A Planning Guide for Your Wedding Day

April 28, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I have been noticing so many wedding couples having trouble finding vendors and venues post Covid.  I had a bride book me almost a year ago already, her wedding is in 2022.  She booked me in 2020 when quarantines were starting to ease ever so slightly, because she knew brides that had their wedding dates canceled because of Covid, were likely shifting back a year.  Making 2021 and 2022 likely circus events trying to get your preferred vendors and venues booked.  I put together a guide for wedding couples that will help keep you organized and making sure everything gets done without getting overwhelmed.  If you are going for popular dates, such as 10/10/2020 or 05/05/05 (I know, I'm dating myself) make sure you book those even further in advance  EVERYONE thinks it'll be cool to have those for anniversary dates, so everything books that much faster.

 

12-24 months before the wedding

  • Figure out your budget
  • Figure out a date (it's great to have several options until you find your venue!)
  • Find your venue!
  • Choose your wedding party.  And choose wisely.  They will be going through some of the most stressful parts of planning with you

Find your venue can be the trickiest part.  Post-Covid, I have noticed venues booking really far in advance as newly married brides try to book venues, while brides that got their dates canceled try to reschedule everything.  This is making for crazy backlog, and of course, the most sought after sites are going quick.  So make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get the spot of your dreams booked!  If you can be flexible with your date, you'll probably be more likely to get space.  Also, weddings on Friday, or even Sunday's, sometimes incur lower prices because there's less desirability for those days.  

This is also a great time to start thinking about how many guests you'll be able to have with your budget, and what kind of theme or vibe you'd like your day to have.  

12 months out

  • Start looking for your vendors

Vendors book out so far in advance.  Run, don't walk.  As soon as you have your venue booked, start inquiring with the vendors you've been eyeing to make sure you get your dates reserved.  If you're going for a popular date (like 10/10/2020 was crazy popular) make sure you are nailing down your vendor before the 12 month mark, because those dates get booked QUICK!  Vendors include your caterer (if this doesn't come included with your venue), photographer, videographer, DJ or band, and more and more, I am seeing make up artists and hair stylists being booked this far out.  Get a feel for your vendors.  Sit down with them.  These people will be capturing or setting the mood for your whole day and you want to know you're a good fit!  Ask questions, make sure you get contracts and even ask your photographer if they include an engagement session with a booked wedding.  Many, like myself, do.  It helps us get to know you before the big day and it also gives you a chance to see if their delivered product meets your expectations. 

10-11 months out

  • Start shopping for your wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses​​​​​​​
  • Book a block of rooms at a hotel for your wedding guests if you have people coming from out of town (or even if you think people will just want  to crash for the night!)
  • Create your wedding website
  • Set up your appointment for your engagement pictures
  • Start looking at wedding invitations and save the date

​​​​​​​Make sure you call a few bridal shops and see if an appointment needs to be made.  Say yes to the dress by 9 months out to make sure you have enough time for alterations and time for that dress to be shipped to your boutique!  

Now that you have your photographer booked, this is a great time to start getting to know them!  Get those engagement pictures booked so you have some cute pictures for your Save the Dates! You'll likely be able to find a vendor that can theme your Save the Dates to match your invitations. 

When choosing invitations, don't forget that odd sizes usually increase postage requirements.  Not a big deal if you're inviting your 20 closest friends, maybe, but it really starts to add up when you have 150 guests!

9 months out

  • Purchase your wedding dress if you haven't already and make sure bridesmaid dresses are all ordered as well.
  • Send Save the Dates

​​​​​​​Start looking for someone to alter your wedding dress, unless your boutique offers this service.  They may!  Just ask!

8 months out

  • Register for gifts.  You can include this info on your wedding website if you've created one.
  • Meet with florists

​​​​​​​Talk with your florist about your budget and the vibe you're going for.  Many will be able to suggest tips and tricks to keeping your bouquets in price range by using blooms in season!  Keep this in mind when thinking of your floral arrangements.  Remember working with a florist includes you, your bridesmaids, flowers for the ceremony, and usually, flowers for your tables as well.  There are many other options than fresh flowers as well.  Look into silk or wood flowers that will last forever and may be cheaper in the long run, especially if you have your heart set on blooms that are not in season for your wedding. 

7 months out

  • Book your rehearsal dinner venue.  Maybe you're just going to hold a BBQ in your friend's yard.  Whatever that evening looks like, start getting details nailed down. 
  • Order and reserve rentals. 
  • Hire an officiant

​​​​​​​Maybe you're getting chairs for an outdoor ceremony.  Maybe you're securing a giant tent for your outdoor vows.  Even linens.  Some venues include a caterer, but no linens.  Make sure you're aware of what your particular package contains at the venue so you're well prepared the day of.  If you want a photo booth for your reception, now is probably a great time to start looking at that as well!

If you're getting married in a church, or on a cliff side, make sure you start looking to book the person who will pronounce you man and wife.  Again, if you're choosing a very popular date, you may need to look to do this a little sooner than 7 months out. 

6 months out

It's starting to get real!  Your big day is only 6 months away!

  • Book transportation for your guests to the ceremony and/or the reception
  • Book your transportation for the day of
  • Book the honeymoon!
  • Start the rental process for the groom's and groomsmen's tuxes
  • Find your baker and discuss your wedding cake details.  Make sure to ask if they have a tasting so you and your significant other can find the perfect flavor for you!
  • Start DIY-ing anything you're going to do yourself to take the cost of the wedding down. 

​​​​​​​DIY can take a bit of time.  And let's be honest, between your full time job and this wedding planning, you're going to need all the time you can get!  Have a night where you invite your bridal party over and get everyone involved.  Four hands are better than two! 

​​​​​​​If you're not sure if you'll need transportation for your guests, think about the ceremony or reception venues, and what their parking areas look like.  Will your guests have to park a couple streets over?  May be a good idea for you to get a shuttle, especially in hotter months, so guests are still fresh when they get to your venue. 

4 months out

  • Have your final tasting with your caterer. Some will charge a small fee, but you'll be able to likely customize a few options for you and your guests.
  • Buy your wedding bands
  • Have your hair and make-up trial with your artists​​​​​​​

3 months out

  • Finalize your menu with your caterer
  • Order your wedding invitations (order extra!)
  • Start putting together guest favors.  You may have already started this if this is part of your DIY projects!
  • Start writing your vows if you plan on writing them yourselves!

​​​​​​​2 months out

  • Send out your invitations. (Pro tip: number each invitation and keep a master list of who is getting which invitation.  You'd be stunned at the amount of people that forget to send them back with their name!)
  • Pick up your marriage license (this can vary by state, so make sure to look up what needs to be done in your state!)
  • Buy your wedding party gifts.  
  • Meet with your florist and do a mock up of what your bouquets and centerpieces will look like.  
  • Finalize your song selections with your DJ or band, also at the church with the choir director, if applicable
  • Finalize any special shots with your photographer.
  • Buy all your small things that you left to the end.  Unity candles, ring bearer pillows, rose petals, guest books, cake cutting utensils and anything else!

​​​​​​​I meet with my brides several times before the day of the wedding.  I want to get a feel for what your hopes are for the day, what little pieces you may forget to tell me the day of, the family member you'll just die if you don't get a picture with....tell me (or YOUR photographer) ALL of that!  When the day is gone, all you'll have left is the photos and videos, so make sure you keep these people up to date on all the changes or special pieces of your day.

1 month out

  • Create your seating chart
  • Pay your vendors in full
  • Put cash in envelopes for tips.  Give these to your wedding planner, or delegate someone to do it.  You'll have enough to worry about the day of.
  • Have a final venue walk through.  Make a list of questions beforehand so you don't forget anything.

​​​​​​​The week of your wedding

Yay!  It's the week of your wedding!  This is time for all the fine details.

  • Get your nails done
  • Get your eyebrows done
  • Get a massage (you're worth it!)
  • Pick up your wedding dress and make sure your maid of honor or a bridesmaid is with you and can learn your bustle
  • Pack for the honeymoon
  • Get your rings cleaned
  • Practice your vows
  • Make any last minute adjustments with your vendors

​​​​​​​Night before your wedding

  • Any boxes, bags or survival kits that are being brought to the wedding (if you're spending the night in a hotel) or on your honeymoon, get those in your car
  • Attend your wedding rehearsal.  

HAPPY WEDDING DAY

  • Eat a good breakfast.  Your day will get crazy and you're going to need to eat where you can find time. 
  • Steam your dress, if needed. 
  • Layout the items for your photographer that you want captured, such as your ring, bouqet, invitations, etc.

 

Finally, enjoy your day and make sure to stop and take in the moments.  The day will be over so quickly and you'll want to remember this day you've been planning for over a year!

​​​​​​​

 


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