Your Ultimate Wedding-Planning Checklist

Congratulations on your engagement! Now comes the fun part; planning your wedding! It’s time to make the most of your engagement period. Step one: Celebrate and enjoy the special chapter—getting engaged is a big deal. Step two: Start to plan your wedding! If you’re ready to begin prepping for the important occasion, you’re probably wondering how best to tackle the planning process with your significant other. Sure, you know that you have to do a lot, but what exactly is on the horizon?

To give you a preview of what’s in store, look no further than this comprehensive guide that walks you through it all.

12+ Months

Draft a Guest List
• Look at extending invitations not as a social obligation, but as being surrounded by those you love and who love you.
Set a Budget
• Before you begin any sort of planning, it’s crucial to determine how much you’re willing to spend.
Find and Secure Your Wedding Venue
• Every wedding venue has its pluses and minuses, so find a spot that’s convenient, exciting, and cost-effective.
Put Together Your Wedding Party
• Ask people who love and support you to be attendants. You don’t need an even number of groomsmen and bridesmaids.
Book a Planner
• If you plan on hiring a wedding planner, you’ll want to hire one as soon as possible.

9+ Months
Begin Your Wedding Registry
• People will send gifts starting with the first party thrown for you, be it an engagement celebration or a shower. Start by setting up your wish list early!
Pick the Perfect Dress
• It can take up to 9+ months for a gown you’ve ordered to be made, if you select one early you’ll avoid rush fees on orders and alterations
Book the Caterer and Entertainment
• Give yourself enough time to book the perfect caterer, band and/or DJ and Photographer
• When hiring a photographer or videographer, ask to see an entire wedding he or she has shot, not just the highlights. Also secure the band or DJ for your big day.
Guide Your Guests
• Consider booking a block of hotel rooms for out-of-towners to stay in. And while you’re at it, launch your wedding website, where guests can find travel information, accommodation and even RSVP.

6-9+ Months
Order Your Stationary
• The first hint guests will have of your wedding’s style is your invitations. Make sure they represent it well!
Book the Florist
• A good floral designer will guide you to the best flowers and styling to fit your vision, venue and budget. The earlier you book your wedding date with them, the better.
Hire the Officiate
• Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
Order Bridesmaid Dresses
• Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
Plan Your Honeymoon
• Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.

4-6 Months
Factor in Food and Music
• Not all receptions need to involve a five-course dinner and dancing. Yours could be brunch, a cocktail affair, or an intimate family-style gathering. The few musts: The food, the cake, and the music ought to reflect you as a couple, work with the other elements of your celebration.
Devise a Reception Timeline
• Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).
Book Rentals
• We’re talking tents, tables, linens – you name it.
Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues.
• Negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that place as well.
Select and order the cake.
• Some bakers require a long lead-time. Attend several tastings before committing to any baker.
Schedule hair and makeup artists.
• Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out. Snap a photo at each so you can compare results.

3+ Months
Finalize the menu and flowers.
Begin Dress Fittings
• Now that the dress is ordered, you’ll need a few extra appointments to ensure that it fits like a glove

2-6 Months
Mail Invitations
• All invites should be sent at least six weeks ahead, allowing your guests adequate time to respond and ensuring that you’ll get a reliable head count a week or two before the event. For destination or holiday-weekend weddings, the earlier they’re sent, the better.
Plan the Service
• When it comes to walking down (and back up) the aisle, you can stick to the standard order. The groom waits at the altar as the wedding party enters, then the ring bearer and flower girl, then the bride escorted by her father or parents.
Personalize the Ceremony
• Customize your service by choosing songs and readings, or by writing your vows. Look to poetry, literature, song lyrics, and even your own love letters for inspiration.
Place Some Orders
• By this time, flowers should be decided on, favors should be bought, and groomsmen outfits should be ordered.

6+ Weeks
More Essentials
• Are you doing a garter toss? Buy the garter. Have your rings been bought? Get them now. Want a signature cocktail at the reception? Start concocting.
Chart, Schedule, Sign, and Plan
• By now, your ceremony should be finalized, but small details still need to be taken care of. Arrange seating charts, confirm who’ll be reading and toasting, write your vows, and print your programs. Also email your vendors a day-of schedule, so that they’re on the same page as you are.

2 Weeks
Confirm Details
• Make sure your photographer knows the shot list and your band or DJ knows the playlist. Whoever’s decorating the reception site should be well informed, and transportation leaders should be assigned if lots of site-to-site guest travel is involved.
Week-Of
Details to Wrap Up
• Picking up your dress and the rings
• Putting together favors and welcome bags
• Confirming delivery and arrival times with vendors, hairstylist, and makeup artist
Start Packing
• Your dress, shoes, undergarments, and jewelry
• The groom’s and attendants’ gifts (if you didn’t give these tokens of appreciation the night before)
• Your vows, if self-penned, and the wedding bands to hand off to the best man

Day Before
Final Arrangements
• Day-before tasks include everything from arranging tip envelopes to preparing snacks for the getting-ready rooms
• To look your best on your special day, invest in a mani and pedi and after confirming times and addresses with your transportation service, head over to your rehearsal dinner and practice, practice, practice.
Get Technical
• Charge your phone and gather friends and family for pre-ceremony photos
Day Of – Enjoy it!
• Your monumental day will go by fast. Remember to stay in the moment and stay close to your new spouse, having shared moments of your wedding is so important to set off on your life as a couple!

Do you have any more items to add to our checklist? Share with us on our Facebook page!

Original article source on Martha Stewart.

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