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2024 Wedding Planning Checklist + Printable Timeline & To-Do List

Planning a wedding can be both exciting and overwhelming. With so many details to manage and decisions to make, it’s crucial to stay organized and start planning early. This comprehensive wedding planning checklist and timeline will guide you through every step of the process, ensuring nothing is overlooked. From setting a budget to sending out thank-you notes, we’ve got you covered.

How Do I Start Planning a Wedding?

Begin by envisioning your dream wedding. Consider the size, location, theme, and vibe you want to create. Discuss these ideas with your partner and make sure you’re on the same page. Next, prioritize your needs and wants, setting a realistic budget that reflects your financial situation and wedding goals. Researching vendors, venues, and wedding trends early on can provide inspiration and help you make informed decisions.

Printable Wedding Planning Checklist

To simplify your planning process, consider creating a printable wedding planning checklist. This tool can be your roadmap, helping you track your progress and stay organized. Include deadlines for each task and check them off as you complete them. A physical checklist or a digital spreadsheet can be incredibly helpful in managing your to-dos.

12+ Months Out From Wedding

Have a Conversation with Wedding Stakeholders

Start by discussing your wedding plans with anyone who will play a significant role in your wedding, including parents, guardians, or anyone contributing financially. It’s important to understand everyone’s expectations and desires early in the planning process to avoid any misunderstandings later on.

Set Your Wedding Budget

Your budget is one of the most critical aspects of wedding planning. Determine your total budget by considering contributions from family members, your own savings, and any other sources. Be realistic about what you can afford and allocate funds accordingly, keeping in mind that unexpected expenses often arise.

Discuss Your Priorities

With your partner, identify what aspects of your wedding are most important to you both. Is it the venue, the food, the music, or the photography? Knowing your priorities will help you allocate your budget more effectively and ensure that your most valued elements are highlighted.

Decide If You’ll Use a Planner

Consider whether hiring a wedding planner is right for you. Planners can be invaluable in managing the complexities of wedding planning, especially if you’re planning a large event or a destination wedding. They can also offer insights into the best vendors and help you stay on budget.

Get Your Planning Tools in Order

Organize your planning tools, such as a wedding planning book, a dedicated email address for wedding correspondence, and any apps or software you’ll use to track your budget, guest list, and timeline.

Research and Tour Venues

Start researching wedding venues that fit your theme and budget. Schedule tours to see the spaces in person and ask questions about what is included in the rental fee, catering options, and available dates.

Begin Pulling Style and Decor Inspiration

Create a vision board or use online tools like Pinterest to gather inspiration for your wedding’s style and decor. This will help you define your aesthetic and make it easier to communicate your vision to vendors.

11 Months Out From Wedding

Touch Base with Non-Negotiable Guests and Vendors

Reach out to any must-have guests and potential vendors to discuss preliminary details and gauge their availability around your preferred dates. This will help you narrow down the date based on the availability of your VIPs and preferred vendors.

Finalize Your Date and Venue

Once you’ve confirmed the availability of your key guests and vendors, finalize your wedding date and venue. Sign the contract with your venue to secure your date.

Start Booking Vendors

Begin booking your essential vendors, such as the photographer, caterer, florist, and entertainment. These vendors often book up quickly, especially in popular wedding seasons, so it’s important to secure them early.

Determine Your Wedding Party

Decide who you want to include in your wedding party and ask them to take on these special roles. Consider the responsibilities involved and choose people who are important to you and supportive of your marriage.

Finalize Your Guest List

Create a preliminary guest list, keeping your budget and venue capacity in mind. This list will likely evolve, but having a rough estimate early on is crucial for planning and budgeting purposes.

10 Months Out From Wedding

Start Shopping for Wedding Day Attire

Begin shopping for your wedding dress, suit, or other attire. Remember, custom gowns and alterations can take several months, so it’s important to start early to ensure everything is ready in time.

Book Hotel Room Blocks and Transportation

If you’re having out-of-town guests or a destination wedding, reserve blocks of hotel rooms and arrange transportation to and from the venue. This will make travel easier for your guests and often secures a group discount.

9 Months Out From Wedding

Choose Save-the-Dates

Design and order your save-the-dates. These should reflect your wedding’s theme and inform guests of the date and location, giving them ample time to arrange travel and accommodations.

Plan Your Entertainment

Decide on the type of entertainment you want at your wedding, whether it’s a DJ, live band, or something unique. Begin researching and booking your entertainment to ensure they’re available on your date.

Begin Booking Rentals

If your venue doesn’t provide certain items, or if you have a specific vision in mind, start booking rental companies for furniture, decor, and other essentials.

Have an Engagement Photo Session

Schedule an engagement photo session with your photographer. These photos can be used for your save-the-dates, wedding website, and as a cherished keepsake.

8 Months Out From Wedding

Make Your Registry & Wedding Website

Create your wedding registry and set up your wedding website. Your website can include details about your love story, wedding day logistics, travel information, and your registry to keep guests informed.

Send Save-the-Dates

Mail your save-the-dates to your guest list. If you’re planning a destination wedding or marrying on a holiday weekend, consider sending these even earlier to ensure guests can make necessary arrangements.

Secure Insurance Policies

Look into getting wedding insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen circumstances like extreme weather, vendor cancellations, or other emergencies.

Daydream About Your Honeymoon

Start brainstorming honeymoon destinations and ideas. Consider your budget, travel restrictions, and personal preferences as you narrow down your options.

7 Months Out From Wedding

Shop for Wedding Party Attire

Assist your wedding party in selecting their attire, ensuring it complements your wedding theme and colors. Remember to account for ordering and alteration time.

Finalize All Vendor Hires

By now, you should have all your major vendors booked. Confirm details and contracts to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding your vision and expectations.

Secure the Rehearsal Dinner Location

Book a venue for your rehearsal dinner, keeping in mind the size of your wedding party and any out-of-town guests you wish to include.

6 Months Out From Wedding

Attend Premarital Counseling

Consider attending premarital counseling with your partner to strengthen your relationship and communication skills before the big day.

Shop for Wedding Bands

Start looking for wedding bands together. This can be a special and enjoyable experience as you select symbols of your commitment to each other.

Renew Your Passports

If you’re planning an international honeymoon, make sure your passports are up to date. If you need to apply for or renew your passport, now is the time to do it.

Secure Your Hair and Makeup Team

Book your hair and makeup artists. Consider scheduling trials to test out your wedding day look and ensure you’re happy with the stylists’ work.

Complete Your Invitation Suite

Finalize the design and wording of your wedding invitations, RSVP cards, and any other elements of your invitation suite. Consider your wedding’s theme and tone when selecting these.

5 Months Out From Wedding

Order Formal Invitations

Once your invitation suite is finalized, place the order. Make sure you order enough for your guest list plus a few extras for keepsakes or any last-minute additions.

Plan Your Menu

Work with your caterer to finalize your wedding menu. Consider a tasting to ensure the food meets your expectations and fits your theme.

Buy Additional Prewedding Outfits

Purchase any additional outfits you’ll need for prewedding events like bridal showers, bachelor(ette) parties, and rehearsal dinners.

Finalize Honeymoon Plans

Book your honeymoon travel and accommodations. Ensure all details are finalized, and consider purchasing travel insurance for added protection.

Book a Ceremony Officiant

If you haven’t already, secure an officiant for your ceremony. Discuss your vision for the ceremony and any specific traditions or elements you want to include.

Begin Wedding Beauty Upkeep

Start any beauty treatments or routines you want to follow leading up to your wedding, such as facials, hair treatments, or fitness programs.

4 Months Out From Wedding

Send Shower Invites

If you’re having a bridal or wedding shower, send out invitations now. This gives guests plenty of time to RSVP and arrange their schedules.

Create a Music Wishlist

Work with your DJ or band to create a music wishlist for your wedding. Include must-play songs and do-not-play lists to personalize your reception.

Plan Personalized Details

Think about personalized details that can make your wedding unique, such as custom signage, favors, or a signature cocktail that reflects your personalities.

Finalize Your Ceremony Program

Work on the details of your ceremony program, including the order of events, readings, and any special rituals or traditions you’re incorporating.

3 Months Out From Wedding

Attend Your Wedding Shower

Enjoy celebrating with your friends and family at your wedding shower. This is a great time to relax and enjoy the prewedding festivities.

Purchase Thank-You Gifts for Family & Friends

Select thoughtful thank-you gifts for your wedding party, family, and anyone who has played a significant role in your wedding planning.

Schedule Your Hair & Makeup Trial

Book a trial run with your hair and makeup team to finalize your wedding day look. Bring any accessories you plan to wear to ensure the complete look comes together as you envision.

Send Formal Wedding Invitations

Mail your wedding invitations. The typical timeline is to send them out 6-8 weeks before the wedding, but adjust based on your wedding’s specifics.

2 Months Out From Wedding

Enjoy Your Bach Party

Celebrate with your closest friends at your bachelor or bachelorette party. This is a time to unwind and have fun before the final wedding preparations.

Start Writing Your Vows

Begin drafting your personal vows, if you’re choosing to write them. Reflect on your relationship, your future together, and the reasons you’re choosing to marry.

Plan Your Favors & Welcome Bags

Decide on favors for your guests and welcome bags for out-of-town guests. These should reflect your wedding theme and personal taste.

1 Month Out From Wedding

Apply for a Marriage License

Make sure to apply for your marriage license according to the laws of your state or country. Be aware of any waiting periods or expiration dates.

Make Final Wedding Attire Alterations

Schedule final fittings for your wedding attire to ensure everything fits perfectly. Also, confirm that your wedding party has their attire ready and altered if necessary.

Confirm Wedding Party Attire is Ready to Go

Check in with your wedding party to make sure everyone has their attire and that it fits properly. Address any last-minute issues or alterations needed.

Make Your Seating Chart

Create your seating chart, considering the dynamics of your guests and trying to arrange a comfortable and enjoyable setup for everyone.

2 Weeks Out From Wedding

Confirm All RSVPs

Follow up on any outstanding RSVPs to finalize your guest count. This information is crucial for your venue, caterer, and seating arrangements.

Schedule a Final Meeting With Your Planner or Day-Of Coordinator

Meet with your wedding planner or day-of coordinator to go over the final details and timeline of your wedding day. Ensure they have all the information they need to execute your vision smoothly.

Give Your Shot List to Your Photographer

Provide your photographer with a shot list of must-have photos for your wedding day. Include any specific moments, people, or details you want captured.

Touch Base With Your Vendors

Confirm all final details with your vendors, including arrival times, setup specifics, and any last-minute changes or requests.

Share Your Music Requests

Finalize your music requests with your DJ or band, ensuring they have a clear understanding of what you want for your ceremony and reception.

Book Final Beauty Appointments

Schedule any last-minute beauty appointments, such as hair color, cuts, manicures, and pedicures, to ensure you look and feel your best on your wedding day.

Finalize Your Vows

Complete your vows, practicing them to feel comfortable and confident when reciting them during the ceremony.

The Week Before the Wedding

Give Your Venue the Final Head Count

Provide your venue and caterer with the final guest count. This is crucial for finalizing seating arrangements and meal preparations.

Press and Steam Your Outfit

Have your wedding attire professionally pressed or steamed, ensuring it’s in perfect condition for your big day.

Confirm Timing With Your Vendors Again

Reconfirm the schedule and timing with all your vendors to ensure everyone is clear on the plan and any last-minute adjustments are made.

Pack Your Overnight Bag

Pack an overnight bag for your wedding night, including all essentials and anything you’ll need for the next day.

Clean Your Wedding Rings

Have your wedding bands and engagement ring cleaned so they sparkle on your wedding day.

Practice Your Vows Out Loud

Practice your vows out loud, either alone or with a trusted friend or family member, to ensure you’re comfortable saying them during the ceremony.

Write Your Partner a Day-Of Note and Package Their Gift

Write a heartfelt note to your partner to read on the morning of your wedding day. Package any gifts you’re exchanging to be delivered on the day.

The Day Before the Wedding

Give Your Pros Day-Of Contact Information

Ensure all your vendors have the contact information of your wedding planner or a designated point person for any day-of questions or issues.

Write Checks and Organize Tip Envelopes

Prepare checks and tip envelopes for your vendors, if applicable. Having these organized in advance will make it easier to distribute them on the wedding day.

Hand Off Your Marriage Certificate

Give your marriage certificate to your officiant or a trusted individual to ensure it’s signed and filed according to legal requirements.

Give Gifts to Your Family and Wedding Party

Present your gifts to your family and wedding party, expressing your gratitude for their support and participation in your wedding.

Bring Small Decor to Your Venue

Deliver any small decor items to your venue, or assign this task to a trusted friend or family member, to ensure everything is set up according to your vision.

Rehearse Your Ceremony

Hold a rehearsal of your ceremony with your wedding party and officiant to ensure everyone knows their roles and the flow of the ceremony.

Pass Off Your Wedding Bands

Give your wedding bands to the best man, maid of honor, or officiant to hold until the ceremony.

Enjoy Your Rehearsal Dinner

Relax and enjoy your rehearsal dinner with your closest friends and family. This is a time to unwind and celebrate before the big day.

The Day Of the Wedding

The day has finally arrived! Allow yourself to be present and enjoy every moment. Trust your planning, your vendors, and your wedding party to make the day unfold as you’ve envisioned. Remember, this day is about celebrating your love and commitment to each other, surrounded by those who matter most.

After the Wedding

Send Thank-You Notes

Take the time to write personalized thank-you notes to your guests, especially those who traveled, gave gifts, or played a special role in your wedding. Aim to send these within a few months of the wedding to express your gratitude.

Review Your Vendors

Consider leaving reviews for your vendors to help other couples in their planning process. Share your experiences and any feedback you have.

Manage Your Wedding Items

Organize and store your wedding keepsakes, such as your dress, photos, and any special decor items. Consider what you might want to display, keep as mementos, or repurpose.

Reflect and Relax

Take some time with your partner to reflect on your wedding day and the start of your married life together. Enjoy your honeymoon, if you haven’t already, and look forward to the many adventures ahead.

Planning a wedding is a significant undertaking, but with careful planning and organization, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences. This comprehensive checklist and timeline are designed to help you navigate the process, ensuring that every detail is considered and nothing is left to chance. Remember to enjoy the journey, as it’s a special time that leads up to one of the most memorable days of your life.

Wedding Planning 12 Month Timeline Checklist

12+ Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Have conversations with wedding stakeholders.
    • Set your wedding budget.
    • Discuss priorities with your partner.
    • Decide on using a wedding planner.
    • Get planning tools in order.
    • Research and tour venues.
    • Begin pulling style and decor inspiration.

11 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Touch base with non-negotiable guests and vendors.
    • Finalize date and venue.
    • Start booking vendors.
    • Determine your wedding party.
    • Finalize your guest list.

10 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Start shopping for wedding day attire.
    • Book hotel room blocks and transportation.

9 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Choose save-the-dates.
    • Plan your entertainment.
    • Begin booking rentals.
    • Have an engagement photo session.

8 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Make your registry & wedding website.
    • Send save-the-dates.
    • Secure insurance policies.
    • Daydream about your honeymoon.

7 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Shop for wedding party attire.
    • Finalize all vendor hires.
    • Secure the rehearsal dinner location.

6 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Attend premarital counseling.
    • Shop for wedding bands.
    • Renew your passports.
    • Secure your hair and makeup team.
    • Complete your invitation suite.

5 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Order formal invitations.
    • Plan your menu.
    • Buy additional prewedding outfits.
    • Finalize honeymoon plans.
    • Book a ceremony officiant.
    • Begin wedding beauty upkeep.

4 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Send shower invites.
    • Create a music wishlist.
    • Plan personalized details.
    • Finalize your ceremony program.

3 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Attend your wedding shower.
    • Purchase thank-you gifts.
    • Schedule your hair & makeup trial.
    • Send formal wedding invitations.

2 Months Out

  • Tasks:
    • Enjoy your bach party.
    • Start writing your vows.
    • Plan your favors & welcome bags.

1 Month Out

  • Tasks:
    • Apply for a marriage license.
    • Make final wedding attire alterations.
    • Confirm wedding party attire is ready.
    • Make your seating chart.

2 Weeks Out

  • Tasks:
    • Confirm all RSVPs.
    • Schedule a final meeting with your planner.
    • Give your shot list to your photographer.
    • Touch base with your vendors.
    • Share your music requests.
    • Book final beauty appointments.
    • Finalize your vows.

The Week Before

  • Tasks:
    • Give your venue the final head count.
    • Press and steam your outfit.
    • Confirm timing with your vendors again.
    • Pack your overnight bag.
    • Clean your wedding rings.
    • Practice your vows out loud.
    • Write your partner a day-of note.

The Day Before

  • Tasks:
    • Give day-of contact info to pros.
    • Write checks and organize tip envelopes.
    • Hand off your marriage certificate.
    • Give gifts to family and wedding party.
    • Bring small decor to your venue.
    • Rehearse your ceremony.
    • Pass off your wedding bands.
    • Enjoy your rehearsal dinner.

The Day Of

  • Tasks:
    • Get married and enjoy the day!

After the Wedding

  • Tasks:
    • Send thank-you notes.
    • Review your vendors.
    • Manage your wedding items.
    • Reflect and relax.

Wedding Planning 12 Month Chart

12+ Months OutHave conversations with wedding stakeholdersInclude all parties contributing financially or otherwise.
12+ Months OutSet your wedding budgetOutline expected expenses and contributions.
12+ Months OutDiscuss priorities with your partnerDecide on what’s most important to you both.
12+ Months OutDecide on using a wedding plannerConsider if you need professional help based on scale and complexity.
12+ Months OutGet planning tools in orderChoose digital or physical planning tools.
12+ Months OutResearch and tour venuesConsider size, location, style, and budget compatibility.
12+ Months OutBegin pulling style and decor inspirationGather ideas from social media, magazines, and weddings you’ve attended.
11 Months OutTouch base with non-negotiable guests and vendorsEnsure key participants are available for your tentative dates.
11 Months OutFinalize date and venueSecure your venue to lock in your date.
11 Months OutStart booking vendorsPhotographers, caterers, florists, musicians/DJs.
11 Months OutDetermine your wedding partyWho will stand by you? Consider roles and responsibilities.
11 Months OutFinalize your guest listConsider venue capacity, budget, and personal connections.
10 Months OutStart shopping for wedding day attireInclude time for fittings and alterations.
10 Months OutBook hotel room blocks and transportationFor guest convenience and potentially negotiated discounts.
9 Months OutChoose save-the-datesAnnounce your wedding date and location.
9 Months OutPlan your entertainmentDJ, band, soloists, or a mix for ceremony and reception.
9 Months OutBegin booking rentalsTents, chairs, linens, lighting, etc.
9 Months OutHave an engagement photo sessionFor announcements, save-the-dates, or keepsakes.
8 Months OutMake your registry & wedding websiteShare your story, event details, and registry links.
8 Months OutSend save-the-datesEnsure guests have ample notice, especially if travel is involved.
8 Months OutSecure insurance policiesProtect your investment against unforeseen events.
8 Months OutDaydream about your honeymoonDream and research together to choose the perfect getaway.
7 Months OutShop for wedding party attireCoordinate styles and colors; allow time for orders and alterations.
7 Months OutFinalize all vendor hiresMake sure all service providers are booked and contracts are clear.
7 Months OutSecure the rehearsal dinner locationChoose a location that reflects the tone of your wedding weekend.
6 Months OutAttend premarital counselingStrengthen your relationship and communication.
6 Months OutShop for wedding bandsReflect personal style and commitment.
6 Months OutRenew your passportsRequired for international travel.
6 Months OutSecure your hair and makeup teamBook trials to ensure your look aligns with your vision.
6 Months OutComplete your invitation suiteEnsure coherence in design and information.
5 Months OutOrder formal invitationsSend with enough lead time for guests to respond.
5 Months OutPlan your menuTaste test and finalize offerings based on guest count and preferences.
5 Months OutBuy additional prewedding outfitsFor engagement parties, bridal showers, and rehearsal dinner.
5 Months OutFinalize honeymoon plansConfirm travel arrangements and accommodations.
5 Months OutBook a ceremony officiantWho will officiate your ceremony? Discuss structure and content.
5 Months OutBegin wedding beauty upkeepStart routines for skin, hair, and overall wellness.
4 Months OutSend shower invitesNotify guests of the date, location, and registry.
4 Months OutCreate a music wishlistYour must-play, nice-to-have, and do-not-play songs.
4 Months OutPlan personalized detailsFrom vows to decor, make it uniquely yours.
4 Months OutFinalize your ceremony programOutline the order of events, readings, and music.
3 Months OutAttend your wedding showerCelebrate with those who mean the most.
3 Months OutPurchase thank-you giftsShow appreciation for their support and help.
3 Months OutSchedule your hair & makeup trialEnsure your day-of look is exactly as you envision.
3 Months OutSend formal wedding invitationsFormal notice and invitation to your wedding.
2 Months OutEnjoy your bach partyRelax and celebrate with friends in your own style.
2 Months OutStart writing your vowsPersonal and heartfelt promises to each other.
2 Months OutPlan your favors & welcome bagsThoughtful gestures of appreciation for guests.
1 Month OutApply for a marriage licenseEnsure legality of your union; check local requirements.
1 Month OutMake final wedding attire alterationsFinal adjustments for the perfect fit.
1 Month OutConfirm wedding party attire is readyCheck sizes, styles, and readiness of attire.
1 Month OutMake your seating chartArrange guests thoughtfully for a pleasant experience.
2 Weeks OutConfirm all RSVPsEnsure accurate guest count for venue and caterer.
2 Weeks OutSchedule a final meeting with your plannerReview details and timelines; hand over any items or information.
2 Weeks OutGive your shot list to your photographerSpecific shots you want captured beyond standard photos.
2 Weeks OutTouch base with your vendorsReconfirm times, setups, and special requests.
2 Weeks OutShare your music requestsNotify of must-have songs and do-not-play lists.
2 Weeks OutBook final beauty appointmentsSchedule last-minute beauty treatments.
2 Weeks OutFinalize your vowsRehearse and refine your words of commitment.
The Week BeforeGive your venue the final head countConfirm guest numbers and special requirements.
The Week BeforePress and steam your outfitEnsure attire is ceremony-ready.
The Week BeforeConfirm timing with your vendors againDouble-check all arrangements and timings.
The Week BeforePack your overnight bagPrepare for the following day.
The Week BeforeClean your wedding ringsEnsure jewelry is sparkling.
The Week BeforePractice your vows out loudBuild confidence in your delivery.
The Week BeforeWrite your partner a day-of noteExpress your anticipation and love.
The Day BeforeGive day-of contact info to prosProvide critical information for smooth coordination.
The Day BeforeWrite checks and organize tip envelopesPrepare payments and gratuities for easy distribution.
The Day BeforeHand off your marriage certificateEnsure all legal paperwork is in order.
The Day BeforeGive gifts to family and wedding partyExpress gratitude for their love and support.
The Day BeforeBring small decor to your venueSet the stage with personal touches.
The Day BeforeRehearse your ceremonyPractice the flow to ensure everyone’s prepared.
The Day BeforePass off your wedding bandsSecurely pass on rings to the responsible party.
The Day BeforeEnjoy your rehearsal dinnerKick off the celebrations and relax before the big day.
The Day OfGet married and enjoy the day!The culmination of your planning; live in the moment!
After the WeddingSend thank-you notesAcknowledge the love and support of your guests.
After the WeddingReview your vendorsShare your experiences to help future couples.
After the WeddingManage your wedding itemsPreserve memories and items of sentimental value.
After the WeddingReflect and relaxTake time to reflect on your journey and enjoy newlywed life.