12+ months before
Envision your wedding and draw up a budget.
Assemble your "planning team." Consider hiring a wedding consultant.
Pick a wedding date and time. Select several options, then check with your venues, officiant, and important guests before finalizing.
Start planning the guest list.
Look for and book ceremony sites and reception sites.
Ask friends and relatives to be in the wedding party.
Optional: Have an engagement party. You may want to register beforehand for gifts.
8-10 months before
Bride: Think about, shop for, and order your gown.
Envision reception food.
Decide what type of entertainment you want. A pianist for the cocktail hour, strolling violinists, a DJ, or band?
Think about your floral decor.
Research and book your wedding professionals. Interview vendors: photographer, videographer, reception band or DJ, florist.
Research a wedding insurance policy to protect your deposits.
Research and reserve accommodations for out-of-town guests.
Register for gifts.
Contact rental companies if you need to rent anything for ceremony/reception, such as chairs, tables, and tent.
6-8 months before
Book ceremony musicians.
Order bridesmaid dresses.
Start planning honeymoon.
Send save-the-date cards. This is a particularly good idea if you're marrying during a tourist or holiday season or having a destination wedding.
4-6 months before
Attend prewedding counseling, if required.
Shop for and order invitations and wedding rings.
Shop for formal wear.
Renew or get passports, if necessary.
Envision your wedding cake and research, interview, and book a cake designer.
3 months before
Order wedding cake.
Hire a calligrapher, if you want your invitations professionally addressed.
Attend your shower. (It may be earlier, depending on when hosts decide to have it.)
Groom: Rent the men's formalwear.
Hire wedding-day transport: limousines, other cars. Look into transportation sooner if you're considering renting streetcars or over-the-top travel.
2 months before
Mail your invitations.
Write your vows.
Purchase gifts for parents, attendants, and each other.
Book your stylist and try out big-day hairstyles.
Book a makeup artist and go for a trial run.
1 month before
Apply for a marriage license. Check with the local bureau in the town where you'll wed.
Bride: Have final gown fitting. Bring your maid of honor along to learn how to bustle your dress. Have the dress pressed and bring it home.
Call all bridesmaids. Make sure they have their gowns ready for the wedding.
Make last-minute adjustments with vendors.
Create a wedding program to hand out to guests.
Order and plan in-room welcome baskets for out-of-town guests.
2 weeks before
Review final RSVP list and call any guests who have not yet sent a response.
Deliver must-have shot lists to photographer and videographer. Include who should be in formal portraits and determine when portraits will be taken.
Deliver final song list to your DJ or bandleader. Include special song requests and songs you do not want played.
Bride: Get your last prewedding haircut and color.
1 week before
Give reception site/caterer final guest list. Include vendors, such as the photographer or band members, who will expect a meal. Ask how many extra plates the caterer will prepare.
Supply location manager with a list of vendor requests such as a table for DJ or setup space needed by the florist.
Plan reception seating chart.
Print place and table cards, or finalize list with the calligrapher you have hired to do so.
Call all wedding vendors and confirm arrangements.
Give ceremony and reception site managers a schedule of vendor delivery and setup times, plus contact numbers.
Groom: Get your hair trimmed.
Attend bachelor/ette parties.
2-3 days before
Bride: If you need to, have your gown pressed or steamed.
Groom: Go for final fitting and pick up your formalwear.
Groom: Ask the best man to make sure all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits.
Determine wedding-party positions during the ceremony and the order of the party in the processional and recessional.
Hand over place cards, table cards, menus, disposable cameras, favors, and any other items for setting the tables to the caterer and/or reception site manager.
Reconfirm final details with all vendors. Discuss any necessary last-minute substitutions.
Call the limousine- or car-rental company for pickup times and locations.
Arrange for guests without cars to be picked up from the airport or train station. Ask friends, attendants, or relatives to help.
Deliver welcome baskets to the hotel concierge; make sure to include names and delivery instructions.
Provide all wedding professionals with an emergency phone number to call on the day of the wedding.
Write checks and/or talk to wedding hosts (usually, your parents, if not you) about any final balances to be paid at the end of the reception.
Rehearse ceremony. Meet with the wedding party, ceremony readers, immediate family, and your officiant at the ceremony site to rehearse and iron out details.
Bring unity candle, aisle runner, yarmulkes, or other ceremony accessories to the site.
Give your marriage license to your officiant.
Attend rehearsal dinner.
Present attendants with gifts at the rehearsal dinner. You'll want to do this especially if the gifts are accessories to be worn during the wedding.
Present parents and each other with gifts.
Give wedding bands to the best man and the maid of honor to hold during the ceremony.
Give best man the officiant's fee envelope, to be handed off after the ceremony.
Introduce your reception site manager to your consultant or maid of honor for questions or problems during the reception.
Assign a family member or attendant to be the photographer's contact so he knows who is who.
Prearrange for someone to return any rentals.
Preplan for attendants to take the bride's gown for cleaning and return the groom's tux to the rental shop.
Write and send thank-you notes to gift-bearing guests and vendors who were especially helpful.