So since we’re on a roll with checklists, I figured I’d go ahead and make a wedding one as well. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was pretty crazy when it came to wedding planning. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect and of course I had made a checklist to make sure I remembered and did everything! I will also include tips and ways to save money because we all know weddings get freaking expensive!
Here goes nothing…
12+ Months Before
- Start a wedding binder/folder. I actually used an accordion folder and had sections labeled as food, venue, attire, decorations, etc. I kept all information in there for our wedding. I had info on venues I wanted to use and then eventually the contract with the one we went with, catering menus, print outs of decorations (from pinterest of course lol), reservation information on hotels, flights, etc. I had it all nice and organized in a little folder. Made things easier to find!
- Pick a date. One thing that I thought was standard was that you HAVE to get married on a Saturday. Well, you don’t! And if you are looking to save money, getting married on a Sunday is a great option! We saved about $1000 at our venue, alone, by having a Sunday wedding. People will sometimes say that people won’t want to party with you on a Sunday, well that’s untrue because we had people partying with us until we had to leave. A good group of people too, not just stragglers. It was so much fun. I’ve seen people get married on Fridays and during the week as well. While you can totally do that, I’m just not a fan. I just hate feeling rushed after a long day’s work to go to a wedding. But if that’s what you want to do, don’t let anyone stop you! It is YOUR day!
- Attend a Wedding expo. Planning a wedding can be completely overwhelming and going to one of these might make you feel more that way. BUT for us it put in perspective everything we will need to do and gave us a good idea on costs. I am not going to lie we were completely naive when it came to wedding costs and planning so while it definitely felt overwhelming to go to an expo, I am so glad we did because we probably would have been lost without all the information we got there. It introduced us to a lot of potential venues, caterers, dress shops, invitation companies, bakers, etc. Plus you get free stuff and have tons of changes to win things! The one we went to had a $10 entry fee, which I didn’t think was that bad. I took my now wife but grab your sisters, best friend, your mom and check it out!
- Establish a budget. This is so important. Wedding costs add up quick! And I’m not talking hundreds here, I’m talking thousands. It can be so daunting. So sit down and figure out how much you are willing to spend on each item and then, more importantly how you plan to save the money to pay for those things.
11 Months Before
- Plan engagement party. If you so desire to have one.
- Find and book a photographer and have an engagement shoot. These are lumped together because a lot of photographers will have engagement photos with their wedding package, it gives them an opportunity to work with you before the big day. So you know what to expect and they know what to expect from you.
- Set up registry. This is the fun part! I would register and 2 physical places as well as 1 online. Now, if you are like us and actually like a lot of couples these days, and you are and have been living with your soon to be spouse, then you probably will have most of the items on what you typically put on a wedding registry. That’s ok. We struggled with this because we had been living together for 2 years when we got married so our home was already established. A cool idea that my mom had actually told me about was a Honeymoon Registry (we used this site). It’s a registry that you put things on that people can buy for your honeymoon. Like a portion of your flight, or a dinner for 2, or portion of a rental car. Your guests “purchase” these items and then the day your honeymoon starts (or a few days before) they deposit the money that was collected onto your site directly into your checking account. What we also did is we registered for things that we wanted, but may not go out and get it ourselves. Like china sets. We would never go buy them for ourselves but it would be something nice to have. Or things that we wanted an upgrade on. Like our crock-pot. We had an old one that was bent. Since it still worked, technically, we really didn’t want to go out and buy one but we really wanted a new one! So we stuck it on our registry.
- Start guest list. This is so hard but better to get it done now so you have a rough idea of how many people you think will be attending!
- Book wedding planner. If you want to. We did not use one because my type A personality needed to know every detail and I just felt more in control without one. Though we did have a family friend guide us and help us in decision-making (what we should do and not do) and then the day of helped set up everything and make sure everything was running smoothly. She was so valuable on the day of. So glad we had her.
- Choose color scheme. Another fun part! We chose Navy and Sunflower yellow. (if you want to check it out you can go here).
- Select wedding party. There are tons of cute ideas on pinterest if you want to ask your significant people in a cute way! We chose to buy a ring pop and “pop the question”. It was fun.
10 Months Before
- Find and book ceremony/reception venues. Tour a handful of places before you decide on something. Personally, I really liked having our ceremony and reception at the same venue. It made for a lot smoother transition and we weren’t hours late to the reception because it was right there. Yes, that does happen. Now of course if you are having a church wedding this might not be an option since I know a lot of church’s reception halls are not the greatest, but just keep the travel time in mind! Especially if you are not doing a first look and need to take pictures after the ceremony.
- Create a wedding hashtag. On instagram? Make sure you make a wedding hashtag! That way, if you so choose, you can have people follow your wedding planning process and the big day with a simple hashtag! Plus, they are fun! (this is going to be my plug to say that you should follow me on insta, the button is above and to the right 🙂 )
- Create a wedding website. Some people think these are really silly but I personally loved it and it’s free! It ended up making our invitations less cluttered. We were able to put driving directions, hotel accommodations, registry information all on our website! And best part of it all was that people could RSVP on it! So that saves you money (and time to boot!) on getting return envelopes and getting them stamped. Plus, let’s face it, people suck at sending RSVP cards back. But if all they have to do is go to a website and click yes/no, they are more likely to RSVP than if they had to mail something back. We used The Knot’s website, here.
- Find and book caterer. Although it’s your day and you should be able to eat the food that you want, try to keep your guests in mind. Because again, let’s face it, you’ll spend lots of money on it and not get to eat much of it or enjoy it much. Some brides just don’t have time and forget. Or if you’re like me, I was way too happy and jittery (and nervous with all those eyes on me!) to eat. I think i ate a whole bread stick and that was it lol But you also want to think about if you have any vegetarians that will be attending or anyone special that may have certain dietary restrictions. You want to keep those people in mind. We knew we would have a handful of vegetarians (2 in our bridal party) so we did a build your own pasta bar so those who didn’t eat meat could still have a nice meal without ever touching meat or having to pick it out. Or only eat a salad. Even though you may not eat much, you also want to think about your dress! Red pasta sauce?! Ya, no. That would be horrible on your white dress. So make sure to avoid things like that. We did have marinara sauce in our pasta bar but we also had Alfredo sauce so we could avoid that debacle.
- Find and book florist. If you choose to use one. Couple of money-saving tips: Buy in season and/or make your own. Flowers are expensive! Especially if they are not in season so keep that in mind. We actually ended up using synthetic flowers we bought from Hobby Lobby and made all our own bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. We would only buy the flowers when they were 50% off (which was about every other week) and then bought floral tape, and ribbon. We spent about $150 on 10 bouquets, 5 boutonnieres, and 3 corsages. At a florist that would have easily cost us close to $1000, if not more. I think they turned out nice and I’m not artistic in the slightest! We even got compliments on our bridesmaids bouquets! A couple of reasons, besides money, that we made our own is that we couldn’t guarantee what they would look like on the big day and we had very specific visions, plus they last forever without having to preserve them. You can also make your own with real flowers but that’s just a lot to cram in the day or 2 before. If you use synthetic then you can get them done months in advance and not have to worry about them. That’s what we did.
9 Months Before
- Find and book videographer. If you want one, of course. We used a friend and it worked out great! Saved hundreds of dollars and we still have those special moments on video!
- Find and order wedding dress. So fun! It’s a good time to start now because it takes several months for the dress to come in and if you’re picky it could take a while. I ended up buying the first dress I tried on!
8 Months Before
- Find and book a band for your ceremony. If you choose to have one. We used a good ol iPod playlist lol. Again, saving money! lol
- Find and book DJ. A good DJ is an absolute must if you want people to dance at your wedding!
- Decide on wedding music. Now that you have booked your DJ, he will be wanting a list of songs from you. This took me forever to decide so I’d start now. Plus if you are using an iPod or laptop for your ceremony music, you should start working on that too. (Need ideas? Check out Guest seating song ideas here, parent seating here, processional here, walk down the aisle songs here, sand ceremony here, and your recessional here)
- Create and send save the dates. I absolutely love save the dates that are magnets! You can stick them right on the refrigerator and not forget it! Check out Ann’s Bridal Bargain’s here. We used them and we got a great price on our magnets! I believe it was about $100 for 150 magnets that were personalized and had photos. Great deal!
7 Months Before
- Finalize Guest List. This part is so hard!
- Find and book officiant. If you’re not looking to do a church wedding and want to have a special someone officiate your wedding, almost anyone can become ordained online for roughly $50. We had a really nice family friend who did it for us since we weren’t really involved in a church at the time, it was great.
- Find and order bridesmaids dresses. I know a lot of people want uniformity among their bridesmaids, my wife did which is why we had it that way, but save yourself the headache. Give your girls a specific color (you don’t even have to do that, I’ve seen girls that each had a pastel color and I thought it was so pretty!) and length and let them pick a dress. Everyone’s body types and styles are so different, it was a giant pain in the rear when we went to choose ours.
- Start working on the Big Day timeline. This way you’ll have a better picture of how everything will go.
6 Months Before
- Find and order cake. Yummy! Best part!!
- Find and order wedding invitations. Invitations can get costly, quick. We used Zazzle (here) for our invites and absolutely loved them! They were inexpensive and they are constantly running specials. While you’re at it, go ahead and order address labels, especially if your handwriting sucks like mine does.
- Order thank you cards. While you’re ordering the above stuff, get thank you cards now. One less thing to worry about after you’re hitched! Plus, you can start writing them and sending them when gifts come in early or for your bridal shower.
- Find and order rentals. Things like tablecloths, napkins, chairs, tent etc. Our venue used specific companies and we went through them. Some of them don’t though so you will want to do some research and get those locked in.
- Decide on decorations. Centerpieces, aisle decorations, head table, chairs, etc. So many great ideas on pinterest! And if you are making them, I would start now. It takes some time to get it all done!
5 Months Before
- Book rehearsal dinner. This part was so stressful for us on a limited budget. We eventually found a place but it took forever so I’d recommend getting a jump on it now.
- Get wedding insurance. A lot of venues require this, plus it’s just a good thing to have just in case anything were to happen.
- Book hair and makeup. Go get a trial done, this is fun too!
- Buy shoes! Keep in mind that you will be on your feet most of the day! Some ladies can definitely rock those heels all day. I am not one of them. I wore sandals and not a single person saw my feet.
4 Months Before
- Plan and book honeymoon. Ahh so much fun! Personally, I think cruises or all-inclusive resorts are perfect for honeymoons. Don’t have to think about going anywhere or costs whilst you’re there. You can enjoy being in the moment with your spouse. We took a cruise and absolutely loved it.
- Rent tuxes. Get those important men all schnazzied up and get them to book their tuxes!
- Send bridal shower invitation list. Make sure whoever is planning it has your list!
3 Months Before
- Purchase wedding accessories. Jewelry, hair pieces, etc. You should find some for your wedding party as well. These also make great wedding party gifts!
- Schedule rehearsal. If you’re having a church ceremony they will probably have it the night before. If you go elsewhere, like we did, we had to plan in advance and actually had to have our rehearsal the Wednesday before since our venue had weddings booked all weekend.
- Book wedding night hotel. If you have an early flight for your honeymoon, it would be wise to pick a hotel near the airport. Maybe even one with a shuttle. Now you don’t have to worry about the car.
- Book transportation. Would you like to use a limo or classic car? Now’s the time to reserve that.
- Order flower girl and/or ring bearer attire.
- Send wedding invitations!
- Order wedding favors. You don’t have to go too extravagant on these. There are lots of cute ideas from coozies, to flip-flops, to candy.
- Schedule fitting appointments. You’ll want to make sure your dress fits perfectly!
- Purchase wedding bands. So exciting!
- Purchase the frills. Things like toasting flutes, serving pieces, flower basket, ring bearer pillow. There are lots of great stuff on Oriental Trading, here, that are expensive and nice!
2 Months Before
- Purchase guest book. We actually found ours at hobby lobby. It was simple and sweet and to the point. Most of the time your guest book sits in a box somewhere for a very long time after your wedding, so don’t feel like you need to go too lavish on it.
- Purchase wedding party gifts. We found these on Oriental Trading, here, as well. I know my girls still use what we got them, because I see them with it :p We got them each a personalized bag and made a wedding day emergency kit, with the jewelry they were suppose to wear for the day.
- Order alcohol for reception. You should be able to do this with your reception venue but if you are manning your own bar then this would be a great time to get all that ordered and stocked up.
- Write vows. Or you could be like us and wait until the night before.
- Send rehearsal dinner invites.
- Get with officiant and actually plan how the ceremony will look. What readings are you going to use? Who will be reading them? If any. Is there a specific line you want said? Do you want traditional vows? Will you be doing a rose or sand ceremony? Etc.
- Make honeymoon folders. What I mean by this is to print out all your reservation information for your honeymoon, including itinerary and give it to important people (like your parents, grandparents, best friend, ect), especially if you will be unplugging for your honeymoon. This way, in case something happens, someone knows how to get a hold of you and where exactly you will be. I had made 2. One that I gave to my mom and dad and then 1 that I kept myself that we took on our honeymoon with us.
- Something old, borrowed, and blue. Keeping this tradition? Now’s the time to make sure you have these.
1 Month Before
- Have bachelorette party! I would hate to be hung over for my wedding so I think it’s a good idea to have it a few weeks – month ahead of time. Plus it’s a good time to hang with your girlfriends and relax before it’s crunch time.
- Check up on RSVPs. You WILL have people who don’t RSVP. Give them a little friendly nudge to see if they are coming or not.
- Gather clothes for wedding. Make sure your dress is picked up from the seamstress and all your wedding party has their clothes or at least knows when they should be picking up their clothes (say, for a tux rental)
- Create and share seating chart. If you are making one.
- Get marriage license. Pretty simple and painless procedure. Go to your local courthouse with ID, your officiant information and roughly $50 and they will get your license right then and there. They will give one that you must send back and then one that you can sign and hang up, if you so choose.
- Get hair cut and colored. If you are going to get your hair cut, please check with your stylist first to make sure the hair do you want will still be possible with your new do!
2 Weeks before
- Give final numbers to whoever needs them. Caterer, venue, etc.
- Make pet arrangements. Have pets? Make sure they have somewhere nice to stay on your wedding day, as well as for your honeymoon.
- Divvy out jobs. Who’s helping set up? Who’s going to be taking gifts after the reception? Who’s tearing down? Who’s going to get your clothes for you when you whisk away on your honeymoon?
1 Week before
- Pack for honeymoon.
- Finalized and share wedding day timeline. Make a gazillion copies and have on hand on the big day. Make sure everyone has a copy that needs one.
- Make $$ envelopes. Are there people who are getting paid on the big day? If so write out all those checks and put them in envelopes so you can hand them out accordingly. Also, do this for tips!
- Break in shoes
- Prepare emergency kit. Put in stuff like ibuprofen, white chalk, a tide stick, breath mints/gum, a granola bar, water bottle, bobby pins, nail polish, etc.
1 Day Before
- Drop off decorations at venue.
- Spa treatment. You deserve it!
There you have it! The mega wedding checklist!
Did I forget anything? Make sure you let me know in the comments!