This checklist will help you manage all the little details that add up to your big day.

 

9+ MONTHS TO GO

Call friends and family to announce the good news!
Determine your budget. This is a good time to chat with mom and dad as well as the in-laws to decide who will be contributing. Be realistic: the firmer your budget numbers are, the less disappointed you will be later.
Have an engagement party. Just remember: everyone invited should be on the wedding guest list as well.
Take engagement photos.
Pick a date!
Choose your wedding party and ask them if they will participate.
Start a guest list. We suggest one master document where you can keep names, addresses, RSVP info, gifts and any other information.
Start interviewing wedding planners if you plan to use one.
Start an ideas binder where you can stash articles, photos and ideas (and this list!).
Choose and book a venue for your service and reception. Venues book up incredibly fast, especially for weekends. Reserve your date as early as possible.

 

8 MONTHS TO GO

Research photographers and videographers and book as soon as possible.
Start shopping for a dress. Remember that you will need to leave time for ordering the dress and up to three fittings after it arrives.
Start researching entertainment. Attend a gig for each finalist to see them in action if possible, and book as soon as you’re sure.
Schedule tastings with several caterers if your venue doesn’t come with food.
Reserve a block of rooms for out of town guests. Ask hotels for a bulk discount, and be sure to choose hotels in at least two price points near the venue.
Build a wedding website or blog if you’re technologically inclined.
Order save-the-date cards.

 

6-7 MONTHS TO GO

Finalize the guest list. Now that you’ve chosen a venue and a caterer, double check your budget and make any adjustments to your guest count.
Pick out invitations and any other coordinating paper goods, like programs, place cards, menus and thank you notes. Order your invitations and engage a calligrapher at the same time if you plan to use one.
Start planning your honeymoon. Get or update your passports now if needed.
Pick out bridesmaid dresses. Like your dress, there needs to be time for these to be ordered and altered.
Send save-the-date cards.
Meet with the officiant. Be sure to ask about any pre-marriage counseling or other requirements he or she may have.
Register with at least two different stores to give guests options.
Reserve any major rentals you need, including tents, tables, chairs, lighting, sound equipment, portable toilets, etc.
Meet with florists and book one.
Reserve your transportation for the big day, including cars, limos, or busses.
Draft a timeline of the big day. Be sure to write down any moments that are especially important to you: breakfast with the bridesmaids before the ceremony, a father-daughter dance, tossing the bouquet, special photos to get, etc.

 

4-5 MONTHS TO GO

Book the rehearsal dinner venue. If you’re planning a day-after brunch, book that as well. Start negotiating menus and attend tastings.
Order a cake. Be sure to taste varieties from several bakeries before you make your decision.
Compile a guest list for your shower if the hostess asks you to do so.
Start shopping for shoes, jewelry, veils, accessories and undergarments. Your tailor will want you to wear your day-of underthings and shoes to your dress fittings.
Book a hair stylist and makeup artist. Be sure to book at least one trial run with each before the big day, and take pictures to document what you loved (and didn’t love!).
Choose your music. Consider all the important moments that might need accompaniment.
Check with your venue about service music, as some religious venues have restrictions on the kinds of music allowed.
Sign up for dancing lessons if you want to wow on the dance floor.

 

3 MONTHS TO GO

Choose the final menu with your caterer.
Finalize the flowers with your florist. Don’t forget corsages for important people (like mother of the bride!) and an extra toss bouquet if you plan to save yours.
Order favors and any personalized extras, like napkins. If you want welcome baskets for out-of-town guests, order those now as well.
Choose the passages you would like to have read at the service, and ask friends and family members to read.
Update your day-of timeline and send a working draft to your vendors.
Purchase the rings. Make sure you order early to allow for engraving and resizing.
Know the marriage license requirements before you go; order birth certificates and blood tests if necessary.

 

2 MONTHS TO GO

Make a list of must-have shots and meet with your photographer. Walk through the locations if possible.
Review your music choices with the band or DJ.
Mail invitations at least six weeks before the wedding date. Request RSVPs by three weeks before the wedding.

 

1 MONTH TO GO

Keep track of RSVPs in your guest list. Call people who haven’t responded.
Get your marriage license.
Order alcohol as your total guest count becomes clearer.
Confirm times with all vendors, including hair and makeup appointments.
Make any payments you can to avoid last-minute fuss.
Email or print directions for vendors, chauffeurs, wedding party, out-of-town guests and anyone else who might get lost.
Assign seating.
Purchase bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts that you can present at the rehearsal dinner.
Write your vows.
Get your hair cut and colored for the last time before the wedding.
Walk around in your shoes to get them broken in.

 

1 WEEK TO GO

Send the final guest list to your caterer.
Finalize your day-of timeline and send the final version to all your vendors and the bridal party, including the officiant.
Make sure your maid of honor and best man have lists of important phone numbers.
Designate people to help with small day-of tasks.
Pick up your dress.
Write final checks for vendors.
Book a manicure and pedicure.
Pack for your honeymoon.
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