Just engaged? Feeling a tad overwhelmed by all the “to do’s” and checklist steps in the wedding planning process? We’ve got you covered. Our step by step guide on how to plan a wedding has your back. We’ve teamed up with wedding industry pros and vendors of all types to give you all the essential info (with a foolproof checklist) to craft the wedding of your dreams. No meltdowns necessary.
Here at GWS, we know full well that no wedding is the same. But we’d be lying if we said there wasn’t a solid formula and wedding planning checklist pretty much all weddings follow. Stick with us, and we promise this whole process will feel a lot more fun (and a lot less stressful!) than it seems.
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Common Wedding Planning FAQs – Wedding Planning 101
Before we dive into the details of how to plan a wedding and share our complete step by step checklist, let’s cover some common questions we get asked ALL the time.
How long does it take to plan a wedding?
This is highly dependent on the type of wedding someone is planning. For a no-fuss elopement without many (or any) vendors and no special location (or travel), there can be very little to no planning time at all, aside from the time it may take to acquire a marriage license.
Meanwhile, some weddings can take literal years to plan (this is more common for elaborate, luxury weddings). That said, one year is a pretty standard length of time to plan (with 18 months on the longer end of average).
It’s also worth noting that there are many vendors who opt not to book couples more than a year in advance, so you’ll want to consider this when figuring out how far in advance to plan your wedding.
Can I plan a wedding in 3 months?
Whether you can (or would want to) plan a wedding in 3 months really depends on the type of event you’re planning. If you’re planning a wedding that’s pretty small in size, without too many vendors, minimal decor, and not too many moving parts, then yes, absolutely.
However, even small weddings can require months of planning, so it’s best to avoid situations where you have to plan a wedding in 3 months or less. It’ll make all the steps in the wedding planning process that much easier and more enjoyable.
Is it easy to plan your own wedding?
It can be easy to plan your own wedding, but the answer here ultimately depends on your timeline and your personality type.
If you’re planning a large wedding within a short time window (say, 3 months), planning your own wedding can be quite challenging. Meanwhile, if you’re planning a moderately sized affair over the course of a year or longer, it can in fact be easy to plan your own wedding and cover all the checklist steps with ease.
In regards to personality type, you’ll want to think about whether or not you’re the type of person who can stick to strict deadlines, manage several tasks at once, and juggle outreach and communication with a plethora of vendors. Planning a wedding is essentially a project management job, and if that’s something you excel at, it can be easy.
That said, just because you can plan your own wedding, doesn’t necessarily mean you want to. It’s still a lot of work, even if you find that work simple and straightforward.
Do I need a wedding planner?
Generally speaking, we’re big advocates for hiring a wedding planner, but there are some exceptions where having one on your vendor team may not be necessary.
You may need a wedding planner in the following scenarios:
- To Work With Certain Vendors – Some wedding vendors only work with clients who have a dedicated wedding planner (this is often the case with luxury wedding photographers and other top tier vendors).
- For Large Events – The more moving parts in your wedding day, the more essential a wedding planner will be. They can help you find your other vendors and will communicate the timeline and plan for the day, so you don’t have to.
- For a Low Stress Experience – Wedding planners can do a ton for you, including helping you manage your wedding budget, coordinating meetings with vendors, providing a recommended vendor list, helping gather loved ones for important moments on the big day (like family photos!), and so much more. Without them, you’d be planning and managing all of that by yourself, which is a lot to do before and during your wedding day.
You may not need a wedding planner in the following scenarios:
- For Smaller Events – If you’re eloping, your photographer will provide a lot of the planning services, like creating your timeline and helping you identify and navigate the booking process for your location. They also typically have a list of preferred vendors they can share with you.
- If You Just Need Help The Day-Of – If you’re able to plan everything before the wedding day and solely need someone to help with the day-of logistics and keep things running smoothly, a day-of coordinator is a great alternative.
Whether you hire a wedding planner to plan your wedding or not, we recommend having a dedicated planner notebook to keep track of everything as you go.
How do you start planning a wedding?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the whole process of how to plan a wedding. But we’re here to help. We’ve shared tons of weddings over the years (and provided plenty of advice to engaged couples along the way), so we know a thing or two about the planning process (and the wedding checklist steps you can’t forget!).
And we’ve also called in a few wedding experts to share their top tips and advice throughout this wedding checklist. Consider this guide your complete, filled-to-the-brim, ultimate checklist to everything you need to know as you plan your wedding. Things are about to get a whole lot easier!
The Complete Step by Step Wedding Planning Checklist
Now that we’ve covered the essential FAQs, let’s get into it! How to plan a wedding: the complete step by step planning checklist. We’re covering everything you need to know, paired with links to all of our most popular and helpful guides on each of these topics.
Checklist Step 1: Think About the “Big Picture” for Your Wedding
When most couples think about how to plan a wedding, they assume they’re supposed to dive straight into coming up with a wedding budget, booking a venue, and getting into the logistics and hard numbers for the day. Don’t. This is a perfect recipe for stripping the personality and fun out of your wedding (and wedding planning itself).
How can you set a wedding budget for a wedding you don’t even know the scope of? It’s important that you, as a couple, think about the vision you have for your wedding day before diving into the details. Do you imagine a large, elaborate affair with all your friends, family, and acquaintances you’ve met over the years? Or do you prefer a more intimate wedding, with a handful of your go-to people?
Do you picture getting married in a snowy winter scene at your favorite ski resort, or does a springtime desert ceremony feel right? Maybe you’ve always dreamed of tying the knot at a dreamy European castle?
Are you a no-frills type of couple who’d prefer your venue’s architecture or design to do most of the talking on your big day. Or would you rather plan a wedding that incorporates elaborate design elements, like floral arrangements suspended from the ceiling, a custom champagne wall, or an adorable mobile bar setup?
Are there certain cultural traditions you know you’ll want to incorporate into your wedding day plan?
These are the types of questions you should be asking each other at the start of planning your wedding, before you even craft a budget. Your answers will give you the information you need to come up with a budget that’s both realistic for the complexity of your event and one that you can actually stick to.
Improperly visualizing an event is a common reason couples end up going above budget, so it’s important that you don’t skip this checklist step in the wedding planning process!
Checklist Step 2: Before Planning and Setting a Wedding Budget, Identify Who (If Anyone) Will Contribute Financially
Some couples get financial help from both of their families, while others opt to finance their wedding entirely on their own. Gone are the days where one side of the family was responsible for covering all the wedding costs.
Before diving into the logistics of how to plan your wedding, you’ll want to not only ask any potential contributors if they’d be willing to help, but also how much they’re open to financially contributing toward your wedding.
Any loved ones providing a helping hand may want some details on what you envision for the big day, which is where step 1 in our wedding planning checklist really comes in handy.
All of this information will be crucial in step 5 on our list for how to plan a wedding (setting your wedding budget).
Checklist Step 3: Hire a Wedding Planner
If you’ve decided you don’t need one, you can skip this checklist step in the wedding planning process. But like we mentioned earlier, a wedding planner can really take the headache and guesswork out of planning your big day, especially if you’re not the type to love the idea of putting together a big event.
While hiring someone to help plan your wedding may seem like a splurge, it can actually end up saving you money in the long run. Planners are skilled at keeping you on budget and have vendor relationships that can score you discounts and deals (plus, access to vendors who refuse to work weddings that don’t already have a planner).
The reason we’ve put hiring a wedding planner so high up in our checklist for how to plan a wedding is because they can play a crucial role in helping you identify your wedding team (aka, all your vendors) and set the proper wedding budget (our next step!).
Checklist Step 4: Decide on a Wedding Dress Code
Repeat after us: do NOT plan a wedding without considering the formality first. Before you get into the nitty gritty details of sorting out your budget, hiring vendors, and booking a venue, you’ll want to be set on how fancy or casual your event will be.
This wedding checklist step sets the stage for everything, from your decor choices to your equipment rentals to the style of photography. And all of these impact how you plan and create a wedding budget (next step).
Checklist Step 5: Plan Out Your Wedding Budget
Now that you have a vision for aesthetics and scope of your wedding, along with who will be contributing (and how much they’re willing to spend), we can get into the more nitty gritty numbers that come along with planning a wedding.
This is the checklist step where you’ll craft your wedding budget. First, we recommend creating a list of all the important elements and vendors you want incorporated into your day. Common ones include: a wedding venue, a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, a photographer, a florist, cake (or other dessert), catering, officiant, a DJ or band, a wedding dress (or bridal suit or jumpsuit) or a groom suit, ceremony decor, your wedding bands (we’ve rounded up our fave rings for women and for men), and the honeymoon.
After you’ve narrowed down all the elements and vendors you’d ideally like to incorporate into your wedding day, list them in order of importance, so you know which ones are worth dedicating more of your budget to.
When budgeting for each item, you’ll want to think about average rates and cost for your area (or the area where your wedding will take place, if it’s a destination wedding). This doesn’t mean you need to spend the average, but use this as a guide and determine a comfortable range you’d be okay with spending on each element or vendor.
For the higher priority items on your list, you’re likely to spend more than the average, and for the lower priority items, you’ll probably spend less than the average.
Checklist Step 6: Plan Out How Many People Will Be Attending Your Wedding
Here’s the reality: the bulk of your wedding budget will likely be spent on your guests. From the catering to the wedding cocktails to the chair rentals to the wedding favors to the DJ keeping the party going all night long, almost every aspect of your wedding budget touches your guests.
If you’ve been racking your brain to figure out how to plan a wedding on a budget, the first and easiest thing you can do is cut the guest list. So it’s important you get this step in the wedding planning checklist right.
It’s important to note that many venues also have guest count limitations, so you’ll want to have this number planned out in advance of visiting and booking your venue.
Checklist Step 7: Plan Who Will Be In Your Wedding Party
Having the guidance and help of your wedding party as you sort through the ins and outs of how to plan a wedding will be crucial. After you’ve finalized your guest list, think about who your ride-or-die’s are.
We especially recommend including people who have either gotten married recently or are familiar with the duties that come with being in the wedding party. Those types of friends and family will be super helpful in the wedding planning process.
Once you’ve decided who will be along for the ride with you while you plan your wedding, we love the idea of sending them a little gift to officially ask them to be a part of your wedding party (and to say thanks!). We’ve rounded up our list of fav bridal party gifts and groomsmen gifts for the job.
Checklist Step 8: Choose Your Wedding Date
You’ll want your wedding date chosen before you start booking your other vendors for the day. Most vendors will require a non-refundable retailer that holds your date on their calendar, so you’ll want to have this date set in stone before booking. Not every vendor will accommodate requests to modify the date, especially if they book out far in advance.
We recommend asking your planner what dates they think are best for your particular wedding vision and going from there. Things you’ll need to consider include:
- The weather at your wedding location
- When friends and family have the most flexible schedules
- Discounts for weekday weddings (if you’re planning a wedding on a budget)
Checklist Step 9: Plan a Tour of (And Then Book!) Your Wedding Venue
This is the checklist step most people think about when sorting through how to plan a wedding! So how do you find the perfect place to say your “I do’s”? If you’re open to any destination, we’ve crafted an epic list of the coolest spots to get married.
If you’re set on a certain location, think about what weddings you’ve attended recently in your area that you loved. Ask those couples about their wedding planning experience with the venue! There’s nothing better than a firsthand recommendation.
We advise creating a list of 3-5 venues you really love and scheduling tours to see them in person. Not only do you want to get an idea of the space, but you’ll also want to gather info on:
- What comes with the booking (e.g., a getting-ready space, chair rentals, parking (and valet), catering, etc.)
- Whether or not you can bring in outside vendors (some venues have vendors they require you to work with)
- Noise ordinances
- Whether or not they have a commercial kitchen for caterers to use
- Guest count limits
- Back-up plan accommodations (e.g., do they charge extra for a tent if it rains at an outdoor venue?)
- Cancelation and rescheduling policies
- How much they require in order to book, and whether that is a deposit or retainer
Checklist Step 10: Book Your Wedding Photographer (And Plan for Engagement Photos!)
How to plan a wedding you’ll never forget? Hire an incredible wedding photographer whose photos will allow you to relive the day again and again.
Getting connected early with your wedding photographer will be essential. If you’re interested in taking engagement photos you can use for your save the dates and wedding invites, you’ll want to look for photographers that either include an engagement session in their wedding package or offer it as an add-on.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to send your save the dates at least 6 months before the wedding day (and ideally, more than 9 months in advance, if possible), so booking a photographer in advance is key.
Your wedding photographer will also work hand-in-hand with your wedding planner on your day-of timeline to ensure you’re getting the best photos possible on the day you say your “I do’s”.
Checklist Step 11: Schedule and Plan Your Appointments for Trying on Wedding Clothes
It’s the checklist step that immediately comes to mind when most people think about planning a wedding: finding the perfect ‘fit! Now that you’ve zoned in on the dress code and the venue, finding the perfect dress (or jumpsuit, bridal suit, or mens suit!) will be that much easier.
Not sure when to buy your wedding day look? We’ve got all the details below:
- Custom-made wedding dress – 12+ months in advance
- Non-custom, made-to-order wedding dress – 8+ months in advance
- Jumpsuits and suits – 4+ months in advance
- Off-the-rack wedding attire – 3+ months in advance
Remember, these are just recommendations. Plenty of couples purchase their wedding attire closer to their wedding date, so if you’re in a rush, don’t panic!
If you’re buying something more last-minute, you likely just won’t have as much time for alterations and will need to purchase locally, given delays in shipping for international designers.
Weigh the pros and cons here, but as a general rule, we advise creating a plan to get your wedding clothes as soon as you’ve secured your venue and narrowed down your dress code for the day.
After you’ve found “the one”, you’ll want to think about what accessories go best with your look. Here are some of our favs:
- Wedding earrings – The perfect way to frame your face if you’re planning on sporting a wedding updo.
- Wedding necklaces – We especially love these for a dress that has a plunging neckline.
- Bridal purses – Because let’s be honest, most dresses don’t have pockets.
- A swoon-worthy perfume or cologne – A scent that’ll remind you forever of the day you said your “I do’s”.
- Show-stopping watches – A stylish statement that doubles as a way to keep up with the wedding day timeline? We love to see it.
Checklist Step 12: Plan Out What Your Wedding Party Will Wear
How to plan a wedding your wedding party will love? Give them extra time to find their perfect outfit. This is especially important if you’re going the mismatched route, where your wedding party will need to do the work to find a look in their preferred style, that also meets your aesthetic specifications.
Many bridal party dresses (and groomsmen suits!) can be custom-made to fit each person’s specific dimension, so ordering early is key. And if you’re not buying made-to-order, your crew will still want to get alterations done around 2 months before the wedding day.
Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up our fav places to find the perfect dress for your “I do” crew. Prepare to be obsessed.
And don’t forget, florals are technically a part of your crew’s look! Think about what botanicals would look best with the outfits you’ve chosen for wedding party.
Checklist Step 13: Create a Wedding Registry
It’s easy to get caught up in an endless list of details and tasks for how to plan a wedding and forget about the “after”…aka all the things you’ll need to start your new married life together.
Your wedding registry is that peek into the future. Are you two already living together and have all the home essentials? Maybe a honeymoon fund is more your style. Planning to move in together after the “I do’s”? This is the perfect time to ask for that KitchenAid stand mixer (you know the one!).
Whichever stage you’re in, we’ve crafted a list of our favorite registry sites for any type of couple (in any stage!). Figuring out how to plan a wedding just got a lot easier.
Checklist Step 14: Reserve a Room Block at a Nearby Hotel
Now that you’ve secured your dream venue, you’ll want to identify a nearby hotel where your guests (and even you!) can stay before the wedding day. You’ll want to reserve a block of rooms, which will typically give your guests a discounted room rate.
And added bonus? If you’re arranging transportation for guests to the venue, it’s best when they’re staying in the same place.
Checklist Step 15: Make It Easy for Your Guests to Plan By Creating a Wedding Website
Your wedding website is hands-down one of the most integral parts of the wedding planning process for your guests. Not only is it a great place to display your engagement photos, but this is where you can include information about hotel room blocks, ceremony start times, recommended travel info (and things to do in the area), your registry link, and dress code details. And you can also have your guests RSVP directly through the wedding website.
Needless to say, you do not want to plan a wedding without one. Your website is the perfect place to direct guests with any general questions they may have about the big day, which’ll save you time and cut down on stress. We’d call that a win.
Checklist Step 16: Plan Consults and Secure Your Other Wedding Vendors
This is where you’ll want to plan out what other wedding vendors you want to include in your day. Do you prefer a DJ or live music? Dreaming of whimsical hanging floral arrangements? Are you 99.9% sure you can’t plan a wedding without your favorite restaurant catering a plated dinner for all your favorite people?
Aside from your venue and photo/video, typical vendors include the following. We’ve also included tips for anyone sorting through how to plan a wedding on a budget.
- Officiant – If you’re trying to plan a wedding on a budget, opt to have a friend or family member to officiate. Not only is it extremely meaningful, but it also saves you money.
- Hair and Makeup Artist – You can DIY this one if you’re planning a wedding on a tight budget, but hiring a professional has the added benefit of knowing your beauty look will stay put, even with all the crying you’ll inevitably be doing as you say your “I do’s”!
- Florist – Consult with your florist on what types of flowers are local to your area, as those will tend to be more budget-friendly. Also, simpler arrangements are a great way to keep costs down! Still want the extravagant florals? Go for it! Angelena Moio of Shindig Chic tells us, “A great way to put your floral budget to good use is to repurpose ceremony flowers for your reception. If you have front and/or back of aisle arrangements, move them to frame your sweetheart table, dessert table, bar, etc. That’s a great way to use a large arrangement twice vs. double spending.“
- Catering – Be sure to check if your venue requires using their caterer of choice. To plan a wedding on a budget, opt for buffet style over plated meals.
- Music – Beyond just hiring a DJ for the reception, you’ll want to think about whether or not you want live music for the ceremony and cocktail hour, too.
- Bartenders – If you plan on having an open bar, a beer and wine bar will be more budget friendly than serving liquor and signature cocktails.
- Rentals – The most common rentals here will be chairs, table decor, and dinnerware. Depending on the typical weather at your venue during the season you’re getting married, a backup tent may also be worth it.
- Paper Goods Designer – This includes everything from save the dates to your invitation suite to your programs and menu. Planning a wedding on a budget? Buying pre-designed templates are a great option.
You’ll want to schedule consultation calls or plan in-person meetings (if local) with any wedding vendors you’re considering, before you sign on the dotted line.
Take note of the timeliness of their communication and compare them with other vendors within similar price ranges to ensure you’re getting the best service possible.
Generally speaking, it’s best practice to plan to book any wedding vendors you find high priority at least 9 months before the big day. Lower priority vendors can be booked later, if necessary.
One thing we love the idea of DIY’ing? The ceremony backdrop. And we’ve rounded up our favorite ones you could totally do yourself.
Checklist Step 17: Send Your Wedding Save the Dates
Wedding date chosen? Check. Venue secured? Check. Photographer booked and engagement photos taken? Wedding website live? Check and check. You’re officially ready to send out your save the dates!
We recommend you plan on doing this at least 6 months before your wedding day (and ideally, at least 9 months, especially if you’re getting married during the peak of wedding season).
Checklist Step 18: Book Your Hair and Makeup Trial
Now that you’ve figured out what you’ll be wearing on the big day, it’s time to plan and test your wedding hair and makeup look. Debating between a few different styles? This is the perfect time to take them for a spin and confirm your look for the “I do’s”.
We’ve also curated a lists of our fav styles for every hair length and aesthetic to get you started:
- Updos – for a timeless and classic look
- Long hair looks – for a dreamy and romantic vibe
- Short hair looks – for a stylish and modern vibe
Planning on DIY’ing your wedding makeup look? We’ve rounded up the prettiest looks imaginable.
Checklist Step 19: Plan Out What Wedding Hair Accessories You’ll Need
Now that you’ve done your hair and makeup trial, you should have a good idea of what hair accessories you’ll need on the big day. There’s nothing like a cute hair accessory to complete and elevate your whole look. Some of our favorites include:
- A statement veil – perfect for a more traditional, regal look
- A headband – we love these for more casual or modern weddings
- A crown or tiara – ideal for making a bold statement
- A flower crown – for all the boho wedding vibes
During your hair and makeup trial (the wedding checklist step above!), be sure to ask your HMUA (hair and makeup artist) for recommendations on what accessories work best for your specific look.
Checklist Step 20: Take a Pause from the Wedding and Start to Plan the Honeymoon
Phew, you’ve already done TONS of wedding planning at this point. Take a break from the wedding planning checklist and shift gears to something a little more fun: planning that epic honeymoon!
Start by daydreaming about potential destinations. Planning on staying in the country? We’ve narrowed down the absolute best destinations in the US.
Thinking about going international? Make sure your passports are up-to-date, as this process can be a long and slow one.
Is an Insta-worthy stay a must when you travel? We’ve rounded up the most romantic Airbnbs for that honeymoon of your dreams.
Checklist Step 21: Schedule and Plan Your Catering and Wedding Cake Tastings
Let’s be honest, this is arguably one of our favorite checklist steps in how to plan a wedding. Is there anything better than tasting good food and desserts? We think not.
As for catering, if you’re planning on serving meat, we also recommend ensuring you have a vegetarian and/or vegan option for guests. Sample and narrow down your meal choices with your catering team, so you can include all the details on your RSVPs when you send out your invites.
Checklist Step 22: Plan for Transportation to the Wedding (Both for You and Your Guests)
Now that you’ve booked a hotel room block, you have all the details you need to arrange and plan for transportation from your hotel(s) of choice to your wedding venue.
This is also a great time for arranging your transportation to the wedding venue. Imagine arriving in a classic vintage red convertible? This is the time to get it booked.
Checklist Step 23: Plan a Meeting with Your Officiant to Finalize Wedding Ceremony Details
Before booking your wedding officiant, you should have already discussed if they allow for personalizations and customizations, or if they stick to a dedicated pre-determined script. If they personalize, this is the time to meet with them and discuss what you’d like them to say.
During this meeting, you’ll also get an idea of how long the wedding ceremony will last, which’ll be crucial information for your wedding planner as they put together your timeline (a future step in our wedding checklist!).
Checklist Step 24: Plan Your Wedding Rehearsal Dinner (And Book the Location)
You’ve spent all this time figuring out how to plan a wedding. Now it’s time to do the trial run and make sure everything goes smoothly. The rehearsal typically takes place at your venue, where you run through the processional, ceremony, and recessional with anyone involved in the event.
And afterwards? Everyone gets treated to a delicious dinner. Yum! Plan this part of the wedding about 4-5 months before the big day.
You’ll also want to check with your wedding venue to see if they have options to host the dinner itself on-site, or if you’ll need to plan to have the rehearsal dinner at a nearby restaurant or other venue.
Don’t forget to find the perfect dress for your rehearsal dinner. We’ve rounded up the absolute best looks.
Checklist Step 25: Purchase and Send Your Wedding Invitations
As a general rule, you should plan to order your wedding invitations 4-6 months in advance and send them 2-4 months in advance. The specific date really depends on the type of wedding you’re planning, though (e.g. destination weddings require more time).
Unsure of the rules and recommendations for your type of wedding? We’ve written the complete guide on when to send your wedding invites.
Checklist Step 26: Work With Your Wedding Photographer to Craft Your Family Formals Shot List (And Other Essential Photos)
Make sure to let family members know that they’ll be in family formal photos following the ceremony. That way, they know to stay behind after the recessional. This helps your photographer and planner ensure everyone is ready, without the timeline running behind.
Checklist Step 27: Plan Out and Create Your Wedding Day Timeline
This one is quite possibly the most important checklist step in how to plan a wedding. No wedding day is complete without a solid timeline in place. This is the go-to resource for you, your guests, and all of your wedding vendors.
Without it, nothing can come together. If you’re working with a wedding planner, they will help you plan your wedding timeline, giving you recommendations on time windows for all the day’s events.
You’ll also want to plan to consult with your other wedding vendors to see how long they’ll need to complete their services (e.g., checking in with your hair and makeup artist to see how long they’ll need to complete your look on the big day).
Checklist Step 28: Get Alterations Completed on Your Wedding Clothes
Plan to get your dress (or suit/jumpsuit) altered between 2 and 3 months of your wedding date. When you go into your first alterations appointment, you’ll also want to bring along the wedding shoes you plan on wearing on the big day.
How many alterations appointments should you plan on before your wedding day? Alexandria Cardenas with Love Era tells us, “We’ve seen brides only require one appointment for basic alterations, like adding a bustle. Others have needed 2-3 if they‘ve had weight fluctuations or need more complicated adjustments to their gown. It definitely depends on the complexity, but for wedding planning purposes, an average of 2 appointments is safe to plan for. “
Checklist Step 29: Buy Your Wedding Rings
Plan to get your wedding rings 2-3 months before the big day. This gives you enough time for custom designs, resizing, and shipping.
Make sure you wear your engagement ring when trying on wedding bands in person, so you can see how the two pair together.
Checklist Step 30: Plan Out Your Wedding Day Song Essentials
Plan a meeting with your wedding DJ to sort through the song styles you want played throughout the night. You’ll also want to narrow down song choices for important parts of the wedding day, like the processional, recessional, first dance, father daughter dance, mother son dance, and the cake cutting.
And before you consider planning a wedding with just a Spotify playlist and no DJ, we’d recommend thinking twice. Dart Collective tells us, “DJs can do something no Spotify playlist can: read the dance floor. DJs can take your unique tastes and song requests, and interweave them throughout the night with intention and an eye out for the energy of the crowd.
In doing so, they’re able to think creatively on the fly and play songs you didn’t think of but love, as well as understand when it’s time to drop in that perfect crowd pleasing Marvin Gaye remix, or know when the mood is right for a Whitney Houston singalong.” The dance floor isn’t static, don’t ask your DJ to be with a playlist.”
Checklist Step 31: Plan Out Your Wedding Favors (And Determine How Many You’ll Need)
Your guests have traveled far and wide to see you two tie the knot, so having some cute keepsake wedding favors is a really nice element to consider when planning your wedding.
We especially love the idea of incorporating your favors into your wedding seating chart or escort cards. And speaking of…
Checklist Step 32: Plan Out a Wedding Seating Chart
Complete this wedding planning checklist step about a month before the “I do’s”. You want the transition from cocktail hour to the reception to be seamless, and a solid wedding seating chart is essential to this.
If you’re not sure how to plan a wedding where there’s minimal drama and plenty of good conversation, the seating chart is a crucial element.
This is where you’ll put guests with similarities together, so the conversation and good vibes keep flowing throughout the night. And, it’s also where you keep people with tensions away from one another.
Checklist Step 33: Plan Our Which Wedding Day Paper Goods You Need (And Get Them Printed)
You have the final guest count, you’ve narrowed down the dinner menu, and you have the timeline details planned out and prepped. The next step in how to plan a wedding? You’re officially ready to source and print your paper goods.
These are the essentials we’d recommend:
- Menus – These are perfect if you’re planning a plated (or family style) multi-course meal. And we happen to think these would make for the cutest framed keepsake in your kitchen!
- Programs – The perfect way to keep guests in the loop and ensure they know where to be (and when)? Wedding programs!
- Signage – Whether it’s welcome signs, a frame for your signature cocktails, or an unplugged ceremony sign, these will no doubt elevate your guest experience.
- Seating Chart – We’ve pretty much written the guide to seating charts (literally!), so you already know how important we think they are. Getting these (or escort cards) printed is crucial to a seamless reception.
Checklist Step 34: Plan Out and Write Your Wedding Vows
Curious about how to plan a wedding that’ll bring everyone to tears? Craft vows that come from the heart, speaking to the unique aspects of your relationship, all the monumental moments together, and the promises you have in store for the future.
Not sure where to start? We’ve written the complete vow writing template to walk you through the entire process.
Plan to start writing your wedding vows about a month before the “I do’s”, so you don’t feel rushed in the process.
Checklist Step 35: Schedule Time to Get Your Marriage License
Requirements and laws vary from state-to-state, so make sure to read up on the process in advance. This is especially important if you’re planning a destination wedding, as you’ll need to factor in time to pick up your license into your travel itinerary.
As you go through and plan for the legal processes involved in the wedding day, consider whether or not a name change is something you’d like. Still unsure? Check out our guide to Ms vs Mrs vs Miss.
Checklist Step 36: Plan and Schedule Your Wedding Manicure Appointment
Is it a truly essential step in how to plan a wedding? No. Is it highly encouraged? Absolutely.
We love the idea of taking your wedding look to the next level with some seriously swoon-worthy wedding nails. It’s the perfect way to elevate your look and incorporate your wedding colors.
Checklist Step 37: Plan to Get Plenty of Sleep Before Your Wedding Day
How to plan a wedding and not actually enjoy it? Don’t get enough sleep before your “I do’s”. It’s easy to overlook this step in the wedding checklist, but it’s a MUST.
Make sure to get at least 8 hours (if not more!) before your walk down the aisle. It’ll make it that much easier to be present on your wedding day and enjoy all the hard work you’ve put into planning your dream day.
Checklist Step 38: Portion and Plan Out Your Wedding Vendor Tips
If your wedding vendors have consistently been on top of communication and have gone above and beyond to make your wedding day special, it’s recommended to plan to tip them. For some vendors, specific dollar ranges are expected and for others, you’ll do a percentage of service.
Best practice here is to consult with your wedding planner to see what is standard for your specific wedding location. Your wedding planner will typically also be the one to distribute tips you’ve prepared to all of your vendors, so use them as your go-to resource here.
Checklist Step 39: Check the Weather for Your Wedding Day (And Initiate Your Rain Plan, If Needed)!
Nobody likes to talk about this particular wedding planning checklist step, but it’s essential. You and your venue should have already come up with a plan for rain on the wedding day, but this is when you’ll decide whether or not to take action on that plan.
The day before the wedding, have a loved one keep track of weather conditions and make sure they stay in communication with your planner and venue to activate a rain plan in case it’s needed.
Many venues will allow you up to a few hours before the ceremony to decide whether or not to initiate your rain plan. Just make sure to factor in time for vendor setup!
Checklist Step 40: Plan to Send Wedding Thank You Cards
Typically, you’ll want to plan to send your wedding thank you cards out to attendees within 3 months of your “I do’s”. So who exactly gets a thank you card?
You’ll want to give a handwritten note to those who were intimately involved in bringing your day to life and those who purchased you a wedding gift. Within the card, make sure to mention the role they played in your day and how much you appreciate their gift. Bonus points for sharing how much you can’t wait to use it!
Did you have a special or meaningful conversation with that specific guest at the wedding too? Plan to bring that up in the note as well for a sweet and thoughtful touch.
Wedding Planning Checklist? Done. Take a Peek at Our Most Popular Wedding Planning Resources.
Ready for all the dreamy wedding planning inspo?! Before diving into the details of your wedding planning checklist, take a peek at our most popular wedding planning guides of all time. These are our tried and true resources loved and counted on by our readers to plan their dream “I do’s”.
- Get your gals ready for the big day with our curated list of the best shops to find the ultimate “It Girl” bridal party gowns.
- You’ve planned the perfect wedding. Now, plan your perfect look with our list of the best boutiques to snag your dream dress. And of course, who could forget SHOES?!
- Plan an unforgettable wedding ceremony exit with our swoon-worthy list of recessional jams. They’re too good.
Have any questions for us about how to plan a wedding? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to tag us in your wedding photos @greenweddingshoes!