"If you don't plan, you plan to fail" - Benjamin Franklin
Congratulations on your engagement! It's time to plan everything from finding the venue and an affordable wedding photographer, to engagement photos ideas.
1+ year before the wedding date - To DOs
- Create a binder for your wedding. You will use to store contacts, contracts from your venue, photographer,videographer, officiant, baker, florist, decorator, etc.
- Hire a wedding planner (you will thank me later), or at least a wedding day coordinator and designate a team of helpers
- Decide on a wedding budget
- Decide on the sources of financing for your wedding
- Contact your families (your and your fiancee's) and ask if they can contribute in any way so you can budget accordingly
- Decide on a few wedding dates - hopefully you have already read the tips on how to save money
- Select a few venues you really like and check their availability, then compare their services and see if they fit your budget. The venues in high demand are booked more than a year in advance, so be prepared to be flexible on your wedding date. Inquire if the venues provide a security guard
- Start inquiring for quotes from various vendors. The most important are: venue, church, synagogue or temple, photographer, videographer
- Visit the venue and interview the above mentioned vendors
- Book your venue, church, photographer, officiant, caterer
- Create a guest list
- Invite your friends to be in your wedding party
- Research if you can insure your retainers
- Insure your wedding ring
- Build a wedding website through (Wedsimple.com, eWedding.com, weddingchannel.com and The Knot
- Work on your wedding timeline! It is extremely important to involve the main vendors in your planning: venue, photographer, officiant, etc. They are your consultants and will give you advice that will ensure your wedding will be flawless
- Designate an emergency contact and include her cell phone on the timeline, along with all the other vendors contacts
8-10 months before your Big Day
- It's shopping time!!! Start looking for a wedding dress and when you find one buy it!! If you purchase early, you will have peace of mind and get a better price avoiding last minute rush fees
- Buy your wedding shoes. We all know how important they are
- Book meetings with the following vendors: DJ or Band, Florist, Decorator for tent, chairs, tables, centrepieces, cutlery etc.
- Hire the above mentioned wedding professionals you feel are a good fit and understand you
- Inquire if the venue has any partnerships with hotels in the area to accommodate your out of town family and friends
- Order invitations or even better use electronic invites for the technology savvy guests and only order
- Discuss with your clergy any religious requirements, any rules there might be with regards to photography, videography, etc.
- Choose your wedding theme
- Once you have decided on a wedding theme, discuss with the florists and decorators what options you have
- If you plan a destination wedding, research a few travel agents and find one that is a good fit
- Register in major gift registries
6-8 months before your Big Day
- Finalize your guests list and involve your families (especially if they fund the wedding) to make sure you create a list that pleases everybody. This is a very delicate topic and you need to address it with tact.
- Send Save the Date cards or online invitations. Set the RSVP cutoff one month before your wedding day
- Discuss options with the travel agent; honeymoon for a local wedding, group deals for destination weddings
- If you are planning an outdoor wedding, book electrical specialists and other must have, such as portable toilets
- Book transportation for you, your bridal party and family and guests
- Book the rehearsal dinners
- Find a baker and order the cake. Do not postpone this as your favourite baker will be booked and not take last minute orders
- Hire your makeup artists and hair stylists. Make sure they offer trials and book trial sessions. You don't want surprises on your wedding day. Take photos of all of their work so you can compare their work later. Hire the most expensive makeup artist and hair stylist you can afford! It is the best day of your life and good makeup will make you shine brighter than ever!!!!
- Meet your DJ or Band and Select your music
4-6 months before your Big Day
- Find some wedding rings you love
- Finalize the flower arrangements and menu; to cut costs smartly, consider using flowers, vegetables and fruits in season.
- Order the flowers
- Decide who is giving speeches and contact them to confirm they are comfortable speaking in front of the wedding guests
- Decide on the guys formal outfits, being them tuxes or suits and order them. Also, this is the time when you order the accessories: cuffs, boutonnieres, pocket squares, suspenders, shirt stays, etc. If boys will wear bow ties, make sure they know how to tie them to avoid wasting time on the wedding day
- Decide on the bridesmaids dresses and order them
- Register for the premarital classes
- Make sure your passports are in order, obtain visas (when needed) for your honeymoon!!!
- Make sure you work with your lawyer on your prenup/marriage contract now
3 months before your Big Day
- Schedule your second fitting
- Decide on the readings during the ceremony and designate the persons who will do the readings
- Print menu cards and programs
- Inform all the vendors of any changes in your wedding timeline
2 months before your wedding day
- Meet your hair and makeup artist for the pre wedding consultations
- Finalize the guest list based on the RSVPs. Email or even better, call the people who have not RSVP-ed.
- Discuss with your maid of honour your bachelorette party. The maid of honour is the one making all the arrangements. If she has not done it before, she needs time so give her heads up early. Generally the bachelorette party is one month before the wedding. Don't leave it for the last minute as you will be too busy to enjoy it
- The groom should ask the best man to arrange his bachelor party, around the same time as yours. Having a bachelor party the night before the wedding is usually a bad idea
- Select the engagement photos that you want to include in a slideshow on the wedding day and any other photos
1 month before your wedding day
- Meet your photographer and videographer for the final consultation. You can do this at the venue if they never covered a wedding there. Do not postpone this for the last weeks. Discuss any photography or videography preferences
- Make a list of group photos and designate a representative of each family who will organize the family. Do not leave it to the wedding planner or the photographer as the don't know anyone in your families. Send it to your photographer and wedding coordinator just in case
- Obtain the marriage license and make sure it does not expire before your wedding day.
- Schedule your final dress fitting
- Ask all the other vendors (florist, decorator, venue, caterer) if there is a need to meet
- Purchase gifts for your husband to be, family, friends, etc.
- Enjoy your bachelorette party.
- Write your wows and your thank you speech
- Meet the DJ or Band and go over the playlist. If you have time, prepare a list of songs you want played at your wedding
- Send the rehearsal invitations
- Reconfirm the timeline and send it to all vendors
- Create a contact list for all vendors and email it to all of them. They are a team and connect before your wedding to ensure things work smoothly. You don't need to attend those meetings.
- If your venue is not properly indicated on maps and GPS, create driving instructions and maps and email them to the guests. Also update your wedding website with that information
- Assign seating for all the guests
- Avoid tanning lines for the last four weeks before your wedding day if your wedding dress is strapless
- Print/enlarge your engagement photos and buy easels if you want to show them at the wedding
- Prepare a slideshow of your engagement photos and give it to your DJ to play it on the wedding day
- Ensure the bridesmaids have the dresses ready and there are no issues
- Buy gifts for the bride, families, bridal party, etc.
- Talk with your travel agent to ensure everything is ready for your honeymoon
- Enjoy your bachelor party
- Schedule the rehearsal, ideally a few days prior to the wedding, so out of town guests who take part in the rehearsal can attend
- Write your wows and your thank you speech
- Make sure you designate a money box guardian who will secure it on the wedding day
Two weeks before the wedding
- Send the final headcount and make the final arrangements with your caterer/venue. Usually they have a cutoff day, so be sure you know it in advance
- Make the final payments to the majority of the vendors and designate someone who will do that on the wedding day
- If you plan to whiten your teeth, this is the time to do it
- Invite bridesmaids out for lunch and give them their gifts and discuss the wedding day
- Email the bridal party the final timeline and if you don't have a coordinator on your wedding day make sure every member of the bridal party has a copy of the timeline
- Break in your shoes, especially if you have a summer wedding
- Ask the bridal party to book the final fitting and pick up their wedding attire
Week of the wedding
- Get ready for your honeymoon - make sure you pack everything for the Mrs. and Mr. 🙂
- Prepare the last payment envelopes and tips if customary
- Discuss the pickup times and places with the limousine company
- Pick up your wedding dress and the groom's attire
- Go over your wedding day with the bridal party and your wedding planner. Email the bridal party any last minute changes or arrangements
- Groom: have a phenomenal haircut
- Check if your dress needs to be pressed
- Bring the seating cards, menus, decorations, etc. to the venue
- Designate a bridal party member to return any rentals you might have after the wedding when you will be on your honeymoon
Wedding day - Bride
- Have a nice relaxed breakfast
- Enjoy one or two mimosas with the girls. Don't overdo it
- Have the makeup and hair done
- Have your getting ready photos taken after your hair and makeup are perfect
- Ask the photographer to instruct one of the bridesmaids to keep an eye on the dress during the photos. The dress needs to look impecable!
- Make sure you arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony starts. In Toronto traffic can be an issue
- Present the venue manager to your planner and maid of honour if there are any issues during the reception
- ENJOY THE DAY!!!!
Wedding day - Groom
- Make sure the rings are secured and the best man knows his responsibilities. Rings and the payment for the officiant
- Have your getting ready photos taken
- Enjoy a few drinks and don't overdo it
- Arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony and build time buffers if traffic is typically bad in your town.