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Your Essential Wedding Planning Timeline

A useful step-by-step timeline for planning your wedding.

Planning a wedding is often one of the most exciting times in a couples' life. But without a carefully prepared timeline, or checklist, it can also become pretty stressful. Whether the wedding is in 3 months time, or 3 years time, you need to prepare early, in order for events to run smoothly on the big day.

If you give yourself enough time for planning and sort the wedding related task's month by month with a checklist and wedding timeline, the job should become a lot more fun and less stressful. “By breaking down the year month by month, you are taking on the planning process in bite-size pieces, and it will be far less overwhelming” says Tessa Lyn Brand from Tessa Lyn Events.

Inspired Tessa's words, and our past experience, we thought we'd create this handy month by month countdown, which should help you stay on schedule and bring a sense of ease to your wedding planning.

An Easy-to-Follow Wedding Planning Timeline

Once You Get Engaged or When You're Ready to Start Wedding Planning

— Sit down with your partner, and chat about your ideal wedding. Do this early, and make sure that you're on the same page. Taking notes may seem weird, but also very useful for referring back to.

— Draw up a budget, and consider where the money is coming from.

— Start drawing up the guest list. Decide on approximate number of guests, as this may impact your choice of wedding venues.

— Decide on potential wedding dates, or a potential wedding period. Check with important guests to avoid clashes for VIP's.

— Begin to research potential wedding venues and ceremony locations – if separate. In general, this should be the first thing you book, as it impacts everything else.

Optional: Have an engagement party!

12 Months Before The Wedding

— Book your reception venue and ceremony spot

— Research, and hopefully book wedding services and suppliers – florist, invitations, cake, decor, music, hair, and makeup etc

— Decide on the entertainment for your ceremony, drinks and reception

— Book photographer

— Book videographer

— Research and consider options for your venue and ceremony decor

— Book a wedding planner or venue stylist. This is especially helpful if you have to look after the venue set-up or have lots of logistics involved.

— Start your wedding dress research, and book appointments.

— Send Save the Date's. This is critical if you're planning a destination wedding, or getting hitched during a very busy time of year.

— Pop the question to your wedding party

— Enlist/beg any helpers/talented friends of family with aspects of the wedding (for the cake, flowers, dresses etc)

8-10 Months Before the Wedding

— Book your wedding band and/or DJ

— Reserve accommodation for your guests

— Contact decor hire companies, and book any necessary chairs, tables, or marquees.

— Book your honeymoon – flights and accommodation

— Order the wedding cake

— Book pre-marriage course – if required by your church or celebrant

6-8 Months Before the Wedding

— Order your wedding dress (v important!) Please try to give yourself six months, from ordering to actually taking the dress home, as it can take longer than you'd think.

— Check that passports are in date for your honeymoon and order new ones if needed.

— Start planning the smaller details of your honeymoon, such as activities and excursions.

— Start planning hen and/or stag parties! And if you're not planning them, make sure your best man/bridesmaids/mates are!

4-6 Months Before the Wedding

— Choose & order your bridesmaids’ dresses

— Choose and order wedding invitations & stationery

— Attend pre-marriage counselling – if required (for Catholic ceremonies)

— Discuss flower options with your florist.

— Book or order the suits for the groomsmen

— Organise the legalities. Give at least 3 months notice to your registrar or priest/religious celebrant.

— Decide on prayers, readings, and music for ceremony booklets — check with your priest/registrar/celebrant

— Arrange travel vaccinations if necessary

— Book wedding transport

— Gather addresses for guest list or set up a wedding website. And also create spreadsheet for the RSVPs.

— Book hair & makeup trials and book preferred hairdresser and MUA.

2-3 Months Before the Wedding

— Send out invitations

— Choose and order wedding rings

— Buy bridal shoes, accessories, hair-pieces, bow ties etc. Always allow for longer if you're ordering these things online.

— Organise outfits for flower girls or page boys

— Have a menu tasting with your venue or caterer

4 Weeks Before the Wedding

— Final wedding dress fitting

— Make any last-minute adjustments with suppliers

— Finalise the details for, and order booklets/order of ceremony

— Complete any wedding DIY or big day craft projects

— Look over the final RSVP list and call any guests who have not yet responded.

— Do a full wedding dress rehearsal from underwear to veil.

1-2 Weeks Before the Wedding

— Decide on your shot lists with photographer and videographer, and include who should be in portraits and determine when portraits will be taken during the big day.

— Give wedding venue/caterer final guest head count

— Finalise your table plan

— Give your wedding coordinator a list of supplier requests, such as a table for the DJ or setup space for the florist.

— Get the place cards printed

— Call all wedding suppliers to confirm everything, and create a timetable for the day.

— Give ceremony and reception site managers a schedule of supplier delivery and setup times, plus contact numbers.

— Get a manicure, massage, wax & any preening and prep done.

— Pack an overnight bag for the reception

— Pack for the honeymoon!

2-3 Days Before the Wedding

— Make any last-minute changes to the table plan, if necessary

— Grooms: Go for final fitting and pick up your suits.

— Grooms: Ask the best man to make sure all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits.

— Confirm pick-up times with wedding car company

— Discuss any necessary last-minute substitutions with your suppliers.

— Print off a sheet with the running order for the day, and the main suppliers' contact details, give copies to your best man and maid of honour.

The Day Before the Wedding

— Drop off place cards, table cards, menus, favours, table plan to reception coordinator. Or, get busy placing them yourself, if possible.

— Provide all wedding suppliers with an emergency phone number to call on the day of the wedding.

— Sort out any final balances that need to be paid at the end of the reception.

— Ensure the wedding cake is on track, and will be delivered to the reception venue. Get your wedding party on to this one!

— Rehearse the ceremony with your full wedding party, and officiant at the ceremony site, to rehearse and iron out the details.

— Try to get some sleep!


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