Congratulations on your engagement! You’ve popped the champagne, celebrated with family, and as you are settling into your new title of “fiancé”, you might find yourself asking, “Now what?”. Planning a wedding can seem daunting at first, however with proper organization, it can be such a fun process! As you embark on the exciting journey of planning your wedding, it’s essential to have a timeline in place to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through a comprehensive wedding planning timeline and provide recommendations on when to book various services for your special day. Reminder: your timeline may vary depending on the size, type, and location of your wedding. Let’s get started!
1. 12-18 Months Before the Wedding: Lay the Foundation
A) Determine Your Budget: Set a budget that aligns with your financial situation and desired wedding vision. This will help you make informed decisions throughout the planning process. Be sure to take into account all vendors, smaller details, and a commonly forgotten one, tips for your vendors. The knot provides helpful budgeting tips, wedding finance ‘rule of thumbs’, and budget checklists.
B) Create Your Guest List: Start drafting your guest list, considering both your and your partner’s family and friends. The guest count will help you determine the appropriate venue size and estimate catering costs, table counts, etc. Zola is a helpful website in creating guest lists and tracking your guest list.
C) Book the Venue: As one of Chicagoland’s top rated venues, we have some tips on this one! Secure Providence Vineyard (PV) as soon as possible, as PV often gets booked quickly. Don’t forget to read your contract thoroughly, and determine included services. Consider indoor and outdoor options as well.
2. 9-12 Months Before the Wedding: Assemble Your Dream Team
A) Hire a Wedding Planner: When choosing professional wedding planning assistance, now is the time to hire a wedding planner. They will help you with vendor selection, coordination, and executing your vision. Keep in mind that a wedding planner is different than a day-of-coordinator, so be sure to research and select based on your needs. Providence Vineyard offers 3 wedding planning packages for your convenience.
B) Select and Book Vendors: Research and meet with vendors such as caterers, photographers, florists, musicians, and videographers. Book the ones that match your style, budget, and preferences. Don’t forget to review contracts carefully. Be sure to estimate costs of each vendor and budget accordingly.
C) Accommodations for Guests: If you have out-of-town guests or are hosting a destination wedding, secure room blocks at nearby hotels. Provide your guests with information on accommodations and any special rates or codes they may need when booking their stay.
3. 8-10 Months Before the Wedding: Dress to Impress
A) Find Your Wedding Attire: Begin the search for your wedding gown, suit, or tuxedo. Schedule appointments at bridal boutiques or consult with designers to find the perfect attire. Allow ample time for shipping and alterations.
B) Choose Your Wedding Party: Select and invite your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other members of the wedding party. Share their roles and responsibilities and discuss attire options. Consider the size of the wedding party you envision.
4. 6-8 Months Before the Wedding: Announce and Organize
A) Send Save-the-Dates: Once your venue is booked and the date is confirmed, send save-the-date cards to your guests. These cards do not yet require a response or RSVP, but rather gives your guests enough time to plan their attendance and make necessary arrangements. There are plenty of websites out there to assist you in creating save the dates, but our favorite is Minted.
B) Plan the Menu: Collaborate with your caterer to design a delicious menu that caters to your taste and accommodates any dietary restrictions. Attend a tasting session to ensure the food meets your expectations.
C) Order Wedding Invitations: Design and order your wedding invitations, including RSVP cards and additional inserts. Consider working with a calligrapher for an elegant touch, or opt for digital invitations. Pro tip: digital invitations often offer pre-written envelopes as well (huge time-saver!). Truly Engaging digitalizes your invites, envelopes, and stamps, and offers the cutest invitation finishing touches!
D) Schedule Beauty Appointments: Book hair and makeup trials and confirm appointments. Remember, depending on your stylist/artist, you may need to book trials sooner than the one-month mark.
5. 4-6 Months Before the Wedding: Guest Appreciation
A) Ceremony Details: Work with your officiant to plan the order of the ceremony, including readings, vows, music, and any special rituals or traditions. Ensure that all legal requirements for the ceremony are in order, such as obtaining the necessary marriage license.
B) Arrange Transportation: If needed, book transportation services for yourself, the wedding party, and guests traveling between venues.
C) Wedding Favors and Gifts: Decide on wedding favors for your guests as a token of appreciation. Explore various options that align with your theme and personal preferences. Additionally, consider gifts for your wedding party, such as personalized items or thoughtful tokens of gratitude. Zazzle has plenty of personalized favors that we LOVE! Check it out:
6. 2-4 Months Before the Wedding: The Finishing Touches
A) Finalize Décor and Rentals: Determine your desired décor elements and rentals, such as chairs, tables, linens, and lighting. Confirm details with your chosen vendors and make necessary arrangements.
7. 1 Month Before the Wedding: Finalize and Confirm
A) Finalize Details with Vendors: Reach out to all your vendors to confirm details, timelines, and any last-minute changes. Ensure everyone is on the same page for a seamless wedding day.
Whew! A lot of planning, but nonetheless, an exciting journey filled with countless decisions and preparations. By following a well-structured wedding planning timeline for booking services, you can stay organized and ensure that everything falls into place for your special day. Remember to customize the timeline to suit your specific needs and preferences. With careful planning, attention to detail, and the support of your loved ones, you’ll create a magical wedding celebration that will be cherished forever. Enjoy the process and embrace the joy that comes with preparing for your happily ever after. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!