After the initial excitement of your engagement evolves into actual wedding planning, a lot of brides can quickly become overwhelmed, and for good reason: planning a wedding involves a lot of moving parts that have to occur in a certain order for things to flow smoothly. Some vendors can’t book until they have certain information from other vendors, and sometimes it’s much easier to make decisions on a vendor when you’ve already made choices for a few others. For brides who don’t know where to start or what order to go in, we’re giving you a full breakdown of a typical year long wedding planning timeline, so you have a better idea of what to expect.
12 Months Out
If you’re looking to use a wedding planner, we recommend locking your planner down first. A planner will be intimately familiar with the vendors in your area, giving you tips on which you’d potentially like and what works best for your budget.
The next big decision you need to make? The venue! Almost all of your vendors will need a venue and a date locked down before you can book, so it’s important to have this done before you start getting into details. The venue also helps you imagine your wedding day better, giving you a better idea of the type of decor you’d want to choose.
10 Months Out
While 10 months out from your wedding date seems like a long time, trust us, you’re going to want it. Purchasing a wedding dress is not your ordinary shopping experience: you’re ordering a high-end garment that will be made to order by the designer, so it takes a while for the dress to come in after you’ve placed your order. All the materials must be sourced, each piece sewn, and delicate embellishments placed perfectly; it doesn’t happen overnight, and you’ll still need time for fittings! We suggest booking your appointment as soon as you’ve officially set a venue.
Photographers can only work one wedding per day, so it’s important you secure your photographer early so they’re not booked on your wedding day. If you’re choosing to capture your big day on video as well, we recommend booking the two at the same time. Often, your photographer will have a suggestion for a videographer if they don’t offer the service themselves.
If your venue doesn’t have its own catering options, or if you’d prefer something different than what’s available, you’ll want to start looking for your caterer. This process can take longer than expected, since you’ll want to taste what the caterer has to offer. It’s also important to book far enough in advance so that your caterer is open on your date!
8 Months Out
Another key step in your wedding planning, finding the right bridesmaid dresses affects some major decor decisions (for example: flowers), so you’ll want to bring a few of your girls and find the perfect dresses to fit your wedding vision before organizing your decorations. Book an appointment to browse the wide range of bridesmaids dresses available to find something you and your bridesmaids will love.
Once you’ve settled on your bridesmaids dresses, book your florist and talk about your flowers. Aside from the obvious bouquets and boutonnieres, you’ll need to discuss any other decor (think: altar, centerpieces, any unique statement florals you’re dreaming of). Your florist will be able to give you an idea of what blooms will be seasonally available, and you’ll be able to give them an idea of the sorts of colors and overall feel you’re looking for.
Whether you’re planning on having a band or a DJ, you’ll need to book them! Like your photographer, they can only do one wedding per day, so it’s important to book early enough that you won’t find your perfect entertainment option isn’t available.
For guests travelling from out of town, it’s typical for the bride and groom to suggest local accommodations that are located well and will take care of your guests! Often, couples will book a block of rooms, which will give your guests a deal on room rates and will ensure your guests can all be with one another.
6 Months Out
While you don’t need to send your invitations until 6 to 8 weeks out, you’ll want to order them from your chosen stationer earlier than that. Addressing each envelope and assembling the invitations takes much longer than you’d expect, so you’ll want the extra time.
Most bakers only take a certain number of weddings per week, so you’ll want to secure the baker somewhat early. Since you’ve ordered your invitations, you’ll have a ballpark idea of the number of guests needed to be served, which your baker will need to know so they can prepare enough cake for your wedding.
Finding a makeup artist and hair stylist can really help you feel flawless on your wedding day. Choosing the right vendor is key here, so it’s important you schedule a trial for your hair and makeup—this way, you’ll know you’ll love the way you look on your wedding day, and you can give the cosmetologist any suggestions or changes you may have.
If your venue doesn’t have certain things (tables, chairs, linens, china, etc.), or you need a tent for your outdoor wedding, book these now. You’ll want to secure these early enough that you don’t have to worry about them later, so that your wedding day runs smoothly.
4 Months Out
While selecting the menswear for your wedding isn’t as difficult as choosing your wedding gown or bridesmaid dresses, you’ll still want enough time to ensure you’re choosing something that will complement your wedding perfectly. Book an appointment to find the right tuxedos for your wedding, and try to rent all the tuxes at once to make things easier for both you and the groomsmen.
If you’re looking to have a limo for your exit, or a shuttle between your ceremony and reception venues, find a transportation company to accommodate your needs. While most transportation companies have multiple vehicles, it’s still important to secure this a few months out so that you don’t have to worry about any last minute, unexpected difficulties.
You’ll want to bring your shoes and any undergarments to your dress fittings, so we recommend purchasing all of your accessories, from shoes to jewelry to your veil, before the dress comes in. You’ll also be able to finally see your complete bridal look at your first fitting, so you can be completely confident with your gown and accessories as a whole.
After the four month mark, your biggest vendors are booked! You’ll only need to make the more detailed decisions: cake flavors, appetizers, bridesmaid accessories, and other subtle details that pull the entire day together. If you still haven’t found your dream dress, book an appointment at Allure Bridal Boutique, and let our expert stylists make that part of planning an absolute dream.