Did you know that the most popular month for getting engaged is December? That means there are a lot of newly engaged couples who are wondering what, exactly, they need to do to get the train on the tracks for their future wedding day.
In case you were wondering: if you want to have a summer wedding (it’s the most popular season for weddings, after all), you’ll have to make a lot of compromises to make the 6-month timeline work -- you may have to settle for your third choice of caterer, or an outdoor wedding when you wanted indoor because all the choice venues are already booked.
For this reason, we are going to outline a more traditional 12 month wedding planning guide for the newly engaged. This is not an exact guide, of course -- but it should help get you on the right track for planning your perfect wedding.
12 Months to the Day: Do All Major Research, Create Your Website
The first items you must take care of as newly engaged person is figuring out your wedding budget and creating a guest list.
From there, research nearby wedding venues and visit a few of them to get a feel of what you like and don’t like. It’s incredibly important to choose a wedding venue sooner rather than later, as everything from the date to the photographer is dependent upon the venue, so discuss with your partner and come to a decision.
In this timeframe, you might want to create a wedding website. While a website isn’t mandatory, many couples nowadays create sites to help keep friends and family up-to-date on the wedding.
11 Months to the Day: Know your Wedding Venue and Date, Send Save-the-Date
At this point you should have a firmly established date and booked your wedding venue. Having the exact date will allow you to know which photographers, caterers, florists etc. can fit you into their schedule.
At this point, you should also begin sending out save-the-date cards to your guests, and book a block of hotel rooms at a convenient location for out-of-town guests.
10 Months to the Day: Dress Shopping and Major Contracts
By your third month of planning, it is high time to begin shopping for your wedding dress. What you need to remember is that, even after you find a dress, you need to leave plenty of time to spare for alterations.
Additionally, you want to have all of your major contracts established, including the photographer, the caterer, the DJ, etc.
9 Months to the Day: Gift Registry and Officiant
Is your gift registry established? It’s a fun but important step to complete. During this month you’ll also want to decide on an officiant for the wedding, whether it’s a religious official or a family friend that is or will be properly ordained.
8 Months to the Day: The Accoutrements
You should have your dress by now; make sure you get the necessary alterations. By the end of this month, you’ll also want to have your accessories as well, such as veils, shoes, jewelry, et cetera.
7 Months to the Day: Book the Honeymoon
Have you booked your honeymoon yet? Don’t believe what you hear about prices being ideal 6 weeks before booking; while this might be true as an average, you’ll rarely save too significant a cost by waiting until almost the last minute. Worse, you’ll have more trouble lining up hotels and transportation. Plan far ahead so that you can relax!
6 Months to the Day: Ready the Invites
There are numerous avenues brides can take for choosing invitations, whether it’s a local printer or an Etsy store that specializes in this. No matter what, you want to leave plenty of time to draft the message, approve a final version, and have it printed. Get your stamps ready!
5 Months to the Day: Tie Up Loose Ends
This is a good month for making sure you have the smaller, but no less important things taken care of. Do you need a separate hotel room for prep before the wedding? Have you booked transportation to and from venues? What’s your venue for the rehearsal dinner?
4 Months to the Day: Trial Runs and Hors d'Oeuvres
Nail down the specifics of your meal with your caterer; make sure the appetizers you want can fit in your budget. Do any necessary trial runs with makeup artists and hair stylists, and make sure you have enough time booked with them for the big day.
3 Months to the Day: Tux and Mailing Invitations
The groom’s attire may not get as much attention as the bride’s dress, but by this point, you want to make sure he has everything he needs ready.
At this point, you should also mail out your invitations so that your guests have plenty of time to decide whether they can attend or not.
2 Months to the Day: Confirm Everything with Your Vendors
Confirm everything with your vendors. After many months have passed, it’s possible either you or they may forget small (or even large) details. This is also a good time to nail down exact numbers for things like linen rentals and centerpieces now that you have RSVPs on many of your guests. While you still have several weeks to think it over, start composing your toasts for the rehearsal dinner and reception.
1 Month to the Day: Finalize All the Details
It’s the final stretch! Luckily, most of the major details have already been taken care of. Make sure, though, that you’re completely ready for the big day. Have a final seating list, as well as an hour-by-hour schedule for the day that you can give to vendors and list on your website as well. If you didn’t buy your wedding bands already, that is always an important step!
And finally… the big day! Congratulations, you made it. Have fun, and remember -- even if something goes wrong, it’s your celebration that people remember, not the tiny details!