The organization is key to keeping everything on track when you’re faced with decisions, lists, deadlines, and everyday life to deal with. The first step is making sure to give yourself plenty of time for wedding planning.
A longer timeline is your friend here—aim for around a year, if possible. And don’t forget to involve your significant other in this step, as well. Your wedding should represent both of you, together as a couple.
1. Set Your Wedding Budget—and Stick to It: Your wedding budget will be the driving factor for many of your wedding-related decisions, so this should be one of the first things you tackle. If any family members are contributing, chat with them about what they’re comfortable spending. Make a 10 percent “splurge cushion” for those unexpected costs or urges that inevitably arise.
2. Construct a List of Wedding Day Priorities: Sit down with your partner and determine the three most important aspects of your wedding. It will help you stay within your budget and help you focus your efforts on what counts.
3. Determine Your Bridal Style: Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the wedding inspiration that’s out there. Creating one or more Pinterest boards—or even a visual collage on a cork or poster board—will help you to figure out what sort of look and feel you want and keep you aligned with your larger vision.
4. Get Organized: You can use checklists, spreadsheets, Word, Excel, Google Docs—anything, really—as long as you can gather all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc., in one place.
5. Involve Your Significant Other: Don’t feel like you’re in this wedding planning process alone. Please consult with your partner along the way; their opinion is bound to be invaluable and helps you grow as a couple with every issue you tackle as a team.
6. Buy a Wedding Planning Book: For couples who independently take on the wedding planning process, traditional etiquette and guidebook are a wealth of information and expert advice, including tips and tricks and even examples of timelines and checklists.
7. Create a Master Checklist: Check out our master wedding planning checklist and timeline to keep yourself on track and tackling tasks like a pro. It will help you visualize and prioritize goals without being overwhelmed with everything all at once.
8. Think About Dates and Seasons: Choose a few ideal dates for your wedding and try to be flexible, if possible, so you’re not constrained when attempting to book the wedding venue and vendors. There is a price difference between venues and vendors between seasons.
9. Select a Theme: Whether it’s specific wedding colors, seasonal or style inspiration, or an actual theme, it is helpful to choose a concept to design your wedding around. Once you have an aesthetic in mind, it’s easier to make design decisions.
10. Consider Having an “On-Site” Wedding: Having an “on-site” wedding—like a hotel or restaurant—will significantly simplify the planning process as they’ll likely have a range of catering offerings available, access to the basics, including designated space, chairs, and tables, and possibly even an on-site coordinator to assist you.
11. Start Working on Your Guest List: Making decisions about the guest list can be complicated and depend primarily on your venue and budget. Sit down with your partner and critical family members to put together a wish list of wedding guests. Chances are, you’ll need to make some cuts.
12. Talk to Other Married Couples: Ask a couple for advice and insights. They probably have some expert tips and tricks that they learned along the way that they’d be more than happy to share with you. Friends and family are the best resources.
13. Research Your Venue Options: Ensure to investigate prices, packages, and any restrictions (including minimum budget spend or guest count) from several different potential wedding and reception venues before you sign on the dotted line.
14. Only Book Vendors You’re Comfortable With: Wedding vendors are the nuts and bolts to ensuring your day is memorable and everything runs smoothly, so make sure they’re a team of people that you vibe well with. They should have a good sense of your vision and trustworthy.
15. Read Every Contract—Closely: Before you sign on any dotted lines, be sure to closely review every detail of any contracts you arrange with your wedding vendors—including date, location, times, guest list, deposits, additional fees, colors, quantities—everything has to be in the contract.
16. Choose Your Wedding Party Wisely: Consult with your partner to decide what size wedding party works best for the two of you—keeping in mind the expenses that come along with this particular responsibility.
17. Book Hotel Room Blocks: It’s a thoughtful gesture to consider this and set up a hotel block for them at one or several choice establishments. It will ensure all your wedding attendees are in the same general vicinity. You may get block discounts also.
18. Shop for Wedding Attire: Shopping for wedding party ensembles should begin about seven to eight months before the wedding date, whereas groom and groomsmen attire can be scheduled around the five-month mark. Do get dresses for pre-wedding events too.
19. Recruit More Hands-on Deck: Your bridal party, family members, and your soon-to-be spouse are all ready to help in ways that suit their strengths. But you have to ask—and sometimes, delegate.
20. DIY Strategically: DIY wedding décor elements can be cost-effective and can add some incredibly personal touches to your wedding day. Plenty of DIY projects can be done well in advance, including favors, welcome bags, Gift Wraps, etc.
21. Pick Invitations and Save the Dates: Save-the-date cards typically go out nine months before the wedding date for a destination wedding and four to six months before local nuptials. There should be no last-minute hiccups.
22. Hire an Officiant: Finding the right officiant to preside over your weddings can be a deeply personal journey for couples. Whomever you choose will not only dictate the event but also usher you into your union, setting the tone for the rest of your lives together.
23. Organize Transportation: Depending on the venue, you may require transportation for yourselves and the wedding party to the ceremony. You will need a car to take yourself and your new spouse to the wedding and reception.
24. Purchase Wedding Bands: Go shopping for your wedding bands with your family and partner.
25. Account for Pre-Wedding Events: Engagement celebrations, showers, brunches, bachelor/bachelorette parties—there is no shortage of pre-wedding events to take place in the months leading up to your wedding day. The guest lists for these events will need to be created by you and passed to the generous hosts.
26. Don’t Forget the Rehearsal & Details: Much like other pre-wedding festivities, the rehearsal details must be hosted to ensure perfection on the wedding date. Regardless of the fact, you will need to partake in the planning process.
27. Consider a Day-Of Coordinator: Hiring a professional to oversee the day-of details can be a game-changer. They’ll keep track of vendors for you, keep an eye on the schedule, and help with any last-minute details and on-site tasks you won’t have time for
28. Create a Social Media Strategy: Hashtags, signage, and photo booths are great ways to get guests to post on social media. If you don’t want your guests snapping shots or taking videos during the ceremony, have the officiant make a quick announcement before proceeding.
29. Make It Legal: Amid all the crazy planning and endless small details, don’t forget to plan time to get your marriage license. Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early.
30. Finalize Setup Details: As your wedding date approaches, check in with your venue to determine when your vendors can arrive for setup. The earlier, the better. Be sure to pass along the information to your vendors, so everyone is on the same page.
31. Build a Playlist: You will need to outline all of the essential songs that absolutely must be played during the nuptial festivities. Don’t also forget to create a list of the songs you don’t want to hear.
32. Produce a Schedule of Events: Creating a comprehensive wedding day schedule ensures everyone is on the same page about timing and location(s) and helps to make sure the day’s events run smoothly.
33. Say Thanks: Ensure to arrange for small gifts for your wedding party and anyone else who played a significant role in your wedding planning journey. Don’t hesitate to give them a special little shoutout during the wedding.
34. Focus on the Big Picture: Don’t worry about the minutiae and if some things aren’t perfect. A stressed-out couple who’s overwhelmed with last-minute details. Try to relax and enjoy all of the special moments with your loved ones.