Free Wedding Planning Timeline + Checklist
No idea where to start with your wedding planning timeline?
We’re here to help you every step of the way with our free printable wedding planning checklist! That’s why we’ve literally put together a step-by-step guide to planning your wedding from start to finish. Perhaps you’ve seen our best-selling wedding-planner? This DIY wedding planning checklist will give you a little taste of what’s inside.
Want to get started right away? Below you’ll find a 1 year Wedding Planning Timeline. It lists what to do and when to do it; plus our best tips & tricks to save money along the way!
Want a free printable version of our DIY Wedding Planning Checklist?
Wedding Planning Timeline + Wedding Checklist
The following timeline gives you a general overview of your wedding tasks based on a year-long engagement. If you’re 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!
We will add and update this list over time, so be sure to pin this page to bookmark it for future reference! Before you begin, I recommend checking out our post The Key to Being Budget Savvy – it will help guide you along the way!
When you first get engaged…
First things first, do these things ASAP!
- Take a moment to soak in your joy before you start down the rabbit hole of DIY wedding planning!
- Share your happy news with your family and friends – announce your engagement or have an engagement party!
- Grab a copy of our book, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer to keep yourself on track!
- Sit down with all contributing parties and have the dreaded wedding budget conversation.
- Brainstorm with your future spouse about what is most important to you about your wedding day. (Setting priorities.)
10-12 months to the wedding day
- Most importantly, calculate and set your wedding budget.
- Need help divvying up your budget? Check out this wedding budget calculator, and these Wedding Budget Spreadsheets for tracking your expenses.
- 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 an affordable wedding venue? Check out alternative resources other than the ones you’ll spot on the major wedding sites to save. Searching for the perfect photographer? Check out listings on Thumbtack to save.)
- Open a separate bank account for your wedding funds. (We love an 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.
- 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.)
- As soon as you start putting down deposits on your venue and vendors, it’s a good time to start considering taking out a Wedding Insurance Policy. Check out our partner, WedSafe, for affordable plans.
8-10 months to the wedding day
Got the basics? On to Phase 2:
- Get yourself a wedding organizer or binder to keep all your planning efforts collected in one place. (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.)
- 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 partner’s look, too. (Here are 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!)
- Build your wedding website (here’s a free wedding website resource we love.)
6-8 months to the wedding day
Getting down to business:
- Find an officiant who suits your personal style and the spirit of your day.
- Gather decor inspiration and start working on any DIY projects for the big 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!)
- Start to think about your wedding flowers. Are you hiring a professional? Doing DIY floral arrangements? Are you going to use fresh flowers or faux flowers?
- 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 better!
- Select Flower Girl and Ring Bearer attire, and place orders, if necessary.
- Research honeymoon destinations, accommodations, and activities.
- Schedule pre-marital counseling sessions with your partner.
4-6 months to the wedding day
- Reserve any rental items you need for your day.
- Arrange 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.
- Communicate with your officiant about the order of your ceremony, and lock in the people you’d like to do readings at the ceremony.
- 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, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and additional decor. Place a wholesale flower order if DIYing your wedding flowers.
- Make final honeymoon decisions and book your trip! See if you can get a deal via Hotel Planner.
- Visit a jeweler to try on and purchase your wedding bands.
3-4 months to the wedding day
Odds and Ends:
- Finalize ceremony details, readings and vows and coordinate with your officiant.
- Purchase or DIY your wedding invitations. (Check out our printables or choose a vendor from our resource list.)
- 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.
- Begin your wedding beauty prep regimen.
- Purchase or make bridal party gifts and make day-of getting ready arrangements for the bridal party.
- Select music for ceremony and reception playlists. Share with musicians or DJ.
- Considering a photo booth? Choose your provider or gather the items for a DIY photobooth.
2 months to the wedding day
Getting Close! Here’s what to do in the meantime…
- Address and send out wedding invitations.
- Create and print wedding programs and other paper goods. (Wedding programs, signage, directions, menus, place cards, etc.)
- Set aside time to write thank you notes for gifts you’ve received at showers or early wedding gifts that are arriving.
- Make day-of getting ready arrangements for the bridal party.
- Select your wedding perfume.
- Gather your send-off items such as sparklers, bubbles, or ribbon wands.
- Purchase 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)
- Schedule dress fittings and alterations.
- Begin drafting the day-of timeline and schedule with your coordinator (if you have one.)
1 month to the wedding day
- Collect RSVPs and get a final guest count. Most importantly, report your guest totals to the venue, rental company, caterer, baker and other necessary vendors.
- Finalize ceremony and reception seating plan and share with all appropriate vendors.
- Make sure you and your future spouse’s wedding outfits fit you comfortably.
- Get your marriage license. (It’s getting real!)
- Work on your wedding reception playlist if you’re gonna DIY in lieu of a DJ.
- Choose your special songs for the reception: couple’s first dance, mother/son dance, father/daughter dance, etc.
- Discuss and confirm wedding ceremony music with whatever musicians or recordings to be used.
- Create a 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 lists to keep them informed.
- Have your last dress fitting!!
- Purchase a gift for your partner and write a personal note/letter to be read on the wedding day.
- Confirm with special loved ones who will be giving speeches or toasts.
- 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 to the wedding day
The nitty-gritty. In short, get your ducks in a row!
- Confirm final payment totals with all vendors and prepare checks ahead of time. Place in envelopes with cash tips and designate someone to distribute on the day of.
- Further, confirm location, date, and time with the photographer; create your “must-take” photo list.
- In addition, confirm delivery locations, times, and final arrangement count with the 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.
- In the meantime, make sure to plan a date night with your future spouse. Just enjoy being together and DON’T talk about the wedding! This is an important step in avoiding pre-wedding dress!
- Finally, confirm week and day-of beauty appointments!
1 week to the wedding day
- 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 manicure/pedicure and complete 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 your wedding dress steamed/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.
Hip Hip Hooray!
- Above all, be sure to be present, and take in all the special moments.
- Take a moment to thank your parents and tell them you love them.
- Relax, smile, and enjoy yourself!
- Give your partner a good “first kiss”!
- Dance your tail off!
- Ride off into the sunset with your new spouse! You’re officially a Mrs!
After the Wedding
Finally, bask in married bliss!
- You’re married!! Congrats!
- Meanwhile, get outta here and 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!
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wedding planning timeline
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