01/17/2014 12:13 EST | Updated 03/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Your Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline

January and February are big months for wedding planning. People get engaged over the holidays and want to get the planning process started. I thought I would post a general wedding planning timeline with tips to help you through it all.

January and February are big months for wedding planning. People get engaged over the holidays and want to get the planning process started. I thought I would post a general wedding planning timeline with tips to help you through it all.

12 to 18 Months

  • Start a Guest List. Creating a document that categorizes potential guests into groups (family, close friends, other friends, work associates, etc.) will make the list more manageable. Also include columns for mailing address, RSVP, allergies and any other important information for your guest list.
  • Create a Budget. This will probably be your most important document. Be realistic when coming up with what you are willing to spend on your wedding day.
  • Discuss your Plans with Family. I have always believed that a wedding day should reflect what the bride and groom want, not the parents. Saying that, it always brings joy to include and consider the ideas and thoughts of some of the most important people in your life.
  • Hire a Wedding Planner. Whether you are interested in full service, partial planning or just day-of coordination, it is helpful to start speaking with a planner early on. They have resources and relationships with vendors that you would otherwise not have access to.
  • Start an Inspiration Board. Maybe it is through Pinterest or magazine pulls. Just do what works for you.
  • Book a Venue. Determine whether you will have a ceremony and reception in one location or if you need to book separate locations. Do some research and start going on site visits to help determine the look and feel you would like.
  • Choose your Wedding Party. This is also an exciting time for your family and friends.

Eight to 12 Months

  • Hire a Photographer/Videographer. Next to venues, these guys book up fast!
  • Decide on a DJ/Band. Speak to different companies and check them out at gigs, if possible.
  • Book a Florist. Bring them as many visuals as possible to help convey what you like.
  • Go Dress Shopping. Depending on the type of dress you want, some can take up to eight-10 months to be ordered.

Six to Eight Months

  • Send a Save-the-Date. Not everyone does this, but it is a nice touch if you can.
  • Look for Bridesmaid dresses. Make sure you leave enough time to have them ordered in and alterations completed.
  • Book Transportation. Do you need a stretch limo, SUV, town car? What about your guests? Is there a need for a shuttle bus?
  • Order a Wedding Cake. Who doesn't want to go on a cake tasting?!
  • Book any Rentals that you need. This could be lounge furniture, linens, lighting, etc.
  • Do Hotel Blocks. A great thing to do if you expect a lot of out-of-town guests. It makes their lives much easier and will save you fielding questions from Aunt Gertrude about where Hotel X is located, if Hotel Y has a spa, etc.

Four to Six Months

  • Hire a Stationery Company and Design Invitations. If doing something more elaborate with stationery, I suggest contacting companies earlier.
  • Choose a Hair and Make-up team. Make sure you go for a trial and be honest about what you like/don't like. Try to line up the trial on a day/night where you've got plans for the evening. This ensures you look fabulous for the evening and you can also see how well your hair and make-up holds up after a night out.
  • Book your Rehearsal and Dinner. Don't forget to invite out-of-town guests to the dinner.
  • Start an Itinerary. Especially if you do not have a wedding planner.
  • Choose an MC. Make sure to ask someone who is comfortable in front of a large crowd and is responsible.
  • Order Wedding Favours. Many people opt not to do these now. It is a personal decision.

Three Months

  • Menu Tasting. This timing will be based on your caterer.
  • Pick your Music. Your musicians and DJ will want some time to make sure they get the proper versions of the songs you want.
  • Finalize your Ceremony. Decide on readings and ask the people you want to read them.
  • Pick-up your Marriage License. IMPORTANT -- check your local rules. In Toronto, a marriage license in only valid for three months.

Two Months

  • Mail Invitations. These should be mailed six-eight weeks before the wedding. RSVP deadline is always one month before the wedding date.
  • Begin a Floor Plan and Seating Chart. It helps to start this as invites come in.
  • Discuss Extra Stationery. Do you want menus, table numbers, place cards or a seating chart?

One Month

  • Photo Shot List. This will help the photographer know who needs to be in family photos. Discuss this list with your photographer in advance.
  • Confirm all Details with your Vendors. This assumes you do not have a wedding planner already doing this.

Week of

  • Finalize Floor Plan and Guest List. Make sure your venue has a list of guests at each table along with a list of allergies or special requirements.
  • Arrange Final Payments. Make sure you have all the payments for your vendors on the day of the wedding.
  • Prepare Items needed on Wedding Day. Give certain things to your wedding planner or venue a few days before the wedding.

Day of your Wedding

  • Relax and Have Fun! Remember what is important and don't sweat the small stuff.


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