’t worry, the more you practise the easier it gets.
Pack your Bags: Whether your overnight bag if you’re staying at a hotel, or the bag for the day of that will have beauty emergency essentials or extra snacks.
Confirm Speeches and Finalize the Day of Plan: If you’ve hired help for the day of, finalize your plans. Be sure everyone who is giving a speech is ready, and have practised out loud too! Have a masterlist of all contact information for all vendors ready to go as well.
The Night Before/Day Of
Breathe! It’s happening, the wedding planning timeline comes to an end. Start penultimate day with lots of deep breaths.
Gift Your Family/Bridal Party: Those small thank you tokens you bought months ago, consider gifting them the day before your wedding.
Enjoy Your Rehearsal Dinner: And drink lots of water! Everyone wants to see a hydrated couple looking and feeling their best at the wedding the next day. Stay off the booze with the exception of a few toasts.
Marry the Love of Your Life.