Getting ready for the big day 

Bride and Groom checklist (with footnotes) for an (almost) stress-free wedding

12 months

• Research venues

• Decide the style of wedding you’d prefer

• Make a budget

• Type up a tentative list of guests

• Research and make appointments with potential wedding planners, photographers, and bands or DJs

11 months

• Set the date and book your venue(s)

• Select a wedding planner

• Meet with caterers and set up tastings

• Book your band or DJ, or start putting together playlists

• Line up your photographer

If you plan on providing your own music consider selecting a few friends you trust to put together dance music playlists for the reception or for later in the night.

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  • Chris Autio Photography

10 months

• Pick your caterer and confirm menu

• Solidify your guest list

• Pick your ceremony officiant

• Choose and confirm your attendants

• Start looking for a wedding dress and groom’s attire

Guest lists are a tricky deal. Make your own list and then offer to look at additions from parents and siblings. Talk it through. Sometimes it’s easier to invite certain people to save any drama. But draw the line when you need to.

9 months

• Interview florists

• Research wedding cakes

• Decide on food and liquor for reception

• Register for gifts

• Research wedding rings

• Order or buy wedding dress

If you’re a non-traditional sort, you can find a wedding dress that defies convention but still looks extraordinary. Vintage dresses come in grays and creams and you can find a shorter dress that matches your carefree attitude.

8 months

• Select attire for wedding party

• Decide on ceremony music

• Set up a wedding website

7 months

• Choose and order invitations, table cards, thank you notes and save-the-date cards

• Book hotel rooms for guests

• Select and order rings

• Choose groom’s attire

Just like the bride, the groom can add a dash of character to his outfit. Like the James Bond look but still want to show your down-to-earth side? Just add a pair of Converse sneakers to the mix.

6 months

• Finalize invitations

• Gather addresses for guests

• Discuss attire with groomsmen

• Choose rehearsal dinner menu

• Discuss honeymoon

If you want to keep it simple for the rehearsal dinner, make it casual but still classy: Go for gourmet pizza.

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  • Writing with Light Photography

5 months

• Place print order for programs

• Order cake

• Address invitations

• Try on wedding gown and address any adjustments needed

• Plan order of ceremony events

• Write or choose wedding vows

Wedding vows can be daunting. If you’re writing your own, take a look at some samples online to get inspired. Most importantly, keep it simple. If you plan on being humorous, make sure you don’t go overboard.

4 months

• Purchase or rent groom accessories

• Pick ceremony readings and readers

• Make honeymoon reservations

• Send out save-the-date cards

When delegating readings, think of people who are confident in front of a crowd and will talk slowly and clearly.

3 months

• Review and approve programs

• Decide on post-wedding brunch

• Make appointment with hairdresser and make-up artist

• Update registry and website

• Discuss bachelor and bachelorette party plans with attendants

2 months

• Scope out the venue to decide where the wedding party will dress

• Go to final gown fitting and arrange for pick up or delivery

• Purchase gifts for wedding party

• Get marriage license

If you are having a Western-style wedding, belt buckles are a great wedding-party gift.

6 weeks

• Send wedding invitations

• Confirm music selections with DJ or musicians

• Write newspaper announcement

• Purchase wedding favors

• Visit hairstylist for practice appointment

Wedding favors can be simple, like offering little bags full of candy. But you can also try for something more personal such as making a mix CD for all of your guests or handpicking second-hand trinkets or books.

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  • Deschamps Photography

4 weeks

• Confirm floral order

• Meet with attendants to discuss duties

• Determine seating for guests

• Visit makeup artist for practice session; schedule manicure, pedicure

• Finalize plans with photographer

Beyond the duties of your wedding planner, there are things you’ll need from your attendants, if only a little emotional support. Let them know what your concerns are for the wedding and have them keep an eye out to make sure things go smoothly.

3 weeks

• Finalize reception guest list

• Give the headcount to caterer

• Set up delivery of decorations

• Call guests who have not RSVPed

• Talk with family and special guests who are not attendants to delegate any leftover duties

Depending on what level of wedding planning services you’ve paid for you might still need help. People who aren’t in the wedding party are usually happy to help with chores, whether it’s hauling kegs of beer or stacking chairs.

1 week

• Start packing for honeymoon

• Pick up wedding dress

• Sit down with your to be to discuss any loose ends or points of stress

Shouldn’t you be feeling overwhelmed right now? If you’ve gotten everything in order and duties delegated, this week shouldn’t be too bad. If your honeymoon is just around the corner, take the time to start a list of things you’ll need for it.


• Eat a good breakfast

• Take some time alone with your to-be

• Go to hairstyle and make-up appointments

• Breathe

• Get ready to have fun

Wedding days are fun, but often a blur. You might joke about how you barely saw your newlywed partner in the bustle of activity, so take some time—breakfast, coffee—to sit down together and enjoy the calm before the storm.


• Arrange for transportation of gifts

• Make a list of gift givers

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