The Ultimate Stress Free Wedding Planning Timeline

Take the stress out of planning with this 12-month wedding planning checklist.

Congratulations- you’re engaged… but now what?! Wedding planning may seem effortless, but often quickly becomes overwhelming. Given enough time and organization planning becomes less stressful and even enjoyable, which is what it should be!

The average suggested amount of time to plan a wedding is 12-14 months. Picking a wedding date at least 12 months away greatly increases your chance to book your ideal venue and vendors. This is especially true if you are looking into popular vendors.

12 Months Out

Determine Your Budget

Here is where it all starts. Who’s paying? Are your parents willing to spend the national average of $30,000 on the big day? If not, can you and your spouse-to-be fill in the financial gaps? You see where I’m going, big or small you’ll need to decide what is priority and what is not. Once that is complete move on and allocate your funds accordingly. Keep in mind these figures are important for all other areas of planning. Guest list, food, and entertainment all come at a price. Figures will change throughout the process, but it’s necessary to have a number in mind.

Make a Guest List

Coming up with a list of who will be present for your big day is another daunting task. The reality for most of us is that we can’t have everyone we know attend. When choosing your guest list think about who you couldn’t imagine this day without. This may mean leaving your second cousin’s family out. Decisions like this are hard, but ultimately these cuts are often necessary. Keep in mind, between 75-85 percent of invited wedding guests usually attend.

Select Your Venue

Okay, two stuffy topics taken care of, let’s move on to something more pleasant. Selecting your venue may be the most meaningful decision in this whole process. When doing your research look for a place that suits your vision as a couple. Maybe you enjoy relaxing on the beach together, look for a laid-back venue with an ocean view. If you and your future spouse are all about spending time outside, then you’ll want to check out nature venues for your nuptials. A scenic wooded venue will create a beautiful backdrop for photos. For the couples who prefer city life an urban rooftop wedding is a great option. Think about the breathtaking views that will inspire your photographer to capture unparalleled wedding photos.

11 Months Out

Hire Vendors

Caterers, photographers, florists, hotel accommodations, and entertainment are some of the vendors you’ll be putting deposits on for your ceremony. When researching a vendor look at their social media pages. You can find out gobs about a business by checking out their posts. Also, you’ll be able to find reviews here to make sure they meet your expectations. Take the extra time to compare prices as well, but beware cheaper rarely means better. Remember, you’re trusting these people to create and capture one of the most memorable days of your life.

10 Months Out

Start Shopping for Your Wedding Dress

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white… or whatever color she wants! Traditional or modern, picking out your dress (or pants suit) is something we all look forward to. You may know exactly what you want, but keep an open mind and trust your bridal stylist. Sometimes our favorite style isn’t the most flattering for our body type. (Don’t forget the shapewear!)

9 Months Out

Honeymoon Plans

Seriously, what more do I need to say? Where do the newly weds want to spend the most romantic time of their lives? Soaking up the sun in Cancun or site seeing in Europe- you can not go wrong here. (See my blog on minimoons for some alternate ideas on traditional honeymoons)

4 Months Out


Check out some local bakeries for taste testing. These are super simple and most bakeries offer take home kits. Once you select your favorite flavors, depending on how many tiers need, you’ll choose the color and texture for your cake. The possibilities here are endless. Add some fresh flowers for a realistic authentic touch. If you and your groom can’t decide on a flavor think about adding a groom’s cake to the mix.

3 Months Out

Hair & Makeup Trial

Real talk here, you have to be specific with your stylist. Every single woman in the world has different preferences when it comes to hair and makeup. Some ladies prefer a more natural bridal look, while some opt for more glamour. Both are fine, but you have to be clear and firm about how you want to look. Again, be open to suggestions, they are the professionals. If they suggest airbrush or fake lashes this trial is the best time to give them a go!

2 Months Out

Send out Invitations

There is a little gray area when it comes to the exact time to send out invitations. Traditionally invitations are sent out about 6-8 weeks before the ceremony. However, if you’re planning a destination wedding invites should be sent out 2-3 months ahead of time. This additional time will allow your guests to easily make travel arrangements. Save the dates can also be a creative way to let guest know some less specific details. These can be sent out 8-12 months in advance. Don’t forget, if someone gets a save the date card they will be expecting a formal invitation.

1 Month Out

Seating Chart

Time to find out where to seat particular Aunt Patty. There’s no easy way to put this, you’re going to have a hard time finding the perfect place for each attendee. Try your best, and hey if they don’t like their spot they can join you on the dance floor!

Pick Up Your Marriage License

Ah, the fine print. Each state has a different list of steps and requirements to obtain your marriage license. Do your research and don’t wait until the last minute!

1 Week Out

Final Dress Fitting

Time for the final fitting. (I can’t stress this enough- don’t forget your shapewear!) Bring a couple of your bridesmaids to help you savor the moment. Take this opportunity to thank them for all their help getting you to this point. You can verbally express your appreciation or personalized gifts are very common. Either way, you should let them know their hard work has been recognized.

Last Minute Details

Refreshing your hair color, getting a manicure and pedicure, or a relaxing massage. Cleaning your engagement ring is another good idea. (Let’s see that sparkle) This is the time to take care of all those small details that will make your special day extraordinary.

The Night Before

How to Spend Your Last Night Before the Big Day

It’s finally here. The vendors are paid in full. All the family has come in to be a part of your wedding. Relax, take this opportunity to reflect on the time it took to get here. Not just to the wedding, but to where you are in your life, and where you are going. Tomorrow you’ll be marrying the love of your life and it’s going to be stress free!

“A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.”


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