Planning a wedding can be extremely overwhelming. Hereís a timeline of the planning phases and when you should be completing everything. This is a timeline for a year engagement or more. If you have a shorter engagement, plan accordingly, but everything that should have been done prior to your current month should be done as soon as possible to ensure that it will be finalized prior to your wedding date.

12-16 Months Before the Wedding

  • Begin Planning, and be organized. Buy a binder and keep EVERYTHING in it.

  • Select your wedding date. Visit several ceremony and reception venues. Once you've found the ones you like, check availability, and choose your wedding date accordingly.
  • Create a wedding budget. Venue rental costs, meal costs for your guests, your gown, your flowers and decorations and entertainment. There will be other expenses.
  • Consider the type of wedding you'd like. Formal, semi-formal or casual? Choose a style that reflects your personalities. Be sure it fits the budget you've just created.
  • Book your ceremony and reception venues. Place the deposit. Read the contracts. If your reception venue is providing catering, ask to attend a tasting, to sample their food.
  • Hire a wedding consultant (optional).

8-10 Months Before the Wedding

  • Choose your bridal party. Invite your closest friends and relatives to share in your big day.
  • Purchase your Wedding Gown. Donít settle for less than perfection. You wonít be able to get a refund on the dress you buy. Allow plenty of time for alterations. Shop for veils and tiaras at this time also.
  • Choose your bridesmaids' dresses. Once you get each bridesmaid's size, place a single order for all of the dresses. That way, you can be sure that they match completely.
  • Hire your DJ (or band). They are the diving force behind your reception. Choose well, and check all of your options. If a DJ will permit you to see him at a live performance, that's a plus. But please be respectful and inconspicuous.
  • Hire your photographer. Remember, professionals do a better job than family. This is what youíre going to have to look at for the rest of your lives.
  • Hire your videographer (optional). See "Hire Your Photographer."
  • Hire your wedding officiant. He/she may be your regular priest/minister/rabbi, or someone independent like a retired judge or family member who will perform your ceremony.
  • Hire your caterer. In most cases, your venue will have a caterer provided or recommended. If not, you want to find one who will provide what you want at a reasonable price.
  • Begin making your guest list. Ask your parents who they'd like to invite. Limit your list to the number of people your ceremony and reception venues will seat comfortably.
  • Sign up for your gift registry. Choose items from all price ranges. Most major stores now offer online registries, to make it even easier for your guests to choose and purchase gifts.
  • Start making honeymoon plans Planning early will give you the best chance to take advantage of special airfares and room rates. Contact Family Vacations at (317) 770-2211.

5-7 Months Before Your Wedding

  • Complete your guest list
  • Order your invitations and thank-you cards
  • Book a block of hotel rooms  If you are going to have guests come in from out of town and you donít want them in your home, book a hotel for them to stay in near the venue.
  • Choose your wedding cake Remember, your bakery may reserve time to deliver and set up your cake at your reception. Read through their contract to make sure that they will deliver. If they wonít cut the cake at the reception, you may want to hire someone.

3-4 Months Before the Wedding

  • Hire your florist Select your bouquets, boutonnieres, ceremony flowers, reception table centerpieces and floral decorations for your cake. They will want a deposit and a signed contract. Read the contract, and be sure to get your florist's cancellation policy in writing.
  • Pick out your rings You and your fiancee should do this together. Don't surprise your fiancee with a ring that he or she may hate. Make sure you do this early so that the jeweler has time for alterations.
  • See your doctor Blood tests and physical exams are required by most states before you can get your marriage license.
  • Mail your invitations
  • Order your wedding favors    
  • Shop for gifts for your attendants
  • Reserve tuxedos for the men in the wedding party The groom, his groomsmen, and the fathers of the bride and groom should arrange to visit the tux shop together to be measured.
  • Book your limo
  • Finalize the menu with your caterer Make sure that they will be there for the entire specified time. The reception may be longer than they want to be there.
  • Buy wedding accessories These may include gloves, a ring pillow, a flower basket, bubbles, an aisle runner, toasting glasses, placecard holders, your garter, your guest book, instant cameras for the dinner tables, and a special box for guests to place their envelopes.   

2 Months Before the Wedding

  • Start picking your wedding music Make sure that the music matches the wedding type. Be sure to pick out the important dance songs and collect a list of other preferred music.
  • Book a restaurant for your rehearsal dinner You'll probably need to make a deposit.
  • Check with the tux shop Did they get all of the men's measurements?
  • Schedule your wedding gown fitting and alterations
  • Have your bridesmaids and flower girl(s) schedule fittings, too
  • Schedule your pre-wedding bridesmaids' luncheon or party
  • Confirm your florist order

One Month Before the Wedding

  • Design your wedding programs They should, in part, match the wedding invitations and the wedding colors. If youíve made major changes since the invitations, make them match the current changes.
  • Apply for your marriage license
  • Get your gown fitted
  • Check in with your DJ, your photographer, your videographer and your officiant.
  • Begin calling guests who havenít answered invitations. You need a final number for your caterer as soon as possible.

Two Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Give your caterer a final head count for dinner
  • Finalize your reception seating arrangements
  • Finalize any parking arrangements
  • Confirm your florist's delivery time
  • Confirm delivery time on anything you rented
  • Pick up your marriage license Make sure it's valid through your wedding date  
  • Confirm wedding rehearsal plans with your wedding party, your officiant and your ceremony venue coordinator
  • Confirm your attendants' arrival times for your wedding day
  • Submit your final music list and party worksheets to your DJ

One Week Before the Wedding

  • Pack an emergency kit You'll need a big bag to hold everything. A pocket mirror, make-up and make-up remover, nail polish and polish remover, nail glue, a nail file, barrettes and bobby pins, a hairbrush and comb, hairspray, curling iron, portable hair dryer and perfume. For unplanned medical needs, pack some aspirin or other painkiller, antacid and prescription medications. Hygiene needs include deodorant, panty hose, hand lotion, tampons or pads, baby powder or talc, toothbrush and toothpaste, tissues, wet wipes, a couple of hand towels and a can of anti-static spray. Then there are the life-savers, like an extra throw-away garter and bouquet, flat shoes, a small sewing kit, spare straight pins, double-stick tape, clear juice or soda, some spare change, your cellphone, and a phone list of all of your wedding vendors.
  • Confirm honeymoon reservations
  • Pack for your honeymoon
  • Pick up your passports if you need them
  • Collect all your travel documents from your Travel Agent You should have all of your ticket reservations, hotel reservations, rental car reservations and so forth in a central file.
  • Pick up tuxedos Groom and attendants should try them on, to ensure that they fit, and that all the shoes, studs, cumberbunds and cufflinks are there.
  • Confirm reception seating arrangements
  • Confirm rehearsal plans with the wedding party
  • Confirm reservations for the rehearsal dinner
  • Confirm hotel reservations for out-of-town guests
  • Lay out your wedding day clothes
  • Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

One Day Before the Wedding

  • Get a manicure and pedicure
  • Put your gown and accessories together
  • Give rings to the best man
  • Go back over this planner and make sure everything has been done

Wedding Day

  • Eat breakfast Not too heavy; but a little food in your stomach will help calm your nerves.
  • Get your hair and make-up done A smock to cover your clothing would be a great idea.
  • Put your gown on When that's done, have someone take a few candid photos with you and your family and bridesmaids.
  • Have somebody call the reception venue early to ensure that all is ready
  • Showtime!

After Your Honeymoon

  • Clean and preserve your wedding gown

You may also wish to preserve your flowers. If so, it's wise to arrange for someone to do that while you're gone, and the flowers are still fresh.

  • Change your name
  • Write thank-you notes
  • Call your Travel Agent to get your first anniversary trip started Itís never to early to get your next family vacation started. Call Family Vacations at (317) 770-2211.