first things first:
- Share the news of your engagement with family and close friends.
- Announce your engagement in the local newspapers.
- Set a budget. Establish who will be able to contribute, and how much.
- Set the date.
- Meet with potential wedding planners or event designers, if you anticipate using one.
- Choose your ceremony and reception sites (click here for waterfront reception sites).
- Interview officiants.
- Establish the number of guests you’d like to invite, and compile a list with input from both sets of parents.
- Choose your maid of honor, best man and other honor attendants.
- Start shopping for your gown.
- Begin a pre-wedding beauty regimen to improve your complexion.
- Schedule any beauty treatments (facials, waxing, brow-shaping, teeth-whitening) that you’d like to have over the next few months.
6 to 9 months before:
4 to 6 months before:
- Place orders for all wedding stationery: invitations, envelopes, thank-you notes. Negotiate a price for programs, menus and escort cards, which will be ordered closer to the date.
- Book a calligrapher, if using one.
- Meet with cake bakers and schedule tastings.
- Book wedding-day transportation.
- Make wedding-day appointments for hair and makeup, as well as a run-through four to eight weeks prior to the date.
- Research accommodations and group rates for out-of-town guests.
- Finalize the guest list.
- Plan the honeymoon and reserve flights, hotel rooms and a rental car.
- Plan the rehearsal dinner.
2 to 4 months before:
- Contact the town/city clerk’s office to inquire about marriage-license requirements. (Click here for an alternate article about marriage license requirements).
- Choose formal attire for groom and groomsmen and place orders.
- Choose and order wedding favors.
- Order the wedding cake.
- Meet with officiant to discuss options for the ceremony and choose readings; invite loved ones to perform readings, if appropriate.
- Select the ceremony and reception music.
- Shop for attendants’ gifts.
- Choose and order items for welcome baskets, if you’re giving them.
- Shop for and order wedding bands.
- Reserve party rentals – linens, tables, chairs and tents – if necessary.
- Reserve your accommodations for the wedding night.
- Confirm group hotel rates for out-of-town guests.
4 to 8 weeks before:
- Mail wedding invitations six to eight weeks prior to the date.
- Meet with caterer to decide on menu.
- Send programs, menus and escort cards to stationer to be printed.
- Do hair and makeup run-through with headpiece.
- Decide on any necessary insurance-policy changes.
- Gather information from the town/city clerk’s office to change your name, if desired.
- Send wedding announcements to local papers.
2 to 4 weeks before:
- Create a seating chart for the reception.
- Contact all vendors to confirm all details and set a timeline for the wedding day.
- Have your final dress fitting with shoes, headpiece, jewelry and lingerie.
- Compose your vows, if desired. (Click here for wedding vows examples)
- Write a toast to give at the rehearsal dinner or during the reception.
- Visit the salon for one last haircut and color.
- Send escort cards and seating chart to calligrapher to fill in guests’ names and table numbers one to two weeks before the wedding.
1 week before:
- Arrange for dress to be picked up or delivered.
- Organize all wedding-day payments and gratuities in envelopes and decide who will distribute them.
- Decide who will transport and collect heirlooms (unity candle, toasting glasses, cake knife) to and from the ceremony and reception.
- Deliver a final headcount to the caterer.
- Take care of last-minute beauty treatments, including waxing, facial, manicure and pedicure.
- Pack for the honeymoon. (See our Honeymoon Packing Checklist for help!)