Throughout the wedding planning process, you will discuss and ultimately decide on many details with your partner, vendors, friends and family members. But there's no need to panic. Keep track of the information in a notebook or binder or even on your phone. Zola, The Knot and Appy Couple, to name a few web sites, offer online checklists that can be downloaded on iPhone and android cell phones. If you opt for a notebook or binder, create tabs to organize it by sections so you can easily find what you need when you need it. Make it a size that’s easy to transport, as it will likely not leave your side until after the wedding. Above all, organization will help keep you sane.
Following is a standard checklist to start with based on the 16-month length of the average U.S. engagement — you may want to add your own special details to the list.
Sixteen to nine months prior
• Announce your engagement to family and friends.
• Start a wedding folder or binder (begin looking through bridal, fashion, food, lifestyle, design and gardening magazines for ideas).
• Confirm your budget.
• Select the wedding party.
• Start working on the guest list.
• Hire a wedding planner, if desired.
• Set a wedding date or season (reserve the date and decided whether to have separate locations for the ceremony and the reception).
• Book your officiant.
• Research and interview caterers, photographers, videographers, florists, performing artists and musicians.
• Throw an engagement party, if desired.
Eight months prior
• Hire the photographer, videographer, caterer and entertainment.
• Select bridal gown and tuxedos. Shop for bridesmaids dresses.
• Reserve a block of hotel rooms or confirm other accommodations for out-of-town guests.
• Complete gift registry at a minimum of three retailers.
• Launch a wedding web site, if desired.
Seven to six months prior
• Choose invitations.
• Visit ceremony, rehearsal dinner and reception sites.
• Start planning honeymoon — order passports and check immunization needs if leaving the country.
• Meet with the officiant — map out the ceremony and make sure you have a list of all the legal documents you'll need for the wedding.
• Hire a florist and start selecting flowers — they can serve multiple clients a day making it safe to wait a little longer to hire one. And at this stage in planning, you should be certain of your choice of wedding palette.
• Reserve structural and electrical necessities such as portable toilets for outdoor events, extra tables, and chairs, lighting components, large tents, etc.
• Finalize honeymoon and transportation plans (commercial or private). Get it in writing so no one is confused and late.
• Begin creating a day-of timeline — schedule the cake-cutting and first dance, for example.
Five to four months prior
• Schedule fittings for you and attendants. Select wedding shoes.
• Select hair, nail and makeup artists, and make appointments for wedding day and bridal portrait.
• Finalize rentals and book site for ceremony, reception and rehearsal dinner.
• Purchase wedding rings.
• Finalize music selection.
• Check on wedding invitations and edit as needed.
• Select and order the cake.
Three months prior
• Send invitations.
• Complete guest list.
• Make a list of people giving toasts.
• Finalize vows and other readings.
• Order favors, if desired.
• Finalize menu and flowers.
• Update your web site with directions and hotel information.
• Finalize day-of timeline for the ceremony and reception.
• Share event schedule with vendors, allowing time for tweaks and feedback.
• Print menu cards and programs, if desired, which can be created on your computer.
• Arrange care for pets if necessary.
• Meet with the photographer to discuss specific shots, and walk through the location(s) to point out spots you like.
• Submit wedding announcement to newspapers.
One month prior
• Note RSVPs and reach out to those who haven't responded.
• Finalize guest list and give to caterer or reception management.
• Get marriage license and get forms for name change if necessary.
• Mail rehearsal dinner invitations.
• Arrange for stocking the bar.
• Send out as many final payments as possible.
• E-mail and print directions for transportation drivers.
• Assign seating — draw out table maps.
• Purchase bridesmaids' gifts to be presented at the rehearsal dinner.
Week of the wedding
• Reconfirm arrival times and location(s) with vendors.
• Delegate small wedding-day tasks.
• Pack for honeymoon.
• Pick up bridal gown and remind partner and attendants to pick up their formal wear.
• Assign transportation of gifts, guest book, personal belongings and return of groom’s tuxedo.
• Arrange for post office to hold mail if immediately leaving on honeymoon.
• Set aside remaining checks for vendors.
• Consider a relaxing spa treatment the day before your wedding.
• Send final guest list to the caterer and all venues.• Break in your shoes.
Wedding Day Eve
• Attend wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
• Nap, rest easy because all is well.