Mrs. Always Right: The 12-Month Wedding Timeline
Hi everyone! Welcome to the first installment of our Mrs. Always Right series, where we will be breaking down the overwhelming process of planning a wedding into a straightforward timeline. Whether a bride-to-be, member of the bridal party, or an attendee this timeline will prepare you so you know what to expect!
Envisioning the wedding is the easy part. How many of us have been dreaming of this day since we were little?! And if you’re like me, your wedding is perfectly planned out on a “secret” Pintrest board entitled “My Perfect Day.” (Don’t be shy, you know you have one.) While creating the atmosphere is definitely the easy (and fun!) part of the wedding planning process, executing it can become a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to coordinate and plan, that it can take away from this fabulous time in your life: being engaged!
Because of this, I have put together a wedding timeline based on speaking with the amazingly knowledgeable staff here at The Write Approach! Now, just because this timeline is based on a yearlong plan, doesn’t mean that you cannot apply it to the length of your engagement! This is merely here to serve as a guideline and to show you the order of events.
12 Months Before the Wedding
Some venues can get book up to a year in advance!
Draft Guest List
This will help you to decide on which venues to look at – some can only hold up to a certain amount of people and others have strict requirements for the minimum amount of guests you can have!
This is 100% optional. Traditionally, this is hosted by the parents of the bride.
This is definitely something that should be done sooner, rather than later! It allows people, not only to know what you want, but if they want to send you an engagement or shower gift, they know where to go. With online registry managers, this makes it super easy to go back and edit your registry if you have changed your mind about things you originally registered for.
10 Months Before the Wedding
Pick an Officiant
Like venues, officiants can get booked very quickly!
Select Bridal Party
Choosing my bridal party was probably one of the toughest decisions I had to make because it is impossible to ask everyone! Nonetheless, it is good to do this sooner rather than later so your attendants can plan accordingly.
Most importantly, book a photographer! The good ones go fast! You want one that understands your vision for your day and will take the kind of pictures you want. I would also suggest booking a caterer (if your venue doesn’t have on-site catering), your band or DJ, and the florist at this point too! Once you get these big things out of the way, you can book the smaller stuff later! If possible, it’s best to book the vendors suggested by the venue, this way, you are hiring people that you know are familiar with your venue and have a relationship with the staff.
Take Engagement Photos
This is optional, but many couples choose to use their engagement photos in their Save the Dates! Also, a lot of times photographs include an engagement photo shoot in their package. Not only do you get photos to use down the road, but it also allows you to establish a relationship with your photograph. This way, you can get comfortable and be relaxed for the big day!
8 Months Before the Wedding
As hard as it is to believe, dresses can take up to 7-8 months to come in once they’re ordered – especially is you are doing something custom!
Block Hotel Rooms
This is a must if you have guests coming in from out of town or if you’re doing a destination wedding! Hotels will usually give you a discounted group rate when you book a block of rooms!
Cake Tasting & Order Cake
This is probably one of the most fun things you’ll do while planning your wedding!
Begin Hair & Make-Up Trials
Once you have decided on your dress, it is import to start thinking about your beauty look. It can take a few tries to find someone who can achieve the look you’re going for. You also have decide on whether or not you want to have it done at a salon or have someone come to you at your home or hotel. Also, if you are going to get an spray tan, I recommend going to a few different places. Once you find a tan that you like, book your wedding appointment for at least 48 hours before your wedding takes place.
6 Months Before the Wedding
Send Out Save the Dates
If you are planning a destination wedding, send your Save the Dates out with as much notice as possible – 10 months before your wedding is appropriate. Otherwise, 6 months notice is sufficient so they can plan accordingly and save the date on their own calendar!
Figure out where you and your fiancée want to go and start doing research on different accommodations options and packages!
Order Bridesmaids Dresses
These can take up to 5 months to come in after ordering! Your girls will also need time to get any additional alterations done, so your best bet is to do this sooner rather than later!
Purchase Wedding Bands
If you plan to customize your band with an engraved inscription, it is best to order them in advance in case there are any unforeseen issues!
4 Months Before the Wedding
Ordering invitations involves a lot more than you’d think! Once you settle on an invitation you love, which is a feat within itself, than you have to decide on paper, font, colors, and wording. Then the proof process begins! This means that the invitation company sends a mock up of what the invitation will look like and give you a chance to look it over and make sure everything is worded to your liking and spelled correctly. This process, within itself, can take up to 2 weeks. Once you finalize your proof and order your invitations, it could take up to 4 weeks to come in! The last step is to have your invitations addressed! Depending on whether you choose to have them hand caligraphied or printed will determine how much longer it will take. By the time this is done they are ready to be sent out!
Select Groomsman Attire
Whether renting or buying, it is a good idea to get arranged sooner rather than later to avoid any last minute mishaps. (Boys will be boys!)
Plan Rehearsal Dinner
Traditionally, the groom’s parents host the Rehearsal Dinner the night before the wedding.
Confirm all of your vendors and book any meetings that are needed before the wedding to go over day of details. This is also the time to book any additional vendors such as lighting, sound equipment, furniture rentals, photo booths, etc.
Decide On Hair & Make-Up
Finalize your look and confirm all appointments for you (and anyone else in your bridal party, if needed). Also, make sure you have the necessary make-up for touchups throughout the day.
2 Months Before the Wedding
Wedding invitations are typically sent out 8 weeks before the wedding, with a response date around 4 weeks before the wedding.
Write or Decide on Vows/Ceremony
If you plan to write your own vows, it’s an added touch if they’re memorized!
Purchase Day Of Accessories
Decide on how you would like to accessorize your dress – shoes, jewelry, hairpieces, veil, belt, etc.
Confirm Day Of Transportation
Figure out how you, the bridal party, and your families will be getting to the wedding locations.
6 Weeks Before the Wedding
Get Everything Printed
Programs, menus, place cards, and anything else you need made for the big day!
1 Month Before the Wedding
There isn’t a rule saying you have to have your bachelorette party the month before your wedding! Usually, your Maid of Honor plans this with the rest of your bridesmaids and they will find a date that works best for everyone!
Traditionally, the groom’s mother’s close friend hosts the bridal shower. Or your bridesmaids can host a shower as well.
2 Weeks Before the Wedding
Final Dress Fitting
Make sure you test out how all of your accessories look with the dress and that your dress is shortened to the right length with your shoes and make any necessary changes. Also, its smart to start breaking in the shoes you will be wearing on the big day!
Give Shot List to Photographer
Decide on what photographs are most important to you and put a list together of all the shots you would like take by your photographer.
Review Music with Band/DJ
Reach out to your band or DJ to finalize the playlist and confirm and special request song. This is also a perfect time to tell them any songs you DO NOT want played at your wedding. A lot of times bands or DJs feed off of the crowds energy and play what they think will work, make sure they know what you don’t want to hear!
1 Week Before the Wedding
Final Head Count
Once you have received all of your RSVPs, you will need to confirm this number with anyone who needs to know it – venue, caterer, rental company, etc.
Finalize Seating Chart
Try to sit friends and acquaintances together whenever possible.
Get Facials and Waxing
Even if you go to your usual place, Murphy’s Law could kick in and cause unforeseen reactions, so make sure to give yourself a grace period allowing your skin time to calm down before the wedding. An insider tip: NEVER get waxed after you get spray tanned!
48 Hours Before the Wedding
If that wedding glow is important, get a spray tan. Beside the fact that tanning beds are really bad for you, the risk of getting a last minute sunburn is so not worth it!
Have Nails Done
You want your manicure and pedicure as fresh and perfect as possible, so get this done as close to the wedding as you can!
Wrap Bridesmaids’ & Groomsmen Gifts
This is not worth the last minute hassle, so get this done as soon as possible!!!
The Day Before the Wedding
Relax and enjoy! There is nothing better than being surrounded by family and friends who are celebrating the love you and your fiancée have for one another!
Give Bridal Party Gifts
Typically, the bride will give her bridesmaids’ a gift the day before the wedding, along with the groom to his groomsmen.
The Big Day
Get Married and Live Happily Ever After!!!
No wedding is perfect and you cannot plan everything! You may know something isn’t perfect, but the only thing the guests see is a fabulous party! Just remember to relax, enjoy the moment and have fun!