General Wedding Planning Guide

This wedding planning guide is a general planning guide, applicable to just about any type of wedding. (We also have a specialized Indian Wedding Planning guide for your reference.)

12 Months Before & Even Earlier

  • Visualize your dream wedding. Where is it? Who is there to celebrate with you? What time of day? What month or holiday time? How many wedding-related events will you have?
  • Will you have a wedding planner?
  • Decide approximately how many people you will be inviting.
  • Envision your wedding fashions.
  • Think about a budget. Think about who might be willing to pitch in.
  • Add the engagement ring to your insurance policy.
  • Visit possible wedding sites. If you are thinking about a destination wedding, the destinations may be able to arrange a fact-finding trip for you. 
El Conquistador, Puerto Rico

El Conquistador, Puerto Rico

9-12 Months Before

  • Begin working on your guest list.
  • Visit possible wedding sites. If you are thinking about a destination wedding, the destinations may be able to arrange a fact-finding trip for you. 
  • Finalize your wedding and reception locations. Many of the popular locations will book at least 12 months in advance, so plan ahead. 
  • Search for an officiant.
  • Research catering options, and do some taste tests. Also decide on the catering budget and begin working on a menu.
  • Start a file for organizing contracts, receipts, and other paperwork.
  • Reach out to friends and family for their guest suggestions. You may want to provide them a limit.
  • Choose your wedding party: bridesmaids and groomsmen.
  • Hire your wedding planner. Get this done as early as possible, as the best planners book over one year out.
  • Choose a wedding color scheme.
  • Try on some wedding outfits.
  • Audition potential bands and DJs.
  • Look into rental equipment options and related costs.
  • If you will be having events at home, you may want to get started on any home improvements that will be needed for the event.
  • Visit with a florist.
  • Meet with your officiant to discuss the ceremony.
  • Consider honeymoon destinations.
  • Interview photographers and videographers whose work you like.
  • If you are wanting to initiate a fitness routine, this is a great time to get started.

6-8 Months Before

  • Decide upon the dress.
  • Finalize the DJ and music options.
  • Get your passport and travel papers updated, especially if there is a name change involved. 
  • Consider finalizing the honeymoon travel plans.
  • Set up your registry wish list. You can also look into some non-profit or donation options.
  • Setup a consultation with a makeup and hair artist.
  • Search for a bakery for your custom wedding cake.
  • Finalize the photographer contract.
  • Begin the search for bridesmaids dresses.
  • Finalize the florist.
  • Work with your hotel venue for a room block for your guests.
  • Send out the save-the-date cards.
  • Plan out the rehearsal dinner, including menu and number of guests.
  • Begin work on the wedding invitation.
  • Look into wedding (or event) insurance.
  • Start a spa day and facial routine, about every 4-6 weeks.

4-5 months

  • Once you've settled on the guest list, share the information with the venue and the caterer.
  • Order the wedding invitations and related stationery, such as Thank You cards.
  • Provide the full order to your florist.
  • Order the rings.
  • Finalize the wedding cake with the bakery.
  • Look into purchasing versus renting the groom's and groomsmen's outfits.
  • Contact the rental company to finalize the order.
  • If you want calligraphy for the invitations, this is your chance to get it done.
  • Work with your hotel venue to finalize the accommodations after the wedding.
  • Communicate the hotel information to your guests.

2-3 Months Before

  • Arrange airport or other transportation for your other wedding guest.
  • Go ahead and finalize your dress fittings.
  • Work with your bridesmaids to finalize their outfits.
  • Send out the invitations.
  • If you will be providing thank-you gifts or gift baskets, this is the time to take care of the details.
  • Put in your wedding announcement, and be sure to send it in to us!
  • Attend your bridal shower, and have fun!

6 weeks Before

  • Apply for the marriage license, and look into the appropriate licensing laws, especially if you are planning a destination wedding.
  • Confirm guest transportation and accommodation arrangements.
  • See if you will need to purchase extra liquor for any additional parties.
  • Don't forget important accessories: shoes for the bride and for the groom. Cufflinks, bouquets, etc. 
  • If you are creating your own vows, this is your opportunity to try them out.
  • Purchase a guest book for your guests to sign.
  • Go over the full program with your wedding planner and officiant.

3-4 Weeks Before

  • Get in your spa day and facials.
  • Be sure to get the marriage license.
  • Print the ceremony and program cards.
  • Work with the DJ to finalize the playlist.
  • Follow up on any documents that will need to be changed, such as social security cards, especially if there is a name change.
  • Communicate any relevant details to your wedding party and to your wedding vendors and experts.
  • Follow up with any guests who haven't responded.
  • Go shopping for honeymoon stuff. Don't forget more fabulous shoes for wherever your destination takes you.
  • Finalize that complicated seating plan.

1-2 Weeks Before

  • Assemble your overnight bag and the honeymoon getaway luggage. 
  • Be sure your maid of honor has a bridal emergency kit: safety pins, baking soda, hairpins, vodka.
  • Go over all of the details with your wedding planner. Tie up any loose ends, including putting together tip envelopes for vendors, such as valets, servers, etc.
  • Confirm final payments with vendors.
  • Provide the photographer with a "special moments" list: the moments that you specifically want captured.
  • Break in your wedding shoes by practicing walking in them.
  • For the groom, this is the right time to get the haircut.
  • Handout the wedding-day to-do lists to the volunteer friends and family members.
Elephant henna cookies from Bake Me Something make the perfect gifts for your guests!

Elephant henna cookies from Bake Me Something make the perfect gifts for your guests!

The Day Before

  • Drop off welcome gift baskets for out-of-town guests.
  • Set your alarm (and a backup alarm).
  • Get some sleep - it will make the pictures come out better.

The Day Of

  • The hard work is done.
  • You have earned it to enjoy the most amazing day of the rest of your life!