Your Wedding Planning Checklist
Weddings are full of love, dancing and…planning. There’s a lot of decisions and steps, but with our checklist, you can make sure you have it all.
Wedding Planning Checklist: Before You Start Planning
A wedding planning checklist can be invaluable. It can keep you on track and organized, it can help you stay within budget, and so much more. Before you dive into the specifics of planning, it’s essential to set the groundwork with your checklist. Talk to your partner about the type of wedding you both envision to guide your decisions and use that to plan a wedding checklist. Establish a shared wedding-specific email for organized communication and correspondence. Determine the key elements of the wedding that are most important to you both, which can help in allocating your budget effectively. Lastly, take a quick glance at wedding trends via magazines or online platforms for inspiration. Setting this foundational understanding will streamline your planning process and keep both of you on the same page. And when we talk about a checklist – it doesn’t have to be done with old-school pen and paper or trapper-keeper binders (although there’s nothing wrong with that). You can create a wedding planning checklist on various apps, or online using a free wedding website to plan your perfect nuptials.
Step-by-Step Wedding Planning Checklist:
10 — 14 Months Beforehand
- Set your budget. It’s highly advised this be one of the very first priorities. Why? It’ll set the precedent for everything else.
- The Wedding Party. Decide who you’d like to ask be in the wedding party , those you want standing by your side the day you tie the knot.
- Hiring a planner? Start with them early on; they have the experience to make the overall process easier.
- Put together the guest list. Why do you have to do this early? To know approximately what sized wedding venue you’ll be booking!
- Take a binder and label it “Our Wedding”. Every time you see an article, Pinterest post or magazine clipping that draws inspiration, put it in here
- Decide your venue. Do some research and see what works for you & your fiance, both personality and location-wise. (Here are the top wedding venues in San Diego.)
- Get your officiant booked.
- Take a section of your “Our Wedding” binder and label it “Vendors”.
Research people you’ll want to hire like florists, caterers and photographers & put them in the “Vendors” section.
7 — 9 Months Beforehand
- Vendor booking. Officially book each of the vendors you’ve been researching and adding to your wedding binder. As desired, select your:
- Entertainment (ex: live music)
- Say yes to the dress. You want to leave ample time in case it’s needs altering and for shopping for other things like the veil.
- Accommodations for Friends & Family. You know your venue, so blocking out hotel rooms will be easy. Simple find somewhere nearby and call (or have the wedding planner call) to do so
- Register You & Your Fiance. This is a fun part, creating your gift registry!
- Pow wow with the bridesmaids on dresses. Make sure you get your dream image while also finding out what everyone will be comfortable wearing (if the ladies want to dance up a storm, they may prefer a dress that isn’t strapless.)
3 — 5 Months Beforehand
- Send save the dates. This way, everyone can get your wedding on their calendar. You don’t want Aunt Beth booking a cruise to Mexico the very week you’re getting married!
- Select your wedding invitations.
- Chat with your officiant. Make sure all the documentation for the fast-approaching day is good to go
- Pick your honeymoon destination & plan accordingly. For example, if you’re going to a foreign country, make sure your passports are up-to-date.
- Book the “unsexy” elements. Depending on where you get married, you’ll need extra components. Outdoor beach weddings need chairs reserved, ways to play music. etc.
- Transportation. How is everyone getting to the wedding?
- Pick & order the cake. This is one of the most fun events by far. Your job is quite literally to taste delicious dessert after dessert until you find the right one.
- Book the place for the rehearsal dinner.
- Hosting a shower? Put together the invite list & send it out.
- Tunes Time. It is said that music can make or break a wedding. Put together a general playlist or select genres and artists you’d like featured; that way you don’t have to worry when you hit the dance floor, because you know it’ll be good.
- Agree on the final list of people giving speeches.
- Finalize the order of events going on at the ceremony & reception.
- Put a ring on it. Well, first make sure there’s a ring to put on — go purchase your wedding rings and have them fitted.
Vendor Check. Remember all those vendors you already scheduled? Give them a call and just double check that everything’s still good to go. If there have been any changes, you’ll still have time to recover.
2 — 3 Months Beforehand
- Send out the gorgeous invitations you so excitedly chose.
- Bachelor & Bachelorette time. The day is almost here — make sure to have a carefree time at your bachelor and bachelorette parties! you’ve done so much planning; it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself.
- RSVPs. To be coming or not to be coming? That is the question.
- More invites. Have people that aren’t able to come? A month before you’ll still have time to invite other folks you may not have had room for earlier!
1 Month Beforehand
- Get a license, not the driving kind. Did you know a marriage license can take 6 days to get? To be extra safe, we say do it a month early.
- Once you have your firm headcount? Get the alcohol! Wine, champagne, tequila…whatever it is that will get the party started for you and your closest friends & family.
- Confirm any hair or makeup appointments.
- Doing assigned seating? Let the seating charts begin.
- Words at the altar. Most of the main details are laid out, now it’s time for the little stuff…like your vows.
- Triple confirm all the vendor details.
- Send timelines for day before and day of event to all people in the wedding party.
- Have payments ready to go for your vendors.
- Shoes. This is sneaky but important to remember…break them in! You don’t want your feet killing you on this important day.
- Prepare for the honeymoon. With all the excitement about the wedding day itself, don’t forget to pack for your honeymoon!
2 Weeks Beforehand
Final Dress Fitting: Ensure your wedding dress fits perfectly.
Contact Non-RSVPs: Check in with guests who haven’t confirmed their attendance.
Finalize Seating Arrangements: Make necessary tweaks to the seating charts.
Prepare Thank You Gifts: Purchase small tokens of appreciation for your bridal party and others who’ve supported your journey.
Plan the Wedding Rehearsal: Ensure everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities.
1 Week Beforehand
Weather Check: For outdoor weddings, monitor the forecast and consider having a backup plan in case of unexpected changes.
Day-of Emergency Kit: Prepare a kit with essential items like safety pins, tissues, pain relievers, bandaids, and a sewing kit.
Delegate Last-Minute Tasks: Assign responsibilities to friends or family members for any last-minute errands.
Have a Personal Day: Take a day off for self-care. Consider getting a massage, manicure, or simply resting.
A Few Days Beforehand
Confirm Arrival Times: Double-check with all vendors on their expected arrival and setup times.
Pack for the Wedding Night: If you’re staying at a hotel after the wedding, pack everything you’ll need.
Hold the Wedding Rehearsal: This is crucial for ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
The Day Before
Check-in with Vendors: A quick reminder never hurts.
Hydrate and Eat Well: Nourish your body in preparation for the big day.
Relax: Try to get a good night’s sleep before your wedding day.
The Wedding Day
Stay Calm: Remember, things might not go 100% as planned, and that’s okay! Your wedding prep checklist should help you keep things on point so you don’t get harried before the bid day.
Eat Breakfast: You’ll need the energy for the big day.
Personal Items: Ensure you have everything you need, such as the marriage license, personal identification, and any change of clothes.
Enjoy the Moment: The day will go by quickly, so try to be present and savor every moment.
After the Wedding
Send Thank You Notes: A wedding planning check list should include all the information about your guests so you can easily express your gratitude to those who attended and gave you gifts.
Review Vendors: Leave reviews for your vendors to help future couples in their planning.
Name Change: If you’re planning to change your last name, start the necessary paperwork.
Wedding Dress Care: Consider cleaning and preserving your wedding dress.
How Many Months Before a Wedding Should You Start Planning?
Starting your wedding planning checklist can vary based on the complexity and scale of your envisioned celebration. However, a general rule of thumb is to begin planning at least 12 to 14 months in advance. This gives ample time to secure popular venues, book your desired vendors, and ensure that guests can mark their calendars. Starting early also allows for a buffer in case of unforeseen challenges or changes. For couples dreaming of a more intimate or simpler affair, a 6 to 9-month timeline might suffice. No matter the scale, the key is to ensure you have enough time to comfortably make decisions without feeling rushed. That’s where a checklist for wedding planning can save the day – it’s a perfect solution for keeping all the details straight (including backup plans, if needed), ensuring a more seamless and enjoyable wedding preparation journey.
I hope this offers you a good outline for the most critical wedding planning points. If you’re still deciding on details like location, there are numerous benefits the coastal town La Jolla, California offers. Click here to see why should you get married in La Jolla?.