Your Wedding Must-Dos, Broken Down by Timeline

bride and groom
Photo: Brady Bates Photography via Alston Mayger Events 

12+ months from wedding:

Narrow down your options. “The first thing many people do after saying ‘Yes!’ is research venues for the wedding. Whether you’re seeking a venue that captures your vision of a summer soirée by the water, or a winter wedding in a beautiful rustic barn… the choices are endless. Before jumping into venue research, ask yourself, what is your vision? What types of venues do you prefer? Save time researching venues by choosing area(s) and venue types you are interested in and searching those first. ‘Nontraditional wedding venues in New England — be specific when searching! Stay true to yourself and decide which type of venue works for your big day.” —Jessica Cavallaro, Marketing Manager, Weven

Decide on the larger logistics. “You and your [spouse]-to-be should decide if you want small or big, tropical or rustic, destination, or hometown. The most important steps are to decide a location, size, and budget. Once you have an idea of your dream location, you absolutely need to start to look at venues and what dates are available during the season you are most interested in.” —Kat Johann, Parties By The Sea

Remember, it’s never too early to book your venue! “Start looking at least a year in advance, and be sure to take your time — it’s important to carefully explore all your options to find the right fit. Many venues (including ours), offer in-house planning and design services, and once you book, you’ll be given a timeline for everything else. Finding your venue (and securing your date!) is truly the starting point of your wedding planning journey.” —Kara Brewer, Owner, The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm

Figure out limitations and restrictions that your venue holds. “Your venue will dictate so much in regards to your wedding. They may have an exclusive caterer they work with, floral could be more or less depending on how striking the space is on its own, your entertainment may need more than one set up if ceremony and reception are in two different locations. Get this one checked off the list first, and everything else will fall into place and help guide those other conversations you’ll have prior to contracting other vendors.” —Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events

wedding ceremony
Photo: Taylor Kinzie Photography via LuckEleven Events

12-9 months from wedding:

Choose your bridal party. “When it’s your turn to pop the question to your #bridetribe, you should ask nine months to a year out from your wedding date. This allows time for your squad to plan and be involved in all of the pre-wedding festivities. One of the best ways to ask your squad is with matching robes or sleep sets. These can then double up as gifts and be worn as your getting ready outfits for the morning of your special day!” —Kristy Breed & Helen Semovski, Director & Designer, Le Rose Stories

bride and bridesmaids
Photo: Le Rose Studios

9-6 months from wedding:

Knock out the nitty gritty. “Our 6 Month Checklist: Rehearsal dinner location, register for gifts, determine color palette and inspiration for wedding décor, order invitations, finalize food, quote on cake, floral design inspirations, identify and discuss transportation, detailed outline provided from coordinator.” —Amy Abbott, Amy Abbott Events

wedding centerpieces
Photo: Brady Bates Photography via Alston Mayger Events

6-3 months from wedding:

Start planning your menswear. “There’s a lot to do when you’re planning your wedding, and using a wedding planning timeline is a big help. You need to find a venue, get catering, send out invites, etc. When it comes to the menswear for your wedding, we’ve typically seen couples plan their suit or tuxedos about 4 months out from the wedding date. That gives plenty of time to design the looks, order your free swatches to color match, get your Home Try-On, and invite all of your wedding party members. But in the last couple years, many couples have shortened that to about two to three months from the wedding date because timelines are a bit shorter, which is still plenty of time.” —Matt Ramirez, SVP of Marketing, Generation Tux

Start to finalize details you’ve been working on throughout the earlier months. “This includes things like making a final selection on your wedding cake and florals, finalizing your guest list, and sending invites.” —Amy Abbott, Amy Abbott Events

wedding invitation
Photo: Michael & Laura Photography via Parties By The Sea

3-1 month from wedding:

Choose your music! “Couples tend to underestimate is how hard choosing music can be. It sounds like a fun task but at the end of the day, there are so many options it becomes difficult. I recommend starting a playlist and add songs you hear and like to it as you continue planning. From there, I encourage couples to start making decisions about 2-3 months out. That way, the DJ has enough time to go over the list and flow of the event and you can even practice the dances to music if you want.” —Melanie, Owner of LuckEleven Events

Start to gather RSVPs. “One thing brides often forget to account for is how many tasks go into the timeline between RSVPs and wedding day. You need enough time for the venue to order proper amounts of food, make a seating chart, update rental counts and make seating cards with designated food choices. I recommend couples requesting RSVPs about 1-1.5 months before the wedding day to make sure all these tasks can be completed with time to spare (because you never know!).” —Melanie

Finalize documentation and paperwork that you and your vendors need completed. “Finalize your vows to send to your officiant, and take care of any and all required documentations that need to be submitted — like your final guest count, seating chart, place cards, and meal selections (if applicable). Also, be sure to confirm room reservations with your hotel or resort.” —Amy Abbott, Amy Abbott Events

wedding drinks
Photo: Brady Bates Photography via Alston Mayger Events

2 weeks from wedding:

Make sure any last-minute RSVPs are sent to caterers. “Be sure to talk to your venue or caterer up front about when they require you to report a final guest count! This will have an impact on several factors throughout the planning process like what date you set for your RSVPs, when you send out your invitations and, in some cases, when you must solidify menu selections.” –Alexandra Denniston, Owner & Lead Planner, Eventlightenment Planning

1 week from wedding:

Provide your final guest count. “Give your venue and/or caterer the final guest count. Make sure you know the date this final count is required — and submit it by then! Otherwise, you may be stuck paying for the original (read: higher) number of guests you quoted.” —Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide

Give your caterer your vendor meal count. “Let your caterer know how many vendor meals you’ll need, and be sure to ask these vendors about any special dietary requirements. After 13 hours on their feet to make your day perfect, they’ll appreciate a good meal and 20 minutes to take a breather.” —Miller

Check the weather! “Check the weather report and if things look iffy, connect with your venue to solidify the contingency plan. (This Plan B should be figured out early in your planning process and communicated to your vendors, too!).” —Miller

wedding reception decor
Photo: Brady Bates Photography via Alston Mayger Events

After the wedding:

Thank your guests! “Don’t forget thank you notes! While this is something that you’ll do post-wedding, it is a crucial part of closing out your wedding celebrations. Think ahead — before the big day —  and identify what you will use for your thank you card (such as something store-bought, or customized, perhaps with a wedding portrait or monogram). Plan to purchase them as soon as you are able so that you have them immediately following your wedding date to ensure they are sent out promptly.” —Alexandra Denniston, Owner & Lead Planner, Eventlightenment Planning