The day of your wedding is likely to be the biggest and most amazing day of your life. So, you want everything to be absolutely perfect, in every way. However, to accomplish this incredible task without compromising on any part of your dream and, while maintaining your sanity, you need a legitimate plan. A comprehensive Wedding Checklist Timeline is an organizational tool that will provide the confidence and certainty that there’s no oversight on any detail. In other words, you’ve left nothing to chance. And, just as importantly, when you control the details, you also have some control over the costs. It may involve a little more effort, but with the plan in place and plenty of time for fulfillment, it’s much easier to examine alternatives and choose the most affordable options, thereby keeping the overall costs constrained within your predetermined budget limits.
Most experts agree that, when done properly, the typical wedding planner checklist needs to begin with implementation at least 16 to 18 months in advance of the event. This is the Big One folks and you don’t want anything to go wrong. Perfection may be difficult to achieve, but it’s not impossible when you have a plan. This is your wedding. It’s an event that should provide you with some of your life’s most precious memories, so let’s roll up our sleeves, get this thing started and in the process, leave no stone unturned.
The most important factor here is to GET organized and to STAY organized. A project this big is going to have so many things going on that you’ll quickly get lost in the woods if you’re not on top of everything. The early stages are certainly not as engaging, but as time moves on, momentum and the calendar will begin to work against you if you’re not on top of things, so now is the time to set up the framework that will help you manage the insanity.
All of this should be accomplished by the halfway point of your wedding planner checklist, well within the first 6 to 9 months:
Start a physical file, folder or adequate binder to contain images, small wedding ideas, big wedding ideas, lists, names, addresses, phone numbers, prices, etc.
Begin building your dream with lots of inspirational ideas.
Surf the Internet for wedding and bridal sites
Purchase specialty magazines featuring bridal fashion, cheap wedding ideas, big wedding ideas, food tips, etc.
Visit your local library to view magazines and checkout helpful books
This is the time to get all of the financial pieces lined up so that you can begin to come to grips with the allocations and constraints that may limit the scope of the plan.
Determine precisely who is going to pay for what.
Are you going to go into debt to pull this off? If so, how much are you going to borrow?
What items can be handmade that might reduce the overall expense?
Best friends or family – this is the time to determine who’s in and who’s not.
This is one of the most critical aspects of controlling costs. Personal feelings aside, if you need to limit overhead, you’ll have to be realistic about the number of people you include in this all important list. The expense imposed by venue requirements, catering, food, gifts and possibly accommodations will have a serious impact on budget restrictions.
Create the list in a spreadsheet type format, handmade or with a computer.
Include individual columns for contact information, RSVPs, gift ideas, and anything else that you feel is relevant.
if you budget provides for this expertise, begin interviewing candidates. They will have familiarity and close relationships with caterers, vendors, events organizers, musicians, disc jockey, restaurants, etc. This will add confidence, as you can work hand-in-hand with an expert.
Determine where and how many locations are going to be necessary for parties, dinners, wedding, as well as, the reception and go ahead and reserve the required facilities.
Acquire legally binding contracts with your choice of the following:
Band and/or other entertainment
This activity is optional, however it’s important to extend invitations to those included on your all important wedding guest list. You’ll want the most important people in your life to participate in this memorable celebration.
The following needs to be accomplished 6 to 9 months prior to the wedding:
Go ahead and secure your contract commitment with your choice of photo or video productions company, or qualified individual.
Just as with the photographer, secure a legally binding contract with your choice of musical entertainment. Visit the group on the job so that you are able to qualify the level of talent before hiring. Awesome, Great, and Super are all subjective terms and really don’t guarantee results when recommended by someone else with nothing at stake. Be sure you’ve witnessed the level of talent and expertise before you commit. And, you may want to consider a backup plan clause in the contract to avoid a last minute cancellation. i.e., if the band is unable to perform, for legitimate reasons, then the agent in charge will provide an alternate group or disc jockey, or something to that effect.
Book the company or individual that will provide the food, table decorations and support services, should your planned venue not offer that service. Your decisions here should be based upon the highest recommendations of those you trust.
Let’s not forget the dressmaker. The veil’s not so important at this juncture, however let’s get busy with the most important dress you’ll ever own. Whether it’s off the rack or custom made, you’ll need allocate time for at least 2 fittings and a final tweak. If you’re having your dress hand made at home or by a friend or relative, you’ll have the extra step of deciding on and purchasing the fabric and accessories.
The prevailing wisdom suggests that you go ahead and book the necessary rooms for your out-of-town guests at one or more locations close to wedding and reception venue.
Decide on your list of retailers and sign up with their wedding registry service so that friends and family can get an early start on the gift list.
The following needs to be accomplished no less than 6 months prior to the wedding:
Select and purchase your invitations. If you’ve determined you want to utilize calligraphy, locate and contract that service and begin that process right away, as it does take time to personalize and address each one individually. If you’ve decided to make them yourself, then do so straight away. Special wedding invitation text, as well as, memorable wedding reception invitation wording samples are available, but you may need to look around to get something that appeals to you. Materials may be purchased at wedding or bridal specialty shops, as well as, arts and crafts outlets.
There will be little, if any time to spare with this task. This can be a nightmare waiting to happen. Sizes, colors, styles, fabrics and multiple fittings all present challenges to this already daunting process. Hopefully, everyone is local, for that will minimize some of the stress. However, out-of-towners will indeed complicate the whole thing, so don’t be late getting this part under control.
Confirm possession of ceremony’s required legal documents as you review the details of the wedding ceremony.
Send out Save-the-Date cards to your list of attendees, as a helpful reminder, not to mention, treasured memento of the all important upcoming event.
It’s time to firm up this critical part of the planning. By this time you should be fairly committed to your wedding palate, so go ahead and engage your choice of experienced florist.
If you’re considering providing specialized transportation, then find out about availability, and lead time should special arrangements or reservations be required.
If your plan is for one of the popular outside weddings, or unusual wedding venues, be certain that both lighting, if evening is involved, and of course portable bathroom or toilet facilities are available. Reservations may be required for your outdoor wedding ideas.
The following needs to be accomplished no sooner than 6 months and no later than 3 months prior to the wedding:
As the day draws nearer, it’s time to take closer look at the wedding reception program. Create a detailed schedule, or timeline, listing all of the events planned to take place at your reception, including the cake-cutting, first dance, speeches, etc.
Reserve the venues required to accommodate each activity, prior to and after the ceremony.
If invitations are being custom made by a stationery vendor, now is the time to follow-up on your order by viewing samples to ensure compliance to time and material requirement.
Lead time will vary with specialty bakers, so go ahead and secure your order. Don’t commit to one baker until you’ve had an opportunity to taste a variety of samples from competing bakers.
If you are planning your own bridal shower then provide your host with a completed guest list, to facilitate proper fulfillment of that event.
Purchase your wedding shoes and take them with you as you visit the dressmaker for your first fitting session. This will be necessary to calculate the proper length for your wedding gown.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
It’s time to go Hollywood as you schedule appointments with your prospective hair and make-up experts. Get the full treatment and have photographs made so that you might be able to compare the degree of talent, prior to making a final choice.
It’s time to choose your music. Using your Event Schedule, list the wedding reception songs that you most want to hear, and just as importantly, anything in particular you don’t want played. Indicate your choice of song to be played as the wedding party and special guests are being introduced. Select the dinner music and in particular the options for wedding songs for the first dance and beyond.
The following needs to be accomplished at 3 months prior to the wedding:
Determine who you’ll want to speak at the reception. Follow up and ask right away to be sure they’re on board. Then make a list citing those individual speakers.
Finalize exactly what passage or verse you’d like to have read at the ceremony and decide on who it is you’d like to do the reading. Certainly follow-up with the individual for confirmation.
Make a final decision regarding your choice of flowers and the proposed food items.
If you’re not making your own favors, then you’ll need to go ahead and order whatever it is you’ve decided upon. If you’re opting for a cheap wedding reception, you still have time to do your own thing.
Menu cards can easily be prepared on your home computer, if you’re watching your dollars. Otherwise, now would be a good time to order your customized cards.
Finalize the details of the ceremony and the reception and submit a copy to each of the contracted vendors. There may be a process of tweaking involved, so you’ll want to allow time for that.
pick-up your undergarments and head to the taylor for your second fitting. There’s no time to waste.
No we haven’t forgotten. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to allow plenty of time for resizing and engraving, so purchase your rings now.
The following needs to be accomplished at 2 months prior to the wedding:
send out the invitations six to eight weeks in advance of the wedding ceremony. Also, set the RSVP cutoff date to 3 weeks beyond the date of the postmark.
submit your wedding announcement to the local newspaper(s). Either call or go online to determine any restrictions regarding photo images, number of words, etc.
Call or meet with each one of your vendors to see whether or not they had questions or issues over the first draft of events that you submitted earlier to each one. Now is the time for revisions, if needed.
Have a meeting with the photographer and cover all of the proposed photo shots or video segments. Be sure you actually walk through each location requiring photo ops discussing angles and backdrops.
Meet with the band spokesperson and disc jockey (if necessary) and see if you can go over the music or song list that’s planned for the event. It may not be possible, but worth a try.
A small celebration with your best girlfriends will help with stress relief. Hopefully, the maid of honor hasn’t forgotten. It may be your last party as a single girl.
The following needs to be accomplished at 30 days prior to the wedding.
Enter each response received into your Guest List Spreadsheet that you started back in Phase One and phone everyone who still hasn’t responded.
Mail out the Rehearsal Dinner invitations.
Go get your marriage license. This can often times take up to a week, so don’t waste any time. This is also the perfect time to order additional copies for future reference and potential requirements.
Go get that final fitting so you can stop worrying about that. If things don’t work out as planned then this will become your next to last fitting. Some brides like to schedule an additional fitting the week of the wedding, just in case. But, when everything fits p
The advantage of RSVP is that it allows you to achieve a very accurate count for the number of attendees. So, now that you know, go ahead and pick up your bar and mixed drink stuff.
Verify your schedule for make-up and hairstyling.
Sketch out a schematic of the seating arrangements, as to facilitate the assigned seats and place setting plans.
Pick up gifts for bridesmaids to be presented at rehearsal dinner.
Have directions printed and emailed to anyone not familiar with location. Provide hotel desk clerks with copies to give to out-of-towners.
Mail out as many final payments as possible. Coming out of this thing debt free will be an incredible feat in itself.
If you plan to write your own vows, this would be a great time to do so.
If you’re going to do anything significant to your hairstyle (extensions, cut or color), don’t wait until the last second. You could be doing damage control with no time left.
Don’t relax now. Check with the vendors once again and confirm, confirm, confirm.
Solicit help with some of the last minute menial tasks, such as someone to assist vendors with whatever, someone handing out gifts and tips, someone to carry stuff, move stuff, point people in the right direction, etc.
Have checks written and set aside ready to facilitate quick payment to vendors.
Provide a checklist or timeline to each of the wedding party members, so that everyone is in sync with every detail of the planned events.
Touch base with the photographer and provide a hard copy of details you’ve established for photo ops.
Don’t forget to pick up your wedding gown. Otherwise, make delivery arrangements.
Send final listing of anticipated guests to the events managers at the hosting venues, as well as the caterer you’ve contracted.
Make an appointment for your manicure and pedicure. This should take place the day before the wedding.
Now it’s time to pack for the long awaited honeymoon.
GET SOME SLEEP
Tomorrow’s your big day and you, along with your wedding checklist timeline, have done one totally awesome job.