One of the things that has become very clear to me during my time as a wedding coordinator is that wedding planning checklists for budget-friendly weddings are very different than wedding planning checklists for more formal weddings. As it turns out, wedding planning timelines and checklists are awesomely unique and creative, just like couples.
For instance, if you're not having a florist because your super talented aunt with a green thumb is creating your wedding centerpieces in order to save you money on your wedding flowers, then you do not need to book your florist six months in advance. So how do you know when should be doing certain wedding planning tasks?
In all honesty, there is no straight answer, because every budget-friendly wedding is different. One wedding may have branches and leaves in a large mason jar for centerpieces (which can be made a few weeks before the wedding), while another may have fresh flowers picked from a flower farm (which must often be done the day before or on the day of the wedding).
However, with that said, there are some standard wedding planning tasks that can be done at certain times if you're planning your own wedding. I've been keeping track of all the tasks as I've coordinated dozens of non-traditional weddings, and documenting all of them as I go. Below you'll find a comprehensive list, so dive in, plan away, and make sure to have fun doing it!
Note: This list is the pared down version of the The Insanely Detailed Wedding Day Checklist. If you find this list helpful, sign up to receive the full-length version for free here.
When you first get engaged:
____ Determine goals for your wedding.
____ Decide on the style, theme, or overall vibe for your wedding.
____ Determine how much time you can devote to wedding planning.
____ Create a budget if necessary.
____ Figure out how many family and friends you expect to help you put your wedding together.
____ Decide on a wedding party, if you are having one.
Shortly after you're engaged:
____ Find and book your wedding venue.
____ Choose a ceremony and reception start time.
____ Create the guest list.
____ Start booking your key wedding vendors (for example, the caterer, officiant, photographer, etc.).
____ Get event insurance.
Six to eight months out:
____ Start looking into reservations for any group wedding weekend activitiesif applicable.
____ Set up your wedding website.
____ Send out your save the dates.
____ Begin to book other vendors applicable to your wedding that you haven't already booked (for example, transportation, a photobooth, etc.).
____ Book your rehearsal dinner location.
____ Decide on wedding attire for you, your partner, and the wedding party.
Five months out:
____ Start thinking about and choosing your wedding decor, as well as other wedding items such as the guest book, seating chart, and favors.
____ Decide what DIY projects you want to do, and plan when you will do them (the earlier, the better!).
Four months out:
____ Visit the venue again, and make your event layout.
____ Start looking for your wedding rings.
____ Set up a wedding registry (if you're having one).
Three months out:
____ Discuss and choose with your partner what things you would and wouldn't like to include in your day-of timeline (for example, a cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.).
____ Start creating your job list for family and friends who will be helping on your wedding day.
____ Start creating your wedding playlists if applicable.
Two months out:
____ Get your wedding attire altered if necessary.
____ Start writing or brainstorming your vows.
____ Finish up any DIY projects that you can.
Six weeks out:
____ Mail your wedding invites, including rehearsal dinner invites, and track RSVPs.
____ Loop in your wedding coordinator (or the person who will be the point person on your big day), if you decide to have one.
____ Finalize the items in your day-of timeline, and assign exact times to the different parts of the day.
One month out:
____ Finalize your wedding ceremony with your officiant.
____ Go over your wedding timeline with your coordinator or point person, photographer, caterer, and DJ to get their feedback, and then update accordingly.
____ Get your marriage license.
____ Finish up your wedding purchases and projects for things like menus and programs.
Two to three weeks out:
____ Track down any missing RSVPs.
____ Finalize your seating chart.
____ Finalize outstanding details with vendors.
____ Update your day-of timeline with information from vendors.
____ Make your shot list for your wedding photographer.
____ Make your song list for your DJ, and specify the order of your wedding party for introductions.
____ Have a meeting with your coordinator (or point person) to go over all the final wedding details.
____ Start packing for your honeymoon if applicable.
One week out:
____ Send out a final timeline to all wedding vendors, and make sure they have directions to the venue, unloading info, and parking info.
____ Make a packing list of things you want to bring to the venue, including aDIY wedding emergency kit.
____ Write out final checks for payments and gratuities for your wedding vendors.
A couple days before the wedding:
____ Begin set-up at the venue as early as the venue will let you in.
____ Drop off welcome goodies for guests at hotels if applicable.
____ Buy any perishable food items that you are responsible for serving during the wedding weekend.
The day before the wedding:
____ Finish (or start) setting up the wedding ceremony and reception spaces.
____ Have a wedding rehearsal.
____ Hand over the planning reins and your planning materials to your wedding coordinator or point person.
The day of the wedding (yay!):
____ Get married, and soak in all the love you feel from your partner as well as your nearest and dearest family and friends, because DIY weddings are super amazing
The day after the wedding:
____ Clean up, pack up, and go on your way as a newly married couple.
The week or few days after the wedding:
____ Take a breather from wedding-related tasks and go on a honeymoon, mini-moon, or even a stay-at-home honeymoon.
One to three months after the wedding:
____ Send thank you cards.
____ Relish in the memories of your amazing wedding day. Congrats!
A wedding planning checklist that actually makes sense for your wedding.
The Insanely Detailed Wedding Planning Checklist is not your average wedding checklist.
It's a 10-page PDF filled with practical wedding planning advice from a wedding coordinator who specializes in helping couples plan their own weddings.
This checklist walks you through all the steps of planning your own wedding. And it's tailored to budget-friendly & laidback weddings so all the information is pertinent to your wedding.
No reminders to tip the valet driver in this checklist :)
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