Congratulations on your engagement! One of the most thrilling moments of being a person is getting engaged to the love of their life. That feeling of being on Cloud 9 and the euphoric moment of saying “Yes, I will!” will always be stored in your memories. But once you’ve soaked in on the bliss and after the haze of excitement has been dissipated, the real work begins.
Don’t get us wrong and dread the process, wedding planning is one of the most magical journeys a person could ever undertake, and you have the power to make it as easy and stress-free, especially with the right guide and partners. It is a challenge, yes, but a wonderful one at that.
Wedding planning is the beginning of your adventure as someone who’s just got engaged. It can be a bit overwhelming but once you’ve learned to trim the primary concerns from the secondary, you’re off to a great start.
Planning your big day doesn’t just involve time management and budget planning, it also takes lots of research, inspiration, and creativity. Cicinia is here to help you jumpstart your matrimonial affair through our comprehensive wedding planning checklist. Read on and let’s start your voyage to happy ever after!
Wedding Planning Checklist: +12 Months Before the Big Day
You may think over 12 months is too long to start planning a wedding but we highly recommend that you take advantage of the time on hand especially if you have a long engagement. After all, this is the time when major decision-making happens. Here are items you can tick off in your list during this time:
Research and pre-planning
Find the time and sit down with your partner to determine how you would like your wedding to unfold. Do you like an intimate all-family affair or a grand party with all your nearest and dearest? Do you want to hold it close to home or at an exotic destination? Research is key to learning about the latest wedding trends, the hottest venues, competent and value-for-money suppliers, and other aspects fit to your liking. Read wedding magazines, visit bridal websites, and ask friends who have been in the same position – all tips are welcome.
Creating a vision board would be perfect as visuals and photos will greatly help in the process. This way, you can present your preferences to your partner in a fun and creative way.
There’s no need to decide immediately, just look at this as a great activity to determine if you’re on the same boat. Compromise is key.
Set your budget
Once you have an initial idea of how you want your wedding, the next important step is to set your budget. This plays an important role because with a specific budget, you can determine the non-negotiables and trim down the most important elements where you can focus your funds.
The budget also dictates the number of guests you can invite and lets you determine if you can cover your entourage’s expenses and if you can splurge or scrimp on other wedding expenses. Don’t forget to add a wiggle room for your budget as prices and rates can change as you go along with the planning.
If you are starting from scratch, now is the best time to start saving.
Pick a date
Via TwoHeartsPrintDesign on Etsy
There are many considerations when choosing when to hold your wedding. You can go the sentimental route and choose it to be on an important date like your anniversary. You can also choose to do it on one of your birthdays to hit two birds with one stone and make it sort of a culmination of two important life celebrations.
You can also do a more straightforward approach by timing it when you think everyone you want to be there can attend. Ultimately, as the main characters of the affair, you have the power to choose the date you think is perfect.
A tip from us: take note of peak and lean wedding seasons – timing your event properly can get you the best deals from vendors and suppliers.
Draft initial guest list
Choosing the people who will celebrate with you is a crucial part of the pre-planning process. There is no need to finalize whom you want to be there yet but it is best that you have an idea in whose presence you want to be in during one of the most important events in your life.
One measure you can use to identify these people is the role they play in your life as a couple. Once you have come up with an initial list of guests, you can choose from there the individuals you want to be in your entourage. This is the part where you also decide if you’ll be generous or strict with plus ones since the number of guests affects the budget.
Wedding Planning Checklist: 12 Months Before the Big Day
Once you have reached the one-year mark, it is ideal that you have already chosen a final wedding date. This way, you can plan and accomplish other wedding components according to that specific schedule.
Twelve months in is also the time you start to go ahead with the specifics, especially the big-ticket details of the event. Ticking these off early gives you a lot of lead time and room for other tasks.
Finalize your theme
via Vitae Weddings
Since you have already done proper research, came up with a clear vision, and compromised with your partner, you are now ready to choose and finalize the theme of your dream wedding. This is where you decide and establish the color scheme, the location of the venue and date (as well as season), the entourage attire, the ceremony type, decors, activities, and overall ambiance of your big day. Now is also the perfect time to start drafting your wedding program.
Once done finalizing your theme, you can then move on with what type of ceremony you’d like to have at your wedding. There are lots of ways you can celebrate your wedding – traditional based on you and your partner’s faith or a more laidback civil ceremony. Once you have picked one, the next task is picking your officiant. If you have someone in mind, it’s best to ask them early so they can block the date for you.
Hire a wedding planner
via Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Planning a wedding is quite a big task and having an expert to help and guide you is an advantage. Make sure you choose someone whose planning and organizing style aligns with what you envision. Hire a planner with a solid track record (based on your research or recommendations), who is easy to communicate with, and reachable whenever questions and concerns arise. Someone who gets what you and your partner want and who is totally in it to make your dream wedding happen.
A tip from us: hiring a wedding planner is completely optional. If you have time on your hands and wants to be the one doing all the planning, you can go for it. Just find the right support group and never be afraid to ask friends and family members who already have experience with this kind of endeavor.
Supplier and vendor scouting
One of the advantages of having a planner is his or her connection to a network of vendors and suppliers. With this, you can easily pick those who come highly recommended and works well with the planner. It is ideal to find those who specialize in the theme that you want.
Aside from that, your vendors and suppliers should also fit your criteria when it comes to budget and quality of work – those who can provide an outstanding portfolio as well as room for budget negotiation. These suppliers should include the stylist, florist, photographer, videographer, caterer, musician, make-up artist, graphic artist, lights and sounds, patisserie for the cake, host, and even the officiant. It is best not to rush, take your time to make sure you have chosen the right partners who will provide the service you’re looking for and deserve.
Our tip: some of these suppliers give out free consultations and you can take advantage of this by attending wedding fairs.
One supplier of note that you should pick carefully is your wedding dress designer as he or she will be the one to transform you into a vision of happiness and beauty on your big day. Find someone who can bring your dream dress to life. Some couples choose to splurge on this element of the wedding and it’s totally fine. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can opt to get a ready-to-wear number from a favorite brand, or even wear an heirloom piece. The groom, on the other hand, may choose to rent a tuxedo or buy one off the rack.
Wedding Planning Checklist: 11 Months Before the Big Day
A month after working with a planner and carefully scouting vendors and suppliers, you are now ready to commit and choose suppliers and vendors who truly fit your requirements. It is ideal that have a steady source of funds during this time as these suppliers usually require down payments for their services.
Book your venue, vendors, and suppliers
via Serena & Lily
Once you have carefully gone through all the potential partners for your big day, now is the time to book and secure the services of those who have stood out. This army of experts and professionals will have a big hand in making or breaking your dream wedding. Make sure that everything is in the contract and always, always read the fine print when closing the deal with the stylist, florist, designer, photographer, videographer, caterer, musician, make-up artist, graphic artist, lights and sounds, patisserie for the cake, and host. Some may think that booking all these in one go is a bit early, but this actually gives you more time to game plan with them and move on to other tasks ahead.
Booking your venue during this stage of planning is crucial to not risk other couples getting your slot on your preferred date. Before committing, make sure that the place can accommodate minor or major changes (has an indoor area for sudden rain) as they come, has enough space for the number of guests you have in mind, and have enough privacy where you can enjoy the moment without the threat of nosy pedestrians.
Finalize members of your entourage and guest list
via Anna / Fleurée
Early planning has prepared you for this moment – identifying the people with whom you’d like to be a member of your entourage. These people won’t only walk down the aisle ahead of you, they will also serve as helping hands during the rest of the wedding planning up to the big day. It’s usually the bride who decides who her bridesmaids are and the groom with the groomsmen but nothing is set in stone. Choose the person whom both you and your partner are dear to.
Once you have the final line-up, you can send them cute goodie bags with a card asking them to be a part of the wedding party. You can let them know the date of the wedding ahead of everyone else so they can check their calendars. You can give them a couple of days to reply. Best be prepared to be turned down as factors such as conflict in schedule and availability can come into play. Make sure that you have a backup person for a specific slot.
As for the guest list, finalize from your initial list the people who have made the cut and who’ll receive save-the-dates. Do not feel guilty about not including people you don’t deem essential to the celebration. Remember that only the most special people should make up the crowd who will witness your “I dos.”
Draft your save-the-dates and invitation
It is only logical to hire only one graphic artist to work on your save-the-dates and invitation and it is wise to have him or her work on and draft these materials in one go. Save-the-dates are simpler and are always sent earlier than official invites but working on them during the same timeline ensures both look cohesive and uniform. Starting this early means you’ll also have enough time for revisions, especially the contents of the invitation.
If you’re adept in graphic design, you may go ahead and design these materials on your own. Get creative!
Wedding Planning Checklist: 10 Months Before the Big Day
As you go along the planning, you will realize that more and more items to be accomplished will come up. No need to feel pressured you now have a reliable wedding planner, suppliers, and entourage to rely on. By this time, you can breathe a little on work on other wedding projects such as the following:
Set up your wedding website and registry
via My Wedding Whizz
Since you more or less have the final structure and flow, you can start setting up your wedding website where you can post updates about the event. There is no need for something elaborate. A concise and well-detailed web page is enough. Once up and live, you can send the link of your wedding page to your guests.
Another thing you can squeeze in during this time is signing up for a gift registry. Put in gifts you want to receive on your wish list and your guests will take care of the rest.
Out tip: these two are totally optional. You may choose not to have a wedding website. Instead, you can create a group chat or an event page on social media (like Facebook) where you can post wedding updates. You may also opt to note on your invite that you prefer monetary gifts versus material items.
Go on a pre-wedding shoot
via Anta Photo
Here’s some sort of a breather for you and your partner – a pre-wedding photoshoot! Treat this as a great bonding moment with your significant other before the hectic part of the planning sets in. Do it at a special place or (if you have time) out of town or overseas. Some couples take pre-wedding shoots as non-compulsory but we highly recommend going on one as the photos and videos you’ll take are something you can fondly look back at in the years to come. You can also use the images for your wedding website (if ever you choose to have one) or social media event page.
Finalize your entourage attire
How your entourage will look like and what they will wear at your wedding will add a lot of aesthetic value to the event. Now is the time to choose their attire and let them know the style and color you prefer. If you and your partner are covering the expenses for this, you can set a date where you can go shopping with the girls and him with the guys. You can go for a cohesive look (same style and same color) or you can be adventurous and try mixing and matching. Just make sure that the colors still fit the theme.
If you’ll let the entourage foot the bill, you can send them to Cicinia’s website. The great thing about Cicinia is that we have chic dresses in a variety of colors so you’re assured that what they’ll pick and wear will flawlessly complement your motif.
Wedding Planning Checklist: 9 Months Before the Big Day
By now, you have surely accomplished a lot of things on your checklist but there are still elements to be taken care of. In this part of the planning, you have now already secured some of the most important parts of the wedding. You can now try focusing on some of the secondary details:
Send out your save-the-dates
Identifying your final list of guests early in the planning stage makes this task easy to accomplish. This is where you’re officially letting them know that you want them in your event. Reach out to them via email, social media, or in person if time permits. Ask this early for food sensitivities so you can include in when planning your menu.
Shop for wedding bands
via Brilyo Jewelry
If you have a favorite jeweler, you can head to the shop and pick the bands that catch your fancy. If you want something more personalized, you can scout for artisan jewelry makers in your area (or online) to create something unique and one-of-a-kind. Once you have secured your wedding rings, keep them in a safe place and take them out only before the big day to avoid losing and misplacing them.
Book rehearsal venue
via Corbin Gurkin
Just before the much-awaited day, you and the whole wedding gang will have a rehearsal dinner – make sure that you have a nice place to stage this by booking early. This is usually an intimate affair, so best pick somewhere that is quiet, cozy, and serves good food.
Start an exercise routine
Working out doesn't only help you improve your body, it is also a great way to let go of stress, especially wedding planning-induced one. Starting an exercise routine this early will help especially if you have a weight goal for your wedding. If you want to look and feel good before your dream day, this is the way to do it!
Wedding Planning Checklist: 6 – 4 Months Before the Big Day
You’re halfway there! The excitement is building up and so is the pressure -- good thing you have started early and things are going smoothly and according to plan. With only six months left, you can now start micromanaging and focusing your attention on the many yet minor details of the wedding.
Work on minor details of the wedding
via Papira Design
At this stage, there are still a several minute details that need finalization including your reception menu. The best way to go about this is to schedule a day for food tasting. You can request your caterer (usually included in the package) to present different set meals and then you can choose from there. Give them an idea on your favorites and cuisine preferences. Choose something that is not only delicious but also beautifully presented. Don’t forget to take note of food sensitivities and allergies when choosing your final menu.
Aside from the menu, you can also squeeze in dress fittings and make-up trials for both you and your bridesmaids. Finalizing your wedding favors should also be considered so as to miss stocks or availability of raw materials just in case you prefer to DIY. And assuming you already have the confirmed members of your entourage, now is also the best time to send your final invitation to the printer.
via Lovella Bridal
Lastly, this is also the ideal time to draft your wedding program. How long you want it to take, the activities you want to put in, and the speakers you want to hear. You can work with your planner on this one so he or she can guide you on how to execute this flawlessly.
Attend pre-wedding counseling
It is highly recommended that a couple, before tying the knot, attend pre-wedding counseling. This way, you can settle differences, set expectations, and build a strong foundation before you embark on married life.
After getting to know your partner on a deeper level, you can get inspiration and draw up your vows. It’ll be more significant and heartfelt.
Scout for your honeymoon destination
The most exciting part AFTER the wedding is the honeymoon! Going on a honeymoon doesn't necessarily mean going abroad and splurging. You can spend your honeymoon at home or a cottage out of town just to enjoy the company of each other, relaxing after the whirlwind of excitement of your wedding. But if you have the budget and a dream destination in mind, definitely go for it!
Wedding Planning Checklist: 3 – 2 Months Before the Big Day
As the wedding draws near, you will realize that having ample time to plan, source, and work is an advantage. Less stressful, too! With only three months left, excitement takes over and the fun part of planning begins!
Hold your bachelorette and stag parties
via Vera Events
This is your last hurrah before you tie the knot and the best part is you’ll be surrounded and pampered by your closest friends! You can let then take them reins when it comes to the type of party they want to throw for you and your partner, all you have to do is show up and soak in the fun. You can do it together or separately. Here are some awesome bachelorette ideas you can send to your besties.
Surrounded by your closest friends, ask them for feedback and tips (especially from the married ones) for your wedding vow. Let the happiness and wisdom they have shared inspire you to finish it.
Send official invitation
Fresh from the printer, the invites are ready to be sent! This is just the right time to hand them out as it gives ample time to your guests to confirm. You’ll also have time to adjust the seating arrangement and finalize the head count just in case someone declines. To keep track of the recipients, it is recommended that you give a copy of the invitation to every person who received your save-the-date.
Our tip: if you’re planning a destination wedding, the official invitation should be sent earlier.
DIY favors and thank you gifts should be started within this time frame. If you also have additional décor to create, now is the best time to do so.
Run through with planner
To ensure that you’re on the right track, schedule a day with your planner for a run-through of your planning progress. The planner can help you identify details that you might have missed out on or items that need to be worked on.
Wedding Planning Checklist: 1 Month Before the Big Day
Let the countdown begin! Don’t let the jitters rob you of your excitement. Getting nervous is normal. Just constantly visit your checklist to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. It’s almost time to relax because you have accomplished A LOT to make your dream wedding a reality. Just a few more details and you’re ready to face your happy ever after!
Final preparation and instructions
via White Day Prague
Before you relax, you have to make sure that all necessary licenses and documents have already been secured. Revisit your contracts to make sure that nothing is amiss. Double-check your funds and prepare for additional expenses that could come up.
This should also serve as heads up to you and to your entourage to work on final fittings and alterations to your outfits if needed. You don’t want ill-fitting frocks for your wedding, especially your wedding dress. And while you’re at it, you can also start assigning program duties to family members and friends (outside of the entourage) like ushering, readings, and offerings. This depends on the type of ceremony you’re having.
If you and your partner find some downtime, you can go ahead and craft your wedding playlist. This is crucial especially if music plays a big part in your relationship. The songs that you’ll be playing will also set the mood throughout the program, from your walk down the aisle down to the after-party.
Wedding Planning Checklist: 1 Week Before the Big Day
Almost there! You’re only seven days away from your happy ever after. By this time, all the major details of your wedding would have been locked and loaded. To make sure that you are all set, there are a few things you have to manage:
First, you should relay your final seating plan to your planner and stylist. Any update from the past months (confirmations and beg-offs) must be applied to the chart.
This is also the perfect time to touch base with ALL your suppliers. Make sure that everything is set according to plan. If you have last-minute changes and requests, now is the time to communicate them.
Lastly, you can begin packing for your wedding. This includes pre-wedding clothes, DIY items and favors, your wedding gown, shoes, and accessories. Don’t forget your wedding rings!
Wedding Planning Checklist: 1 Day Before the Big Day
Breathe, the best moment of your life is just a day away. Gather your planner and suppliers for the FINAL run-through. Make sure that all of them are already fully paid. Thank them for their hard work.
Next, attend your rehearsal ceremony and dinner with enthusiasm and an eager heart. Enjoy the company of your family and friends. Take in all the positivity and don’t worry about things not going according to plan.
via Mila & May
After all of these, in the comfort and silence of your room, do a final run of your vows. And finally, relax and have a long beauty sleep. As you walk down the aisle in the morning, sport your best smile.
We know that not all couples are given the luxury of having a long engagement. The good thing is that you can still use this checklist and compress it based on your given timeframe. You can also trim down the elements based on your budget. At the end of the day, the most important part of planning your wedding is that you are enjoying doing it with the love of your life.
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