The question is popped, the ring is on, stars are in your eyes...but now what? With so many tasks to take care of and details to arrange, planning a wedding can seem overwhelming. But, if you give yourself enough time to plan and sort the tasks month by month with a wedding-planning checklist and wedding timeline, the job becomes more fun and less stressful.
It's time to do the math and crunch some not-so-fun numbers. Before you can start anything, you have to figure out who's paying for what and determine your wedding's bottom line. From there, you'll want to break down said budget—what's a priority? What's not?—and start allocating funds accordingly.
If only you could invite any and everyone, right? Chances are, you can't, which is why you have to put a cap on dishing out invites. When deciding your head count, consider your budget (how much can you afford?) and your venue (how many people does it fit?). Also, who's paying for what? From there, figure out how you're going to divvy up the list. If you and your partner are footing the bill, assume you'll get 70 percent of the invites, while both sets of parents will split the other 30.
Now's the time to sit down and have another heart-to-heart convo with your significant other. After all, the vibe of your wedding needs to be a mutual decision between the two guests of honor. To get the conversation flowing, pour a glass of wine/water/tea and ask yourself: What’s important to you and why? What do you value? Also, know that your venue—more on that below—is going to affect all of this.
Okay, you know who you're marrying. Now the real question is where? Trust us: Choosing the venue is one of the most important decisions you'll make right now. Seriously, the location affects almost everything else, from how many people you invite to what kind of flowers go on the table. Chances are, it's also the biggest chunk of change you've put down, like ever. That's why you want to explore your options, visit the top contenders, and ultimately select a place that fits your guest count, style, and budget.
You may know exactly what you want or you might not, which is okay, too. Finding a gown may be a matter of trial and error, but finding a salon shouldn't be.
Now is a great time to practice being in front of the camera, especially since most photographers include a session in your package. But don't fret: We have three tips for the camera shy.
The wedding invitation is a guest’s first impression of your big day. That’s why you want to put your best foot forward with a personalized preview. If you're going custom, start working with a graphic designer or stationer now to create your dream suite. If you're going for a less involved route, you can wait until the six-month mark.
After browsing Brides.com for initial research, ask your bridesmaids to come shopping with you IRL—if they live close by. It will be helpful for you to see them in the dresses, and you could even ask how they feel in the options you're considering. (They do have to wear it in front of a crowd of hundreds, after all.) With that said, we're all about the trend of selecting a color palette—like yellow, grey, burgundy, or white—and letting your girls choose what they want to wear. Even better, check out our guide to perfectly pulling off mismatched dresses.
Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner location, or tap a grandparent with a really big backyard. (Hellloooo, Luau BBQ!) But remember, if you're planning a small wedding or one without the traditional pomp and circumstance, you may not even need a rehearsal dinner! Just be sure everyone involved is on the same page when the Big Day arrives.
Wedding vows and readings with your officiant.
Menu with your caterer.
Shot list with your photographer/videographer.
Song list for ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception with your DJ and/or band/musicians—or whoever is running your playlist!
Who's giving the toasts.
Your guests, your fiancé, and even your vendors are going to need a game plan as to how you're getting from morning mimosas to the DJ's last call.
Give your caterer/venue the final guest count and day-of timeline.
Arrange seating and create the seating chart and/or place cards, if necessary.
Pick up your gown if you don't already have it. Be sure to try it on with your shoes, undergarments, and veil. Swoon.
Confirm arrival times and finalize the wedding timeline with vendors and the wedding party.
Put together your own Bridal Emergency Kit. You can never be too prepared!
Pack for the wedding night and your honeymoon/mini-moon, if you're going on one!
Figure out tips and final payments for vendors. Put them in clearly marked envelopes and give them to the Best Man or another person you trust to hand out at the reception.
Assign someone to pack up your gifts/belongings after the reception (including the top tier of your cake!).
Thank your BFF for agreeing to return your groom's tux and other rental items the day after the wedding.
Make sure all wedding-day items are packed/laid out and ready to go the night before your big day. Don't forget the rings and marriage license!
Take deep breaths. Stop to appreciate your soon-to-be husband or wife because the day you've been waiting for is finally here.
Write and send thank-you cards—don't procrastinate!
Complete your registry and exchange any unwanted or duplicate gifts.
Have your wedding dress cleaned and preserved by a reputable company.
Keep in touch with your photographer/videographer to work on albums, DVDs, etc.
Enjoy wedded bliss...