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12 + Months Before
Begin envisioning your wedding – formal hotel or friend's loft? Backyard barbecue or exotic beach?
Decide on a budget and hash out who's contributing.
It's never too early to begin thinking about your gown. Start by deciding what style will look best on you.
Set a Date
Pick your preferences for a wedding date and time, and finalize after okaying with important guests, location, or officiant.
Start interviewing caterers.
Begin interviewing wedding consultants if you'll have one, and/or start asking family and friends for local wedding vendor recommendations.
9-11 Months Before
Contact newspapers to announce your engagement. You may need to have an engagement photo taken as well.
If you're having an engagement party , set a date, draft a guest list, and purchase your invitations.
Start looking for an officiant who suits your style and spirit.
Decide on and meet with your officiant to discuss ceremony structure and any religious requirements such as counseling.
Find a ceremony site if one hasn't been determined by your choice of officiant or reception site.
Choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen and ask them to be in the wedding party.
Scout out reception sites.
Book your reception site as soon as you see something you love that's available on your date.
If you've chosen an outdoor ceremony or reception site, look into tent and lighting rentals.
Set up appointments with various florists to discuss options.
Interview and get price lists from several photographers and videographers.
Talk to your photographer about posting your photos online so you can see your photos online and share them with friends.
Decide on a caterer. Hash out a rough price per head and begin working on a menu.
Sign your caterer contract and send in a deposit.
Hire a consultant if you're having one, and sign a contract.
Start auditioning reception bands or DJs.
Book reception band or DJ, sign the contract, and send a deposit.
Begin working on a preliminary wedding guest list and decide on your wedding's approximate size. Request lists from both sets of parents and create your own wish list.
Finalize the guest list.
Choose a color scheme, if you so desire, taking into account the decor of the rooms/areas you have reserved for your ceremony and reception.
Start investigating any ethnic customs or cultural traditions you might want to incorporate into your ceremony or reception.
Just for Brides
Begin looking at pictures of gowns online and in magazines.
When you've found some gowns you like, head out to the stores to try them on.
Narrow down your gown choices and make a final decision.
If you plan to use frequent flyer miles to travel to your honeymoon destination, book your flight now.
6-8 Months Before
Start looking into registering for gifts.
Register for your wedding gifts, and don't forget to include some choices appropriate for your upcoming bridal shower or engagement party as well.
Request demo tapes from ceremony musicians.
Book ceremony musicians and send deposit.
Finalize menu and service details with caterer.
Begin looking for a baker to make your big-day cake. Your caterer is the best source for leads.
Book a baker, choose your wedding cake design, and send a deposit.
Choose your florist and send a deposit to reserve their services.
Reserve photographer and/or videographer, decide on a package, sign contract, and send deposit.
Set aside blocks of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
Purchase and send save-the-dates to out-of-town guests, or to all guests if your celebration is over a holiday weekend or at a faraway locale.
Start planning the rehearsal dinner. Provide the host with contact information for your attendants and any other guests.
Start working on your invitation wording and design.
Finalize your invitation wording.
Order your invitations and announcements. Don't forget plenty of extra envelopes.
Make sure your maid of honor and best man are aware of what you expect of them. Providing a list of their duties will help.
Just for Brides
Think about how you might want to wear your hair.
Start shopping for bridesmaid dresses and make sure to get input from the girls.
Decide on the bridesmaid dresses.
Collect necessary measurements from attendants or pass along vender information so that they can order the dresses themselves.
Order your gown. Make sure you've asked all the critical questions and your order contains the correct information.
4-5 Months Before
Decide on a floral scheme, choose flowers, and negotiate prices with florist. Be sure to sign a contract outlining what you agreed upon.
Start thinking about flower arrangement styles you like, and figure out what flowers will be in season on your wedding day.
Book hotel room for your wedding night.
Book a calligrapher if you are using one.
Compile packages for out-of-town guests with hotel reservation and city information, and mail them out.
Book your honeymoon flights if not using frequent flyer miles, and make all your other travel reservations.
Book rehearsal dinner site.
Just for Grooms
Decide on the style of formal wear you will be wearing.
Start looking to buy or rent tuxedo, suit, or other formal attire.
Start planning your groomsmen's attire: tuxedo or suit?
Decide on your groomsmen's attire.
2-3 Months Before
Pick out or design a ketubah or other marriage contract required by your religion.
Shop for and purchase wedding bands.
Consider specific ceremony and reception decoration needs like a huppah, aisle runner, etc.
Talk to people you'd want to do special performances or readings as part of the ceremony.
Send wedding bands out to be engraved. Make sure they'll be back in time for the wedding.
Schedule portrait session if you need one for a newspaper wedding announcement.
Pick up your invitations.
Start addressing invitations or drop them off with the calligrapher. You'll need to send them out at the two-month mark.
Send out invitations. Be sure to add extra postage for overseas guests.
Make or buy favors. Allow extra time for custom-made favors, i.e., chocolates in a preprinted box.
Talk to your maid of honor and best man about party plans such as the shower and bachelor parties.
Get anything you need for an international honeymoon such as passport, birth certificate, visas, vaccinations.
Arrange wedding-day transportation for you, your wedding party, and guests as needed.
Just for Grooms
Give all of the groomsmen the information they need to buy and/or reserve their attire.
If you are renting a tuxedo, visit the formalwear shop to get measured.
Choose and buy any accessories you will need: shoes, shirt stays, cuff links, and a pocket square.
Just for Brides
Choose your bridesmaids' accessories (shoes, gloves, etc.) and either purchase or pass along purchasing information.
Experiment with your beauty routine, self-tanners, and facials.
Make sure your attendants have purchased their dresses and accessories.
Buy any special lingerie your gown requires in time for first fittings.
If you are handling the bridesmaid dress order, confirm the delivery date.
Confirm delivery date for your gown and schedule fittings.
Provide guest list to bridesmaids for your shower.
Begin your fittings.
Arrange for all insurance policies to include you and your future spouse: health, auto, homeowner's, and life insurance.
Make sure your homeowner's or renter's insurance covers your rings and gifts.
4-6 Weeks Before
As you receive presents, be sure to update and/or add items to your registry list and record the gifts you get.
Confirm reservations for out-of-town guests.
Buy a guest book and nice pen.
Begin working on vows, particularly if you're writing your own.
Begin writing the ceremony program if you are having one.
Research local marriage license requirements.
Arrange parking for the reception.
Order liquor, wine and/or champagne if they're not included in the catering contract.
Arrange for a babysitter for the reception, if necessary.
Just for Grooms
Attend your bachelor party, and be sure to thank the best man afterwards.
Buy gifts for your best man, groomsmen, and ushers.
Submit your wedding announcement to newspapers if you so desire.
Just for Brides
Decide on and purchase major accessories, e.g., veil and shoes, prior to final fittings.
Set aside some time to write thank you notes for gifts received at the bridal shower.
Make an appointment to take the veil to your hairstylist and make sure your hair style and veil work together.
Attend your bachelorette party, and be sure to thank the maid of honor afterwards.
Buy gifts for your maid of honor and bridesmaids.
Attend final wedding-gown fitting.
3-4 Weeks Before
Send rehearsal-dinner invitations.
Wrap all gifts for the wedding party and write each attendant a nice note.
Call or email wedding party to relay critical info related to rehearsal and wedding such as dates, times, directions, duties.
Work on a list of "must play" and "must not play" songs for your DJ or band.
Discuss music with ceremony musicians and agree on final choices.
Get a head start on those thank-you notes. It will feel great to get a batch out before the wedding.
Confirm wedding-night and honeymoon reservations.
Finish and print ceremony programs.
Get marriage license and make appointments for blood tests, if necessary. Check when the license expires.
Have a follow-up meeting or phone call with the officiant to go over ceremony timing and details.
Pick up wedding rings and check the inscriptions before you leave the store.
Finalize any special preferences, readings, or other ceremony details, in writing with your officiant.
Just for Brides
Do trial runs of hair and makeup; schedule wedding-day beauty appointments.
Shop for all additional accessories like stockings, earrings, evening bag, etc.
Sit for your bridal portrait, if you decide to get one.
Do paperwork for official documents if you are changing your name.
Get final prewedding haircut, if necessary.
Make sure you have your garter and " something old, new, borrowed, and blue " if you want to include these customs in your wedding.
Pick up your gown.
1-2 Weeks Before
Call guests who haven't RSVP'd for the wedding and rehearsal dinner. It's okay to do this, you need a final head count!
Give final head count to the caterer. Confirm set-up instructions and menu items.
Finalize seating chart. Buy materials for and make place cards, Give typed names to the calligrapher if you're using one.
Give seating chart to caterer, location manager, or host.
Just for Grooms
Get your final haircut.
Pick up your tuxedo and try it on. Don't wait until the day of the wedding to do this!
Prepare your toasts or thanks to friends and family.
Just for Brides
Pick up the veil and/or headpiece.
Practice walking in your wedding shoes.
Wedding Day Schedule
If you're having a receiving line, determine the order you want everyone to stand in.
Determine any wedding day assignments for members of the wedding party, and make lists/info sheets as needed.
Work out wedding day timing and details like who will get the bride there, where the wedding party will dress, etc., and draw up a schedule.
Touch base with your officiant and give him/her rehearsal details and wedding day schedule.
Fax transportation providers a schedule and addresses for pickups on wedding day.
Confirm location, date, and time with videographer.
Confirm location, date, and time with photographer; create your " must-take " photo list.
Call location manager and make sure your vendors all have access to the site when they need it.
Confirm delivery locations, times, and final arrangement count with florist.
Confirm head count, delivery time, and location with the cakemaker.
Confirm all final payment amounts with your vendors.
Shop and pack for honeymoon.
Plan any additional night-before activities with friends and/or attendants.
Plan a party or go out for cocktails to thank your attendants for all their help.
The Day Before
Rehearse the ceremony with officiant and wedding party.
Confirm all specific honeymoon travel plans including transportation to airport, etc.
Give wedding announcements to your honor attendant to be mailed on the wedding day.
Pull together wedding gown, veil, shoes, stockings, and a last-minute emergency kit (aspirin, makeup, safety pins, mints, etc.).
Drop off favors , guest book, and pen at the reception site.
The Day Of
After the Ceremony
Set aside a private moment together after the ceremony to exchange gifts and a sweet congratulatory kiss or two.
Confirm with people who you expect to give/lead toasts at the reception.
Take a moment to thank your parents and tell them you love them. This is a sweet but sad day for them.
Relax, smile, and enjoy the day!
After the Wedding
Arrange for a bridesmaid or mom to pick up your wedding dress and other personal belongings at the hotel after you depart.
Freeze the top layer of the wedding cake to be eaten at your first anniversary celebration. Save some cocktail napkins, too!
Make sure all vendor bills have been paid in full.
Take the bridal bouquet and other mementos to be preserved.
Take gown and veil to be cleaned. or have someone do it for you. Make sure the cleaner is experienced in storing/preserving wedding gowns.
Photos & Video
Take any personal film to be developed. These will probably be the first photos available since professional proofs can take weeks.
Check in with your photographer to see when your photos will be online.
Email your online album to family and friends.
Find out when you can expect your edited video.
Mail gifts to your parents to thank them for their help and support, if you didn't give them out at the rehearsal dinner.
Within two months of your wedding, set aside some romantic evenings to write that stack of thank-you notes.
The Waters of Minocqua • 8116 Highway 51 South, PO Box 1053 • Minocqua, WI 54548
877.992.8377 • 715.358.4000 •