Here is our suggested timeline for wedding planning:
WRITE YOUR GUEST LIST
Your guest list is one of the most important steps to start the planning process because it will help you understand the size of your wedding. The size of your wedding will be critical information when considering your budget and your venue.
DETERMINE A BUDGET
Setting a budget early on in your wedding planning will help you make decisions throughout your entire wedding planning process. Whether you are paying for your wedding on your own, or getting help from family members, it is crucial to understand what your budget is before you start planning.
DECIDE ON A THEME
Whether you’ve thought about it before your engagement or not, it’s important to decide on a theme for your wedding. Look thru wedding magazines and browse around online to find the colors and styles of decor that you like. Are you looking to get married in a barn style venue or a modern venue like Brookstone Park? What are your colors going to be? Will you have a seasonal theme?
FIND A VENUE
Finding a wedding venue is the first big piece of the planning puzzle that you need to figure out fast. Dates book up years in advance and the popular nights go quickly. Look online at various venues and narrow it down to a few that you love. Contact them for initial pricing and menus to make sure they are within your budget before scheduling a tour. When you find the venue and the date that are perfect for you, don’t wait to book or you could lose your date!
Once you’re engaged and once you have the aspects of your theme decided, the next thing to do is get engagement photos taken. Your engagement announcement, engagement party, wedding website, and save the dates may use these photos. This engagement photo shoot also gives you and your partner experience with the photographer who may also be your wedding photographer.
A wedding website is an essential and convenient way to share all the information about your wedding with your guests. The site is something you can update as your planning process goes on. The dates of your engagement party and wedding can go on your website as well as your registry and hotel information for any out of town guests. Your site is also a great place to incorporate your color scheme.
HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER
If you are interested in hiring a full-service wedding planner, the sooner you hire someone, the better. That way you can utilize the planner’s skills. However, if you wish to hire a wedding planner for only “day of” necessity, you can wait until 6-8 months before your wedding to hire someone.
The timeline of hiring your photographer depends on how involved you want the photographer to be. If you wish to have the same photographer to shoot your engagement photos, engagement party, bridal party, and wedding then you need to have someone hired early in the process. If you want someone to shoot or record just on the wedding day, you can wait to hire someone until about 9 months before your wedding.
SAVE THE DATE
If you are having a destination wedding, whether, for you or most of your guests, it is essential to send out your “Save the Date” around this time to allow for proper travel plans.
If you intend on having a wedding venue closer to the majority of your guests, you can wait until 3-5 months before your wedding to send out your “Save the Date” to your guests.
Speaking of traveling guests, where are they going to stay? Once you know your venue, you can book hotel blocks at a nearby hotel. One tip for this is to start with fewer rooms than you think you’ll need and then adding more as you receive the RSVPs, this will prevent you from having to pay any cancelation fees if you end up needing fewer rooms than you initially expected.
Asking someone to officiate your wedding, especially if you want to ask a specific person or priest, needs to be done sooner rather than later to make sure your wedding date works for that person.
If you intend to use a DJ for your wedding, you may be able to wait a little while before booking someone, but if you’re dreaming of a live band, you should book about a year before your wedding. Also, the more well known the wedding DJ or band is, the more likely they are busy during the “wedding season” (June to September) and therefore need to be booked far in advance.
CATERER & CAKE
The food for your wedding is essential to think about with plenty of time to have tastings. Also, if you’re hiring a chief and baker who does not work at your venue location, you have to make sure they will be available on your wedding date.
You have a hotel ready to go, but now you need to start thinking about how your guests are going to get from the hotel to your wedding venue. If you and your partner are thinking of using a specialty car on the day of your wedding, this is also the time to look into renting one.
HAIR STYLIST/MAKEUP ARTIST
It’s essential to book a Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist about halfway through your planning to have time for consultations. Your final consultation should take place within the two months before your wedding day. A Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist may be one person, but it may be better to use two different stylists. That way your Hair Stylist can focus on hair and your Makeup Artist can focus on makeup. Also, if you intend to have your Bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, two people can be getting something done at the same time.
It’s important to think about the look you would like to have for one of the most important days of your life. I suggest a timeless look that will be beautiful in years to come. The best version of yourself! It’s important to secure your beauty team 6 months in advance making sure everyone’s schedule can accommodate your time needs. Some brides find a trial run helpful to try out a style. I suggest doing this 8 weeks before the wedding so it will be fresh in you and your stylist’s mind!
Allyson Casey, Senior Stylist at Bonne Vie Salon & Spa
You have to give your florist plenty of time to help you design your bouquets and Floral Arrangements so that they can make sure to have enough time to order the flowers. Without ample time, you may end up with wilting flowers on your wedding day.
Your guests received your save the date a few months ago and have been awaiting your official invitation. If your wedding involves travel for most of your guests, your invitation should be sent out around this time. However, if your guests are local you can wait to send your invitation until about 3 months before your wedding.
Your wedding gown and bridesmaid gowns should be purchased at least halfway through your wedding planning because chances are the dresses will have to be altered. The first fitting will come between 3 and 5 months before your wedding, for which you should have all of your accessories and your shoes so you can visualize your wedding day. Also, it’s important to have the shoes you’re planning on wearing so that the dress can be hemmed to a proper height. Your final fitting will come about 2 months before your wedding.
PLAN REHEARSAL DINNER
You’ll want to reach out to your venue and plan your rehearsal dinner.Although it probably won’t take place until the day before your wedding, it is important to have your reservations because it will likely be a large number of guests
If you and your partner are planning on going on a honeymoon soon after your wedding, you may want to start planning that trip around this time as well. Knowing your honeymoon location may help you add things to your registry as well.
By this time in your wedding planning you have chosen many aspects of your wedding, and now you’re spending your time at tastings and consultation. However, there are a few things that still need organizing.
Shopping for a wedding band can happen 3-4 Months before your wedding, and the purchase can occur at about the 6-week mark. However, if you are planning on having your ring engraved, you should give yourself a little bit more time.
Since tuxes are more likely to be rented than bought, the groom and groomsmen can wait until this time in the planning to order their tuxes.
Now is also the time to create a registry and upload it to your wedding website for your guests to start planning what to purchase for your wedding present.
GIFTS FOR THE WEDDING PARTY
Often, Brides and Grooms will put together gifts for their wedding parties as a way to say thank you. Now is a good time to organize those gifts in case you wish to get anything personalized.
VENUE PLANNING MEETING
It’s important to meet with your venue closer to your wedding date to make sure that everything will look the way you want it to.
Your Bridal Shower and Bachelor/Bachelorette parties should take place the couple months before your wedding. Although you may not be planning these events, it is important for you to think about them so that the dates don’t interfere with any remaining consultations.
Within this period, all of your RSVPs will have come in, which can allow you to complete the seating chart for your wedding reception.
Throughout your wedding planning process, you may have been experimenting with different types of artificial tanner and nail polish colors. Now you know how much time you need before your wedding to make sure your tan and nails look the way you want them to look.
Also, if possible, try to get a few days off of work before your wedding to make sure you have everything organized. Giving yourself a few days makes so the day before your wedding you don’t have to run out to buy anything last minute.
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