Wedding Planning Timeline
Chapter 1/Introduction: How to Plan a Wedding
If your significant other popped the question, you probably feel elated. After all, your wedding day is something you've always dreamed of, and it's about to become a reality. While it's certainly a time to celebrate, it's understandable if you also feel overwhelmed. Planning a wedding is a lot of work, and there are many details to figure out, from color schemes to dinner menus. Before you decide to elope — though that can be an option, too — take a deep breath and know that it's all going to work out, and you can have fun at the same time. Organization and preparation will help you plan your big day and keep stress in check. Plus, you don't need to do the work alone.
We're excited to join you on your journey from the engagement to the honeymoon. In this wedding planning guide, we'll break it down into easy, manageable steps you can check off along the way. The sooner you start planning your wedding, the less you'll have to tackle all at once later.
How Far in Advance Should You Plan a Wedding?
Generally, you'll want to start planning your wedding a few weeks after your engagement. The goal is to send wedding invitations about two months before your wedding, so your guests have time to prepare and RSVP. Your invitations will need to include the date, time and place, so you'll need to have those details planned by the time you send your invites. This means you'll want to have at least two or three months to plan. Although it's not impossible to plan a wedding on short notice, it can be a lot harder to do. You'll also have to be more flexible because many in-demand vendors book a year in advance.
If you give yourself a year or longer to plan your wedding, you can move at a slower, more relaxed pace, and you'll enjoy more options when it comes to choosing vendors. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, most couples are engaged for 15 months, which leaves time to enjoy the engagement before jumping into wedding planning.
Overall, there are no set rules when it comes to planning your special day. You can use the following timeline checklists to guide your wedding planning, but expect to make adjustments as needed. If you need more tips along the way, check out our blog or contact us at Alexandra's Boutique.
Chapter 1: What to Do 1 Year Before Your Wedding Day
If you have 12 months until your wedding, you have plenty of time to plan all the right details. You don't need to have everything set in stone right away, but you can start envisioning what you want.
Start thinking about possible themes and color schemes for your wedding, as well as the type of experience you want your guests to have. Have fun brainstorming ideas with your partner, but leave time to enjoy being engaged. Maybe take a weekend trip together to enjoy each other's company before the wedding planning begins, for example. When you're ready to get down to business, check out this chapter's checklist. In this chapter, we'll show you what to do 12 months before your wedding day.
12 Months Before Your Wedding Checklist
Twelve months might seem like a long time, but trust us — it goes fast. Here's a checklist to help you start planning your wedding a year in advance:
Announce Your Engagement
You probably can't wait to share the news of your engagement with friends and family. Get a bottle of champagne, gather your loved ones and spread the word.
Determine Your Budget
Figuring out your budget is one of the first steps you'll need to take because it will guide your decisions. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, couples spend an average of $28,000 for the wedding ceremony and reception. However, the cost of your wedding can vary greatly depending on your needs and how many guests you plan to have.
If family members will be contributing, meet with them, and discuss what they feel comfortable giving. Add up their contributions and then include any amount you and your partner can spend. No matter how big or small your budget is, it's a good idea to leave some room for unexpected expenses.
Create a List of Priorities
With your partner, decide what's most important to you on your wedding day. For example, you might prioritize three elements, which may be the food, music and the venue. This will help you stay on track with your budget.
Talk with your other half about a theme. A theme will help you make design decisions and create a cohesive look. Examples of popular wedding themes include rustic, romantic and vintage. Traditional white weddings never go out of style.
Think About Dates
Consider the time of year you'd like to have your wedding and select a few ideal dates to help guide you, but plan to be flexible. Start by thinking about meaningful dates, like the day you met. Also, consider how holidays and budget can affect your choice.
Choose the Initial Guest List
Start to think about who you want to invite to your wedding, keeping your budget in mind. You might start with a list of everyone you can imagine attending your wedding, with the intention of trimming it later. Discuss the guest list with your partner and close family members.
Think About Who Will Be in Your Wedding Party
Your closest friends and family members will want to know right away who will be a part of your wedding. Before you make any decisions, consider who you want to support you on your big day, and also talk with your partner about the size of the wedding party and what your budget allows. While it's common to have around five bridesmaids and five groomsmen, you can have as many or as few wedding party members as you would like. There's really only one rule to keep in mind: If you ask someone to be in your wedding, you won't be able to take it back, so you'll want to take your time with this decision.
Consider Hiring a Planner
If you have room in your budget, think about whether you want to hire a wedding planner. A planner helps take care of the details and makes sure everything goes smoothly. A wedding planner can be especially helpful if you and your partner have demanding schedules and little time to meet with vendors, or if you find the process too overwhelming. Research planners in your area and create a list of those who may be the perfect fit for your wedding vision.
Start researching different venues and package prices. Keep your budget in mind and consider whether you want to have different locations for the ceremony and the reception. Narrow down your favorite options.
To help you get started, some popular venue types include banquet halls, vineyards and gardens. However, many couples want to use an unconventional venue, and there are plenty of options. For example, you might hold the reception at a theme park or apple orchard — whatever's special to you and your partner.
Note Your Favorite Wedding Dress Designs
After you get engaged, start thinking about the type of wedding gown you want to wear. The sooner you're ready to shop for a dress, the better, so you have plenty of time for custom alterations and fittings.
If you can envision your dream gown, you already have a head start. If not, you can look for design inspiration on websites, in magazines and in your own closet. Take note of your favorite designs and what those pieces have in common, and try to find a style to focus on — plan to bring your ideas to your first bridal boutique appointment.
Consider creating a wedding folder to keep ideas, to-do lists and receipts in one place. You might also use spreadsheets, apps or other online tools to help you organize your thoughts and relevant information. Staying organized will help you meet deadlines and keep the planning process running smoothly.