Unions: Timeline for planning your wedding

Rowna Heck

When you finally have that engagement ring on your finger, it’s easy to go splurge on everything and gather large amounts of debt. It’s also very easy to stress about deadlines, guest lists, flowers, vendors and everything in between.

16 to 9 months

Between 16 to nine months before your big day, it may be wise to start a wedding binder. Put anything and everything pertaining to the flowers, decorations, clothing, designs and food you may want for your wedding in the binder.

Around the same time, you should create a budget with your significant other, or anyone else who might be contributing finances, to determine how much you have to spend based on all contributions. You should do this even before you set a date. Decide on an amount that you can set aside every month. Another smart thing to do is to head to the bank and open a savings account specifically for your wedding fund. Look for one with a high interest rate to really get your money’s worth.

When you do set a date, consider throwing your big bash on the “off-season.” It’s often considerably cheaper to have a wedding in the winter than in the summer or early fall. Ask the vendors you are considering if they will give you a discount. They might be willing to work out a payment plan with you as well. They want to guarantee your business.

Pick your wedding party and start a guest list around this time as well. Having the budget beforehand helps you know how many people you can feed. You might want to hire a wedding planner. This is an extra expense, but they will know and have access to deals and discounts you will not. Also don’t forget to book your officiant and talk to photographers, bands, florists and caterers. Ask your friends and family about wedding services.

8 months

About eight months before the wedding is the time to hire the photographer and/or videographer. Book the entertainment, meet caterers, register for gifts and reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. This is also the time to purchase the dress. Talk to the vendor about what they recommend as a schedule for fittings and alterations for the entire wedding party.

6 to 7 months

Pick out and buy your invitations six to seven months before the wedding. This is a good time to start planning your honeymoon. Meet with your officiant to get a clear picture of how you want your ceremony to go and make sure you have all the correct official documents. Book a florist and arrange for any professional transportation you may want. Start putting together a day-of timeline. Pick out and order the cake, get your shoes, schedule hair and makeup appointments and choose your music.

3 months

Finalize your flower order about three months before the big day. Order any gifts or favors you may have planned. Make a list of the people who will be giving toasts at the reception and finalize what is going to be read during the ceremony and who is going to read it. Have the menu cards and programs printed at this time. Purchasing the rings now gives you time to get them resized or engraved.

2 months

Touch base with all your vendors about two months before the big day. Meet with your photographer to go over what you would like. Review a playlist with the band or DJ. Send out the invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding, and ask that RSVPs be turned in no later than three weeks before the wedding. This is a good time to submit a wedding announcement to your local newspaper if you want.

1 month

Get your marriage license one month before. This can take a few days and it may be smart to get a few copies. Mail the rehearsal dinner reservations, get your last dress fitting in and confirm everything with all your vendors. This is the time to make as many final payments as possible. Email and print directions for the drivers of any transportation you hired. A few more tasks you may choose to do at this time would be to assign the seating, purchase the bridesmaids gifts, write your vows and get your hair cut and/or colored.

The week of

The week of the wedding, check again with all vendors and make sure their arrival times are correct. Delegate small wedding day tasks — you don’t have to do it all! Send a timeline to the bridal party, pick up your dress and book a spa treatment. After all this planning, you deserve to pamper yourself just a bit.

72 hours prior

Check one last time with the photographer, set aside checks with the vendors’ tips and send the final guest list to all of the vendors hosting your wedding and wedding-related events at least seventy-two hours before the wedding. Don’t forget to break in your shoes and pack for your honeymoon.