The Final Countdown: A Wedding Planning Guide

March 01, 2022

The Final Countdown: A Wedding Planning Guide

Photo by Paper Antler Photography

Planning a wedding is a lot of work. From securing your ideal venue to planning the perfect menu, and everything in between, it can feel like there is so much to do and so little time! If you’re planning a wedding, do what the pros do, break it up into manageable tasks. 

There are no hard and fast rules and everyone’s dream wedding looks different, but every wedding day shares some similarities. Be they big or small, black tie or backyard, every wedding needs:

  • Friends and family to celebrate your love and commitment.
  • An officiant to make it official.
  • Mood setting music to get the party started.
  • Some delicious food and drink to keep the party going.

This blog is a high-level overview of how to get from ‘Will You?’ to ‘I Do!’. The checklist kicks off just over a year before the big day, but it can be adjusted to fit your wedding timeline.

It’s all quite exciting…so let’s get started!

12-15 Months Out

  • Set a date. You can’t plan if you don’t know when you’re getting married.
    • Select a couple different options, just in case your ideal date falls through.
  • Start planning and create a budget. This includes venue, guest list, theme, etc. Decide where you want to spend your money and where you prefer to be more conservative before you start making big decisions. This will help you stay on track throughout the process.
    • This is a great time to remember this is your wedding. Do what makes you and your soon-to-be spouse happy.
  • Planning is important, but remember to be flexible. The road to perfection is riddled with potholes, so be prepared to swerve and adjust course as needed.
    • Download a planning app, if you’re into that sort of thing. A good wedding planning app can help you manage the process from start to finish.
  • Select a wedding attendant, or two.
    • Having a level-headed friend to help out with the little details (especially the day of!) will work wonders for stress reduction.
  • Start researching and securing your ceremony and reception locations and must-have vendors. Note: if you have a very specific location or vendors in mind, it may affect your wedding date.
    • If you are planning on hiring professional vendors, don’t wait until the last minute or you may miss out. Sure, Aunt Sally has a great camera and a good eye, but does she really want to be your last resort photographer?

10-11 Months Out

  • Finalize guest list and wedding party.
  • Start shopping for your wedding attire.
    • It may take a little while to find what suits you best, so don’t wait too long to get this process going. 
    • This is especially true if you are getting anything custom made for the occasion.
  • Lock in your locations, if you haven’t already.
  • Secure a hotel block for out of town guests. 
  • Prep for ‘Save the Date’ announcements.
    • Take engagement photos, make a wedding website, select your invitations, and so on.
Photo by Emily Alexander Photography

9 Months Out

  • Finalize your wedding day wardrobe and schedule fittings.
    • Some wedding dresses may take multiple fittings, so plan accordingly.
  • Book rentals. We’re talking everything from tents to chair covers.

8 Months Out

  • Register for gifts or charity donations.
  • Got bridesmaids? Time to pick out dresses and schedule fittings.
    • In the spirit of preserving Mother Earth, consider dresses the wedding party can wear again and again.
  • Get insurance.
    • Yup, wedding insurance is a thing. If you have any issues with the big day, you’ll be happy you have it.

6-7 Months Out

  • Secure the church or ceremony location and hire your officiant.
  • Send out your save the dates.
  • Select a rehearsal dinner location and lock it down.
  • Book your honeymoon.
    • Make sure your passports are up to date if you’re going to honeymoon outside of the US.

    5 Months Out

    • Order invitations and thank you cards.
    • Tuxedo time! If anyone in your party will be in a suit or tux, now is the time to book rentals...or buy, if you'd like to add a nice suit to your wardrobe. 
    • Build out a timeline for the day of. 
      • Don’t forget to factor in travel time if your ceremony and reception are in different locations.

    4 Months Out

    • Finalize your decor, flowers, menu, cake, etc. 
      • Lock in any other remaining vendors.
    • Shop for accessories like earrings, cufflinks, veil, etc.
    • Schedule your hair and makeup trial, if you’re getting fancy.

    Photo by Murphy Burne

    3 Months Out

    • Get your wedding bands.
      • If you’re getting custom wedding bands from EC Design, get your order in early. You'll (presumably) have a hard deadline so plan ahead to ensure the rings are ready in plenty of time.
    • Send out invitations with RSVPs.
      • Number the RSVPs so you know who forgets to send them back. There's always a few stragglers in every bunch.
    • Send an event schedule to your vendors so they can schedule and plan accordingly.

    2 Months Out

    • Check how your attire fits. If you need alterations, now is the time.
    • Apply for the most important piece of paper of the event - your marriage license.
      • Requirements, procedures, and fees vary by location, so be sure to research what you'll need for your application before you apply.
    • If you’re going to recite your own vows, start writing. It might take a few drafts to find the perfect words.
    • Create your ultimate playlist for a night of dancing, or send some inspiration to your DJ.
      • Make a 'getting ready' playlist while you're at it. Get your day going the day of with some toe-tapping tunes!

    1 Month Out

    • Meet with your photographer to walk through your locations and discuss photo opportunities.
    • Settle up with your vendors, if possible.
      • You don’t want to return from your honeymoon and be welcomed by a pile of bills.
    • Build out your seating chart. 
    • Do a final check of the venue.
    • Stuff tip envelopes for the vendors you’re planning to tip.
      • Your wedding attendant(s) can be in charge of dispersing the envelopes the day of.
    • Put on your wedding shoes.
      • You’re going to want to break in those fancy kicks so you are ready to dance the night away when the time comes.

    Photo by Spencer Allen

    2 Weeks Out

    • Book an appointment to come in and get your EC Design engagement and wedding rings cleaned at our NE Minneapolis studio. We’ll make sure your wedding set is bright and shiny for the big day.
    • Touch base with all of your vendors and confirm everyone is ready to go.
    • Pick up your marriage license.
    • Figure out who hasn’t RSVP’d and finalize the head count.
      • This is where the numbered RSVPs come in handy.
    • Personal touch-ups, part 1.
      • Get your hair cut or colored.
      • Do Not get a haircut a day or two before the wedding if you like a clipper cut. Trust us!

    1 Week Out

    • Personal touch-ups, part 2.
      • Take care of time sensitive touch-ups, like taming your brows and getting your mani/pedi on!
      • Get a couple's massage so you can relax away some of the stresses of planning.
    • Send timelines to the wedding party and anyone else that needs to be in the know about the day’s events.
    • Confirm travel arrangements and start packing for the honeymoon.
    • Pack an emergency kit.
      • Think of wedding emergencies; a needle and thread for torn seams, stain stick for surprise spots, bandages for blisters, clear nail polish to stop a run in its tracks. You get the idea.

    Day/Night Before

    • Rehearsal day! Do a run-through with your wedding party and officiant.
    • Spend a little time with your wedding attendant(s) discussing the upcoming events and expectations.
    • Pack an overnight bag with everything you will need for the day of.
    • Practice your vows out loud.
      • It may seem silly, but you'll be glad you practiced when tomorrow comes.
    • Hydrate. Tomorrow is a big day.

    Day Of

    • Eat and drink.
      • This seems logical, but people get caught up in the excitement and forget to eat and hydrate. Make sure you and your crew have a good breakfast and drink plenty of water; no one likes a hangry wedding party.
    • Let your wedding attendant(s) run interference for anything that comes up the day of.
      • If something needs your attention they will run it by you, but they should be able to handle most issues without having to bother you.
    • Relax.
      • One or two things may not go exactly as planned, but that’s ok. Perfection is overrated.
    • Enjoy Yourself.
      • Don’t forget to enjoy your wedding!! Look around and take it all in. Have a private moment with your new spouse. You’ll remember those moments for years to come.
    Photo by Rachel Lahlum
    This list doesn't cover every little thing, but it is a great outline to get you started on your journey to forever.

    Now take a deep breath, you got this!


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