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How to Plan Your Wedding in 12 Months

Weekly planner illustrating wedding planning in 12 months
Using a monthly or weekly planner can help you keep track in small, doable increments. Don’t worry, wedding planning isn’t as scary as it seems!

How to Plan Your Wedding in 12 Months

Oftentimes couples are unsure how soon they should start planning for the big day. While this can vary for an infinite number of reasons, the great majority of couples start planning around a year in advance. To help you all map out a solid timeline for getting through all of the “to-do’s,” we’ve broken down how you can plan your wedding in 12 months.

12 Months Out

This month can be a bit of a roller-coaster. There are lots of highs imagining your future life together, but also great anxiety from wanting your wedding to be perfect. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal. Start with the basics this month, and think big picture. We are laying the foundation for everything to come!

  • Prepare your overall budget
  • Set your wedding date
  • Put together a preliminary guest list
  • Research venues, do tours, and choose one
  • Hire a wedding planner/coordinator if your budget allows

When it comes to choosing your date and your venue, they naturally go hand-in-hand. If you’re flexible about choosing your wedding date, find out what dates the venue has available. From there you can speak with your family to narrow down what date is easiest for everyone to attend.

11 Months Out

Now that you have a date and venue in place, you can start piecing the rest of this fun puzzle together. You can start asking for vendor referrals from friends and family, attend bridal shows, and book some of the most important vendors! Not to mention decide who will be standing beside you both on your wedding day!

  • Choose your wedding party
  • Book your photographer and videographer
  • Start interviewing vendors (florists, caterers, DJ’s/bands, and rental companies)
  • Plan the style/décor/mood/theme of the day
  • Hold your engagement party (should you want one), and have your engagement photos taken

Desirable photographers and videographers get booked early on, as do venues. Take your time, thoroughly view galleries, and speak with the studios that resonate with you. You can also view our post “5 Tips for Finding the Right Wedding Photographer” for more tips.

10 Months Out

This is a fairly exciting month. While you most likely don’t have your engagement photos back yet, this is the time to send save the dates to guests if you’re hosting a destination wedding. Giving your guests plenty of time to plan for an out of state or country trip creates a higher likelihood that they can attend. You also get to taste yummy foods from that caterer, but there’s a much more exciting part of this month. You get to do one of the most anticipated parts of wedding planning – trying on and buying your wedding dress! If neither you nor your partner is wearing a dress, you can try on and order your suits, or whatever attire you choose!

  • Send out save the dates (if destination wedding)
  • Try on and order your wedding gown
  • Choose your caterer and sample foods
  • Book your officiant

9 Months Out

This month helps you nail down some specifics. Now that you’ve worked to create your theme, it’s time to decide on the stationery suite (invites, RSVP cards, etc). You’ll also create a hotel block for our out-of-town guests so they too can nail down some specifics. You’ll book a couple more vendors, and be in great shape!

  • Choose and order your stationery
  • Create a hotel block for out-of-town guests
  • Finalize catering and bar service (should you offer alcohol)
  • Register for gifts
  • Book your Dj/band

8 Months Out

Now your specially chosen friends and family get to choose what they’ll wear! Oftentimes brides reserve a time at the bridal shop of choice, and the bridesmaids and mothers try on their dresses together. For anyone out of town, they can try on dresses at a local location if the bridal store is a chain. Otherwise, you will have to coordinate when and where the dress style you end up choosing can be tried on. This is also the time where the groom and his groomsmen choose their suits.

  • Try on and choose the wedding party attire (including the groom!)
  • Book your florist
  • Choose the bridal accessories such as bracelets, necklaces, earrings, hairpins, shoes, etc.

7 Months Out

With many of the larger budget items already off the list, this month is a little bit more simple and easy going. It’s also one of the most exciting. Research and choose where you’d like to honeymoon. This is imperative if you want to take off right after the wedding! Read our post on “6 Tips for Planning Your Honeymoon” for more advice! You’ll need to finalize and order any rentals, as well as your floral choices. If time allows, start looking into what favors you’d like to give your guests as a “thank you”.

  • Research and book your honeymoon
  • Finalize any rentals
  • Finalize floral choices
  • Research favors if time allows

6 Months Out

Unless you’re hosting a destination wedding, this is when you get to send out your save the dates! Whether you choose a design you find online, or your photographer offers designs like we do, be sure to get these in the mail this month. For this to happen you have to have narrowed down your final guest list. It can be difficult, especially if your budget is the reason some people have to get cut. Do your best to be diplomatic, and realistic.

  • Finalize your guest invite list
  • Send out save the dates
  • Organize day of transportation for you and your guests (if need be)

5 Months Out

This month is full of excitement! You get to choose your baker and attend cake tastings (who doesn’t love that?!). You also get to choose your wedding rings. Seeing your significant other place a band on their hand really makes it feel real! You also choose your hair and make-up artist, and attend trials. We highly recommend at least one trial, and don’t leave until it’s right or you’ve decided to try someone else! You can read more on why you should consider hiring a professional hair and make-up artist on our blog.

This is also the point in which you will have to plan and book your rehearsal dinner venue. Traditionally this is handled by the groom’s parents, but such strict traditions are often broken these days. No matter who is helping, just make sure this is taken care of!

Lastly, take care of your passports if you’re jetting off out of the country for your honeymoon. I had a terrible time getting my passport printed with my correctly spelled last name, and almost couldn’t go off on my honeymoon because of mistakes at USPS. Leave plenty of time to get this in early. You’ll order your passport with your maiden name (if you’re changing it once you’re married). When you return from your honeymoon, you’ll order an updated passport with your new last name.

  • Attend cake tastings and choose your baker
  • Choose your wedding rings
  • Attend hair and make-up trials and choose your artist
  • Book and finalize your rehearsal dinner
  • Update or order your passports

4 months Out

Things are really starting to come together by this point! Deciding how you would like your ceremony order to go is a first step. If anyone is doing a reading during your ceremony, have them start putting that together now. If you and your partner are interested in pre-wedding counseling, around this time is recommended. You also get to attend your first dress fitting (if applicable). Doing so allows for more fine-tuning and less stress over the dress. Anything allowing less stress when it comes to weddings is a no-brainer! This month you’ll also choose the music for the ceremony and first dances!

  • Decide on your ceremony order and ask anyone doing readings to start preparing
  • Attend pre-wedding counseling (if interested)
  • Attend your first dress fitting
  • Choose ceremony and first dances music

3 Months Out

The big day is just around the corner! This month is when holding a wedding shower is most recommended. If you have one, take it in and enjoy the time with your friends and family! Also find time to speak with your officiant to go over the ceremony order and readings. This is also a good time to speak to he/she about personalizing your ceremony. If you’re hiring a calligrapher, do so now. Once they have written out all of your invitations, mail them off! Woohoo! Order any other print materials you need such as menu cards and programs. Is it feeling real yet? I bet it is!

  • Attend your wedding shower (if applicable)
  • Meet with your officiant
  • Hire a calligrapher (if applicable)
  • Order menu cards, programs, etc if needed

2 Months Out

The next 60 days will probably fly by, so make sure you get these items off your to-do list! You need to apply for your marriage license (this varies state to state, so doing it now gives buffer room if needed). Gifts from your registry might also start arriving, so keep track of these in an excel sheet. You can also save some stress and hand cramping later by writing thank you notes as the gifts come in!

Find some quiet time, however, you have to, and write your vows. These are incredibly important, so you don’t want to rush through it! Put on some relaxing music and choose your words with intention.

Most photographers will also be reaching out to you around now to help create your timeline. Trust in their experience! Pros know how long set-ups take on wedding days. No matter how much a venue coordinator may push that you can have a sunset image at a bridge between being announced and the first dances, your photographer knows it can’t be done. (This is a legit scenario another photographer experienced). The last thing we want to allow is for you to be set up with unreal expectations.

Now is the time to also buy gifts. Gifts for the bridal party, the parents, each other, welcome bags for out of town guests, and favors. It can add up quickly, so keep an eye on your budget!

Also touch base with your vendors. You want to make sure all of your choices are finalized, and in order. Review the timeline with them to make sure everything will arrive on time, and go smoothly.

  • Obtain your marriage license
  • Keep track of gifts, and write thank you cards if possible
  • Write your vows
  • Create a timeline with your photographer
  • Buy gifts
  • Touch base with all of your vendors and review the timeline

1 Month Out

All that’s left are the final details! You can do it! Start with creating your seating chart. I’ve mentioned some helpful apps and online tools in another blog post to make this task a piece of cake. Send out your rehearsal invites, finalize any last-minute DIY projects, and arrange the care of your home and pets while you’re on your honeymoon. Lastly, have some fun! Attend your bachelor/bachelorette parties! This last month will be a total blur. Hang on for one amazing ride! Congratulations again!

  • Create reception seating chart
  • Send out rehearsal invites
  • Finalize any DIY projects
  • Arrange care for your home and pets while on honeymoon
  • Attend bachelor/bachelorette parties

Black and white image of Tim and Shannon DeLong of DeLong Photography in Riverfront Park park smiling at the camera

Connect With Us!
To see daily updates of our current weddings and images, follow us on Instagram. You can also follow us on Facebook page, Twitter, and find plenty of inspiration on our Pinterest page.

Interested in having us photograph your wedding? Contact us!

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