Once you and that special someone make the decision to tie the knot, there are a number of things that you need to start thinking about. Some may be trivial, some imperative, some just plain fun but most of them all need to be at least considered.
Here is the Top Wedding Shows ever expanding Wedding Planning Checklist with tips to help you keep on track during a one to two year planning timeline. If you have any other suggestions please feel free to share them with us!
Tell your parents or those closest to you about your decision to get married - Many times involving loved ones in the early stages can bring a lot of joy and happiness to family members when they find out about the engagement. So why not let them join in on the excitement if you can
Purchase an engagement ring - There are many opinions on what to spend on a ring. You can research them in depth but all in all it really comes down to what you can afford or are willing to spend and what will make you both the happiest. It’s doesn't hurt to talk about it ahead of time or if you want it to be a complete surprise, keep a keen eye on what styles or types of rings your boyfriend or girlfriend keep gravitating towards.
Announce your engagement - Get the word out and enjoy the excitement that surrounds this special time in your lives.
Set the date - Take into consideration the seasons, theme of your wedding and other components that may be affected by weather. Be sure to also have a few backup dates in mind in case your first choice for a reception site or ceremony is not available or important people are not able to attend on one of the dates.
Decide on the theme - Take into consideration such things as time of year, time of day, number of guests andaccessibility when deciding on such things as indoor, outdoor, local or destination. And then have fun creating the look and feel of your day with all the fun and trending options available such as traditional, vintage, rustic, modern, retro, country, beach, intimate or over the top... the only limit is your imagination!
Set a budget - Keep an organized record of receipts, deposits, payment due dates and eletronic transactions. It will keep you from overspending and help you to make better decisions
Consider hiring a wedding planner - If you have crazy work schedules, live a long distance from the venue or are not specially keen or knowledgeable on how to plan something this big, hiring a wedding planner can be a huge time and money saver... With the added bonus of relieving some of the stress of planning and adding a degree of professionalism to your wedding day
Compile a Guest List - Taking into consideration: Groom's family, Bride's family and decide who needs to be invited, those you need to invite, those you should invite and those that would be nice to invite. Decide if you want in invite children with their parents or make it adult only
Reserve your officiant and reception venue - Once you have a good idea of what type of wedding you would like to have and what your budget will be, it’s time to shop around for the best location. Make sure to look into this around the same time you are planning on whom will act as your Officiant. Not all clergy (minister, priest, rabbi, etc.) or judges, notaries, justices of the peace or public servants are available on demand. So be sure to meet with them early to express your wishes and ideas for location, date and rituals. Depending on the faith you may have to sign up for marriage classes or special sessions prior to getting married.
Send engagement announcement to newspapers, Facebook or an email blast out to friends and family - The sooner you can do this the better. It allows people to save the date and make plans for travel, babysitters, work holidays etc. (don’t forget to change your Facebook profile status haha!)
Select your Wedding Party - This is a special honour for people so be sure to give it due consideration. It can be a real fun and bonding experience for the whole gang. It’s nice to meet with them separately and ask them in a personal and meaningful way. The further out you can do this the better as it allows for people to make work, life or travel arrangements.
Select your flower girl and ring bearer - If you are having a ceremony that will include them, it's a good idea tell the parents early to be sure the little ones are able to participate. Plus, if there is travel involved they can be sure to set the kids up with the proper travel documentation (passports)
Decide if you would like to have an engagement party - This a great way to bring all those that you would like to be closely involved in your wedding together. It kind of breaks the ice for those that have never met and starts to create special memories and bonds that will make your wedding day memorable
Determine your colour scheme - It's a good idea to start planning colours earlier than later. Selection and availability will be better and once you do many of the other themes in your wedding will come together, making decisions easier
Order your passport for your honeymoon or marriage license - Don’t wait last minute to do this. You’ll have enough to think about the months, weeks, days and hours before your wedding. Get it checked off early and save yourself unessessary stress
Research! - Start looking for a photographer, DJ Service, Videographer, caterer, wedding dress, florist etc. You can do this online, buying wedding magazines and when you are at other functions etc. One of the best resources for finding wedding inspiration and wedding professionals is by attending local wedding shows. Be sure to keep all the contact info you collect at the wedding shows for future reference and make notes on exhibitors that you really liked so when you are ready to book them you’ll remember important details. Check out Bridal Show Producers International
for list of upcoming Wedding Shows in your area
Join a fitness club or start a regular exercise program - Want to burn off some stress? Exercise is one of the most scientifically proven ways of accomplishing a well balanced and healthy lifestyle. You know that your world is going to change in the near future so why not create a good habit early on to take you through your wedding planning and hopefully into your new married life
Eight – Twelve Months Before Your Wedding
Select a wedding dress and accessories - Ok time to do some serious shopping. You’ve probably already started looking at dresses in magazines, at wedding shows, or at your friend's wedding. This can be a real fun time. Don’t rush into it. Take your time and shop around. Try to bring someone with you whose opinion you really value to bounce off ideas and help you decide on best fit, style, colour and price.
Purchase or rent a wedding dress or outfit - Once you did your shopping it’s time to commit and say yes to the dress! You’ll want to be sure you don’t leave this to the last minute.
Select and order dresses for maid of honour, bridesmaids and flower girls - Many times you can do this at the bridal shop where you purchased your wedding dress. But not all Bridal Shops carry a huge selection of formal wear for the wedding party so you may need to look elsewhere for more options.
Select formal wear for the groom, best man and groomsmen- Some may choose to buy the outfits so leaving yourself enough time ensures that you and everyone else in the wedding party gets what they need and are properly tailored.
Start looking at wedding cakes - If you have seen something you like, online, in a magazine or at a wedding show you can use that as inspiration. Many times at a wedding show you are able to see and taste a selection of options. This is a great opportunity to sample the different flavours and quality right on the spot. Many times there will be show special as well if you book at the show. Alternatively, if you weren’t ready to book, simply pull out the company’s contact from the information you collected at the show and make your choice.
Make your final bookings - This is a good time to book any of the vendors that you may have not yet firmed up, such as photographer, florist, DJ, videographer, caterer, decorator, hair and makeup, etc.
Firm up your choices in patterns and colours - This gives your florist, hall, wedding planner etc enough time to be sure that everything will be available, seasonal or in coordination with the rest of your ideas. i.e. room decoration colours, dish patterns, flowers or centerpieces.
Select and order invitations - Depending on where you are ordering your invites from it’s always smart to give yourself a buffer in case of unforeseen circumstances such as a mail strike, inclimate weather or seasonal overload (like in December). You’ll want to get them in your hands with enough time to get them organized to resend them back out to your list of invitees.
Discuss honeymoon destinations and firm up your plans- Depending on what you have in mind you’ll want to be sure that you are not going to be disappointed by it being all booked up or the room you really want not be available. Also, many places have early booking bonuses.
Destination Weddings - If you are planning on a destination wedding you’ll really want to start organizing sooner than later. If you are attending a wedding show around this time be sure to talk with all the travel agents at the show. Many of the travel companies at wedding shows are destination wedding experts and can save you a lot of time, money and heartache. Part of their services is doing site inspections of the packages they sell. Which means they will know better than anyone the rules, regulations and best wedding vendors in all the countries and hotels around the world to help make your wedding go off without a snag.
Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out of town guests - If you have family or friends coming for out of town, you’ll want to make sure that they are comfortable and conveniently located for the wedding week. It’s really nice that you may want to house them all at your place and hey if you have the room and help why not. But chances are you don’t yet. Trust us, it will really be hard for you to enjoy your wedding day preparation when you have to wait for your Uncle Bill, Aunt Carm, cousin John, cousin Annette, Grandma and your Great Grandfather to shower, eat breakfast and get dressed in your one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. When you’re buzzing around trying to get dressed yourself, feeling like you need to make small talk while brewing up another pot of coffee for everyone.
Look into liability insurance for your Stag and Doe and Wedding Reception - This is something that almost no one ever considers and may not even know is available. Depending on where you live, where you are having your wedding or reception, you may be overly exposed to undue legal liabilities if something happens.
Four - Eight Months Before Your Wedding
Order your wedding cake
Book your limousine
Order your flowers - If needed sit down with florist and decide on or finalize bouquets, boutonnieres and talk over details again such as are you going to go with fresh or silk flowers.
Make an appointment for your dress fitting - Things may have changed since to your purchased your dress or outfit since your first order it. For example you may lost or gained a few pounds, got pregnant or changed your mind on a few details such as length or silhouette. So get in around this time so that any reasonable alterations can be done with the least amount of worry.
Make an appointment with your hair stylist
Book rehearsal dinner - Be sure to check with those that you will inviting ahead of time to see what are the best available dates and times.
Plan the menu for the rehearsal dinner - Take into consideration any dietary needs of your invitees
Make sure bridesmaids have gone for their fittings
Meet with reception hall or caterer to plan menu
Start working on getting your invitations written out
Select and buy gifts for wedding party
Make sure you booked honeymoon
Get the appropriate name-change forms - You can usually pick them up at your city hall or check online with your municipal government office to see if they are downloadable.
Two - Four Months Before Your Wedding
Check to make sure you have all the legal requirements to get married in your province or state
Confirm your honeymoon reservations and double check your passports if you are travelling out of country
Confirm your music selection
Bridal Showers should be arranged
Arrange to get the wedding party together - Consider making reservations for a golf outing, spa day, lunch, dinner cruise etc. to get the team together to further bond, chat able the wedding or just to have fun to take away some of the stress that can go with planning such a big event
Apply for your marriage license
Go for your final dress fitting – bring shoes and lingerie to be worn that day or anything else that may be a part of your outfit to be sure they all work together.
Have Ushers go for their fittings
Mail out your invitations
Start writing your thank you cards - Believe us after the wedding you will not have the energy to do them all. Get a head start now so that you will just need to do the final touches after your wedding.
Book your engagement photos - Plan where, when and who will be taking your photos
One Month Before Wedding
Plan seating arrangements
Plan the rehearsal dinner party
Let hairdresser work with your headpiece and make-up
Purchase your lipstick
Purchase your perfume
Rehearse your wedding vows
Maintain a record of RSVPs and all gifts received
Arrange final fitting of bridesmaid’s dresses
Finalize shopping for wedding day accessories - Be sure you make a list. There can be a lot of thing to remember to get such as ring pillow, toasting glasses, nylons, kleenex, gloves, blister bandaids, etc
Make sure all your vendors have maps to all locations - Your house, your partner's place, your parents house, banquet hall, church, synagogue, mosque, farm, waterfalls, park for the pictures or ship etc…
Find “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence (or shiny penny) for your shoe” - For whatever tradition you wish to keep, start or create. Be sure not to leave until last minute
Get your engagement photos done
One - Two Weeks Before Your Wedding
Call your rehearsal site with the final number of guests who will be attending your rehearsal
Call your reception site with the final number of guests who will be attending your reception and finalize seating plan
Pick up your dress or outfit
Pick up attire for the groom and ushers
Start packing for your honeymoon
If traveling right for wedding or honeymooning right after wedding get the cash - Purchase traveler’s cheques or exchange currency, call your credit card company to let them know you will be travelling to a certain country so they don’t put a hold on your card thinking that it was compromised
Confirm - Accommodations, florist order, videographer, photographer and any special photos you want taken, music for the ceremony, details with the limousine company, music for the reception or first dance
Write place cards and draw a seating chart for the reception
Determine the order for the procession
Contact guests who haven’t responded - Double check to be sure that you aren’t missing someone that for some reason hasn't got back to you to be sure if they are coming or not
Arrange all final payments to your vendors
Arrange to have someone hand out bombonieres - Sometimes the florist or wedding planner does this but just make sure you have that setup ahead of time
The Day Before Your Wedding
Congrats you are almost there
Pick up your marriage license if you have not yet done so
Confirm all of your reservation times - i.e. limo pick up, hair appointment, etc.
Get ready for your rehearsal dinner - be sure to pack any gifts, speeches or presentation you may need
Don’t over due it if you have a rehearsal dinner/party - You have a long and exciting day ahead of you so you want to be in reasonably good shape. So try not to over-drink, dance, party or scream. You still want a voice to say “I Do” the next day and be able to have your first dance!
Get a good night sleep… so again word to the wise, no bachelor or bachelorette parties the night before
The Day of your Wedding
Eat breakfast - You are going to need your energy!
Schedule plenty of time to get ready
Give the groom's ring and the bride's ring to the best man or woman
Go to your hair appointment
Go to your makeup appointment
Splurge and get a massage - We know wishful thinking but if you can pull if off it well worth it.
Get some cool wedding prep pictures - These can be some of the most memorable pics
Get to your wedding ceremony location
Meet with your clergy to go over plans
Check in with your videographer or photographer - Just go over the next steps with them so you don’t miss any moments that you may want recorded
Hook up with person who will be handing out programs at the ceremony - organized in advance or course to check in to be sure everthing is how you want it
Check in with person handing out bombonieres - organized in advance to be sure they are on the same page as you
Let the ceremony began -Relax, Enjoy & Have Fun!!
After Your Wedding Ceremony
Check to make sure you have everything - Be sure you have someone help you to gather everything that you brought to the church, park, barn or wherever you had your ceremony. Especially if your reception is going to be at another location.
Check in with your videographer or photographer again - Be sure they all know where to go next and how you want things to transpire
Congratulation you are now married!!!!
At your Wedding Reception
Once you get to the reception location check in with manager or cater - Just make contact with the person in charge to be sure everything is ready to go and to your liking
Check in with Band, DJ or Musicians - Go over plan and let them know if there are any changes or updates
Pace yourself - It’s going to be a long and fun night. But try to not over due it. Don’t over exert yourself on the dance floor and pull a muscle, drink or eat too much or pass out. You'll want to remember the night and be able to chat or dance with as many people as you can.
Designate a special helper - this person's job is to help make sure that all your wedding gifts, cash envelopes etc are put in a safe place and sent home with you after the reception.
After Your Wedding or Honeymoon
Pick out your thank you picture from your photographer
Write out/email Thank You cards
Send Thank You cards with pictures to all your guests & suppliers
Email or facebook out a blog link or photo sharing link that has all your wedding photos to friends and family