You’re engaged – congratulations! But now what? Where do you begin? Well, we’re here to help! Here at the Wedding Shoppe we love all things weddings, which means we know exactly how overwhelming wedding planning can be. Our DIY wedding planning checklist is the perfect place to start. We’ve partnered with Kennedy Blue, to put together the ultimate wedding planning checklist, along with a detailed list of how to create your own binder at home if you prefer a more hands-on approach. Time to get organized!
Getting Started – Your DIY Wedding Planning Binder
If you choose to go the hands-on binder route, you’ll need to gather your supplies to put your binder together – Target dollar section, here we come!
What you’ll need:
- 1” binder
- Tab dividers
- Sticky notes
- Colorful pens
- Clear sheet covers – these will be used to store contracts, pictures, etc.
- Calendar (free printable below!)
- Wedding planning checklist (free printable below!)
- Washi tape
- A clear zip pouch for storing swatches, business cards, etc.
Once you’ve gotten everything you need, it’s time to put it together! For the dividers we created the following 8 categories (you can always break them into sub-categories within, too).
- Budget – include your full budget breakdown here
- Guests & Invites – guests list and their addresses, wedding party contact information, hotel information, invites, etc.
- Ceremony – venue information, décor or rental information, contracts, wedding programs, officiant information, etc.
- Reception – venue information, décor or rental information, music playlists and DJ or band contact information, caterer information and menus, seating chart, contracts, etc.
- Attire & Beauty – bridal gown information (any information on shops you are visiting and where you purchased from), groom attire, bridal party attire, hair and makeup artist information, contracts, accessories, etc.
- Photographer – list of photos you would like – you can print off some pictures you’d like to show for ideas (or just use your Pinterest board!), vendor information, business cards, contracts, etc.
- Florist – pictures of inspiration or colors you like, vendor information, contracts, business cards, etc.
- Miscellaneous – honeymoon plans, registry information, rehearsal dinner information, etc.
A (free!) printable calendar and checklist to get your binder started
Two of the most essential elements of your wedding planning binder are going to be your calendar and a wedding timeline checklist. It’s so important to stay on track with planning in order to meet your deadlines, and to promptly make all of your appointments – plus this free printable calendar and checklist is ADORABLE. Download your free checklist and calendar from Kennedy Blue and The Wedding Shoppe.
The ultimate wedding timeline to stay organized
Planning your wedding comes along with some deadlines. You might be wondering about some of these and if you can push them back somewhat or not. Don’t! It is best to stay on top of things, so you don’t become overwhelmed towards the end and also to ensure you get everything on time. Some vendors need to be booked right away because they become fully booked at least a year in advance. Other things such as your bridal attire and bridesmaid dresses need to be ordered months in advance, due to production times and alterations, so we’ve put together the perfect list for you to ensure you’re on top of things throughout the process. Download the checklist above to get started!
First things first – Right away after you get engaged
- First of all, settle on your budget. Figure out how much money you have overall and then break down how much you can allot to each category.
- Make a Pinterest account and look for inspiration!
- Narrow down some potential dates – you’ll be able to set one once you’ve decided on your venue.
- Research wedding venues that interest you and book appointments to tour and get information on pricing and available dates to see if they’ll fall in your budget and have availability for you.
- Meet with family to discuss financial expectations. Determine who is splitting costs, if your family will be paying for the wedding, or if you and your fiancé will cover everything. There is no right or wrong way to cover wedding costs - just be sure to communicate clearly!
- Have an engagement party if you wish! You can throw your own little soiree, if you’d like, or have a friend or family member host something too.
12 Months Before
- Start putting together your guest list and gathering addresses.
- Research photographers you are interested in and book appointments to meet with them. You’ll want to hire your photographer ASAP after you’ve met with them because many photographers are fully booked up to a year in advance. After booking, schedule your engagement photo session for about 8-9 months before your big day.
- Begin shopping for your wedding dress – YAY! Don’t feel pressured to purchase one right away if you’re still 12 months out unless, of course, you know it’s THE one. Keep in mind, the sooner you do purchase your dress, the more time you will have to pay it off, and the sooner it comes in as well.
- Finalize the date once you’ve narrowed down your venue and photographer and confirmed their availability for the same day.
- Book a block of hotel rooms for out of state guests at a nearby hotel.
- Choose your wedding party! We’ve got a great list of bridesmaid proposal ideas if you’re looking for a fun and creative way to ask your gals.
11 Months Before
- Start planning your ceremony and reception décor. Whether you’ll be doing some DIY projects, or ordering rentals, you’ll want to get in contact with any vendors or start purchasing any supplies you need.
- Book your florist and meet with them to decide on what types of flowers you would like for bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, etc. Bring along any pictures or ideas you have in mind!
- Book your caterer and figure out your menu.
10 Months Before
- Finalize your guest list.
- Set up your registries – make sure to register for enough stuff for the amount of guests you’ll be inviting!
- Book an officiant. This may be done through your church or elsewhere and there’s always the option to have a friend or family member get ordained to perform your ceremony!
- Book your DJ or band. This is a great vendor to get referrals from friends on. If you’ve been to a wedding where you loved the music, ask the bride or groom for contact information. Start narrowing down your ceremony and reception music.
9 Months Before
- Order your bridal gown if you haven’t already done so! This will allow for enough time for production and any necessary alterations before your big day.
- Book your hair and makeup artist(s) and coordinate whether they will be coming on-site for these services or if you’ll need to make a trip to the salon. This is also a good time to book a trial run – you’ll want to schedule this about 4-6 months before your wedding.
- Discuss hair and makeup with your bridal party. Do you want everyone to have their hair and makeup done by the same people that are doing yours? Or will you allow your gals to go wherever they prefer (while giving them some guidelines to follow, of course) or even opt to do their own hair and makeup? Will you be paying for a portion of their hair and/or makeup as a gift? This is a good time to let them know your plans.
- Take your engagement photos!
8 Months Before
- Order your accessories – shoes, jewelry, any hair accessories or shawls.
- Plan and book your honeymoon! This is a good time to book an international excursion you may be planning. If you’re doing something local, that should be booked about 4 months before your big day.
- Order your bridesmaid dress samples and color swatches with Kennedy Blue's At Home Try-On service. Get a feel for what styles and colors you like and have your girls try on sample dresses in the comfort of your own home!
7-6 Months Before
- Edit, proof, and have your invitations printed. Don’t forget to order envelopes and enough postage for the type of invitations you’re purchasing. Order your Save the Date cards at this time as well.
- Do your hair and makeup trial run with your hair and makeup artist to ensure they are able to create the look you want. Bring along pictures for inspiration and if it doesn’t quite turn out how you like it, let them know!
- Make sure each of your girls has ordered her bridesmaid dress. Ordering this far in advance will ensure they do not have to pay any extra fees for rush shipping and will also allow enough time for any necessary alterations they may need. Keep in mind, if you are in between sizes – it is best to order one size up because dresses can be easily altered and taken in if they are too big, whereas they cannot be let out much, if at all.
5 Months Before
- Make arrangements for any rentals you may need for your ceremony or reception – tables, chairs, linens, etc.
- Check in with your band or DJ to arrange any additional sound equipment you’ll need.
- Cake tasting – YUM! Time to figure out what kind of cake you want to serve at your reception.
4 Months Before
- Choose grooms and groomsman attire. Bring along any fabric swatches you have gathered in order to pair the right colors.
- Send out Save the Date cards.
3 Months Before
- Book your accommodations for your wedding night.
2 Months Before
- Send out your invitations.
- Finalize your food and drink menus with your caterer. If drinks aren’t included in catering, ask about bringing in your own alcohol and/or bartender.
6 Weeks Before
- Purchase your wedding bands – it’s getting REAL now!
- Confirm number of bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces with your florist.
- Start a rough seating chart – you’ll want to wait until all RSVP’s have arrived before finalizing.
4 Weeks Before
- Finish up any DIY projects. You definitely don’t want to wait any longer on these – you won’t want (or need!) any extra projects or stress added in the next few weeks! You’ll also want to check to ensure all décor for the ceremony and reception is ready to go at this point.
2 Weeks Before – SO CLOSE!
- Get your marriage license lined up.
- Create your day-of schedule for bridesmaids, groomsmen, photographer, and any other vendors that need to know when and where to be at a certain time. Pass out or email a copy to each person.
- Give your final guest head count to your caterer.
- Finalize your seating chart.
- Confirm all arrival times with vendors
WEDDING DAY!! It’s FINALLY HERE!
- Give a trusted friend or family member all checks for vendors to ensure they are paid on time.
- ENJOY THE BEST DAY EVER!!!
Easy as pie, right?! We know, every wedding is different and not all are planned 12 months in advance, so your checklist may need a little tweaking. A lot goes into planning your big day, so we hope this wedding planning checklist is as helpful as can be in order to make your wedding day the absolute best day ever!