The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide For A Newly Engaged Bride

wedding planning

Are you wondering where to even begin, in this crazy thing called wedding planning? Do you just see this big date looming ahead of you and have no idea what the steps are that you need to take? Though wedding planners can be great tools to have, here is a wedding timeline you can do on your own! 

First 10-12 Months!  

wedding planning

  • Sit down with your parents, husband to be, his family, and anyone else you need to include in a financial conversation, and make a budget. Take the time to explore how much you can realistically afford to spend on every facet of your wedding before you start buying dresses and hiring caterers. Here is our guide to budgeting. 
  • Pick your wedding date. Look at your timeline and determine the best time for you to get hitched that will work around family schedules and your fiance’s schedule.
  • Pick the time. Determine if you want to have a morning, afternoon, or evening wedding.
  • Decide on a location. If you are planning a destination wedding, the sooner you let people know, the better, so you might need to work on sending out invitations and a guest list earlier than other brides. Make sure that the location you choose will be able to accommodate the people coming in for your event, i.e., hotels, houses people can stay at, etc.
  • Start trying to find a venue. This could be settling on a venue, or just looking at churches or other venues in the location you’ve decided upon. It is good before you even start looking at venues to determine if you would want to have your wedding in a church, outside, or at some other location.
  • Make a preliminary guest list. It is imperative that you send your save-the-dates out 6-8 months before your wedding.
  • Ask the wedding party! Make sure that you snatch up your bridesmaids and groomsmen as soon as possible and reserve them for your special date.
  • Get an officiant. Make sure that you have a friend or pastor who is available and locked down to be there for your big day months into the future.
  • Start looking at vendors. Don’t be afraid of booking vendors at this time, the sooner you get this done, the better you will feel. Start by hiring your officiant, as we stated above, but then continue to check out caterers and photographers in the vicinity of your wedding.  
  • Check to see if you need wedding insurance. It’s important when booking a venue to make sure you know if the venue has cancellation insurance or any form of liability insurance.
  • Celebrate! Don’t be afraid to get your closest friends and family together to have a small engagement party. This is a great way to get excited before the wedding process begins. This is a big milestone in your life, don’t get too stressed with the planning that you forget to celebrate it properly!
  • Brainstorm. Now is the time to get out that Pinterest board and explore great wedding trends, colors, themes, and other items you might want to include at your wedding. Think about what food you would want to serve, what type of music you might want to have, and just try to envision what your perfect wedding would look like.
  • Get engagement photos. We have some great resources for how to plan your photos here.

8-10 Months To Go! 

wedding planning

  • Finalize your vendor decision. A good tip to remember is to try to get everything in writing if you can.
  • Gown shopping! Take your entourage and get your dream dress. It is important to order your dress with plenty of time for alterations and for it to come in.
  • Register for your wedding. Let people have plenty of time to get the gifts you and your husband-to-be need the most.
  • Think about food. Now is the time to finalize those caterers and work through what your menu will be at your reception. Keep allergies of potential attendees and your personal preferences into consideration.
  • Think about reception entertainment. Do you want a DJ, do you want live music, do you want dancing? Consider what exactly you and your fiance want and try to hire a band or DJ ASAP.
  • Time to think about colors and floral arrangements. Consider what colors you would want your groomsmen and bridesmaids to wear, and use that to compliment the floral arrangements you are holding. Also, consider how many flowers you would want around the church or venue you’ve chosen. Make sure that you book your florists during this period.
  • Book hotels or other housing options for out of town guests who are coming in.
  • Do a wedding cake taste test, or solidify what desserts you would want to have at your reception. Make sure you book a bakery or independent person to prepare that in advance.   
  • Start to look for dresses for bridesmaids. Give them the color and other regulations if you are letting them shop on their own. Make sure that the sizes and styles get ordered around this period.
  • Make sure that you’ve contacted any rental companies you might need for your ceremony or reception. If you need chairs, tents, tables, etc. that are not provided, get those booked as soon as you can.   
  • Talk to a stationary company, and have an idea of how you want your save-the-dates and invitations to look. 
  • Make sure your save-the-dates are scheduled to go out. We recommend sending your save-the-dates between 8-6 months before your ceremony, even earlier if you are planning a destination or far off location wedding. You want to make sure that you are giving people plenty of notice, so they’ll be able to attend!
  • Finalize your guest list

6-8 Months To Go!  

wedding planning

  • Make sure those save-the-dates are sent out!
  • Make sure all bridesmaids dresses are ordered.
  • Make sure that all your vendors, photographers, caterers, musicians, etc. are booked, and you have written confirmation that they will be attending.
  • Start planning your honeymoon. Here are our favorite honeymoon destinations!
  • Make sure all the food, including the cake, is settled and booked.
  • Settle on a theme and then consider possible decoration ideas.

3-6 Months To Go!    

wedding planning

  • Start thinking about where you would want to have your rehearsal dinner. Make the guest list and call possible restaurants and venues.
  • Update or get a passport if you would need it for your honeymoon.
  • Book your honeymoon location.
  • Finalize the look of your wedding invitations. 
  • Shop for wedding rings together and purchase them.
  • Think about possible wedding favors for your guests and try to purchase them during this period.
  • Buy everything you would need to either put your decorations together yourself or make sure that you have hired someone to create your vision.
  • Shop for all the men in the wedding party. Make sure you rent tuxedos, vests, or ties if you need too.
  • Start pre-marital counseling. If you are wondering if premarital counseling is worth it, check out our article here.
  • Make sure you have reserved any linens or specialty napkins you would need for your big day that is not provided by your venue or caterers.
  • Get a hair and makeup trial at your local stylists. Consider what you would want your hair and makeup to look like and try to book a stylist for your big day.
  • Finalize all catering details; food and drinks for the reception.
  • Think about ideas for a bachelorette party! We have some tips here.

1-3 Months To Go! 

wedding planning

  • You are almost there; you’ve got this!
  • Send out invitations 6-8 weeks before your big day.
  • Make sure your bridesmaids have planned your bachelorette party and enjoy it!
  • Write thank you notes for any shower gifts or early wedding presents you might have received.
  • Send out invitations for the rehearsal dinner, and make sure that the location for the rehearsal dinner is booked.
  • Have a dress fitting. Think about potential undergarment issues.
  • Buy gifts for your wedding parties
  • Finalize your wedding vows and the order of the ceremony with your officiant.
  • Get a playlist of songs you would like for your band or DJ.
  • Think about taking dance lessons for your first dance or father-daughter dance. Also, make sure you have those songs nailed down.
  • Finalize all financial information and deposits with any and all vendors and paid helpers.
  • Start thinking about steps to get your marriage license.
  • Start putting together a tentative seating chart with the people who have RSVP’d.
  • Think about stationary/ calligraphy you would want on your table cards.

1 Week To Go!

wedding planning

  • This is the crunch time, but we are confident in your ability to get everything done smoothly.    
  • Register and get your marriage license.
  • Make sure rings are ready to go and engraved properly.
  • Hunt down the people who haven’t RSVP’d and make a list of actual guests
  • Make and finalize seating chart. For tips click here.
  • Deliver final song list to DJ.
  • Give a list of photo ideas and must-haves to your photographers.
  • Check in with your vendors one last time to make sure everything is paid for and good to go.
  • Check in with bridesmaids and groomsmen to make sure their attire is ready to go.
  • Finalize table cards and give the venue a final headcount.
  • Get your haircut! 
  • Make sure the groom gets his haircut!
  • Give the reception site an overview of vendor delivery that will be occurring.
  • Make sure that all decorations are purchased, put together if necessary, and ready to go.
  • Buy a guest book for people to sign!
  • Have your final dress fitting.
  • Pick up your gown and get ready to be Cinderella.
  • Check the weather if you are having an outdoor wedding and make any adjustments. Here is our guide for outdoor wedding planning.
  • Start packing for your honeymoon.

2 To 3 Days Before!   

wedding planning

  • It’s the final countdown! Make sure you don’t skim over these steps!
  • Get your dress steamed if you need to.
  • Make sure the groom and groomsmen have their final fittings.
  • Determine wedding party positions during the ceremony.
  • Ascertain the order for the processional and the recessional.
  • Confirm the final details with any and all vendors.
  • Call and get a car rental for leaving the venue and heading to the honeymoon!
  • Make sure that all guests who are coming from out of town have someone to pick them up at determined locations.

Day Before!

wedding planning

  • AHHHHHH it’s almost here!
  • Give everyone your emergency contact information.
  • Put someone in charge of being an emergency contact to vendors or rental company the day of the wedding.
  • Write final checks and make sure your budget is balanced.
  • Rehearse the ceremony and adjust any hiccups.
  • Make sure that you have purchased a unity candle or anything needed just for the ceremony.
  • Give gifts to your wedding party at rehearsal dinner.


wedding planning

  • Congrats you survived! We knew you could do it!
  • Clean your gown for safe-keeping. Here are tips for preserving your wedding dress.
  • Write and send all thank-you notes. Here are some tips. 
  • Return all rentals.
  • Make sure all vendors are paid.
  • We know that this list seems like A LOT, right now, but take a deep breath and do everything in steps. Remember that you are going to have an amazing wedding. So print out this list and get your Pinterest board ready! You are officially in wedding planning mode!

P.S. Still thought this seemed like too much for you? Check out this article for wedding planner tips!


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