Your Wedding Planning Checklist

wedding planning guide

Planning a wedding is no easy task. There are plenty of things to do before the big event and the thought of all of the minute details can quickly become overwhelming. We want you to have FUN while planning your wedding, which is one of the reasons we offer all-inclusive packages. But we know there are still things you may want to take care of on your own. This extremely helpful monthly Wedding Planning Checklist outlines the steps from getting the ring to saying, “I do.” Get the reassurance and reminders that you need to make for a stress-free wedding day.

12+ Months Before

·       Start a wedding binder. This will help you stay organized while you collect ideas, business cards, contact info, etc.

·       Choose a date.

·       Work out the budget.  Who will be paying for the wedding & how will funds be available?

·       Envision your wedding. Look through bridal and style magazines for ideas, then place the pictures/articles that inspire you in your wedding binder.

·       Pick your wedding attendants.

·       Start the guest list.  It’s good to keep a database, either on your computer or in a notebook, with a column for Contact Info, then one for RSVPs so you can track who is coming, and who you need to contact if you haven’t heard back from them.

·       Hire a planner. Helpful but not necessary. If you budget doesn’t allow for Full Planning service, consider hiring a Consultant that provides Day-Of services, because the last thing you’ll want to be doing on your wedding day is meet with vendors, set-up, clean-up, etc. At Town Manor on the Lake, you will have access to our wonderful wedding planners who have years of experience creating beautiful & unique weddings!

·       Reserve your ceremony & reception venues. This is very important to do early in the planning stage, as dates  fill up quickly, especially during the peak wedding season- summer.

·       Choose and book your officiant.

·       Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers. While it is not necessary to book these vendors yet, it’s a good idea to keep pricing brochures, business cards, and special deals or coupons in your wedding binder.

·       Host your engagement party. Not everyone has an engagement party, but remember that it’s important that whoever you invite to the party should generally be invited to your wedding as well.

8-10 Months Before

·       Hire the Photographer. While you may not have all the specifics yet, make sure you choose a photographer that has the style and taste that you are looking for. It’s important to look through their portfolios and maybe even talk to a reference to see if they are professional and open to suggestions during the shoot.

·       Book the Videographer. Some people choose to record their wedding activities but this is not necessary if your budget is tight. If you have chosen a good photographer, then your memories will be well documented.

·       Book the entertainment/bands/DJ for ceremony and reception.  If you are using recorded music for the ceremony, make sure you talk specifics with the venue coordinator.

·       Interview and Hire the caterer. You might not have to do this if your reception venue requires you to use an in-house caterer. While you may not have exact food orders, make sure you choose a caterer that offers the style of food, and type of service (sit-down dinner, buffet, cocktails, etc.) that you desire.

·       Shop for and Purchase a dress.

·       Reserve hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. While you don’t have to offer to pay for the rooms, it’s a good idea to have two or three hotel suggestions in different price ranges for your guests. Also, if you will need a room, or   two, for the wedding party to get dressed and ready in, now is a good time to reserve these rooms as well. Don’t forget, Town Manor has gorgeous, comfortable rooms available for the wedding party & guests!

·       Start your Gift Registries.

·       Create a wedding website. Both and offer great personal website options. Make sure to include the date, travel information (hotel options), maps and directions to your venues, and links to your registries.

6-7 Months Before

·       Select a Stationer and purchase invitations.  Also, Stationers often offer menu and place card printing, as well as personalized favor options.

·       Start planning the honeymoon. You’ll need to make sure to have up-to-date passports and immunizations if you are going out of the country.

·       Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses. It usually takes 6 months for dresses to be ordered and sized.

·       Send save-the-date cards.  OPTIONAL- these are not necessary if your budget is tight. Emailing your personal wedding website is another option to let guests know about your big day.

·       Reserve any décor or furniture from Rental Company. Make sure you find out their return policy. You’ll need to know when they want the rentals returned, and whether they provide a drop-off and pick-up service.

·       Book a florist. Ask them to provide different flower and arrangement options that will fit your wedding theme and budget.

·       Arrange transportation. Figure out when and how much transportation you will need for the wedding party.

·       Start composing a day-of timeline. Include directions to the venue, contact phone number, important time reminders, and any special requests for the wedding party or vendors.


4-5 Months Before

·       Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues. While the ceremony rehearsal can usually take place in the ceremony venue, you will still need to make sure to schedule the time with the venue coordinator and tell the  officiant.

·       Order the cake. Go to a few taste-testings and choose your favorite baker and cake flavor.  Our incredible baker has created hundreds of spectacular cakes that will surpass your expectations! Check out the reviews we’ve received on our wedding cakes and desserts.

·       Start Dress Fittings. If you haven’t already, purchase your wedding shoes and bring those along with you to your fitting.

·       Schedule hair and makeup artists. It also a good idea to have a practice run a few weeks before your wedding to make sure you will like the style when your big day comes around.

·       Order Groom & Groomsmen’s formalwear. Have them take a swatch of fabric from the bridesmaids’ dresses in order to insure that the colors and material complement each other.

·       Choose your music. Start to make a list of music, both for the ceremony and the reception. You’ll need to know what the bridesmaids will be walking down the aisle to, as well as the Bride, and also what type of music you’ll want played during dinner, for the first dance, during the cake-cutting ceremony, etc.

3 Months Before

·       Finalize the menu and flowers. It’s good to wait until now since flowers and food are often affected by the season.

·       Order or Make favors.

·       Make a list of the people giving toasts. Now is a good time to ask family members and friends who you want to give speeches at your reception.

·       Finalize the readings/prayers. Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony and whom you would like to do these readings, then tell your officiant.

·       Print menu cards/programs/place cards. If you have not done this through your Stationer, a budget friendly way to do this is on your own computer and printer.

·       Purchase the rings. And have them sized and engraved.

·       Find out when vendors plan on arriving and setting-up on the wedding day. If the any of the vendors need to arrive early to set-up, make sure you find out how early you are allowed in each venue site through the venue coordinator.

2 Months Before

·       Contact vendors for special requests.  Now is a good time to see if the vendors will need anything for your wedding day. Some DJs will require a table for them to set-up on at your reception site, or some caterers may need a refrigerator made available to them before or during dinner. Make these requests known to your venue coordinator.

·       Meet with the photographer. While this is not necessary, sometimes it’s a good idea to have a walk-through of the venue sites and choose locations or specific shots that appeal to you.

·       Review the music playlist with the band or DJ. This gives them time to collect and/or practice songs.

·       Send out the invitations. This should be done 6-8 weeks before the ceremony. RSVPS should be set for 3-4 weeks before the ceremony.

·       Submit wedding announcement to newspapers.

One Month Before

·       Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database. Now is the time to contact people who you have not heard from.

·       Get your marriage license. Do not wait until the last few days to do this. It takes a couple days for the marriage license to go through, plus if you forget anything at your first appointment, you’ll always have time to reschedule.

·       Mail the rehearsal dinner invitations.

·       Have last dress fitting.

·       Have Bridesmaids dress rehearsal. Make sure dresses fit and that everyone has all their accessories.

·       Give final headcount. Once you have the final head count, give this to the caterer and ceremony and reception venue coordinator. This can be done up until the week before in case there are any last minute changes.

·       Send out as many final payments as you can.  This is easier to do now then on the day-of.

·       Confirm times for hair and makeup appointments and all vendors for the Day-Of.

·       E-mail directions for transportation drivers. It’s a good idea to have a print out of these directions available on the day-of as well in case a driver forgets to bring the map.

·       Assign seating. It’s a good idea to get a poster board and draw the layout of the room, then place small sticky notes with the names of guests written on them around the tables. This makes it easy to rearrange as necessary without having to re-sketch the entire board. Once you have assigned seating, make a chart and finish your place cards. This should be easy to understand so guests do not get confused at the reception.

·       Purchase Wedding Party gifts. You will give these gifts at the rehearsal dinner.

·       Write vows. If you have chosen to present your own vows during the ceremony.

·       Choose your hairstyle. Now is the time to get your hair cut and colored that way you have time to change it if you don’t like your new style.

Week of the Wedding

·       Check in with vendors. Reconfirm vendor arrival times.

·       Delegate wedding day tasks. Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to greet vendors, someone to collect gifts, and someone to be in charge of guest book.

·       Send the “Day-Of Timeline” to the bridal party. Include every member’s contact information, timeline of ceremony and reception, vendor contact info, and what time vendors will be arriving.

·       Pick up your dress. Make sure you have all of your accessories. Dress should be pressed and clean.

·       Check in with the photographer. Give them a list of must-have shots.

·       Put aside vendor payments and tips. Assign someone you trust to hand them out.

·       Book a massage or spa treatment. Nothing like a relaxing experience before your big day.

·       Give the Place Cards & Menus to the Caterer if they will be arranging these for you.  If the caterer will not be responsible for this task, ask for a table to be set-up at the reception venue, then use this table to set out the place cards and table arrangements, and delegate the task of placing the menus at each seat to a friend or family member.

·       Pack for your honeymoon.  Make sure you have your passport, flight information, and itineraries for your trip.

Day Before the Wedding 

·       Attend Ceremony Rehearsal. Attendees: wedding party, ceremony readers, immediate family, officiant, wedding consultant (if hired)

·       Bring ceremony accessories to the ceremony site for the rehearsal. Unity Candle, Aisle Runners, Yarmulkes, etc. This will insure that you won’t have to worry about them on the Day-Of.

·       Give your marriage license to your officiant. Best to do this at the rehearsal as well.

·       Attend Rehearsal Dinner. Distribute attendants’ gifts.


Post-Wedding Reminders

·       Arrange for someone to return rental supplies. This can be done the Monday after the wedding.

·       Arrange for someone to return Tuxes to the rental shop. This is also usually done the Monday after the wedding. If the Bride wishes to have her dress cleaned and preserved, have one the Maid of Honor drop the dress off at the dry-cleaners.

·       Send out Thank-You cards