Your Guide to 12 Months of Wedding Planning

So, you got engaged! You’ve had some time to get used to that sparkly rock on your finger and now it’s time to get down to business. You have a wedding to plan! But where to start?

The process of planning a wedding can be overwhelming. With so many tasks – big and small – it can be hard to know where to begin and what should be done when.

To help you get going, we’re giving you a rundown of the big tasks that you’ll probably need to check off your list. We’ve done it as a 12-month list, but you can alter it for your own engagement schedule!

12 Months Before:

  • Start a wedding binder/folder/book/Pinterest board to keep track of everything.
  • Make a budget – this helps keep costs in check from the very beginning.
  • Pick a date! This will help you book vendors and know how much time you really have.
  • Make a guest list – you need to know how many people you expect to be there so you can book a venue. Your list may be bigger than you think, especially when you include dates for your guests.
  • Consider hiring a wedding planner – it will help with the stress!

11 Months Before:

  • Book a reception venue – some book up quickly, especially in the city during prime wedding season.
  • Book a ceremony venue, especially if it’s a popular church or other location.
  • Book a photographer and videographer .

10 Months Before:

  • Book a caterer if you’re not using one provided by the venue.
  • Book your officiant – recommendations from friends are always helpful!

9 Months Before:

  • Book your band or DJ, as well as ceremony musicians.
  • Make a wedding website – there are lots of great ones out there, and it helps guests receive updates on dates, venues, your registry and more.
  • Purchase your dress! It can take six months for a dress to come in, and you’ll need time for alterations with several fittings as well.

8 Months Before:

  • Reserve a block of rooms at a hotel for out-of-town guests. You should be able to get a discount for the rooms for your guests.
  • Register for gifts.

7 Months Before:

  • Make or choose invitations and send save the dates.
  • Choose and purchase bridesmaids’ dresses – these can also take 4-6 months to arrive, and you need to leave time for alterations.
  • Reserve rentals, such as special chairs, linens, lighting, etc.

6 Months Before:

  • Order tuxedos or suits for the men. Guys who are out of town can get a tailor to take their measurements and send them in.
  • Start planning your honeymoon – make sure vaccinations are up to date if needed and book your dream post-wedding getaway. You’ll need it!
  • Do an engagement shoot with your photographer.
  • Book a florist and choose your flowers, including bouquets, boutonnieres and centrepieces.
  • Reserve your limo or bus or SUVs or whatever you’re planning on using to take you and your bridal party from place to place.

5 Months Before:

  • Choose an MC for the reception so they have plenty of time to prep. Pick someone you trust with a great sense of humour that won’t offend Grandma or embarrass you.
  • Purchase wedding shoes and accessories (veil, hairpieces, jewellery) – and start wearing those shoes around the house now so they’re broken in before the big day!
  • Book the rehearsal dinner venue and food.
  • Find a baker and choose a cake.
  • Book your hair and make-up artist – bonus points if they can come to you on the morning of the wedding!
  • Choose some tunes – what do you want to walk down the aisle to? What should be playing when you make your grand entrance at dinner?

Four Months Before:

  • Finalize your menu decisions.
  • Send out invitations. Some say 6-8 weeks is plenty, but it’s nice to give people more time, especially if they’re in a different city and need to book time off and travel.
  • Order wedding favours. We also love the trend of a card on the table saying the couple has given to a cause close to their hearts in lieu of favours!
  • Choose outfits for the flower girl and ring bearer.

Three Months Before:

  • Decide on wedding readings, speeches and toasts – who will say what? Ask them now so they have lots of time to prepare.
  • Choose the order of the ceremony and the agenda for the reception. Go over the schedules with your officiant and MC.
  • Print menu cards and programs, or have your stationer do it for you.
  • Purchase the rings, and leave plenty of time for sizing and engraving.

Two Months Before:

  • Meet with vendors to go over last-minute details. Let your photographer know which locations and shots are must-haves for you.
  • Buy items such as guest books, ring bearer pillows, card boxes, and toasting flutes.

One Month Before:

  • Track your RSVPS. An Excel spreadsheet will be your best friend!
  • Start the seating plan.
  • Give your caterer the final guest list numbers.
  • Book a trial with your hair and make-up vendors.
  • Pick up your marriage licence.
  • Purchase bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts
  • Write your vows and speeches.
  • Go for your final dress fitting.

The BIG DAY: Enjoy! Relax and know that you’ve pulled everything together perfectly. And no matter what happens, you’ll finally be married to the man of your dreams.