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The Wedding Planning Timeline: A Helpful Guide

  • Post category:Wedding
  • Post last modified:June 3, 2023
  • Reading time:11 mins read

Weddings are on the rise, with over 2.5 million weddings taking place in the US during 2022. Last year was a record-breaking year, finally breaking wedding numbers from 1984.

With the popularity of weddings increasing, knowing how to plan a wedding efficiently and effectively is more important than ever. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on venues, vendors, and more. The best way to do this is to create a wedding planning timeline.

But if you’re planning your first wedding, figuring out the right timeline can be overwhelming since there is so much to do. 

Don’t worry; we have you covered. Keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know about wedding planning timelines.

12 to 15 Months Before the Wedding

It’s no secret that planning a wedding takes time. But what many people don’t realize is that much of the planning takes place well over a year before the wedding. 

You’ll need to start at square one and take steps that include:

Imagine and Create

The best way to begin this process is with your imagination. Use an inspiration board to put together ideas and various magazine clippings.

You can also use Pinterest to find ideas and create a unique board with all your inspirations.

Take the time to talk to your partner and discuss how you want your wedding to look in terms of style. Once you decide on a theme, make a wedding checklist that includes items like:

  • Venue
  • Cake
  • Flowers
  • Dresses
  • Tuxes
  • Music
  • Photography

This is also the time to consider if you’d like to include custom wedding products in your wedding. Customizing items like drink coolies or keychains can take your theme to the next level.

Set a Firm Budget

Before you book anything, you need to set a budget. Setting a budget may seem overwhelming initially, but it will prevent overspending and trouble down the road.

Although tradition says the bride’s parents usually cover the wedding costs, this isn’t always the case now. The great thing about your wedding is that you can decide how this will work.

Begin by getting a firm understanding of who will be contributing and how much they can spend. Look at your budget realistically and see what you can spend without breaking the bank.

Create a spreadsheet to keep track of everything. This allows you to list all your must-haves and estimated costs. You’ll be able to keep track of your budget easily, increasing your chances of staying on track.

The best thing about a spreadsheet is you can keep adding to it. There is so much to consider with the venue, food, party favors, etc. Creating a budget early on will help you eliminate items that aren’t necessary and focus on what you really want.

Figure Out a Date and Book a Venue

Now that you have a theme and budget, it’s time to start taking action. First, you must decide the time of year you’d like your wedding.

Many weddings have themes that are based on the season. If you want a fall wedding or winter wonderland theme, decide on a date before it gets booked. Even if you haven’t considered a season yet, the colors you choose can tie into certain times of the year.

For example, bright green or yellow are best for spring, while darker colors might suit the fall.

Once you decide on a date, you must find and book a venue. Keep in mind; it’s not too early to start touring venues. Venues book up faster than you realize, especially around the holidays. Even more, many venues book up for weddings and other events years in advance.

When you book a venue, you lock in the date and price. This will allow you to finalize your budget further. You’ll also be able to book essential wedding vendors early and send out save-the-date cards to family and friends.

Less Than 12 Months Before the Wedding

By 12 months before your wedding, you’ll have the date, venue, and budget set. Time is ticking, and now is the time to get into more wedding planning details.

With less than 12 months left, you have a lot to do. You’ll need to use your time wisely and take steps that include:

Shop for Wedding Outfits

You need to start looking for wedding outfits. In most cases, you’ll need to order a dress 6 to 9 months in advance. You also have to consider fitting appointments and time to make changes.

The same goes for tuxes, suits, and bridal party attire. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to choose your outfits and have them customized to your satisfaction.

Book Wedding Vendors

This is also the time to start researching to ensure you have the most beautiful wedding possible. The list of vendors goes on and on—florists, bands, photographers, or maybe a DJ. You need time to find the perfect vendor.

Be sure to do thorough research on each vendor you plan to use. You should start by reading Google reviews to understand how current and former customers feel about their services.

It’s also wise to check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for reviews, ratings, and complaints. Visit each vendor’s website to learn more about their services and check for customer testimonials.

Once you’ve done this research, make a list of your top three vendors for each category.

Remember, different types of weddings require different vendors. Although you may not need standard vendors like a band or cake baker, you should still start this process early.

6 to 9 Months Before the Wedding

You’re almost there! Now is the time for the final preparations. This is also the time to stay organized and take steps like:

Send Out Invitations

You can create a wedding website with an RVSP feature. If you don’t want to go that route, you’ll need to mail out your invitations.

If you have already sent out save-the-date cards, you can follow up with an official invitation and an RSVP date.

Register for Gifts

If you haven’t set up a wedding registry, now is a great time to do this. Make sure to include a wide range of items to incorporate different prices.

This allows your guests to buy you something they can reasonably afford or combine their money for a higher-priced gift.

4 to 5 Months Before the Wedding

This is crunch time, and it can vary for different people. This is the time to finalize everything that you haven’t done yet. Depending on your wedding, this can include:

  • Finalize the flowers
  • Purchase decor
  • Purchase wedding bands
  • Order wedding favors
  • Finalize your music playlist
  • Design and order your cake
  • Apply for a marriage license
  • Work on your vows
  • Purchase wedding party gifts
  • Buy a guest book
  • Finalize your menu

You’ll also want to plan your shower and arrange transportation for your wedding day. It’s best to have someone review your checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Use This Wedding Planning Timeline to Create the Perfect Wedding

Using this wedding planning timeline will help you plan the perfect wedding one step at a time. You also won’t be rushing around at the last minute.

Don’t be afraid to modify this timeline to give yourself more time if you need to. If you’re stuck wondering how to plan a wedding, consider hiring a wedding planner to get expert help.

To learn more inspirational lifestyle tips, check out the rest of our blog articles today!