Yay! You’re engaged! You’re entering a period of love, deeper connections, and starting the rest of your life with the one you love most. But, with this also comes a daunting task – planning a wedding.
Whether you want a small, intimate wedding with your closest family and friends, or an all out party with everyone you can think of, we’re here to help tackle what may feel like the impossible. We’ve created this useful guide, along with our official Forever and Company 18-month wedding planner and Wedding Journey email subscription, to help you (and your fiancé!) stay organized and reduce your stress as you plan the wedding of your dreams.
3-6 MONTHS BEFORE
Send your invitations.
You want your invitations to arrive 8 weeks before the wedding day. Check with local mailing policies to determine what postage you need. Some post offices have special wedding stamps that can be purchased that may fit the aesthetic of your invitations.
Confirm ceremony details.
Confirm itinerary, seating, music, wedding party, officiant, and any other details of your ceremony to make sure it goes smoothly!
Finalize bridal/groom and wedding party accessories.
This includes shoes, jewelry, ties, veil, and any other touches that complete the looks. While there are endless options for wedding party wear, don’t forget to consider how the whole ensemble will look in photos.
Have your hair and makeup trials.
If you’re planning on having your hair and/or makeup professionally done, have a trial before wedding day to determine your final look for the day. Different hair and makeup styles look completely different from person to person, so you may end up having something completely different than you originally planned on.
TIP – Try to wear white and a similar neckline to your dress to feel more bridal!
Determine and purchase favors if desired.
Guest favors are a way to thank your guests for coming to your wedding. While not needed (as they do add costs!), they can be super simple (think candles, bottle openers, etc.) or more complicated (think custom chocolates). Try to think of how a guest may use your favor in their everyday lives when deciding on what you want to give out!
Plan your wedding exit.
Wedding planning includes the first moment of the ceremony all the way to the end of the night! How do you want to make your big exit into married life? Popular choices are sparkler tunnels, confetti being thrown, or making your getaway in a vintage car. Book or purchase anything you need for your big exit!
Arrange transportation to and from your ceremony and/or reception.
This includes transportation for you, your wedding party, and even your guests. Is your ceremony in the same location as your reception? If not, how will you and your guests get from one location to the next? Does your ceremony space have a bridal/groom suite to get ready in? If not, how will you and your wedding party get to your ceremony space? Also consider how guests will get home from your wedding, especially if you’re serving alcohol all night!
Book your wedding night lodging.
Decide where you plan to stay after your wedding, keeping in mind when you are leaving for your honeymoon. If getting married locally, do you want to go back home after the wedding? Or spend the night in a hotel? Make reservations ahead of time to avoid any conflicts or headaches as you get closer to wedding day!
2 MONTHS BEFORE
Apply for your marriage license.
Depending on where you’re getting married and where you live, make sure to apply for your marriage license early so that you have it for the wedding day!
Schedule wedding day hair and makeup.
Now that you’ve had your trial, schedule times for the actual wedding day. If bridesmaids are also having their hair and makeup done, the bride should never be last just in case delays happen!
Buy wedding bands.
Time to go shopping with your fiance! Choose a style that reflects you and your fiance’s styles and one that compliments your engagement ring. This is also a great time to plan on having your engagement ring cleaned right before the wedding so that it shines.
Have your formalwear fittings.
Have your (almost) final fittings for all formalwear to have any last minute alterations done in time. Make sure jackets fit properly, hems altered – anything needed for everyone to look their best!
Finalize rehearsal dinner.
Confirm bookings, guests, and any other necessary details for your rehearsal dinner.
Finalize and confirm the reception menu and cake.
Confirm with your caterer (whether they be with the venue or not) and your baker the meal menu and dessert menu for your wedding. Make sure to be aware of any possible allergies for guests.
Design and print wedding programs and any other paper goods.
Wedding programs take all forms and can be simple or complicated. Pinterest and Canva are great resources to consult and to use to design paper goods! Additional paper goods include menus, signage, and escort/table name cards.
1 MONTH BEFORE
Finalize all details with hired professionals and have agreements in writing.
While your wedding day is all about you as a couple, vendors are a huge part of wedding planning. Make sure all your vendors and other hired professionals are on the same page as you and your fiance. Have all agreements and contracts that you have made in writing so you have legal confirmation of the services that will be provided. This includes having your reception itinerary written out, a do and do not play list for your band/dj, and all transaction agreements finalized.
Send RSVP reminders to guests who haven’t RSPV’d.
Check in with your guests who have RSPV’d yet to make sure it didn’t get lost in the mail or they didn’t forget! This will help you finalize guest counts when making your seating chart, and ordering meals and favors.
Create your seating chart.
Seating charts can look so many different ways. Pinterest is again a great resource for looking at different types of seating charts for both your ceremony and reception! Don’t overthink too much about where you’re seating different people – everyone is there to celebrate you and will find something in common even if they have never met (aka you!).
Pick up your wedding bands and your marriage license.
Make sure to keep them both in a safe place for the big day! Check to see if anything else has to be completed before your wedding.
Make or order your table cards.
Table cards lead your guests to their reception seat (if you choose to have assigned seating!). They can be as simple or as complicated as you want. There are many new trends for how to display table cards, including champagne walls and framed photos.
Schedule wedding day responsibilities.
The last thing you want to be on your wedding day is worried. Plan ahead and assign tasks and responsibilities to your wedding party, family members, and anyone else that’ll be around! It can be helpful to assign someone to the bride/groom(s) to make sure they are eating, staying hydrated, and more!
Confirm honeymoon reservations.
Confirm your transportation, accommodations, and any reservations for meals and activities to make sure your honeymoon goes smoothly! Your honeymoon is all about spending time as a couple right after the stress of wedding planning, so no additional stress is allowed!
Buy/make your guest book.
Guest books are traditional, but they don’t have to look traditional! It has become increasingly popular for guest books to take all sorts of forms, such as video booths or phone recordings, so choose something that you like!
2 WEEKS BEFORE
Give final guest count and seating chart to caterer.
Confirm day of details with vendors and wedding party, including transportation.
Don’t forget to make a day-of schedule as a part of your wedding planning process. Create this with your wedding planner, so you remember to take into account all of the little things, like transportation time, photography sections, and even just some time to relax!
All alterations should be done by now but sometimes small things come up, like needing to replace a button or fixing a hem. Try on everything one more time when picking up formal wear to make sure everything is perfect (and steamed!) for the big day.
Break in your wedding shoes.
You’ll be wearing your shoes for a longgg time. So, be prepared ahead of time and break in your shoes so you can dance the night away! A helpful trick? Put on some thick socks and your shoe shoes and hit them with a hair dryer to help speed up the stretching process!
WEEK OF THE WEDDING
Confirm final payments and tips.
Be prepared with all payments for vendors, including cash tips. Organize all your payments in envelopes and assign someone the task of giving all vendors their payments for their services.
Personal wedding prep.
It’s time to pamper yourself! While you probably don’t want to make any drastic hair changes the week of, enjoy a spa day and relax as the wedding day gets closer and closer!
Pack for your honeymoon.
Get the packing out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it the day before your wedding. Organize all necessary travel documents and materials so you can grab your bag and go!
Create an emergency day-of kit.
Accidents happen. Conflicts arise. Having a small kit with items such as a mini sewing kit, stain remover, mints, bobby pins, and any other things that you typically don’t think of helps you be prepared in the case of anything!
DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING
Pack wedding day items.
Pack any items you’ll need on your wedding day. This includes all formal wear, accessories, getting ready items, technology chargers, a speaker – anything you could possibly need!
Have your rehearsal dinner.
Drop off needed items to reception space.
This includes any items that you haven’t already taken to your ceremony/reception spaces, including signage, any DIY items, and last minute details.
DAY OF THE WEDDING
All of the wedding planning has paid off, and now it is time to enjoy one of the most special days of your life – Congratulations!