When planning a wedding or any other kind of event it is easier if you create your own timeline starting with 12 months ahead. Each event is unique so please use this countdown as a rough guide only.
12 Months Before:
- Determine Your Overall Budget:
The theme and style of your event will be decided by the amount you are willing to spend. Will you want a smaller indoor event, an intimate tented ceremony, or a larger tented event? How much are you willing to spend on food, flowers, etc?
- Decide on Theme:
You will need to choose the theme/style you plan on having. Outdoor or Indoor? Natural or Modern? Country or Contemporary? Is there a color scheme you prefer? Once you have considered what you want, you can then look for your dream location.
- Select Your Location:
When your budget and theme is settled you can then choose the appropriate venue. If having an outdoor event you will need to determine if you want a public or private location, and if you want to have tents. Weather and season play a factor in that decision. An indoor event usually has fewer options to choose from (i.e. Church, Hall, Resort etc) but is usually more inclusive.
- Select Your Date:
Once you have selected your location you can ask about available dates for your event. Is there a season or a time of year that you prefer? If having an outdoor event, weather can determine the time of year that may be better. Then with the date selected, book your venue(s).
- Create a Guest List:
Start to determine the approximate amount of guests you are having.
9-10 Months Before:
- Book Your Event Coordinator:
If planning on having an event coordinator, now is the time to book one. If you are not planning on having an event coordinator for the months before the wedding, a "Day Of" coordinator is recommended. Their job varies, but usually involves setting up the tables, organizing the vendors, and taking care of any other details.
- Book Your Caterer:
Ask for recommendations from your event coordinator if having one, or from a rental company. Ask for a sample menu when meeting with caterers, and decide if you want a plated meal or buffet.
- Book Your Florist:
With your budget and venue decided you can now determine the amount of flowers you will require. Do you want bouquets and boutonnières only, or will you want to decorate the venue with flowers as well. Again ask for recommendations.
- Book Your Photographer/Videographer:
Discuss the kind of photos you are looking for, and determine how you can use your location to its best advantage. Decide if you want only still photos, or if you want it filmed as well.
8 Months Before:
- Reserve Tents and Rentals:
If having a tented event, you should ask for a consultation about the size of tent required. A site inspection may also be required if you have limited space. When booking a tent you most likely will want to start booking heaters, lighting, tables, chairs etc. Most rental companies have flexibility when adding to a contract but will require a non-refundable deposit to reserve any rentals. If your event is indoors you may need to rent linens, napkins, centerpieces or any other decorative items.
- Book a DJ or Band:
The kind of music you want should reflect the theme and style of your overall event. Decide if you want to use a DJ or hire a band. Ask for referrals from your other vendors and references from the DJ/Band. If you plan on having additional music for the ceremony, you should book that now as well.
- Select Bridal Party Members:
Choose your Maid of Honor and Best Man. Then select your bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girl and ring bearer.
- Shop for Wedding Dress:
Begin looking for you perfect wedding dress. When shopping, it is best to take fewer people with you. Once your dress is selected, you can then determine the kind of dresses your attendants will wear and schedule fittings. When shopping for your flower girl's dress, keep in mind that it should be similar to your own.
6 Months Before:
- Finalize Guest List:
Revisit your rough guest list and start to finalize it. Also shop for stationary (invitations, reply cards and thank you cards) and send out invitations to guests. If having a destination wedding you may want to send out invitations earlier.
- Select Menu:
Meet with Caterers and finalize your menu. You should also ask about who is serving the meal at the reception, and ask for a recommendation if you plan on having a bartender.
- Start Planning Honeymoon:
If having a honeymoon make reservations, and buy airline tickets. Also consider the wedding night accommodations and book those if needed.
2-4 Months Before:
- Select Wedding Cake or Cupcakes:
Choose your bakery based on referrals from other vendors, and decide the kind of cake you want, or if you prefer cupcakes. Also determine if you want to have any other kind of dessert at the reception.
- Shop for Shoes/Accessories:
Select your shoes, jewellery and other accessories you plan on having for yourself and your attendants.
- Book Tuxedos/Suits:
If renting tuxedos, book them now for your Groom, Best Man, and Groomsmen. You should also pick out a suit for your ring bearer. Schedule fitting for all 1 month before wedding.
- Shop for Rings:
Choose your wedding rings, and have them engraved if you choose to.
- Apply for Marriage License:
Go to City Hall and apply for your marriage license. You will need witnesses at the time of the ceremony so you should select those, usually the Maid of Honor and Best Man. You may also need a table and linen to sign the license on at the ceremony.
6-8 Weeks Before:
- Schedule Hair/Makeup/Nail Appointments:
Determine the kind of hair styles you and your attendants will have. Then schedule the day of appointments for hair, makeup and nails. It is also recommended to have a rehearsal for your hair, and bring your veil or hair accessory if having one.
- Plan Rehearsal Dinner:
Decide on location and time of rehearsal dinner, and if having it catered book the caterer. Or if having it at a restaurant, make a reservation with the number of people attending.
- Place Beverage/Alcohol Order:
If ordering a keg or a large amount of wine, pop or juice you will need to order it ahead of time. It is also a good time to find out if you require a liquor license.
- Shop for Other Accessories:
Select and purchase a ring bearer pillow, guest book and pen, etched champagne flutes, cake cutting knife etc. You should also buy your bridesmaids/groomsmen’s gifts at this time.
- Buy Wedding Favors:
If having wedding favors or bubbles you should purchase these now. Some wedding favors may require assembly so the sooner you work on them the better.
- Book Your Officiant:
You should ask for recommendations and meet with several officiants before booking. They should be able to provide you with examples of ceremonies to choose from.
2-6 Weeks Before:
- Arrange Final Dress Fittings:
Set up dress fittings for yourself and attendants. If having a veil you should also do a veil fitting at this time.
- Create Seating Chart:
You should design a seating chart for the reception. If you are having place cards or table numbers you should purchase these, and customize them.
- Finalize with Vendors:
Meet with your caterer, florist, bakery, photographer, musician and event coordinator to finalize any last minute details. Create a timeline for the day of the wedding for everyone to follow.
- Update Final Numbers for Rentals:
As you receive RSVP's your guest list will change. 2 weeks before your wedding you should update all your numbers with any rental vendors. If having a tent you may need to rearrange seating to accommodate the updated number.
1 Week Before:
- Confirm Transportation:
If hiring a limo, confirm time of pick up and drop off. If using other transportation confirm with driver(s).
- Pay All Balances:
Contact Vendors, Officiant and Event Coordinator and pay off any balances that are due. You should also set aside gratuities for caterer, bartender etc.
- Pick up Dresses:
At this time you should pick up your wedding dress and your attendants dresses. Try them on to ensure they still fit.
- Confirm Honeymoon Arrangements:
Call to confirm accommodations, and begin packing. The earlier you pack the less likely it is that you will forget something. I.e. Passport
- Go Over Details:
You should review your seating charts, check in with your venue to confirm guests, finish favors/place cards and confirm hair/makeup appointments.
- Prepare Yard/Venue for Tent:
If having a tent, you should mow the lawn several days before tent installation. You should also mark where the tent should be set up, especially if there is any underground irrigation. Coordinate the time of tent installation and assign someone to be on site.
- Have Rehearsal Dinner:
The rehearsal dinner is the time to go over the events of the following day. Follow up with your event coordinator, maid of honor, best man and other attendants about each of their responsibilities and hand out wedding day timelines.
- Pick Up Tuxedo/Suits:
At this time you should be able to pick up the tuxedos or suits if renting them. Have groom, best man and groomsmen try them on to ensure that they still fit correctly.
- Pick Up Flowers:
Pick up bouquets, boutonnières and store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Also pick up any flowers for centerpieces and decorating.
- Pick Up All Other Rentals:
If renting any other items that you are picking up, most rental companies will allow you to pick up the day before the event, especially if they are needed for table settings or decorating. If having delivery of these items, arrange for somebody to meet them on site, to inspect and check off the items being delivered. You should also coordinate pick up or drop off after the wedding of these items.
Go over list of things to bring to wedding, give rings to best man and maid of honor, and check off any last minute details.
- Hair and Makeup:
Go have your hair and make up done. Always remember to bring your veil or hair accessory, and to wear a button down shirt, so you can't damage the hairstyle when it’s finished.
- Get Dressed:
Put on wedding dress, shoes, garter, and jewellery. Make sure maid of honor, bridesmaids and flower girl are dressed and then assign someone to confirm that the groom, best man and groomsmen are dressed.
Relax and enjoy your event.