- 10 - 12+months
- 8 - 10months
- 6 - 8months
- 4 - 6months
- 2 - 3months
- 2 - 4weeks
- 1 weekbefore
- 1 daybefore
- 1 - 3months
10 - 12+ months before your wedding
When choosing your wedding date, consider vacation times, holidays or other special occasions that might prohibit your guests from being able to attend.
If you have your heart set on a particular venue, be flexible on your wedding date and wait to set the day until after you have contacted them for availability.
Choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen as soon as possible after the engagement announcement to give them ample time to prepare for their responsibilities.
As you start to think about how to personalize your wedding, consider incorporating familial, cultural or religious traditions that are very important to you, your fiancé(e) and close family members.
Put your ideas onto a story or inspiration board that unites your wedding dreams and encompasses style, colors and theme. Your story board will give you a tangible expression of your dreams.
Create a checklist to help you organize and keep track of important wedding decisions and tasks (try our free Wedding Planning Checklist).
As soon as you’ve finalized your wedding date, design, order and send out your personalized Save the Date to guests as a fun and practical reminder for them to reserve your wedding day.
Establish a sense of balance throughout the entire wedding planning period by regularly going out on “planning-free” dates with your fiancé(e).
As you create a list of potential wedding vendors (e.g., photographer, caterer, florist), start with vendors recommended by family and friends.
If you have your heart set on a particular officiate or vendor, book them as soon as you can, as his or her calendar will probably fill up fast.
Talk to your minister or officiate about personalizing the service and discuss any restrictions.
Ask potential vendors for the phone numbers of previous customers and then call them for references.
Consider hiring professional vendors, rather than friends or family, to avoid awkwardness should something not go as planned.
Before signing vendor contracts, read the fine print making sure that the fees, date, times, location, services and any hidden fees are included.
Design your own wedding website or use a free service to introduce your fiancé(e), share your love story, showcase engagement photos and introduce your wedding party.
Wedding websites are also a great way to inform guests about travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, and gift registries.
Use an online wedding planner to communicate with both guests and your wedding party. Post details for showers, fittings, schedules, as well as provide links for travel and gift registries.
8-10 months before your wedding
Divide your guest list into manageable parts with categorized headings, i.e. must be invited, would like to be invited.
Give a deadline to family on both sides to send you their complete guest lists. It should include full names, titles, relationships and addresses.
If you’re planning on having your wedding digitally recorded, ask the potential videographer if you can view examples of their wedding footage to help you determine if their style is an appropriate match with your own style.
If you’re having a military wedding, consult the resources at your service branch for protocol, etiquette and other regulations.
If you haven’t sent your Save the Dates yet, now is the time to make it a priority. Guests will appreciate the advance notice for making work, travel and hotel arrangements, and you will appreciate having everyone there to celebrate your love.
Maintain balance and perspective during your wedding planning time. Remind yourselves that the marriage is what is most important.
6 - 8 months before your wedding
Visit online social networks and message boards to get insight and advice from other brides going through the planning process.
Begin researching the marriage license requirements in your state by contacting your county clerk via telephone, mail, or by looking on their website.
If you’re getting married outside of your home country, check the legal necessities of that country, as each has different requirements.
When finalizing your guest list, invite 10-20% additional guests in case of regrets, but make sure your venue can accommodate the additional guests if everyone accepts.
Keep samples of decorations, invitations, color swatches and patterns to coordinate the accessories of your entire wedding.
If you are planning a honeymoon that will require traveling by plane – especially out of the country – order tickets with your maiden name, as your married name will not match your identification.
There’s still time to send out your Save the Dates to guests (if you haven’t already). Make sure everyone is able to make it to your Big Day by giving guests the gift of time to plan and prepare.
Ask yourself how much time you are spending on “wedding planning” vs. “marriage planning.” Remember: the wedding is one day, but the marriage is forever.
4 - 6 months before your wedding
Start scheduling times to meet with your officiate so they are able to get a feel for your personalities and incorporate that into the ceremony.
If you plan to wear heirloom jewelry, veil or dress, allow plenty of time for restoration, cleaning and alterations.
As you start ordering wedding favors and reception items, try to negotiate shipping costs for delivery items that you can pick up yourself.
Begin looking into the requirements for officially changing your name: driver’s license, insurances, social security, employment records, etc.
Ask your caterer for a schedule of when the course(s) are being served so that you can start planning for the other events (e.g., toasting, music, first dance).
Work with the caterer on incorporating your wedding colors or wedding theme into the presentation of the meal.
Laughter is good medicine. Be sure to find humor and laugh whenever you can during the planning process.
2 - 3 months before your wedding
Update your gift registries periodically to make sure there are enough items in all of the price ranges for your guests to choose from.
Organize ahead of time and delegate tasks to loved ones, friends or professionals on your wedding day so that you can focus on being relaxed and calm.
When applying for your marriage license, remember to bring along your blood test results, if applicable, and identification.
Finalize your honeymoon plans with your travel agent. Arrange for necessary transportation to and from the airport.
Exercise is a great stress-reliever. As tasks and to-dos pile up, work out to release tension and keep your body in wedding shape!
2 - 4 weeks before your wedding
Update your wedding registries, as many guests tend to wait until now to buy their gifts.
Break in your new wedding shoes and practice walking around in them so you feel comfortable and relaxed when you walk down the aisle.
Call the guests who did not return an RSVP to see if they are attending and give final numbers to the caterer.
Arrange for someone to take care of any additional tasks at the reception, e.g., filling water vases, lighting candles.
Secure a microphone for toasting if your reception room is large and you think that guests might not be able to hear.
Along with your wedding coordinator or personal attendant, make a list of things that need to be checked on the day of the wedding and check it several times.
As your wedding nears, remember to take good care of yourself physically and mentally. Give yourself plenty of rest and proper nutrition. Set aside time for relaxing and fun activities unrelated to wedding planning.
1 week before your wedding
Call to confirm wedding day appointments (nails, hair, makeup, etc.) to ensure that nothing is amiss.
Delegate someone for wedding day delivery of gratuities to those whose services are not built into the contract: i.e. wait staff, bartender, delivery persons.
If you are having an outdoor wedding, review your plan for inclement weather.
Put together an emergency kit for the wedding day. Kits can include anything you may need: pins, stockings, deodorant, tape, etc.
Give your photographer a list of those you especially want photographed: out-of-town guests, elderly relatives, etc.
If you want photos taken with extended family, make sure to tell every person what time to arrive, as they will not know unless they are told.
Pick up some water and non-messy snacks for the wedding party to snack on between preparations, pictures, etc. on the wedding day.
Lay out your wedding gown and accessories to make sure everything is pressed and accounted for.
Assign someone to pick up and return the groom's tuxedo the day after the wedding.
Keep your vendors and attendants informed and organized at the reception by creating and printing out a timeline for cake cutting, meal course times, toasting, and music/dance.
Don’t be afraid to delegate last-minute tasks to close members of your wedding party. Chances are they will be more than happy to help so that you can enjoy these last days leading up to your wedding.
1 day before your wedding
Remind the groomsmen to try on every piece of their tuxedo the night before the wedding, while there is still time to solve problems.
Pamper yourself, your maid of honor and your mother the day before the wedding with manicures, pedicures and special bonding.
Double-check the venues before the wedding day to see if there are any last minute site restrictions, road construction, detours or any other unforeseen obstacles.
Leave your flight information, hotel numbers and honeymoon itinerary with your family and even close friends.
Have a printed map handy and ready to give to your driver in the unlikely event they did not previously receive directions to your venues.
Get to bed reasonably early on the night before your wedding, as you will need your energy!
Take a deep breath and smile: You’re about to marry the love of your life! Make a personal vow to let go of any worries and bask in the pure joy that tomorrow will bring.
Your Wedding Day
Send your fiancé(e) a love letter the morning of the wedding.
Eat a healthy and full breakfast. It may be the only meal you get to finish all day.
Ask your personal attendant to carry your favorite color of lip gloss or a tinted lip balm to make sure your lips don't dry out during the celebration.
Appoint someone or request your wedding coordinator to make a final sweep of both the ladies’ and men's dressing rooms before leaving the ceremony site for anything left behind.
Relax and enjoy every minute! Remember that this day is more than a wedding – it is a celebration of your love and the start of a wonderful life journey together.
1 - 3 months after your wedding
Welcome to happily ever after! Take time to enjoy settling in as newlyweds.
As you open your gifts together, take time to read what your family and friends have written on their cards. Design or buy a card box or booklet to preserve their words of wisdom and love so that you can refer to it throughout your marriage.
Take detailed notes of each gift so that you can easily personalize your Thank Yous later.
Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.
~Barnett R. Brickner