Wedding checklist: woman planning a wedding

Congratulations on being happily engaged. Now it’s time to start planning the wedding! First, take a minute to revel in the magic of this moment — we’re so happy for you and so are all of your loved ones. This is one of the most special times in your life and you deserve to be happy. 

While wedding planning can be stressful at times, having a wedding checklist will keep you organized and help you enjoy the planning process. Here, we’ll guide you through every step with a helpful wedding checklist formatted in easy-to-follow timelines. Work through each one and check off every item on the to-do list until you’re finally exchanging your vows and saying “I do.”

The Ultimate Wedding Checklist: Your Guide to Easy Planning

Wedding checklist: notebook, envelopes, and wedding rings on a table

Every wedding engagement is different, but the average engagement length is about 15 months. That said, many couples choose to be engaged longer, which can offer more time for planning and budgeting, while others want to walk down the aisle sooner. 

To keep the planning process within an easy-to-grasp timeline, we’ve created a comprehensive wedding checklist that covers a 12-month span. This timeframe includes action items for every month leading up to the wedding day along with some post-nuptial follow-up items.

If you’re getting married in less than a year, you can adjust accordingly and complete each task in a shorter timeframe. For example, if you’re tying the knot in seven months, complete the items designated in the 12- to eight-month sections during your first month of planning. Conversely, if you’re getting married more than a year from now, you have a little extra time for each step.

Sound like a plan? Read on for our step-by-step wedding checklist and get ready to start crossing off items on your to-do list. Remember: don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. Friends, family, and members of your wedding party will more than likely be happy to assist with tasks so you can enjoy your engagement phase and have some fun planning the big day.

12 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding checklist: couple arm in arm while holding a rose

A year out from the wedding is the time to start doing research and securing important things like the venue and caterers. The first step is to start discussing logistics like your budget and priorities. Here’s what you should be thinking about a year before the wedding date.

Set Your Budget

Setting a wedding budget is arguably the most important factor of the planning process and it deserves top priority. You and your partner will want to discuss specifics with anyone who will be contributing financially to the wedding — whether it’s parents who are footing the bill for the entire event or others who are paying for different elements of the celebration. Make a list of everyone who will be involved in your wedding costs and how much they will be contributing. 

Once you have a clear financial picture of who’s responsible for what, it’s imperative for you and your future spouse to create a wedding budget breakdown. Every decision you make after this will likely impact the bottom line, so be sure to spend time determining how much you can afford and what you’re comfortable spending. 

Part of this process involves discussing how many people you want to invite. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to finalize your guest list just yet. It’s a good idea to have a rough number of the people you want to invite so you can make calculations when building your budget. 

Discuss your priorities when it comes to the nuptials. Is it important to not spend a lot of money and avoid racking up credit card debt? Do you want to have hundreds of people you love there? Talk about what matters most to you so you, your partner, and anyone else who is financially involved are on the same page when making decisions later on.

Consider the Type of Wedding You Want to Have

You don’t have to make a final decision at this time, but it’s important to think about what type of wedding you want to have. Once you have a budget figured out, it’s easier to consider the size of the wedding and what time of year you want to have it. 

For instance, do you want to plan a destination wedding and take your loved ones to a tropical locale? Maybe you want a seasonal wedding, like a fall wedding or a spring wedding, or a quirky and whimsical wedding that requires some unusual elements like vintage bicycles or hot air balloons. All of these decisions can impact the timing of your wedding and how you plan it.

Size is another key element. A micro wedding with just a few friends and family members will take less time to plan than a big wedding with hundreds of people. Likewise, if you’re thinking about planning an elopement, you can bypass a lot of the elements of more traditional weddings. 

Decide If You Want to Hire a Wedding Planner

If you have the desire and budget, now is the time to secure a wedding planner. This person will be your best ally throughout the planning process, helping to handle issues as they arise and avoid the ones they can. You can also consider hiring a month-of or day-of planner as a more affordable option.

Choose a Theme and Consider Formality

Talk to your partner and decide what you want your wedding day to look like. Consider if you want to have a specific wedding theme or color scheme. Decide how formal you want the event to be. These decisions will impact not only your budget but also where you host the wedding and other details like decorations.

Pro tip: Browse through our list of the best wedding colors and some of the most common (and uncommon) wedding dress codes to help you sort out the details.

Tour and Choose a Venue

At least a year before your wedding date, start visiting and touring venues to see what’s out there. Common venues include churches, vineyards, and National Parks. Some of these places require limited notice and others need advance planning to secure your desired date. 

Visit the venue more than once or around the time of day that you want to get hitched. That way, you can get an idea of temperature, lighting, and ambiance. Assess the space to see if there’s a separate reception venue or different options for where the wedding ceremony can take place. Once you know where you want to get married, act fast to secure your desired date.

Many wedding venues book out well in advance, especially popular ones. If you have your heart set on a specific place that’s popular with other brides, you may need to handle this step more than a year in advance or be flexible with your wedding date.

Wedding season, the time when most weddings take place, is between May and October. If you’re flexible, you may be able to say “I do” at your dream venue sooner by choosing to get married during the winter instead.

11 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding checklist: wedding setting at night

It’s less than a year to the big day! Here’s what you should work on next in your wedding checklist.

Check In With Your Top-Priority Guests

Think about who you absolutely need to attend your wedding. This may include your parents, best friend, grandparents, or a vendor like a photographer whose work you admire. Make sure your venue and date work for them before finalizing any decisions.

Finalize the Date and Venue

Once you know that your bestie and famed photographer can attend, finalize the date and venue. You may need to put down a deposit for the space and you’ll need to know the date before you can do anything else!

Create Your Guest List

Sit down with your soon-to-be spouse and any other wedding stakeholders to create the wedding guest list. In an ideal world, you could invite everyone you love, but most couples have to make some hard decisions here and limit the headcount. Establish which guests must be invited and which people will be left off the list. Consider your budget, venue capacity, and feelings when making the list.

Hire Vendors 

Wedding vendors — especially photographers, videographers, musicians, and caterers — are typically in high demand. Read reviews and set up meetings with vendors you’re interested in hiring. Once you make a decision, book them early to ensure you secure their services before someone else does. 

10 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding checklist: bride trying on her wedding dress

The countdown continues and so does the list of things you need to do. Ten months before the wedding date, you’ll be focused on picking out attire and making preparations for the big day — plus it’s the perfect time for engagement photos!

Shop for Wedding Day Attire

It’s time for a special outing: picking out your wedding attire! Whether you’re shopping for a wedding dress, suit, tuxedo, romper, or other ensemble, this will hopefully be one of the most exciting tasks on your to-do list

Around this time, you’ll also want to finalize the attire for your wedding party, including any bridesmaid dresses or suits for groomsmen. It’s also a good idea to consider what your wedding dress code will be as it’ll guide your selections.

Pro tip: For sartorial inspiration, be sure to check out our guides to semi-formal wedding dress codes and black tie wedding attire.

Set Up Transportation and Hotel Room Blocks for Guests

Many couples choose to block a set number of rooms for the wedding, making it easier to book accommodations and secure discounts in the process. Out-of-town guests will appreciate the courtesy and enjoy staying in the same place as other wedding guests. Consider local transportation services to help guests get from the hotel to the venue — without worrying about driving if they share a toast or two with you!

Create a Wedding Website

Soon you’ll be addressing save the dates to your invited guests, but before you do, you’ll want to have a wedding website. Having a dedicated site for your wedding is a great way to stay organized, list details of your event, and share cute details about your unique love story. There are plenty of wedding websites that you can start setting up and customizing to match the look and vibe of your wedding theme.

Take Engagement Photos

Share the happy news with an engagement announcement that’s sure to bring joy to your loved ones. Many wedding photographers include an engagement photo session in their pricing packages. Give guests a preview by snapping photos on the venue grounds or surprise them with snaps from the place where you said “Yes!”

9 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding checklist: musicians playing at a wedding reception

Next up on your wedding planning checklist, you’ll want to send save the date postcards so everyone can mark their calendars. Nine months before the big day is when you’ll also want to start booking entertainment.

Send Save the Dates

Announcements, save the dates, RSVPs, and invitations … the list is long when it comes to wedding stationery! One of the first things you’ll send out after your engagement announcement is a save the date. This card lets people know you’re getting married—and importantly, that they’re invited to your wedding. The main goal is to let people know the date so they can mark their calendars and make plans to attend.

Typically, you should include the location and date of the wedding on the save the date. Many couples also add “invitation to follow” so guests know they’ll have more details soon. 

Book Your Wedding Entertainment 

If you didn’t book a performer or entertainer when you made arrangements with other vendors, now’s the time to finalize this task. Make your decision to hire a DJ, live band, mariachis, string quartet, juggler, magician, or other entertainment to ensure they’re available on your wedding date. You’ll also want to pick out the song you’ll walk down the aisle to and the song for your first dance as a married couple.

8 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding checklist: table setting with flowers

The clock is ticking and each day brings you closer to your special moment. Here’s where you should focus your time and effort eight months before your nuptials.

Make a Wedding Registry

On your wedding day, you’ll be showered with love and gifts for this next chapter of life. While some couples might ask for donations to charitable organizations in lieu of gifts, there’s no harm in creating a wedding gift registry. Be sure to include items at a variety of price points to make it easy for guests to buy something that fits comfortably in their budget. 

Schedule Wardrobe Fittings

In most cases, your wedding party wardrobe will require alterations. Set time aside this month to get everyone together and make sure each piece fits perfectly. If something is off, there’s plenty of time for the seamstress or designer to make changes. 

Meet With Florists

Chances are you’ll be incorporating flowers at your wedding — whether it’s simple, elegant bouquets, modern succulent terrariums, or over-the-top flower arrangements. As such, be sure to research florists by looking through their portfolios, checking out their work online, and reading customer reviews. You can then set up a meeting to discuss your preferences and get a sense of what they can offer to suit your budget and aesthetic. 

Get Wedding Insurance

A wedding is a big investment. Protect it by securing wedding insurance that offers coverage in case things fall through or an urgent matter comes up. While this added expense might not be necessary for every wedding, it could be well worth the initial investment. Be sure to read the fine print and understand what’s covered and what isn’t in each policy.

Plan Your Honeymoon

When you plan a wedding, it’s easy to focus exclusively on the big day. But you also need to make fun plans for where you’re going to sail off into the sunset! 

Start thinking about where you want to spend your honeymoon. If it’s a far-flung location, book your tickets and reserve your accommodations now to ensure you don’t end up scrambling to make last-minute plans.

7 Months Before the Wedding

Bride signing a contract

It’s getting closer! Just seven more months until you make it official. Read on for tasks you should conquer this month.

Book Your Rehearsal Dinner Venue

Start planning for the rehearsal dinner by securing a venue. Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts and pays for the wedding rehearsal dinner, but many couples choose to do it themselves so they have full creative control. Choose to host a fancy clambake in your backyard or reserve a private dinner at a country club for this special occasion.

Order Necessary Venue Rentals

Rentals are an excellent way of elevating the look and feel of your wedding. If your budget allows it, consider renting things like linens, lounge chairs, lanterns, portable bars, arches, dance floors, and other equipment. These elements aren’t just practical but they also dress up any venue to match your wedding theme or color palette.

Hire an Officiant

Unless you’re getting married in a church, you’ll need to hire an officiant to make the ceremony official. Make the moment more intimate by having a friend or family member do the honors. Alternatively, you can check local listings for professional officiants who can handle the job.

6 Months Before the Wedding

Bride putting on her wedding ring

You’re halfway there! With some logistical tasks behind you, the to-do list gets more fun with creative tasks that likely won’t take as much time.

Shop for Wedding Bands

Picking out your wedding bands is undoubtedly one of the most beloved wedding checklist tasks. Many couples buy from the same jeweler who created the engagement ring, but you can be creative and choose whatever you want.

Attend Premarital Counseling 

Some churches require couples to attend premarital counseling, or perhaps you want to go on your own accord. In any case, if this is important to you, schedule a counseling appointment about six months before the ceremony. You’ll spend time aligning your goals, setting expectations, and sharing values before the big day.

Schedule Beauty and Lighting Teams

While you can do makeup and hair for your own wedding, it’s often easier (and less stressful) to hire a professional if it fits your budget. Book your glam squad including a makeup artist and hair stylist for the wedding date. Set up a makeup trial and hairstyle appointments with several different vendors to find an artist you love.

5 Months Before the Wedding

Time flies when you’re having fun. But the fun doesn’t stop yet! Keep powering through your wedding planning timeline with these month-five items. 

Book Your Newlywed Transportation

If you’re hosting your wedding ceremony and reception at different venues, you’ll likely need transportation to get you from point A to point B. Perhaps you want specialty transportation like a horse carriage for a fairy tale wedding, a swanky electric vehicle for your eco-chic wedding, or a vintage sports car for your traditional wedding.

Plan the Menu

Give yourself at least five months before the wedding to customize your menu. Start exploring different caterers and set up tastings to test out different main dishes, sides, and appetizers. Don’t forget to try a variety of wedding cake flavors too!

Buy Pre-Wedding Celebration Outfits

Now’s the time when wedding planning gets more exciting. As you get closer to your special day, parties and other celebrations are just around the corner. Plan a shopping day to buy outfits for your bachelorette party or pick out your ensemble for the bridal shower.

Start Beauty Treatment Plans

This wedding checklist item is entirely optional, but if you want to explore skincare or other beauty treatments, now is a great time to get started. There’s plenty of time to let your skin adjust to treatments like facials or laser therapy and for teeth whitening to take effect.

4 Months Before the Wedding

Women throwing confetti up into the air

The big day is just around the corner and you’re three-quarters of the way through the planning process. Finish strong by wrapping up these tasks on your wedding checklist.

Send Bridal Shower Invites

Not everything on this wedding checklist falls on your shoulders. Whoever is planning your bridal shower should handle the task of sending bridal shower invitations. Make it easy by choosing digital bridal shower invitations from Greenvelope that seamlessly coordinate with your save the dates and wedding invitations (more on that later). 

Create a Wedding Playlist

Sit down with your musician, band, or DJ (and, importantly, your future spouse) to create a list of songs you want to hear — and any that should definitely be left off the playlist. Finalize the songs for big moments during the event including the procession, the wedding exit song, and tunes for special dances. 

Create a Wedding Program

A wedding program isn’t required, but guests find it nice to get an outline of the day’s events. If you’re doing a ceremony program, create it and print it out four months in advance. You’ll thank yourself later when you have a million things to do and this isn’t one of them.

Pro tip: Use these wedding program wording ideas to seamlessly craft your one-sheeter.

3 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding vows and wedding rings on a table

In three months, you’ll be happily married in wedded bliss. Just make sure you complete these wedding checklist items first.

Order Wedding Invitations

Nothing makes the nuptials feel more real than sending out wedding invitations. Wedding invites should be sent two to three months before the big day. If you’re hosting a destination wedding or one where the majority of guests have to travel, send these out four to five months in advance instead. 

Decide on Wedding Guest Favors

Thinking about giving guests a little token of your appreciation? Now’s the time to come up with wedding favor ideas. Match the items to your wedding theme and personalize them with custom labels for a special touch. You can choose to DIY the favors or order them from a vendor or online marketplace like Etsy to make your life easier.

Rent a Photo Booth

We love a good photo booth, especially at a wedding. Rent a booth and be sure there are plenty of props. Glasses, hats, and signs are all easy props — or choose specially made props that match your wedding theme.

Write Your Vows

These may be some of the most important words you ever say, so don’t leave it to the last minute. By starting three months before the wedding, you’ll give yourself ample time to reflect and think about exactly what you want to say. Plus, there’s plenty of time to run your words by a close confidant to make them perfect.

Finish DIY Wedding Crafts

Many couples choose to DIY some of their wedding decor, favors, or stationery. If you’ve chosen this route, it’s time to get to work and finalize all your DIY projects. Make it fun by planning a weekend or evening where the bridal party gets together and works on DIY projects for the nuptials.

2 Months Before the Wedding

Person helping a bride put on her wedding dress

It’s almost time for the big day and we’re as excited as you are. Stay on top of these last few items to ensure a seamless planning process.

Celebrate With a Pre-Wedding Party

There’s a good chance you’ll have a couple of pre-wedding celebrations, so be sure to arrange these events a couple of months before the big day. Whether you’re doing a co-ed wedding shower, bachelor party, Las Vegas bachelorette party, or something else entirely different, it’s time to celebrate. Take a break from your wedding checklist, let loose, and enjoy fun times with your besties.

Send Rehearsal Dinner Invitations

While rehearsal dinners are meant to mimic and plan for the big dinner the following night, it doesn’t have to be an identical event. That means you should send rehearsal dinner invitations and be clear about what’s expected from your wedding party. Pay extra attention to details like the dress code, especially if it’s different from the wedding day

Have the Final Wedding Dress Fitting

If you’re wearing a wedding dress, final alterations should be done two months in advance. This leaves time if something needs to be adjusted at the last minute. Depending on your wedding dress fitting, you may want to buy wedding undergarments like shapewear or a garter belt. 

1 Month Before the Wedding

Bride and groom's wedding shoes

The big day is just about here and you’ve conquered most of the items on your to-do list. There are just a few tasks remaining — here’s what not to miss.

Apply for a Marriage License

If you choose to skip a step on this wedding checklist, make sure it’s not this one! Without a marriage license, your “I do’s” won’t be official. Once you know where your wedding will take place, head to the municipality or search online to find out what documentation you need to get the marriage license. Requirements change from place to place, so be sure to read the fine print — some licenses are valid for just 10 days so you’ll need to get married soon while some offer longer time frames up to a year.

Once you get the marriage license, be sure to sign it with your partner. You’ll also need to get signatures from witnesses and the officiant or it won’t be official.

Make a Seating Chart and Order Place Cards

Work with your spouse to come up with a seating chart. If you have a wedding planner, they can also help you decide where to seat different people. Once you’re done, submit the seating chart to your planner or the venue staff.

Order or make place cards so everyone knows where they should sit. You can also create a large seating chart on a board so guests can quickly reference the sheet to know where to head at the wedding reception.

Pro tip: Follow these five steps to create a seating chart.

Pay Remaining Balances to Vendors

Nothing is more uncomfortable than having vendors withhold services due to non-payment. Stay on top of payments made to vendors and what’s remaining. Be sure to follow up and ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

It’s also a good idea to place cash in tip envelopes for your vendors. Give these to your wedding planner to hand out during or after the wedding to people like the band and photographer. 

Break In Your Wedding Shoes

Don’t let blisters ruin your big day. Spend time wearing your wedding shoes — whether you’re dancing in the kitchen with your future spouse or strutting your stuff on a quick shopping trip. The more time you spend breaking in your shoes, the less likely you are to have pain and problems on the big day.

Order and Finalize Smaller Items

There are a lot of smaller items that go into a wedding including a guest book, flower girl and ring bearer accessories, and matching robes for the bridal party, just to name a few. Sit down and make a list of all these items, then work through and order each one.

The Week Before

With just a week left to go, most of the hard work is behind you. Now it’s time to focus on getting yourself ready for the big day

Here’s what to do the week before your special day if necessary:

  • Schedule beauty appointments for manicures, pedicures, haircuts, beard shaves, or light facials
  • Clean your wedding rings and engagement bands
  • Get your wedding attire (tux, dress, etc.) cleaned and pressed
  • Pack your bags if you’re heading on a honeymoon after your wedding night
  • Confirm timing and expectations with vendors
  • Practice reading your vows out loud in front of a mirror, with a friend, or your partner
  • Write your partner a private note to give them on the big day

The Day Before

You have just 24 hours before saying “I do.” Here’s what you can’t forget before the day is done.

Give the Officiant Your Marriage Certificate

Once everyone has signed the marriage certificate, it needs to be filed with the county or city clerk. The officiant usually does this so make sure to give them the marriage certificate — especially if you’re jetting out of the country after the ceremony. In a few weeks, you’ll get the certified copy back in the mail.

Give Wedding Bands to the Right Person

While it’s tradition to have the best man hold the rings, you can designate anyone you want to hold this honor. Just be sure that you give that person the rings before the big day and have them keep it in a safe place until the vow exchange.

Celebrate With Your Rehearsal Dinner

It’s time to kick back and enjoy all of your hard work and planning! Celebrate with your close friends and family at your rehearsal dinner. Revel in speeches and tales of your love while eagerly anticipating the festivities tomorrow.

Your Wedding Day

Couple having a photoshoot outdoors

It’s here! It’s finally here! The wedding day of your dreams has begun. Relax and enjoy each special moment — from getting ready with your wedding party to greeting your beloved guests. The day will fly by, so take time to be present and absorb the love that fills this special day.

After the Wedding

You’re officially married! Congratulations, you’ve made it through a year of planning and countless memorable moments. 

While you’re basically done and free to enjoy wedded bliss, there are just a few simple follow-up tasks to complete. Ideally, finish these no later than a month after your wedding day:

  • Send wedding thank you cards to guests 
  • Leave reviews for vendors
  • Change your name on important documents 
  • Create a wedding album
  • Preserve your bouquet, gown, or cake

Plan Your Wedding With Stationery From Greenvelope

Bride and groom kissing each other

With this comprehensive wedding checklist guide, you have a step-by-step plan to tackle all of the essential tasks from engagement to the big day. Organized in a monthly timeline one year out from the big day, you can plan effectively and not worry about missing anything important.

When you’re ready to choose your wedding stationery, turn to Greenvelope. Browse our selection of artist-curated wedding invitations, save the dates, thank you notes, and RSVP cards for your nuptials. Customize the design and make it unique to your love story with color, font, and design controls. Send the invite to your friends and family with just a few clicks — all without the hassle of the post office and paper waste.

For more wedding planning advice, continue browsing our wedding blog filled with practical tips on everything from etiquette, decorating ideas, and creative themes to party ideas before the big day. You’ll find the perfect way to celebrate this special moment in your life and cherish it forever.

Make Wedding Planner Easier with this Wedding Planning Checklist

Printable wedding checklist to manage your wedding planning to-dos