It happened. The person you’ve been with, the person who makes you happier than anyone else in the world- has finally proposed. You’re ecstatic. You’re not sure if you’ve ever felt happier in your entire life, and you can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with that person. Your person.
You immediately call your closest family and friends, and they share that feeling of happiness with you. They feel ecstatic for you, and can’t wait to celebrate your love and happiness.
Maybe a day goes by, or a week, or weeks. Then that feeling turns from ignorant bliss to a little more anxious and stressful. You realize that you have to plan the wedding. You have to find a venue, a caterer, a band; or wait, do you want a DJ? Do you want to get married in a church, or having something nontraditional? Who do you invite? How big should your wedding be? Wait, how much is this going to cost?
There are a thousand more questions running through your head. It can be extremely overwhelming, and stressful. We’re here to help alleviate that stress. We broke the wedding planning process down, month by month to help keep your planning on track. Although we’re a catering company, we specialize in event planning, as well. You’re not alone in this process, and seeing your checklist in a wedding planning timeline, should help relax and maybe even help to enjoy the wedding planning process a bit. Even though this timeline is based on a 12-month period, you can apply it to however long or short of time you have to plan your wedding. View this timeline as the order of how you should tackle your wedding planning process.
12 Months Before
- Book Venue: Venues book up quickly—in some cases, up to a year in advance. We work all over Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. For a list of some of the venues where we work, click here.
- Draft Guest List: Doing this in a Google Doc spreadsheet is a great idea, so that your family can easily access the list and update as needed. It also avoids the issue of having multiple versions of the same document floating around in your email.
- Engagement Party: This is completely optional. Traditionally the parents of the bride host the engagement party.
- Register: It’s better to do this sooner rather than later so people know what to get you if they want to send you an engagement or shower gift. You can always go back and edit your registry so don’t feel like you’re bound to everything you register for. Try to register to 2-3 different stores to get all your must-haves.
10 Months Before
- Pick an Officiant: Like venues, officiants book up fast.
- Select Bridal Party: This can be one of the toughest decisions because it can be difficult to include all of your closest friends. Nevertheless it’s good to get this out of the way early so your attendants can plan accordingly.
- Choose Vendors: First and foremost, book a caterer. We often close dates for additional business up to a year in advance. ESPECIALLY in the fall. I would also choosing a photographer and a florist at this point, too. The rest can be booked later. Use Wedding Wire or the Knot to read reviews on vendors!
- Take Engagement Photos: This is optional, although many couples like to include an engagement photo in their announcements or save the dates. If you do not wish to include a photo in either, you can take them at a later date or not at all.
8 Months Before
- Order Your Dress: Believe it or not, a wedding dress can take up to 7 or 8 months to receive after ordering—especially if you are doing something customized.
- Block Hotel Rooms for Guests: If you have a handful of guests coming in from out of town or you’re doing a destination wedding, you should book a block of rooms at a local hotel for your guests. Typically hotels will give you a discounted group rate if you meet the minimum room block requirement.
- Cake Tastings + Order Cake: We offer cake tastings at our office if you are interested in Sugar Bakers, Baltimore Cakery or Patisserie PouPon.
- Begin Hair & Makeup Trails: Once you’ve ordered your dress, it’s a good idea to begin thinking about your beauty look. If you are doing your own hair and makeup, be sure to test out a few styles with some serious staying power. Also, if you are going to get an airbrush tan, I suggest testing out a few different places. Once you find a tan that works for you, book your wedding appointment at least 48-hours before your actual nuptials take place.
- Send Save the Dates: If you are doing a destination wedding, it’s a good idea to send these out with as much advance notice as possible—10 months prior to your date should be sufficient. Otherwise, it’s important to give your guests at least 6 months notice so they can save the date on their own calendars and plan accordingly.
- Book Honeymoon: Figure out where you want to go and begin researching transportation options and accommodations.
- Order Bridesmaids’ Dresses: These can take up to 5 months to receive after ordering. Your maids will also need time to get any additional alterations done so it’s wise to order these sooner rather than later.
- Purchase Wedding Bands: If you are customizing your bands with an inscription, it’s best to order them in advance in case there are any issues with sizing.
- Select Groomsmen Attire: Whether the groomsmen are renting or purchasing, it’s a good idea to get this sorted out a few months before the wedding to avoid any last minute mishaps.
- Plan Rehearsal Dinner: Traditionally the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.
- Confirm Vendors: Confirm and book additional vendors (lighting, cake delivery, sound equipment, furniture rentals, etc.).
- Decide on Hair & Makeup: Finalize your look and make sure you have the appropriate makeup for touchups on the day of the wedding.
- Mail Invitations: Wedding invitations are typically sent out 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding.
- Write or Decide on Vows/Ceremony: If you are writing your own vows, it’s a nice touch if you memorize them.
- Purchase Day Of Accessories: Figure out what you will be wearing with your dress—shoes, jewelry, hairpieces, veil, etc. Also, don’t forget the old adage: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue!”
- Confirm Day Of Transportation: Determine how you, your bridal party, and your families will be getting to and from wedding locations.
- Apply for Marriage License: Check US Marriage Laws for your local requirements and details.
- Get Everything Printed: Make sure you have all of your menus, nametags, wedding programs and the like printed and ready to go.
- Bachelorette Party: There isn’t a textbook rule of thumb as to when you can have your bachelorette party. Just find a date that works for your bridal party. Typically the Maid of Honor plans this with the rest of the bridesmaids.
- Bridal Shower: Traditionally, the groom’s mother’s close friend hosts the bridal shower. Or your bridesmaids can host a shower as well.
- Final Dress Fitting: Be sure to test out how all of your accessories look with the dress and make any changes as needed. Also, it’s wise to start breaking in your wedding shoes at this point.
- Give Shot List to Photographer: Figure out what photographs are important to you and put together a list of shots you would like taken for your photographer.
- Review Music with DJ/Band: Touch base with your band or DJ to finalize the playlist and confirm special request songs.
- Final Headcount: Once you have reviewed your RSVPs, you will then need to confirm the numbers with your rental companies (chairs, tables) as well as your caterer.
- Finalize Seating Chart: Sit friends and acquaintances together whenever possible.
- Get Facials & Waxings: Sometimes these treatments can cause unforeseen breakouts, so be sure to give yourself a one week grace period post-treatment to give your skin some time to calm down before the wedding. Also, you never want to get waxed after you get spray tanned…unless you’re going for an intentional zebra look.
48 Hours Before
- Get Tan: If bronzed skin is important to you, get an airbrush spray tan. Aside from tanning beds being incredibly bad for your skin, the risk of getting a last minute sunburn isn’t worth it.
- Have Nails Done: You want your manicure and pedicure as fresh as possible so try to get this done as close to the wedding as you can. It may be fun to take your bridesmaids with you for mani’s and pedi’s, or this could be used as your bridesmaids’ gifts.
- Wrap Bridesmaids & Groom Gifts: Don’t wait until the last minute to wrap these—better yet, wrap them upon purchase to avoid any headaches later on.
- Rehearsal Dinner: Attend and enjoy! Drink more water, than alcohol. You want to be fresh & feeling good on your wedding day!
- Give Bridal Party Gifts: Typically the day before the wedding the bride will give her bridesmaids’ a gift.
- Get married & live happily ever after! No wedding is perfect and things might go astray. Just remember to enjoy the moment (it goes by fast) and have fun! Things that you notice as “incorrect,” or didn’t go as according to plan will NOT be noticed by your guests. Remember to EAT & take time with your partner, as the day will be filled with talking to other guests.If you have any questions about this timeline, please don’t hesitate to talk with your event designer.