Your ultimate guide to planning the perfect (and stress-free) wedding!

From the Magazine, Planning

Happy National Wedding Planning Day!

Not going to lie, when I caught wind that March 1st was considered National Wedding Planning Day, my first thought was: “Man, they really do have a day for everything, huh?” But then, the more that I thought about it, the more I realized that engaged couples really should get recognition for all of the hard work that they’re putting in. No matter if your engagement spans two months or two years, if you’re eloping or throwing the wedding of the decade, planning  is no easy task! So today, we think you should pat yourself on the back. Pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, or crack open a favorite bottle of beer. You deserve it, and, in the meme-worthy words of Kris Jenner, “You’re doing great, sweetie.”

And while you’re celebrating your efforts, why not make things a little easier on yourselves? Below you will find a wedding countdown checklist that will tell you everything from when to book the venue to when to get your nails done. Do keep in mind that this list is not the be all end all — it is based on a one year engagement (so if yours is shorter/longer, adjust accordingly, and if you’re considering hiring a popular vendor, always err on the side of booking asap) and, of course, every couples’ planning process is unique, so some suggestions may not apply! And fun fact: All checklist items designated with an asterisk (*) can be made easy with the help of our nifty, customizable online planning tools 😉

By Kaitlyn Murray

The Countdown

12 to 9 Months Before

    set date and time

    begin a wedding binder for your planning needs; include information on the budget, vendors and contracts*

    check out our interactive planning tools* (note: they’re super easy to use and they’re email/password protected so you can save any and all progress made in your budget calculations, vendor search, etc.)

    determine budget (who is paying for what?)*

    determine a theme/style and colors for your wedding day

    book a reception venue based on budget and theme*

    book officiant (and a location for ceremony if

    figure out a guest list head count

    figure out who and how many in your wedding party

    interview wedding planners (if applicable)

    book a session for engagement photos

    announce engagement in newspaper or on*

    have an engagement party

    based on budget, begin researching wedding vendors*

    begin making appointments to look for your wedding dress*

8 Months Before

    book photographer and videographer*

    book entertainment/DJ or band*

    book your caterer*

    set up your wedding registries; link to your website

    block hotel rooms for out-of-town guests

    order passports if traveling out of the country for your wedding/honeymoon

    purchase your dream dress at a bridal boutique

    shop for wedding accessories once dress is purchased*

    book wedding day transportation*

   order save-the-dates*

7 to 6 Months Before

    shop for bridesmaids and mother-of-the-bride dresses*

    visit a men’s clothier for groom’s and groomsmen attire*

    meet with jewelers to discuss options for wedding bands*

    order invitations and favors; mail save-the-dates

    book your honeymoon*

    book florist*

5 to 4 Months Before

     set up rehearsal time and book rehearsal dinner venue*

     select and order the wedding cake and/or desserts*

     send guest list to maid-of-honor (for bridal shower)

     schedule hair and makeup for wedding day*

     finalize and order the groom’s and groomsmen attire

     plan and purchase items for welcome bags (if desired)

     purchase wedding bands so that you’ll have time for engraving and resizing*


3 to 2 Months Before

    finalize menu (plus cocktails/hors d’oeuvres) with caterer

    if not provided by your caterer or venue, reserve rental equipment (chairs, linens, etc.)*

    mail wedding invitations

    finalize flowers and decorations with florist

    finalize toasts for reception

    purchase lingerie/undergarments for dress fitting

    plan bachelor and/or bachelorette parties

    print menu cards, programs and other stationery needs

1 Month Before

    finalize ceremony with officiant (readings/vows)

    get marriage license and fill out document for name change

    go for final dress fitting (bring shoes and accessories)

    purchase 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 a guest book or create a DIY project for guests to sign

    for an at-home wedding, stock the bar based on your guest list

    create seating chart for reception and print place cards

2 Weeks Before

    give caterer/venue final head count for reception

    finalize all honeymoon plans

    break in wedding shoes

Week of  the 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 on the wedding day

    have checks ready for vendors; include gratuity

    pack wedding day emergency kit (makeup, extra pair of hosiery, etc.)

    pack for the honeymoon

    pick up wedding dress at the bridal boutique

    confirm tux rentals (or pick up suit from tailor)

    go to a spa or salon for a massage, manicure and pedicure

    rehearse the ceremony and attend dinner; pass out gifts

    drop off welcome bags for out-of-town guests


✨ The Wedding Day 

    eat small, light meals

    give yourself at least three hours to get ready before the ceremony

    have hair and makeup done

    have the wedding certificate signed by the best man and maid-of-honor

    switch engagement ring to other hand/finger

    exchange presents with soon-to-be-spouse

    Eat, drink and be married!


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