Wedding Checklist – Timeline Of Things To Do Before The Big Day

Many brides find it helpful to keep a wedding checklist that follows a timeline of all the things that need to be done before the big day.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the most crucial tasks, as well as a general time frame for when each should be completed. If your wedding is in the Saratoga area, you can plan many of these details with the click of a link!

groom signing marriage license

First Things First

Before you can start working out all the details of your big day, you have to determine when the big day will be! Most couples find that it works best to have a general idea of when you want your wedding to be (ex. end of summer/early fall), and then see what dates are available at potential venues.

Although you may have an exact date in mind, it’s important to be flexible! Some venues get booked years in advance, so if you want a certain date, don’t wait to reserve it.

Once you have your date, your ceremony site, and your reception venue all set, you can proceed with the remainder of the checklist!

11 – 13 Months Before The Wedding

  • Have An Engagement Party – Before you jump into the stress of planning a wedding, celebrate your engagement! This can be as low-key or fancy as you’d like.
  • Run Announcement In Local Paper
  • Decide On A Budget – Be realistic! It’s always better to come in under your budget than over it.
  • Hire A Wedding Consultant – Only do so if it fits within your budget! Hiring someone else can take much of the burden off of the bride and groom, but it can also be an added expense.
  • Choose Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
  • Start Planning Your Guest List – Although you may have a large family and lots of friends, be aware that the more people you invite, the more expensive it will be. Always keep your budget in mind!
  • Begin Shopping For The Wedding Gown

8 – 10 Months Before The Wedding

  • Choose Your Wedding Officiant
  • Select A Caterer — If your chosen reception venue doesn’t include dining options, you will also need to hire a caterer. Make sure you select one that can work with your reception venue, accommodate the number of guests you’re planning to invite, the type of menu you want, and any dietary restrictions you or your guests may have.
  • Hire A Band Or DJMusic is an extremely important part of your wedding reception, so make sure you hire someone to be the soundtrack to your big day.
  • Hire A Wedding Photographer – You’ll treasure the photos from your wedding day for the rest of your life! Explore multiple photographers, and hire the one who can best capture the occasion the way you want.
  • Hire A Videographer – In addition to a photographer, you may want to hire a videographer so you can re-live your special day from start to finish.
  • Organize Rentals – Will you need to rent a tent, chairs, or tables? If so, you’ll want to contact rental companies early on to make sure they can accommodate your needs.
  • Finalize The Guest List & Gather Addresses – Make sure you have current addresses for everyone you’re inviting!
  • Reserve Accommodations For Out-of-Town Guests – If any of your guests are traveling a long distance, you’ll want to reserve a block of rooms for them.
  • Order Your Wedding Gown – This is one of the most important parts of your big day! Don’t wait until the last minute to decide on and order the perfect dress.
  • Choose & Order Bridesmaid Dresses – It may be difficult to find a dress that all of your bridesmaids agree on, but ultimately it’s your big day, and you get the final say.
  • Register For Gifts – Friends and family will want to get you gifts that you need and want, and registering for items simplifies this process for them.
  • Set Up A Website – Some couples set up their own wedding website to keep guests informed. You can add information about the wedding party, the venues, and more so your guests can stay in the loop.

5 – 7 Months Before The Wedding

  • Purchase Wedding Stationery – This includes Save the Dates, invitations, programs, place cards, and anything else that may need to be printed.
  • Send Save The Date Cards – These aren’t your official invitations, but they let your guests know what date you’ve selected so they can plan their schedules accordingly and make travel arrangements if necessary.
  • Select Your Wedding Cake
  • Decide On A Honeymoon Location – You may want to hire a travel agent to help you find the perfect destination for your interests and budget.
  • Apply For/Renew Passport – If you’ll be leaving the country for your honeymoon, make sure you have a current passport!
  • Begin Pre-Marriage Counseling Sessions, if required for religious reasons.

4 Months Before The Wedding

  • Book Your Wedding Florist – Choose a florist who can bring your vision to life. You may want flowers at the ceremony site, at the reception, during the ceremony, and/or as centerpieces.
  • Purchase Your Wedding Bands – The rings are the symbol of your love! Be sure to get something you’ll be comfortable wearing.
  • Reserve A Limousine – If you want a more unique form of transportation, you may want to look into it sooner.
  • Begin Shopping For Formalwear

3 Months Before The Wedding

  • Order Formalwear – Have the groomsmen send you their measurements if they can’t be there to order their formalwear in-person.
  • Attend Your Bridal Shower – The exact timing of the bridal shower may vary, depending on what the host wants.

2 Months Before The Wedding

  • Send Your Invitations – You’ll want to create a spreadsheet or list of everyone you’ve invited so you can easily keep track of RSVPs.
  • Confirm With DJ & Other Vendors – You want to be certain that everyone is on the same page and knows when and where to be.
  • Choose Your Wedding Songs – Decide what you want for your first dance, and your father/daughter mother/son dances to be too. Note, if you are planning a big dance routine with your wedding party, you may need to plan for dance lessons or choreography assistance sooner.
  • Shop For Bridal Party Gifts – Get tokens of your appreciation for your bridal party, parents, and anyone else who helped you in the wedding planning process.
  • Plan Your Rehearsal Dinner – Decide where you want to hold your rehearsal dinner and determine who will be attending, then reserve the venue.
  • Book Hair & Makeup Appointments – You may want to visit your stylist in advance to try out styles. This will make things go more smoothly on the big day.
  • Write Your Vows – Not all couples write their own vows, but if you’re choosing this route, you’ll want to start planning what to say far in advance.

1 Month Before The Wedding

  • Design Your Wedding Program
  • Apply For Marriage License – Marriage licenses are only good for one month, so be sure you don’t apply for yours too early.
  • Purchase Accessories – Think about the jewelry you’ll want to wear on your big day.
  • Have Your Final Gown Fitting – The exact timing of your appointment may vary based on when you ordered your dress and what alterations needed to be made

2 Weeks Before The Wedding

  • Call Any Guests Who Haven’t Responded – You want to make sure you know exactly how many guests to expect.
  • Give Your Caterer A Final Guest Count – Once you give your caterer a final count, they will be able to give you final pricing.
  • Coordinate With Photographer/Videographer – Give them lists of formal shots and candids you’d like them to capture.
  • Give Song Requests To DJ/Band – Tell them which songs you’ve selected for the important dances, and also let them know if there are certain songs you don’t want them to play.
  • Pick Up Your Marriage License
  • Design Seating Plan For Reception – Think about which of your guests would like to sit together.
  • Confirm Rental & Floral Deliveries
  • Book A Manicure/Pedicure – You’ll want to make sure that your nails look fantastic since there will be lots of pictures taken of your rings!

1 Week Before The Wedding

  • Print Materials – This includes your place cards and programs.
  • Confirm All Arrangements – You want to be certain that all of your appointments are all set and that all vendors are ready.
  • Coordinate With Venues – Meet with the managers of your ceremony and reception sites to discuss your vendor delivery schedule and special requests from the vendors (tables, etc.). You may also want to give them a list of contact numbers just in case.
  • Attend Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties – The last week before a wedding can be a stressful time; let loose by doing something fun with your bridesmaids or groomsmen!
  • Pack For Honeymoon

2 – 3 Days Before The Wedding

  • Pick Up Formalwear – The groom should have his final formalwear fitting and pick up the suits for all of his groomsmen (or the groomsmen could pick up their own suits, depending on the circumstances).
  • Coordinate Wedding Party – Decide the order of the processional/recessional and determine where the wedding party will stand or sit during the ceremony.
  • Set Up Transportation Times – Call your limousine company and give them a definite list of pickup times and locations.

1 Day Before The Wedding

  • Have Wedding Rehearsal – Work out all the details of the ceremony with your wedding party, officiant, and anyone else involved. You’ll also want to give your marriage license to your officiant at this time.
  • Enjoy Rehearsal Dinner – Have a great meal with your friends and family.
  • Give Wedding Party Gifts

Day Of  The Wedding

  • Introduce Vendors To Appropriate Contacts – You’ll want to introduce your photographer, site manager, and other personnel who will be on-site during your ceremony to your maid of honor, parents, or someone else who can field any questions or problems that come up when you’re otherwise occupied.
  • Give Wedding Bands To Best Man/Maid Of Honor
  • Enjoy Your Big Day!

On the day of your wedding, breathe in deep and relax! The hard work is done, and today is your day to enjoy and treasure for the rest of your lives. If, by chance, you didn’t get to everything on the wedding checklist, or something doesn’t go as planned, don’t sweat it; your guests will likely not even know the difference!

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