Planning Your Wedding Timeline of Events

Wedding Timeline - Shop At Home Bride

The key to a successful wedding is good planning. By using a Wedding Timeline you can pace out all the little elements of your wedding in such a way as to avoid stress and keep everything on track - not to mention making sure nothing gets overlooked.

What does an effective wedding timeline look like? Well first, it spans at least a year. In my opinion a year and a half is better. If you’ve gotten engaged and plan on marrying sooner than that, you’ll have to adjust this timeline by clumping various tasks together in order to keep on schedule. So before sketching out your timeline you have to have a firm wedding date in mind. Everything in your 'Wedding Plan' revolves around that day.
When your wedding date is at least a year out, you want to pow-wow with your partner about what type of wedding you both want. You have two important things to discuss. First is your budget. Without knowing what you can spend, it’s going to be impossible to plan effectively. Be realistic. You don’t want 5 years of debt for ONE wedding of approximately 5 hours.

Discuss is the overall feel / style of your wedding is important to other choices you’ll be making in the coming year (like where to hold the wedding, and what to wear). Make notes of the peripheral ideas you both seem to really like (things that tie into your wedding’s style, but aren’t the main topic right now).

You will want to keep these notes and refer back to them later, so now’s the perfect time to start a wedding file. I recommend two. Put one with on-going notes on the computer. Don’t over look the cyber calendar function on your system. You can put important dates in your 'Wedding Timeline' in that program so you get automatic reminders. It’s a great tool! The other file is a paper one. Keep it in an accessible, but safe location. This is where you’ll put business cards, quotes, clippings from magazine that illustrate what you want in flowers (or whatever), etc.

If you’re planning on announcing your engagement formally, this is also the time to do it. You can post it in a blog, or do the newspaper route. Remember to keep a printed copy for your scrapbook.

With that task done it’s time to start shopping around for locations for the ceremony and reception. Popular halls and wedding venues can be booked long in advance, so you want to get a deposit in as early as possible. If you can hold both parts of the wedding in one location it often saves you money. Whether one location or two, always check the venue’s cancellation and refund policy and make sure its acceptable to you.

You should also start comparison-shopping for your gown. Finding the perfect dress on a budget isn’t always easy, and you want to leave time for alterations if necessary. In any case, giving yourself plenty of time improves your chances of locating a bargain.

Phase Two begins about 9 months before the wedding. If you haven’t done so already, choose a wedding party and find out if they’ll participate. It’s especially important to do this for people who may have to travel for your wedding. They need time to find good airfares. 

The wedding party isn’t the only group you need to be talking to right now. You have to locate and hire your vendors (if you know of a vendor that’s particularly popular you may want to move this task to an earlier slot in your timeline – say 10 or 11 months out). Here is a list of some of the key vendors you may need to hire:

          * officiate (religious or civil)               * caterer

          * Photographer                                     * musician(s)

         * car rental                                             * tux rental

         * cake decorator                                     * florist
During the next month, you should begin to make critical decisions on what the wedding party will be wearing,  start finalizing your ideal guest list, and get your name on a gift registry (this alleviates duplicate gifts – no one needs three toasters!). One note on the registry, try to pick out some lower end items too for your family and friends on a budget.
Phase Three begins about 6 months before the wedding. You already created a guest list, now you have to pair it down to meet your budget. At that juncture you can begin considering what type of invitation you want and how you’ll have them made. By far your best budget-minded option is laser printing them.

If you’re planning a honeymoon you definitely want to get those reservations in now. Watch various website for “get away” deals and good airfares to save money. While you’re doing your own travel arrangements, remember to get information on accommodations for those guests traveling to your wedding.

Phase Four begins at 4 months out. This is the time during which you’ll want to shop for wedding bands if you’re getting them. You also want to start the process of obtaining a marriage license. Some people start mailing out invitations during this month, others wait for Stage 5 (3 months before the wedding).

Phase Five: If you haven’t done so already, mail your invitations.  If you need to rent any special items for the wedding (like chair covers and linen), make those arrangements. If you have a caterer, review and approve the reception menu, and if you want wedding favors order them.

Phase Six: Whew only 2 months to go, and still lots to do. Now do you see why giving yourself extra time was a good idea? In any case, sit down with your partner and whatever musician(s) you’ve hired and review music. Begin confirming with the florist, tux shop and your dressmaker that everything’s on schedule. Get alterations finalized if necessary.

Phase Seven: Four short weeks.  Review everything with your wedding party and make sure that everyone has completed whatever tasks you’ve given them. Finalize your marriage license if it’s not completed yet, and review all your wedding details with your vendors.

Two weeks into this last month give your caterer the number of guests who have RSVPd, set up a rehearsal, and start putting together the forms you’ll need for your name change (credit cards, post office, license, social security, etc.). Get a hold of the florist to re-confirm the arrival time / location for that part of the decorations. If there’s any chance the lot at the wedding or reception won’t hold all vehicles, make sure to find out where people can park alternatively.

In the last week things get a tad hectic. You need to make sure to confirm the rehearsal plans, pick up any clothing that hasn’t already been gathered, and arrange to get your hair done (if necessary). Generally you want to review every step in your Wedding Timeline and reconfirm any vendor or service that hasn’t already been called.

Finally, whatever you do, try to get lots of rest this week and don’t forget to eat (you’ll be burning those calories quickly between nerves and activity levels).

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