From the venue to the flowers to the catering, the sheer scope of planning a wedding can seem overwhelming; the key is to tackle each element one at a time. This wedding checklist is based on a 12-month planning period, but each couple's wedding planning timeline will vary; there's no "right" length of time for an engagement. Couples who plan to get married sooner can condense these steps, while those who plan to have a longer engagement can spread them out.
Twelve Months Out
- Determine your budget. No other decisions can be made until you establish how much money you have to spend, where that money is coming from, and what your top priorities are.
- Build a wedding binder (or Google Doc) where you can store inspirational images, vendor contracts, your budget spreadsheet, and anything else related to the wedding.
- If your budget allows, hire a wedding planner who can guide you as you select your vendors and serve as the point person on the wedding day itself.
- Start the guest list and pick your wedding party.
Eleven Months Out
- After touring your preferred reception and ceremony venue(s), book your venue(s) and set a date.
- Choose a photographer and, if desired, schedule engagement photos.
Ten Months Out
- Start shopping for wedding attire. Allow enough time for the dress(es) and/or tuxedo(s) to be both created and tailored.
- Select a caterer.
- Shoot engagement photos, especially if you plan to use them in your save the dates.
- Create a wedding website with details about your wedding.
- Finalize your guest list, collect guests' addresses, and design and order your save the dates.
Nine Months Out
- Send save the dates.
- Research and order wedding invitations.
- If your budget allows—and if you did not hire a wedding planner who offers day-of services—hire a day-of coordinator or ask a friend to do it.
Eight Months Out
- Decide what kind of music you want to have and hire the DJ or band.
- Choose an officiant.
- If you want a bridal shower, ask a friend to plan one.
Seven Months Out
- Book a florist and a videographer, if you're including them.
- Begin honeymoon research; start planning where and when you'll go.
Six Months Out
- Shop for wedding party attire, including dresses, tuxedos, and/or suits.
- Meet with your officiant to discuss the ceremony and start planning your vows.
- Choose a baker for the wedding cake and schedule cake tastings.
- Register for gifts.
- Plan other wedding weekend events, such as the rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch.
Five Months Out
- Book your honeymoon.
- Reserve hotel blocks for out-of-town guests.
Four Months Out
- Shop for wedding rings.
- Book wedding transportation.
- Schedule a hair and makeup trial if you are working with a professional stylist on the wedding day.
Three Months Out
- Address and mail the invitations. Keep track of responses on a spreadsheet.
- Research local marriage license rules.
- Start planning your wedding ceremony script.
- Start any DIY projects you've included in your plans.
Two Months Out
- Write your wedding vows.
- Decide who will give toasts at the reception.
- Buy wedding party gifts and ensure that your wedding party's outfits are ready.
Six Weeks Out
- Make sure you're updating your gift registry as gifts arrive.
- Finalize your wedding outfits, menu, vows, and ceremony outline.
One Month Out
- Create your seating chart, escort cards, and wedding programs.
- Confirm final payments to all vendors.
- Get your marriage license.
- Schedule nail/spa/other beauty appointments.
- Schedule a final dress fitting, if needed.
Two Weeks Out
- Follow up with any guests who have not RSVP'd.
- Confirm all details with caterers, transportation providers, photographers, and other vendors.
- Pack for the honeymoon and for the wedding.
- Send a timeline to the bridal party.
- Set aside final payments and cash tips for the vendors.
- Give all planning documents and cede control to the day-of coordinator.
The Night Before
Rehearse your ceremony and start enjoying your wedding weekend!
Wedding Planning with Manhattan Penthouse
Some wedding venues, such as Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth, offer in-house wedding planning services that take the stress out of preparing for the big day. With more than twenty years of experience, Manhattan Penthouse's expert staff are ready to help you tackle your wedding plans, one step at a time.