Note: this page contains affiliate links.
We’re here to really help you in all aspects of your wedding, so from the very beginning we want to share the best resources and ideas with you! Here’s an overview of things to do, when to do them, and our best tips and tricks to save money along the way. Before you being, I recommend checking out our post The Key to Being Budget Savvy – it will help guide you along the way! We might add and update this list over time, so it shouldn’t be seen as the end-all, be-all list by any means, but definitely a good place to start!
These are obviously just a general overview, based on having a year-long engagement. If you are having a shorter engagement, your timeline will be much shorter so you will have to accomplish more in a shorter period of time.
If you’re having a long engagement, you can spread these items out over time!
Without further ado, here is our general planning guide:
First thing’s first:
- Sit down with all contributing parties and set your wedding budget. (Check out these Wedding Budget Spreadsheets for tracking your expenses.)
- Brainstorm with your future spouse about what is most important to you about your wedding day. (Setting priorities.)
- Need help divvying up your budget? Check out this wedding budget calculator.
- Set your initial guest wish list of ideally everyone you’d like to include. (Hint – the smaller the guest list, the more you’ll save! AKA – Cut your guest list!)
- Decide on a wedding theme, color scheme, and collect wedding inspiration. (Be sure to follow BSB on Pinterest — we share TONS of great ideas + inspiration.)
- Decide on a wedding date and time. (Did you know the date you choose can affect the cost? Choose a budget friendly wedding date.)
- Figure out what aspects of your wedding you can realistically DIY. (DIY can save you money!) Also make a list of all your talented friends who you can enlist for help.
- Start to research vendors. (Looking for a venue? Check out The Hitch. Searching for the perfect photographer? Check out Photographer Central.)
- Open a separate bank account for your wedding funds. (We love Capital One 360’s automatic savings plan to help save money for your wedding.)
- Consider signing up for a rewards credit card to earn airline miles for your honeymoon.
- Build your wedding website (here’s a free wedding website resource we love.)
9+ months to wedding day
Got the basics? On to Phase 2:
- Get yourself a wedding organizer or binder to keep all your planning efforts organized and together. (Check out this post about how to use Google tools to plan your wedding.)
- Ask friends and family for vendor recommendations. Personal, word of mouth recommendations always seem to be the best ones.
- Are you having a wedding party? Choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen. (Here’s a cute idea for how to pop the question to your best girls.)
- Visit venues and book one ASAP. Booking in advance can save you a ton, and securing your date really sets the rest of your plans in motion.
- Research and book your photographer. Good ones are hard to come by and locking in your date is so important! (Here’s some tips for choosing the right photographer.)
- Decide on your catering style. (Passed hors d’ouevres? Buffet style? Seated dinner? Brunch? Food Trucks? Dessert only?) Reach out to potential caterers.
- Start doing wedding dress research. Find styles that flatter your body type, favorite designers, budget, etc.
- Decide on your groom’s look, too. (Here’s some great tips for choosing your groom’s wedding attire.)
- Finalize your guest list and collect addresses from your guests.
- Begin thinking about honeymoon destinations and options. (We love these ideas for budget savvy honeymoons.)
- If the budget allows, book a wedding planner or day-of-coordinator to oversee your day.
- Schedule and take your engagement photos!
- Decide on bridal party attire. (Need inspiration? Check out these tips for groomsmen and bridesmaids, or our pinterest boards: groomsmen style and bridesmaids style!)
6 months to wedding day
Getting down to business:
- Find an officiant who suits your personal style and the spirit of your day.
- Book your caterer and set your catering menu. (Don’t miss these tips for Planning a Budget-friendly wedding menu!)
- Think about the music for your day. Will you have ceremony music? Will you hire a DJ for your reception?
- Narrow down your attire choices and make a final decision. You’ll want to give plenty of lead time if you need to order a dress.
- Start a gift registry. (Check out this article about which wedding registries have the best perks.)
- Collect Wedding Hair Inspiration. (Check out our Wedding Hair board on Pinterest for more inspiration!)
- Choose a cake design and book a bakery. (Check out our Wedding Cake board on Pinterest for ideas!)
- Think about flowers. Are you hiring someone? Doing DIY?
- Send save-the-dates! 6 months ahead is best, but if your wedding is taking place far from most of your guests, even earlier is best!
3-4 months to wedding day
- Book any rental items you need for your day.
- Reserve room blocks at local hotels for your guests and update your wedding website with that info.
- Decide on decor for your ceremony and reception. If you haven’t begun your DIY projects, now is a good time to start.
- Purchase or DIY your wedding invitations. (Check out our printables or choose a vendor from our resource list.)
- Communicate with your officiant about the order of your ceremony, and lock in the people you’d like to do readings at the ceremony.
- Book your honeymoon!
- Reserve your rehearsal dinner location, and your accommodations for your wedding night.
- Arrange for wedding day transportation.
- Make final decisions on floral choices – for bouquets, bouttonieres, centerpieces and additional decor etc.
- Buy or DIY accessories for ceremony and reception. (Think flower girl baskets, ring pillows, guest book and pen, toasting flutes, cake cutters, sand ceremony items, etc)
2 months to wedding day
- Address and send out wedding invitations.
- Finalize ceremony details, readings and vows.
- Create and print wedding programs and other paper goods. (Wedding programs, signage, directions, menus, place cards, etc.)
- Purchase your wedding bands.
- Are you doing wedding favors? Secure them now or begin DIYing them!
- Make sure you have all of your wedding day accessories, like veil, shoes, jewelry, undergarments, etc.
- Set aside time to write thank you notes for gifts you’ve received at showers or early wedding gifts that are arriving. (We love Tiny Prints for custom thank you notes!)
- Begin your wedding beauty prep regimen.
- Buy or DIY accessories for ceremony and reception. (Think flower girl baskets, ring pillows, card box, guest book and pen, toasting flutes, cake cutters, sand ceremony / unity candle items, etc)
- Purchase or make bridal party gifts and make day-of getting ready arrangements for the bridal party.
Month of the Wedding
- Make sure you and your future spouse’s wedding outfits fit you comfortably.
- Get your marriage license. (It’s getting real!)
- Work on your reception playlist if you’re gonna DIY in lieu of a DJ.
- Discuss and confirm wedding ceremony music with whatever musicians or recordings to be used.
- Create wedding day timeline for yourself, vendors, and all of your wedding party. (Here’s some ideas and tips for creating a wedding timeline.)
- Determine any wedding day to-do’s for members of the wedding party, and make them lists to keep them informed.
- Call guests who have missed the RSVP deadline. You’ll need the final headcount for your venue and caterer.
- Choose your special songs for the reception: couple’s first dance, mother / son dance, father / daughter dance, etc.
- Have last dress fitting!!
- Purchase gift for your groom and write a personal note / letter for him to read the day-of.
- Confirm with special loved ones who will be giving speeches or toasts.
- Collect RSVPs and get a final guest count. Report guest totals to venue, rental company, caterer, baker and other necessary vendors.
- Providing your own alcohol? Purchase the wine / beer / liquor you need. (Here’s a great post with info about DIYing your wedding bar.)
2 weeks before the wedding
The nitty gritty:
- Confirm final payment totals with all vendors and prepare checks ahead of time. Place in envelopes with cash tips and designate family member to distribute the payments on the day of.
- Confirm location, date, and time with photographer; create your “must-take” photo list.
- Confirm delivery locations, times, and final arrangement count with florist.
- Organize all decor items, craft projects, etc for easy transport and setup on the day-of. Designate who will be responsible for these items’ delivery and pickup.
- Pack a wedding day emergency kit with items you might need like stain remover, aspirin, mints, etc.
- Have a date night with your future hubby and just enjoy being together and DON’T talk about the wedding!
- Confirm beauty appointments!
Week of the wedding
- Put together an overnight bag for your wedding night (toothbrush, next day’s clothes, etc.) and designate someone to deliver it to the hotel for you.
- Get mani / pedi and any other beauty appointments
- Designate someone to collect the wedding gifts (and any cash) brought to the party.
- Leave a copy of your honeymoon itinerary with someone in case of emergency.
- Get wedding dress steaemed / pressed.
- Break in your wedding day shoes! Practice walking and dancing in them. (Good stress reliever!)
- Pack your honeymoon bag!! (Here’s a list of must-haves for a beach honeymoon.)
- Begin name change paperwork and submit your change-of-address form to the local post office.
- Confirm with people who you expect to give/lead toasts at the reception.
YAY!! Wedding Day!!
- Be sure to be present in the moment.
- Take a moment to thank your parents and tell them you love them.
- Relax, smile, and enjoy yourself!
- Give your hubby a good “first kiss”!
- Dance your tail off!
- Ride off into the sunset with your new hubby!
After the wedding
- You’re married!! Congrats!
- Enjoy your honeymoon!
- Make sure all vendor bills have been paid in full.
- Have your wedding dress cleaned or preserved.
- Confirm when you can expect to receive your wedding photos and/or video.
- Within two months of your wedding, be sure to send all thank-you notes for gifts and favors and help provided for your wedding.
- Submit your wedding to be featured on The Budget Savvy Bride: www.thebudgetsavvybride.com/submissions 🙂
Looking for some more in-depth wedding planning help? Here’s a few books we recommend: