I see this all the time on every wedding planning forum and facebook group. You’ve just gotten engaged and want to start planning your wedding, but you have no idea where to begin! First, take a look at my post “I’m Engaged! Now What?” to see what you should do even before you begin planning. Then, come back to this post to learn the order of planning a wedding laid out in easy, manageable steps! Go to the end of this post for your FREE wedding planning timeline!
This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission when you purchase through my links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for contributing to my business.
The Very First Thing – Decide Your Approximate Date
Once you get engaged, you and your partner need to decide on a rough time frame for your wedding. For example, my fiance and I got engaged in June 2020. When we decided to start wedding planning, we knew that we wanted a Fall 2021 wedding, about 16 months after we got engaged. In general, you want to give yourself at least a year to plan your wedding. Anything less than that will condense this order of planning a wedding. The order will be the same, but you will have less time to get everything done. This wedding timeline is assuming you are 18-12 months out from your desired wedding date. This post is a long one with lots of information – grab yourself a glass of wine and let’s get started!
18 – 12 Months Out
Start Looking At/Touring Venues
Ask your friends, local Facebook groups, the Knot, Wedding Wire, etc. where the local wedding venues are. Contact them (either by email or their website) to book a tour. Many venues are doing virtual tours at this time. We viewed about 5 venues before we decided on “The One.”
Propose To Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
Decide who you want by your side on your special day. Check out my post on the best bridesmaid proposal ideas! I sent my bridesmaids personalized cards about 12 months out from my wedding.
Discuss and Decide On Your Budget
There are tons of wedding budget planners on the internet – check out my Pinterest for budget ideas and budget planners.
Start Your Guest List
This doesn’t have to be the absolute, definite list, but you will need to know the important guests to send Save the Dates to.
Send Save The Dates
Design and send out your Save the Dates so your guests will put you on their calendar! Find some beautiful Save the Dates on Evermine and Tavern Creative.
Everyone needs a caterer, so they can book up quickly. Ask your venue for caterer suggestions and contact a few caterers.
Again, photographers book up quickly. We found our photographer on a local Facebook group when I asked in a post.
Optional: Plan An Engagement Party
Not necessary, but fun!
Optional: Get Engagement Photos Done
12 – 6 Months Out
Start Planning Your Honeymoon
This is especially true if you want to take your honeymoon immediately following your wedding. If you are looking to go at a different time, this is not as urgent. Check out this post for winter honeymoon destinations.
This is for the bride as well as the bridesmaids. You will need time to book a try-on appointment, decide on a dress, and get alterations done. Find some beautiful, affordable wedding dresses on Dress Afford!
Order Rental Items
Rental items might include tents, tables, chairs, decorations, linens, tableware, etc. Your venue might have these items already or they may recommend an outside rental company.
Unless you are getting married in a church and already know who will be officiating your wedding, now is the time to ask or find someone.
You might also decide to do an alternate desert option.
This includes bouquets for bridesmaids, and also flower decorations.
Book Hotel and Transportation
Decide where your guests will be staying and if they will need transportation. You may also need to consider transportation between your ceremony and reception.
Pick Table Pieces/Table Settings
6 – 3 Months Out
Shop For Groom and Groomsmen
Groom alterations generally don’t take as long as bride alterations, so this can be done slightly closer to the wedding. Also, check out these fun socks from Sockologie for the groom and groomsmen!
Send Formal Invitations
Again, some good places to shop for these are Evermine and Tavern Creative.
Get Dress Alterations
Often, ordering rings for both the bride and the groom can save money if you buy from the same place. Check out Kay Jewelers and Zales for ring ideas.
Finalize the Catering Menu
Book Hair and Makeup
Check out some of my favorite favors here!
Create Program For Ceremony
Create Seating Chart
Apply For Marriage License
Optional: Write Vows
3 – 1 Months Out
Check with guests that have not RSVP’d
Call or text them – you do need to know, so it’s okay to ask!
This includes all dresses and suits.
Final Check – in with all vendors
Make sure you are all on the same page.
Create Photo List
Ask your friends and family and look online for specific photos that you will want your photographer to capture.
Finalize Seating Chart
Finalize Wedding Program
Get these printed!
Give Caterer Final Guest Count
Optional: Create Song List
1 Month – 1 Week Out
Finally, you’re down to the last month before your wedding! Hopefully, you have gotten most of the planning done at this point and you just have a few final items to check off.
Confirm Layout with Venue Coordinator and Give Them Seating Chart
Steam Dress and Iron Suit
Final check in with vendors
Get hair cuts
Get a massage!
Relax a little – you’ve done so much planning!
Now the part you’ve all been waiting for…your free wedding planning timeline! Grab it now!
I hope your wedding day is everything you ever dreamed and that this post has answered all your questions on the order of planning a wedding. What tips can you share that will make planning easier? Leave them in the comments!
Great list! This is so helpful and thorough