Firstly, yes I know I’m not married. But, I do work in the wedding industry from time to time as a bridal makeup artist, spending so much of my time with brides. From our initial chats, to the trials, to the big day, I’ve somewhat found myself wrapped up in weddings. Bridal fayres, wedding shows, wedding planners… you name it, it’s all part of my life now!
Here, I wanted to put together an ultimate checklist for the brides out there getting married in 2019 or 2020.
Soooo…you’re engaged (or about to be engaged, or are on a wedding researching tangent after binging Say Yes to the Dress) — whichever way, congrats! Being engaged is such an exciting time in your life — there’s only so long that your significant other has the “fiancé” title instead of husband or wife, and you’re going to want to enjoy every minute of it.
But one huge question still lingers: where on earth do you start when it comes to planning for your wedding?
The year leading up to your wedding should be exciting, not stressful, so I have broken down the 12 months leading up to your big day, to make it feel do-able (so you can enjoy your pre-bridal glory without ending up as the family bridezilla your cousins talk about for the next 10 years)
You’re a year away, and although it can feel like a lot of time, in wedding-planning time, it can go by in the blink of an eye. Here are some of the big-picture items should start getting checked off your list:
- Set a wedding budget and prioritize what is most important
- Draft your wedding guest list
- Tour and book your wedding venue
- Set a date
- Create your wedding Pinterest board
- Book a planner or day of coordinator (if in budget)
- Book a photographer
- Try on wedding dresses, order by 10 months (this allows for up to 6 months for the dress to be delivered, any delays, and plenty of time for alterations); try to purchase your veil at the same time so you can try it on with the dress and finalize the entire “look”a
Around the 9 month mark, you should be getting some of the details of your big day sorted out — booking a florist and photographer, choosing your wedding party, and creating your registry and wedding website..
- Book a videographer
- Book a florist
- Book an officiant and make any pre-marital counseling appointments (if required)
- Choose your wedding party and ask them to be part of your big day
- Take engagement photos
- Set up your wedding registry (doing it early gives access to both shower guests and wedding guests)
- Create a wedding website
- Book hotel blocks (usually two differing price ranges)
- Book your wedding night hotel
- Begin researching and meeting with caterers
- Begin compiling addresses for guests
Time to book your hair and makeup trials, finalise your guest list, and send out Save the Dates! You’re going to want your Save the Date to set the tone for your wedding, and be cohesive with the invitation that’s going to come shortly after.
Another biggy to get started on at the 6 months mark is to go wedding ring shopping. It’s unlikely that you’ll loose too much weight by this point (brides who do go on excessive diets before the wedding can find their rings no longer fit when they bought them a year too early!).
Start by browsing online for your wedding rings, and then visit some stores – even if you intend to buy online – so you know the exact ring size for both of you.
Remember to try and choose the most classic, timeless and gender equal design possible. These rings are created to last you and your partner a lifetime…
- Book your rentals (linens, plates, cuttlery, chairs, lighting, tents, etc.)
- Book hair and makeup artists
- Book a caterer
- Complete your wedding guest list
- Send out Save the Dates
- Begin designing wedding invitations and suite
- Decide on bridesmaid attire; send them the information and a final date to order by (pad this date for your sanity)
- Start planning your honeymoon
- Discuss hen party dates and locations with the maid of honor; send her a rough guest list to help with planning
At this point, you’ll have had some be having dress fittings, and should be close to finalising honeymoon accommodations — so exciting!
- Book the rehearsal dinner venue (unless relatives are handling)
- Book the DJ or music
- Order your wedding invitations
- Order your cake
- Begin bridal dress fittings (make sure to bring any undergarments you will be wearing on your wedding day — bra, spanks, pantyhose, etc.)
- Buy or rent the groom’s attire
- Decide on groomsmen attire; send them the information and a final date to order by (pad this date for your sanity)
- Finalise the honeymoon and accommodations
- Send thank you notes as you receive presents so you don’t become overwhelmed
- Make sure you have all your legal documents needed for a marriage certificate and honeymoon. Many countries will not allow you entry if your passport is due to expire in less than 6 months, so look at the expiration dates. Knowing now will give you plenty of time to order any new documents.
When it gets to the point that you’re a few weeks away from your wedding, you won’t want to be stressing about any of the big planning you have left, so now is the time to get it done. Start finalising details and developing a timeline for the big day — it’ll make the last two months before much more enjoyable.
- Book transportation
- Finalise the menu with your caterer
- Finalise ceremony details with your officiant
- Finalise your floral design
- Complete purchase of your wedding rings
- Send out your wedding invitations (between 6-8 weeks before)
- Start planning music for the ceremony and reception (first dances, processional, etc.)
- Order any paper products needed (ceremony programs, menus, place cards, table numbers, etc.)
- Create a wedding day-of timeline — including times of wedding party arrival, vendor arrival, and family arrival
- Buy thank you gifts for your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and parents
- Purchase shoes for your wedding dress (the final fitting will be to determine the length and you can’t do this without shoes!), also if you plan to change into more comfortable shoes for the reception — go ahead and order those as well!
- Discuss your wedding hair with your stylist — treatments to do ahead of time, extensions, coloring/highlighting, trims, and what they feel the proper timeline is based on your experience with them. Book the appointments.
Your wedding is mere weeks away, so it’s time to start getting yourself ready for the day.
- Buy or make plans for any wedding accessories (jewelry, hair accessories, garter, family heirlooms, etc.)
- Touch base with all your vendors to confirm details, payment date, and to make sure they have your coordinator’s contact information for day of
- Send out as many final payments as you can — typically all payments are due 30 days before the wedding so get as many done ahead of time
- Check to make sure wedding party has all received their attire, are making plans for alterations, and have the appropriate accessories (shoes, ties, pocket squares, etc.)
- If you’re planning to get a spray tan, do your research and test it out now. We recommend a spray tan applied by a professional rather than at-home treatments or an automated booth. Take note of what worked, what didn’t, and how many days after you liked your tan the best.
At this point, all of your big planning should be done, so it’s time to start writing your vows (yay!), to get your hair and makeup trial done, and to discuss wedding photos with your photographer.
And as tempting as it may be, do not go try that life-changing laser treatment your co-worker swears will make you absolutely glow for your wedding — stick with your normal skincare regime that you know works for you.
- Get final RSVP count (call anyone you have not heard from)
- Book your trial hair and makeup
- Book your final dress fitting
- Break in your wedding shoes
- Get your marriage license
- Once you have a final RSVP headcount, give this to your caterer, bar tenders, and rentals company to ensure you have enough (usually 2 weeks before the date)
- Create your seating chart
- Send out rehearsal dinner invitations (unless relatives are handling)
- Purchase your rehearsal dinner outfit and shoes
- Send your day of timeline to all your vendors (unless wedding coordinator is handling)
- Meet with your photographer to discuss day of plans and a must-have shot list
- Write your vows
- Get your wedding party together to discuss roles and responsibilities for the wedding day
- DO NOT under any circumstances try new beauty treatments or regimens this month. Stick with products you’ve used before and no treatments that you haven’t tried yet.
Week of The Wedding
It’s finally here! All of your hard work and planning has paid off, and it’s time to enjoy the days up until your wedding.
- Send your day of timeline to everyone in the wedding party and parents
- Get your engagement ring cleaned at the jeweler
- Book any maintenance waxing appointments around 7 days before
- Pack a day-of bag and double check that everything you need is in it (make sure in addition to everything you need to get ready it also contains wedding bands and your marriage certificate)
- Get your wedding manicure
- Ensure you have day of payments ready and cash gratuity (give this to your coordinator on the day of so they can divvy up); pro tip: give your coordinator a back-up card in case the influx of charges puts a fraud hold on yours. This will help avoid a panicked conversation in the corner
- Pack for your honeymoon
And there you have it. Remember: organisation is key! The more organised you are and still to your lists in good time, the smoother everything will flow, and the less stressed you’ll be.
Now happy wedding planning!