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#WeddingWednesday: Planning Your Own Wedding

#WeddingWednesday: Planning Your Own Wedding

Do you think that you have enough time and patience to plan the entirety of your wedding on your own?  Do you not have room to budget for a wedding planner?  Planning a wedding can be a stressful time but nothing that cannot be accomplished.  Follow this timeline to ensure a successful and less strenuous planning experience.

Retrieved from The Huffington Post

Sixteen to Eleven Months Before

  • Start a wedding folder or binder
  • Decide on your budget.
    • Figure out how much you have to spend. Account for both your families’ contributions and your own.  Choose what you want to spend more on and what you want to save money on.
  • Look through Pinterest and bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration
  • Reserve your date and venues.
  • Decide whether or not you want to get wedding insurance. Check with your venue regarding Liability Insurance and consider other options such as cancellation insurance.

    Retrieved from Pinterest

Ten to Nine Months Before

  • Select your wedding party
  • Begin configuring your guest list.
    • Create a spreadsheet to stay organized throughout the planning process. Include columns for contact information, RSVPs, gifts and any other relevant information.  If you are concerned about your budget the best way to keep costs low is to lower your guest count.
  • Reserve your date and venues.
  • Book your officiant
  • Research photographers, bands/DJs, florists and caterers. Create a spreadsheet for favorite vendors and keep their contact information in your binder.
  • Throw an engagement party. Everyone that you invite to your engagement party should also be on your wedding guest list.

    Retrieved from List Templates

Eight Months Before

  • Book a day-of wedding coordinator, if desired. If you do not hire a day-of coordinator, plan to assign the day-of coordination to friends and family.  You want to be able to focus on you and your fiancé on your wedding day, not ensuring that every little thing goes smoothly.  Most likely your friends and family will be more than willing to help out!
  • Hire your photographer and videographer. It is not necessary to talk about specifics just yet but book them now to ensure they will be available for your wedding date!
  • Book the DJ/band and any other entertainment for your wedding. Before selecting an act check out one of their performances in person, see how they perform in front of an audience, then select your favorite.
  • Choose an officiant.
  • Consult with caterers. Start looking for caterers now if your wedding venue does not offer its own catering service.  Book the caterer either this month or early next month.
  • Purchase the dress. A dress can take up to eight months to be ready so selecting the dress now will make it easier on both you and the tailor to ensure that the dress will be perfect for your wedding day.  After purchasing the dress you will need to schedule time for at least three fittings.
  • Reserve hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. Choose three hotels at different price points in close proximity to the reception location.
  • Book your hotel suite for the wedding night
  • Create your wedding registry and ensure you sign up at a minimum of three retailers.
  • Launch your wedding website. Make sure the date of the wedding, travel information, accommodations and a link to your registry are listed on the site.  Send the link to invitees.
  • If desired discuss the style and wording of your wedding invitations with a stationer

    Photo by Kristen Schueler Photography

Seven to Six Months Before

  • Select and purchase invitations.
  • Begin honeymoon planning. Check your passports to make sure they are up-to-date and set up appointments for any vaccinations that you may need.
  • Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses and flower girl dresses. You will need to leave at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.  Ensure that attendants have clear instructions on how to place the orders.
  • Meet with the officiant
    • Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all of the official documentation for the wedding (varies by county and religion)
  • Send save-the-date cards
  • Reserve any structural and electrical necessities. This includes portable toilets for outdoor events, lighting, extra chairs if needed, etc.
  • Book a florist.
  • Arrange transportation. This can range from limos to school buses to trolleys.  You may want to select your transportation based on the gown you will be wearing. (A vehicle that is low to the ground may not be easy to get in and out of if you are wearing a fitted gown)
  • Start a day-of timeline.
  • Schedule cake consultations
  • Go over bridal shower/bachelorette details and the guest list with the maid of honor or whoever is hosting your parties. (If you are aware of them)
  • Obtain proper documentation for honeymoon

    Retrieved from TV Guide

Five to Four Months Before

  • Put together the guest list for your rehearsal dinner.
  • Book the venues for the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. If you are planning a brunch for guests the day after your wedding book that venue as well.
  • Attend cake consultations. Select and order cake once you have found the baker of your choice.  Make sure that you go to multiple tastings before choosing a vendor.  If you are getting a groom’s cake order that now as well.
  • Purchase your wedding shoes and begin your dress fittings. Make sure you bring your shoes to the first fitting so that the tailor can select the appropriate length for the gown.
  • Schedule hair and makeup artists. Try out a couple of local hair experts, take a photo at each to compare results and select your favorites.
  • Create beauty and fitness regimen to get ready for big day, if desired.
  • Choose your music. Choose what should be played when the wedding party is announced, during dinner, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, to signal the time to get on the dance floor, etc.  Keep a list of what you want and what you don’t want to be played.
  • Arrange childcare for your guests’ kid if you are planning on it.
  • Reserve any party rentals and linens.
  • Shop for and reserve the mens’ formalwear.
  • Obtain each guest’s mailing address
  • If you hired a stationer confirm your invitation text with them and consider adding any additional stationary (menu cards, programs, place cards, etc.) Schedule a day to pick up your invites.

    Photo by Laura Fontaine Photography

Three Months Before

  • Finalize the menu and flowers. Wait until now as you do not know what will be in season for your wedding.
  • Order favors and welcome baskets, if desired.
  • List the people that you would like to give toasts and ask them now.
  • Finalize the readings. Decide what you would like read and who you would like to read.
  • Finalize the order of the ceremony and reception
  • If you don’t have enough room in your budget for a stationer create your own menu cards and programs at home.
  • Purchase the rings now to give time for resizing and engraving.
  • Send the event schedule to all vendors. This will allow for plenty of time for any changes and suggestions the vendors may have.

    Retrieved from Wedding Wire

Two Months Before

  • Ensure that any questions that you or your vendors had on the first draft of your event schedule are answered.
  • Research marriage license requirements and name-change paperwork
  • Consider taking a dance lesson with your fiancé prior to the wedding to prepare for dancing the night away at your reception
  • Check with your wedding party to make sure they have ordered everything that they will need for the day of the wedding.
  • Meet with the photographer to talk about specific shots you want and to walk through your venue location to point out any appealing spots for potential photographs.
  • Go over the playlist with the band or DJ. Ensure that you have a wishlist available for them even though you most likely will not be able to choose every single song that is played.
  • Mail your invitations. The RSVP date should be three weeks after the postmark date.  Record RSVPs and meal choices on guest spreadsheet.
  • Send a wedding announcement to your local news publication.
  • Have fun at your Bachelorette Party.

    Retrieved from Cosmopolitan

One Month Before

  • Call those who have yet to RSVP.
  • Obtain your marriage license. The process can take up to six days but now is a good time to get it so you won’t be worrying about it later.  Order multiple copies of the marriage certificate if you are changing your name.
  • Mail invitations to the rehearsal dinner.
  • Visit the tailor for your second (and possibly last) fitting. If you would like you can schedule a fitting for the week of your wedding.  If the dress fits perfectly at this fitting then you can always cancel the third fitting.  Bring shoes and accessories for the full impact.
  • Order alcohol.
  • Make as many final payments as you can now.
  • Confirm with all vendors.
  • Email and print directions for chauffeurs so they can navigate the route in advance.
  • Confirm ceremony timeline with officiant
  • Assign seating. Create a layout of the room and write the names of female guests on one color sticky note and the names of male guests on another color.  This way you will be able to move people around without making a mess of your floor plan.
  • Write thank you cards for any shower gifts you received.
  • Purchase gifts for the wedding party which will be given out at the rehearsal dinner.
  • Write vows, if needed.
  • Finalize and confirm wedding night and honeymoon accommodations
  • Pick up wedding rings and ensure any engravings are correct
  • If planning to be traditional check to make sure you have something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new for your big day
  • Purchase the guestbook, toasting flutes, cake servers, unity candle and any other smaller details needed.
  • Buy or create gifts for the parents of the bride and groom.
  • Complete all DIY projects
  • Last chance to get your hair cut and colored, don’t do it any closer to the wedding!

    Retrieved from

Week of the Wedding

  • Reconfirm event schedule with vendors.
  • Choose people for the small wedding-day tasks. Select someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts (especially anything in an envelope), someone to hand out tips, someone for the vendors to report to and a crew for clean up/breakdown.
  • Send a timeline to the bridal party. Make sure you include each member’s contact information and the person that the vendors will be reporting to in case any problems come up.
  • Pick up your dress or make arrangements for delivery.
  • Put together a bridal emergency kit
  • Check in with the photographer for the last time before the wedding. Ensure that they have a list of the moments you want photographed.
  • Check the weather report. If the weather does not look good contact your venue to make sure a contingency plan is in place.
  • Set up an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure for the day before the wedding. Now would also be the time to schedule a facial or a massage.   Try to eliminate stress as much as possible!
  • Get the guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting wedding-related events at least 72 hours in advanced.
  • Break in your shoes.
  • Put together welcome baskets and give them to the proper parties.
  • Order lunch for your bridal party for the day of your wedding. You might not think about doing this on your wedding day because you’ll be too nervous to think about anything else but your nuptials.  By ordering in advanced you will avoid having grumpy or intoxicated bridesmaids during the wedding.
  • Pack for the honeymoon

    Photo by Keith Berry

The Day Before

  • Pack/lay out all wedding-day items so that you will be ready to go the next day. Don’t forget the rings and marriage license!
  • Figure out vendor tips and final payments. Put them in clearly marked envelopes and give them to the best man or another person you trust to hand out during the reception.
  • Enjoy your mani-pedi
  • Attend the rehearsal and dinner. Give out wedding party gifts during the dinner.
  • Try to go to bed early. You will need your rest for a day that is sure to be filled with excitement

    Retrieved from Bridal Guide

The Big Day

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get ready
  • Greet everyone and thank them for coming during your wedding reception
  • Make sure you stop and appreciate your new spouse and the day that you worked so hard on to perfect.

    Photo by Keith Berry

Following the Honeymoon

  • Write and send thank you cards
  • Exchange any unwanted or duplicate gifts
  • Have your wedding dress cleaned and preserved by a reputable company
  • Keep in touch with your photographer and/or videographer to work on albums, DVDs, etc.
  • Enjoy married life!


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