The Only Wedding Checklist You'll Ever Need

From "we're engaged!" to "I do," here's your checklist to make sure you've got everything covered.

Anja Winikka
May 25, 2022

Timing is everything when it comes to wedding planning, and there are tons of details and people to keep track of as you coordinate your wedding day! We know it can get stressful but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here's a complete timeline-based checklist of everything leading up to your celebration.

12-14 Months Out

  • Determine your budget.
    For most, there are many individuals contributing to a couple’s overall wedding budget. From the couple themselves, to family members on both sides – it’s often a group effort! First, chat with your fiance and come up with a number of what you’d like to spend together, then talk to family members to get a general idea on their contributions. 
  • Take a look at your guest list.
    You don't have to finalize your guest list just yet, but having a number in mind helps when you're considering venues, because you have to think about capacity. This is also a great time to decide who you want in your wedding party.
  • Hire a wedding planner.
    If your budget allows, and if you think you'd get peace of mind from some help, you might want to consider a wedding planner. This pro will help you stick to your budget, pick out your venue, manage your vendors, and coordinate the fine details. Remember, a full-service planner will generally run around 10-20% of the total budget! 
  • Lock down a venue and a date.
    This is where things really start coming together. Your venue impacts your number of guests and wedding style. You'll want to come up with a shortlist of venues and ideally visit them before you finalize a venue.
  • Look for wedding inspo and decide your non-negotiables.
    You're basking in the fresh glow of your engagement. Now is the time for mood boards, Pinterest, Instagram inspo, and getting an overall feel for your wedding theme. Now is also the time to decide with your partner what your must-haves are. 
  • Hire your photographer and band or DJ.
    These key wedding vendors sometimes book 12+ months out – we recommend locking these important vendors down ASAP! 

9-11 Months Out

  • Say Yes to the Dress
    Shop for a wedding dress 9-12 months before the wedding. If you shop any closer to the wedding date than that, you’ll run into the risk of encountering “rush fees.” Because wedding dresses are made-to-order and take months to create – leave yourself plenty of time to find the perfect dress! 
  • Hire Vendors Who Book Up Fast. This means floral designers, caterers, videographers! Your mood boards and wedding inspiration should direct who you book based on the overall feel you're going for, and at this stage, you should have enough time to comfortably explore your options.
  • Create your wedding website.
    You'll want to put a link to your site on your save-the-dates, so get it up and running now.
  • Take engagement photos.
    Many couples put their engagement pics on their wedding website, and this is a great opportunity to work with your wedding photographer and build a relationship with them!
  • Book a block of hotel rooms for your guests.
    It's a great gesture to make sure any out-of-town guests have well-thought-out accommodation options available. Many hotels can offer discounted rates for courtesy blocks; call around and see what your options are.
  • Order Rentals
    Inventory on rentals is often limited. At this stage, it’s not too early to lockdown chairs, tables, linens, tents, flooring, ect. Remember to work with your floral designer on these aspects to make sure everything matches your vision! 
  • Create a Skincare Routine
    Work with your dermatologist to develop a skincare routine to get your skin wedding ready. Every bride wants glowing wedding day skin and together with your dermatologist, you can create a game plan to get your skin in tip-top shape!

6-8 Months Out

  • Register! When you send out save-the-dates, you want people to be able to think ahead to gift-giving. Or, if you and your partner already have most things you need, consider a honeymoon fund.
  • Send save-the-dates.
    This is your first official announcement to everyone you want to be invited to your wedding. And remember, if someone gets a save-the-date, they also get an invitation; no changing your mind!
  • Decide on bridesmaid dresses. Your bridesmaids will likely need fittings as well if you're going with matching dresses, so once you have your ideal wedding visuals (flowers, decor) mapped out, start on these. Or come up with a color palette and get on the trend of letting your bridesmaids pick out their own dresses. 
  • Book the rehearsal dinner venue.
  • Arrange ceremony musicians.
    Whether you're having a musical friend or a three-piece band do your ceremony music, it's good to have this decided well in advance so that you can coordinate on music selections.
  • Hire your officiant.
    If you're not getting married in a church or other religious setting, you'll need to find someone who is qualified to officiate.
  • Book your honeymoon.
    You don't need to plan everything out to the detail, but make sure you've got flights and accommodations figured out!
  • Finalize all other vendors.
    Think hair + makeup artists, day-of transportation, or cake baker. 

4-5 Months Out

  • Purchase or rent the groom's outfit.
    Depending on the formality of your wedding, your two options are most likely a tux or a suit. Renting is always an option if you're only going to wear this once, but above all, zero in on fit and function, and make sure you're comfortable.
  • Finalize your catering.
    Catering tastings can be a simple process, or they can be complex if you're interested in deeply customizing each dish and cocktail to reflect who you are as a couple. Now is the time to close experiments and finalize your menu.
  • Choose a wedding cake. Many couples look forward to cake tasting and enjoy every bite!
  • Buy wedding bands.
    If you want something highly customized, you'll need enough time for crafting and any resizing.
  • Choose the groomsmen attire and arrange fittings.
    Do you want this to be a matching suit situation, or more of an assortment of personalities within parameters?

2-3 Months Out

  • Finalize and send wedding invitations.
    Be sure to state that RSVPs are due a month before your wedding date. You need time to confirm final numbers with your venue and vendors. While you're at it, send out those rehearsal dinner invitations!
  • Pick up your marriage license.
    Every state has different processes and documents needed, so be sure to review what you need to do to get yours.
  • First dress fitting.
    Your wedding day is close enough that you'll want to start your fittings now; the second one should be at about six weeks out.
  • Buy wedding party gifts.
    Your bridesmaids are the ones who have stood by you throughout your life, relationship, and planning process. How much you spend is totally up to you, but something thoughtful with a personal touch goes a long way.
  • Pass your songlist to your band/DJ including the no-play list.
    They need time to practice and put their set together!
  • Work on wedding weekend attire!
    If you’re looking for a great rehearsal dinner outfit or after-party look – now is the time to finalize the attire for all celebrations.
  • Schedule hair and makeup trials.
    Bring photos and be specific about what you want.
  • Plan your wedding favors and welcome bags. If you’re passing out wedding favors or having welcome bags in hotel rooms – now is the time to plan these out! 

One month out

  • Determine your final headcount. And communicate this to your venue, catering, and anyone else who needs to know.
  • Create a seating chart. If you thought finalizing your guest list was hard, you're in for a treat with this activity! You'll want to please as many people as you can, but at the end of the day, it's your party so don't sweat it once the decisions are made.
  • Finalize or order your escort/place cards.
    Place cards are more formal and are found at each place setting at the reception table, while escort cards inform guests what table they’ll sit at. 
  • Confirm last details with vendors and pay all final invoices. 
  • Start writing your vows.
  • Create a shot list for your photographer.
    Don’t forget to clearly outline all family formal photos! This will help make the process on the wedding day stress-free and seamless for everyone!
  • Book final beauty appointments.
    Think facials, lash refill, teeth whitening session or final botox/filler appointments! This is not the time for anything new, only book appointments you’ve had before! 
  • Final dress fitting
    In the weeks leading up to the wedding, the bride should have her final dress fitting before the bridal salon presses and steams it, getting it wedding day ready! 
  • Outline your timeline.
    Work with your planner, month-of coordinator, day-of coordinator or the venue to outline a schedule and timeline for your wedding day.
  • Remember gratuities! Now is the time to organize tip envelopes for your vendors. 

One week out

You're almost there! Here are the last few things you need to cover:

  • Final schedule check and check-in with vendors 
  • Final beauty and wellness rituals. Think mani/pedi and/or spray tan! 
  • Pack your bags for your honeymoon
  • Clean your ring
  • Put together wedding gift bags
  • Finalize your wedding vows! Start practicing your vows the week of your wedding. Practice makes perfect.
  • Write out a day-of note and package the gift for your partner for the wedding day. 

The day before 

  • Rehearse the ceremony! This is not something that should be overlooked, there will be nerves on a wedding day and a rehearsal can keep everyone in-the-know of where they should go and their roles. 
  • Give gifts to your family and wedding party.
  • Give the wedding rings to the best man. 
  • Try to get a good night's sleep.
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated.

After all your hard work and the long planning process, it's time to enjoy the beautiful celebration you've planned.

Anja Winikka has spent more than 15 years marketing to and engaging with both engaged couples and the small businesses that power the weddings industry.