Guest Post: Countdown to the Big Day - the Ultimate Timeline for Wedding Preparations

During weddings, you can be bridezilla, or you can be cool as a cucumber. A lot of times, the difference lies in how you’ve prepared yourself for the occasion. Weddings, small or big, require a lot of planning, as there are numerous details to think about.

The usual preparation time takes about a year to sixteen months. That’s because you have to consider logistics. Many events happen throughout the whole year, after all, so you always have to factor in the availability of vendors and the venue.

To avoid panicking and unnecessary stress, you may use the checklist below.



A Year or More before the Wedding

Keep a wedding folder or binder with you. This will serve as your black book of wedding plans, lists, and details. Put important contacts here, and always write down everything you’ve agreed upon with suppliers and other people involved in the wedding. That way, you won’t have to worry about mixing up details or pointing fingers later when things don’t go according to plan.

Pick at least three dates you can choose for your wedding. Make sure they’re convenient for you and your future spouse. Read up on inspiration for your wedding, and work out your budget. Go to bride fairs for some wedding ideas.

If you don’t want to be stressed out so much over wedding preparations, hire a planner who can take care of everything for you. Give them the planning documents, list of contacts, and schedules. Communicate with them regularly to avoid problems.

At this point, you can start making your guest list and choosing your wedding party. This will be a difficult decision to make for some of you, especially if you know a lot of people. The guest list will be updated every now and then, though, and you will have to scratch a few names from it. Remember to record pertinent information as well: phone numbers, email addresses, gifts, RSVPs, food allergies.

Eight to Eleven Months

Book the date and the venues for your wedding and your reception. When choosing these venues, you must consider how far apart they are from each other. Some places are heavily booked, depending on the season, so make early reservations. Book your officiant at this time too.

Research on florists, caterers, entertainers, photographers, and videographers. Buy your wedding dress and the dresses for the bridal party. You should schedule at least three dress fittings so there won’t be problems on the sizing and other clothing details. You may buy the veil at this time too, but you can also do that one to two months later.

If you have guests from out of town, book at least three hotels, making sure they have different price rates. These hotels should be close to the venues of the wedding and the reception. 

It would be a good idea as well to get a wedding insurance and jewelry insurance for your engagement ring. You don’t know what will happen within the next few months, so financial protection from untoward events will come in handy. If you have wedding insurance, you can be reimbursed for expenses incurred. Check your vendors’ insurance policies as well to avoid overlapping possible payments and to see which expenses

Four to Seven Months

You’re more than halfway done at this stage, and you will need more focus since things are going to get even busier. Purchase the groom’s tuxedo and the groomsmen’s suits at least six months before the wedding, and schedule fittings for them as well so clothing adjustments can be done immediately. You can also check out a few groomsmen gift ideas that can double as accessories for the wedding day.

Talk to your officiant about how the ceremony will go. You should check if you have all the necessary papers for the wedding. Take into account that requirements may vary across counties and religions.

At the six-month period, make your bookings for the following: florists, caterers, and vendors for wedding invitations. Reserve the rentals (e.g., lighting, sounds, extra chairs) as well. Plan your honeymoon at this time too so you can schedule doctors’ appointments if you need shots and update your passport.

Book the venue for your wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and write a timeline of activities on your wedding day to create a program. Order your wedding cake, and make sure to go through as many tastings as possible so you have plenty of choices. Check on the wedding invites as well for samples and possible edits.

Buy your wedding shoes, and when you go to your next dress fitting, take them with you so you can see how they fit your dress length. Book your hair and makeup artists too. Take photos of your made-up face to compare the looks.

If you’re arranging transportation for your guests, you better do it at this period. Don’t forget to finalize your music playlist as well.

One to Three Months

This stage is mostly about finalizing things: vendor payments, the RSVPs/guest list, the menu, the flowers, the program for the reception, the ceremony and the readings for the wedding. You meet with the photographer for the shots and locations you want. You also meet with the band or the DJ for the final playlist.

You buy the wedding sets and then check if there is a need for engraving and resizing. You also get your marriage license. If you plan to change your name, get several copies of the license. Write your vows, if you want to.

Send your invites at least six weeks before the wedding, and set an RSVP cutoff date three weeks after you’ve mailed the invites. Send the event schedule to your vendors and the hair and makeup artists. Email and print directions for the venues so transportation drivers can plan their routes.

Set an appointment with your dressmaker for the final fitting of your wedding dress. Buy your gifts for the bridesmaids, and present these gifts during the rehearsal dinner.

There are a lot of creative ways you can thank your bridesmaids, but a personalized item makes your show of appreciation more special. For example, you can give them customized robes, which they can use during their preparations on the wedding day. Aside from having a personal touch to these gifts, these are also practical.

Week of the Wedding

The big day draws near, and you’ll probably be very eager and anxious at the same time. Perhaps you’ll be so overwhelmed by the number of things you have to check so everything goes off without a hitch. You can ask help from family members or friends and assign other tasks to them to avoid having to worry too much.

You can also send contact details and the flow of wedding-day activities to the people in your bridal party. Make last-minute finalizations with vendors, caterers, and other important contacts as well.

Most importantly, get your dress from the dressmaker, and start packing for your honeymoon too. Pamper yourself by going to the spa to relieve yourself from the stress and tension of the long preparation.

After the Wedding

The vows and rings have been exchanged, and now you’re about to go on your honeymoon, but don’t forget to return all the items you’ve rented. Send your dress to the cleaners, and of course, make sure to send thank-you notes to everyone who went to your wedding and helped you out.


Weddings are among the most significant events in a person’s life. It is only right to do your best in ensuring that the big day goes smoothly and you are left with good memories of this milestone in your life. With the right planning and an organized system, you won’t have to be stressed out over your wedding preparations.

Nicole SchwalgeComment