Planning a wedding is no easy feat, but with the right systems in place, it doesn’t have to be quite so difficult! Having a simple and straightforward process for organising your big day will save you hours of stress later down the track.
With so many tasks on your to-do list already as a bride, it can be a little overwhelming (to say the least!) trying to pinpoint exactly what needs to be done, and when. You may have already drafted up a list of things to do, but it’s really important to prioritise these tasks and assign yourself deadlines for each one in order to stay on track.
As any event planner will tell you, a detailed timeline is absolutely crucial to ensure smooth sailing for a successful event. The same rule applies for weddings!
A wedding planning timeline holds you accountable for completing all of the tasks on your to-do list at the right time. Depending on priority, availability and requirements, some tasks should be ticked off at the very beginning, while others can wait until closer to your wedding day.
Luckily for you, we’ve pulled together the most important wedding planning tasks into an easy to navigate timeline. Use our monthly timeline below as a helpful guide to ticking those tasks off your checklist and pulling together the wedding of your dreams.
Ps: We’ll be starting our timeline from the 12-month mark, but if you don’t have the luxury of time on your side then simply write the tasks down in order of priority and adjust the timeline to suit!
12 months out
Create your wedding budget
Creating a realistic wedding budget should be one of the very first tasks you set out to accomplish! Your wedding budget is going to influence every single decision you make from this point forward, so make sure you sit down with your partner to get this clarified.
Define your wedding vision
It’s time to get clear on the type of wedding you want to bring to life! Defining your wedding vision is an important first step in order to move forward with making enquiries and booking vendors for your big day. Whether you have been secretly planning your wedding on Pinterest for the last six months, or you just need to have a heart to heart chat with your partner, get this step actioned as soon as possible.
Choose your wedding date
Have you thought about when you’d like to get married? Pencil in your dream date so that you can start making enquiries with your wedding vendors. It might be worth touching base with your nearest and dearest family and friends to check if your chosen date will work with them too, particularly if anyone is travelling from interstate or overseas.
Draft up your guest list
Having a rough idea of guest numbers is a necessary requirement in order to source quotes from most wedding vendors, choose an appropriate venue, and get an accurate idea of pricing. It doesn’t have to be your final count, but start drafting up a list of who you’d ideally love to have there with you on the day.
Book your wedding venue
If you have your heart set on a particular venue for your ceremony and reception, it’s crucial to lock this in as early as possible! Don’t forget that venues can book out well in advance, with some only able to accommodate one wedding each weekend. If you’re on the hunt, check out these tips on how to find the perfect wedding venue.
Get in touch early with your dream venue to check availability, visit the site and lock them in with a deposit. Your venue will also have a flow-on effect to the rest of your wedding decisions, such as your decor and rentals choices.
If you are hosting your wedding at your own home or a private property, then replace this step with booking your marquee structure.
Book your wedding planner
Wedding planners are in high demand and due to the nature of their services, many will take on a limited amount of bookings each year. If you have decided that you want to employ the services of a wedding planner, whether it’s for full wedding planning or day-of coordination, get in touch with them early so they can pencil you into their calendar!
If you decide to book a full wedding planner, they will generally want to jump on board immediately at this stage to assist with sourcing quotes from vendors and bringing your vision to life. Alternatively, if you’ve decided to tackle the wedding planning yourself, start getting organised with a project management system built specifically for wedding planning.
Book photographer and videographer
Just like wedding planners, photographers and videographers also book up quickly! Your wedding photos and video from the day are going to be the memories you hold forever, so this is one of the most important investments you’ll make. Don’t leave this task until the last minute when your dream vendors are booked out – trust us!
Start researching other vendors and collecting quotes
You might not need to lock in your other vendors quite so early (unless you have a specific supplier in mind, in which case go for it!) but this is an ideal time to start touching base and getting an idea on pricing and processes.
Start making contact with local florists, entertainment artists, celebrants, caterers and rental companies to enquire about their services. Ask for price lists and catalogues, and check their availability on your chosen date. Keep this information in an easy to find location that you can refer back to when needed.
10 months out
Book your florist, entertainer, celebrant and hair and makeup artists
Get these important vendors secured next! Use the information you collected earlier to decide which supplier is going to be the best fit for your requirements, and then lock them in with a deposit so they can keep your date free.
Book your caterer and choose your wedding menu
You should also secure your caterer and start discussing options when it comes to wedding menu styles. You don’t have to finalise your exact menu at this stage but you can definitely determine the best menu style to suit your budget and your vision. Having a general idea of your menu style will affect other decisions, like your tableware rentals. Speaking of which….
Book important rentals
There will probably be a few different items you need to rent for your big day but you’ll want to get in early for the crucial pieces like dining tables and chairs, along with ceremony seating. Basically, any big-ticket items that have a huge impact on your day, or any items you would be devastated to miss out on.
Designate your bridal party
Get your bridesmaids and groomsmen on board by asking them to play this important role for your wedding day! Your chosen wedding crew can then help with sourcing their own wedding attire to take this task off your hands.
8 months out
Send save the dates for a destination wedding
For brides planning a destination wedding, give your guests plenty of advance notice with a brief ‘Save The Date’. This will allow them to pencil the time off work (if required) and start budgeting for their trip.
Start dress hunting
Use this time to start shopping around for your dream dress! Start booking in for dress fittings at different boutiques to narrow down your options. If you are purchasing your dress online or getting a dress custom-made, get this process started as soon as possible. Ask your dressmaker for their production timeline to see if they have any specific deadlines for you to work with.
Finalise your guest list
With the wedding date getting closer it’s time to go back over your initial draft to determine your final guest list. Allocate guests to an A or B guest list if required.
Book stationery designer
If you’re going old school with handmade invitations then get your stationery designer secured now and send through your guest list so they can start designing! You can also brief them on any other requirements you might have for the day itself, like your menus or ceremony programs.
6 months out
Create your wedding website
Have some fun at the 6-month mark by creating your wedding website and filling it will all of the important details for your big day! You can keep it simple to begin with and then add more information as details are finalised. If you are planning a destination wedding, send your link out as early as possible and make sure you have included relevant details for accommodation.
Plan your honeymoon
Whether you are going all out with a 3-month trek through Europe or have been dreaming of a week poolside in Bali, it’s a good time now to get your flights and accommodation sorted to avoid missing out. Make sure your passports are up to date too!
Book your cake artist and start taste testing
Here’s a task that I’m sure you can get on board with: cake tasting! Meet with your chosen cake artist to sample their work, and then lock them in for the big day.
4 months out
Choose wedding rings
Purchase your wedding rings, or place your order for a custom design. Make sure you specify exactly when you can pick them up and mark this on your calendar too!
Book smaller decor pieces
Smaller decorative pieces like candle holders, vases, wedding cake toppers, cocktail furniture and textiles can be secured now, to complement your existing rentals.
Book lighting supplier
Book in your lighting supplier and decide which lighting option is going to be the best suited to achieve your ideal ambience, whether it’s through strings of festoon lighting or a dramatic candelabra.
3 months out
Whether you have organised paper invitations or are utilising a wedding website, this is the moment when it all starts to feel real! Send out your first round of invitations now and start tracking your RSVPs for the big day. Expert tip: use your wedding website to go digital with your invitations, making this step much easier!
Book hair and makeup trials
Book in for a hair and makeup trial with your chosen beauty artists to make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to your bridal look.
Organise transport for guests to and from your wedding venue if required, along with your bridal cars to get your wedding crew there on the day!
2 months out
Attend your final dress fitting
Any last minute tweaks or alterations can be made here at your final dress fitting. Bring your wedding shoes and any accessories to make sure your final look all ties in together beautifully!
Confirm music selections for ceremony and reception
Send your chosen songs through to your entertainer for all aspects of your day. Don’t forget to include songs for your processional, registry signing, recessional, reception entrance and first dance!
Confirm final menu options with your caterer
Sign off on your final menu with your caterer. They’ll need to start ordering food and preparing for your big day. Make sure you have passed on any dietary requirements from your guests.
Contact all suppliers regarding timings for the day
Your wedding day schedule can take some time to finalise, so start contacting all of your suppliers for their preferred bump in and bump out times. If they have to work with any access or timing restrictions at your venue, make sure you relay this information now to avoid any last minute dramas!
1 month out
Confirm final RSVPs
You should now have a finalised list of guests attending on the day, so pass these confirmed details through to your caterer, planner, stationery artist, rental supplier and venue. Use your confirmed numbers to get all invoices finalised from these suppliers so you can pay any outstanding balances.
Create your floor plan and seating chart
Now that your guest list is confirmed you can also create your floor plan and seating chart for the day. Don’t forget to cross-check your seating chart with your guest list to ensure nobody is forgotten! You’ll also need to create a rough floor plan for your ceremony layout and pre-dinner drinks.
Meet with day-of coordinator
If you have employed a day-of coordinator, you’ll generally meet here at the month out mark to run through the logistics of the day with them. This becomes your handover meeting where you can pass through all of your supplier details, floor plan and seating chart, and set-up notes for the day.
Draft up run sheet for the day
If you don’t have a day-of coordinator, you’ll need to draft up your schedule for the day using the information you collected earlier from all suppliers. Make sure you include the bump in and bump out timings for each supplier, what they’re providing, contact details for each vendor and a timeline of events for the day itself. Send out your run sheet draft to all suppliers to identify any issues that need to be amended.
2 weeks prior
Send shot list to photographer and videographer
Don’t forget to send through your shot list detailing all of the crucial photos and moments that need to be snapped on the day. Your photographer and videographer will refer back to your shot list to make sure they have everything covered!
Send out final run sheet
Once any necessary amendments have been made to your drafted run sheet, you can now send out the final master copy to all of your suppliers! Don’t forget to include your floor plan and seating chart, along with an emergency contact number for the day.
1 week prior
Deliver any styling materials and stationery to the venue
Any styling items like guest favours or handmade decorations can be delivered to your venue, along with all of the stationery for the day like your place cards and menus.
Collect wedding dress, suits, accessories
Make sure all of the bridal party attire (including your wedding dress!) has been collected, and is clean, pressed and ready for the big day.
A brief ceremony rehearsal with your bridal party and/or celebrant will help you feel prepared and ready for the real deal.
Live happily ever after
Now that all of the hard work has been done, there’s only one thing left to do – get married!
Having a clear timeline to follow in the lead up to your day will help you feel calm, relaxed and totally ready to say ‘I do’ when the big day rolls around. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel each time you tick something off your list! You can use a printable version of this list to keep you on track.
For a customized list, create an account on wedsites.com to get a better idea of how much time you have to complete each task! WedSites helps you get organized with all your to-do’s and assigns deadlines to each task based on how much time you have to plan your special day. Think of us as a virtual wedding planner to help you stay on track!
After all, you want to look back on your wedding as an amazing and magical time of your life, not a stressful one. Our detailed wedding planning timeline will allow you to sit back and start enjoying the process!