Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline

Follow our step-by-step timeline to ensure you big day goes off without a hitch

Shoes of bride and bouquet of flowers. Wedding Checklist & Timeline.

By Forevermore Staff  |  Last Updated: 8 November 2022

Planning a wedding is a daunting experience. It seems like there’s a never-ending list of tasks to complete, and it’s impossible to keep track of every detail in your head. That’s why we’ve collated the ultimate wedding checklist and timeline for everything you need to get ready for your big day.

NOTE: This wedding checklist is designed to be used as a template for you to customize to your own wedding timeline. Some weddings are organized in only a few months, while others take longer than a year.

12 Months Before The Wedding

Create a wedding budget

Before you go any further, you should start a wedding budget spreadsheet to help guide your spending decisions. Starting to track your finances at this early stage is key to a successful wedding.

Insure your engagement ring

It’s not a sexy subject, but insurance does the important job of protecting you financially in the event of loss, damage or theft. If you currently have homeowners insurance, you may already be covered, so check with your insurance provider.

Choose your wedding party

These are your closest friends & family who will be by your side the whole day, helping you celebrate, so choose wisely!

Create your wedding guest list

When creating a guest list for your wedding, you will need to consider a few factors. First, you will need to decide how many people you can realistically invite and accommodate. This will depend on your budget, venue size, and other factors. Once you have a number in mind, you’ll need to start creating your list. Begin by making a list of all the people you would like to invite, including family, friends, and co-workers. Then, start narrowing it down by considering who you would like to have as your wedding party, who is essential to invite, and who you can realistically accommodate.

Choose the wedding date

Spring or summer? Fall or winter? Once you have an idea of the season, start narrowing down your list of potential dates. Check your vendors to ensure their availability.

Hire a wedding planner

If your finances allow for it, hiring a wedding planner may be one of the best decisions you make during wedding planning. A wedding planner can be a lifesaver, taking care of all the details so you can relax and enjoy your engagement. From finding the perfect venue to coordinating your vendors, a wedding planner will make sure everything comes together flawlessly on your big day.

Wedding table setting

10 Months Before the Wedding

Decide wedding theme and formality

When it comes to deciding the formality and theme for your wedding, there are a few things to consider. First, think about the overall tone or feel you want your wedding to have. Are you envisioning a formal affair with elegant décor and a sophisticated menu, or a more relaxed and fun celebration with a laid-back vibe? Once you have a general idea of the atmosphere you want to create, you can start to narrow down your options for wedding décor, invitations, and even your wedding dress.

Next, take a look at your guest list. Are most of your guests coming from out of town, or are they mostly local? If you have a lot of out-of-towners attending, you might want to consider a more formal wedding so that they feel comfortable and have a good time. On the other hand, if your guest list is mostly made up of close friends and family, a more casual wedding might be just perfect.

Lastly, think about your budget. Formal weddings can be quite expensive, so if you’re working with a tight budget, you might want to consider a more casual affair.

Select the venue

Your wedding venue should be determined by a number of factors, including the size of your guest list, the type of wedding you’re planning, and your budget. If you’re looking for a venue that can accommodate a large number of guests, you might want to consider a hotel or banquet hall. If you’re planning a more intimate wedding, you might want to consider a restaurant or private home. And if you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider a less expensive venue such as a community center or park.

Deciding on the wedding venue early on is crucial, as the more sought after venues will need to be booked many months in advance.

Select the wedding officiant

If you’re having a traditional wedding, you might want to choose a religious leader from your church or temple. Those looking for something more unique may want to consider a family member or friend who is ordained. You may also want to consider a civil celebrant for a more casual ceremony.

Choose the caterer

This step is very important! A wedding caterer can help with everything from the food preparation to serving and cleaning up. Do your research by asking friends and family for recommendations, read online reviews and look over their social media profiles. Ask them about their experience in catering weddings of your size and theme. Don’t forget to schedule a tasting to try out their dishes. Lastly, get everything in writing. Having a contract that outlines all the details you agree on helps both you and the caterer in getting a great (and delicious) outcome.

Book your photographer and/or videographer

These are the ones who will be recording your most important moments, so don’t skimp on this step or you may regret it. Have a look through their portfolio, talk to them about your needs, and find someone who makes you and your partner feel comfortable.

Hire any equipment required

From tents and tables to chairs and linens, there is lots of equipment that you need to acquire in order to make sure that your wedding is everything that you have always dreamed of. Who knows, you might be lucky and have a generous friend who already owns some of those things?

Wedding couple holding floral bouquet

8 Months Before the Wedding

Start shopping for a wedding dress

The fun begins!

Engagement photoshoot

Pre-wedding photography is a great way to capture the joy of your relationship in a series of beautiful photos. They can be a fun way to celebrate your engagement and get some stunning photos to hang on your wall or use for your wedding invitation and wedding website.

Create your wedding website

Before you send out your Save The Date cards, you should have a website available where your guests can go to for more info. We may be a tiny bit biased, but we recommend Forevermore for creating your free wedding website.

Sign up to Gift Registries

Shopping for your wedding gifts can be a fun activity for you and your partner to participate in. Get creative! Furnish your home, or book activities for your honeymoon. Popular wedding gift registries include Amazon, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Zola. For cash registries, check out Honeyfund and Honeymoon Wishes.

Send Save The Date cards

Save the Date cards let your guests know when and where the wedding will be, and they should be sent out as early as possible to give your guests a chance to start planning for the big day. This is especially true if you are planning on a destination wedding, where guests need to book flights and hotels.

Wedding sign with Ceremony text on blackboard

6 Months Before the Wedding

Choose the bridesmaid dresses & schedule fittings

Be sure to keep your bridesmaids involved in this process, you don’t want to choose something they feel uncomfortable in. Now is the time to choose any accessories, and to schedule fittings for each bridesmaid.

Choose your florist

Flowers play a big role in setting the tone and feel of your wedding day. Do you want something classic and elegant, or something more modern and unique? Scope out potential florists in your area on social media, or recommendations from friends.

Book your DJ/musicians

What is a wedding without great music? Can it even be called a wedding if Auntie Sandra isn’t out there twerking on the dancefloor? A great soundtrack makes for an unforgettable night. Make sure to check if the venue or the musicians will be providing the equipment (PA system, mixer etc).

Reserve the rehearsal dinner venue

If you are having a rehearsal dinner, book your favorite restaurant early to avoid disappointment. Or for something more casual, consider a backyard get together with friends and family.

Book any accommodation & transportation for guests

If you are planning on a destination wedding, now is the time to book accommodation & transport for your wedding guests. This ensures your guests are able to travel to and from the wedding venue easily and comfortably. Don’t forget to negotiate a discount when making group bookings.

Book your own transport

Will you and your new spouse be arriving in a stretch limo? Maybe a classic Cadillac? Book these early so you don’t miss out. Some of our favorite creative wedding transport ideas:

  • A horse-drawn carriage
  • Classic vintage car
  • A luxury limousine
  • A school bus converted into a party bus
  • A funky VW campervan
  • A cute bicycle built for two

Book your honeymoon flights & accommodation

Whether you’re dreaming of a relaxing beach getaway or an action-packed adventure, there are endless possibilities for your post-wedding trip. Make your honeymoon a once-in-a-lifetime trip by fleshing out the details early on, so everything goes smoothly once you hop on the flight. We recommend booking around 3-4 months in advance. Decide on a location, budget and timeframe, and try to stick to it. Find and compare your bookings with travel search engines like Kayak, Expedia, Agoda and Booking.com. Websites like Honeyfund or Travelzoo also offer honeymoon packages funded by your wedding guests.

Choose the groom’s outfit

A few decisions need to be made here. WIll the groom be wearing a suit, tuxedo, or something more casual? Will you be renting or buying? Off-the-shelf or custom fitted? Ideally the outfit should be durable, comfortable, and match the style of the bride’s dress.

Organize the Groomsmen outfits

Your groomsmen outfits should go with the groom’s attire, but not overshadow it. If suits are selected, they should be comfortable and easy to wear, so they don’t end up draped over a chair once the ceremony is over. A group fitting is recommended and can be a fun pre-wedding get together (whiskey & cigars optional).

Purchase his-and-hers wedding bands

Popular styles of wedding bands include metal (silver, platinum, white, yellow or rose gold), pavé, and eternity. Don’t forget to get measured for ring size to ensure proper fitting.

Create your food & drinks menu

The style of your wedding should guide your menu choices. Food at a formal wedding is typically plated and served after the guests are seated, with a more elaborate menu containing an appetizer and entrée. A more casual option is a family-style dinner, with large platters of food shared between guests at the table. You might prefer a buffet with self-serve stations to give your guests a wide variety of food options.

Select your wedding cake

Will you be going for a classic and elegant white wedding cake or something a little different? It’s not just the look of the wedding cake, but the taste is just as important. Discuss with your caterer the various options they can provide. Resources like Pinterest are great for inspiration to find the wedding cake that’s perfect for you.

Hair & Makeup Trail

This is for you to test out your overall look ahead of the big day. Decide on some styles you want to try out. There are unlimited ideas on Instagram and Pinterest. If you have a stylist, send examples of your favorite styles to them so they can get a better idea of the look you want.

Wedding cake with Mr and Mrs topper

3 Months Before the Wedding

Wedding dress fitting

It’s time for your tailor or seamstress to help you put on the dress and make sure it fits properly in all areas. They will also make sure your veil (if you’re wearing one) is the correct length. You may need multiple fittings before finding the perfect cut.

Order the wedding invitations

Your wedding invitation should align with the overall theme of the wedding. Double and triple check the wedding details (date, location) and for any spelling mistakes before printing. It’s a good idea to order a few extra invitations just in case. Consider adding a QR code to your wedding invitation to let guests quickly RSVP using your wedding website. Invitations should be sent out 8-12 weeks before your wedding date.

Purchase wedding favors

This step is completely optional, but many couples choose to give gifts to guests at the reception. These could be anything from chocolates, wines, soaps, coasters, magnets and more.

Meet the wedding officiant

Consult with them on the style of wedding you wish to have, and the role they will play in the ceremony. If you are having a religious ceremony, now’s the time to select meaningful bible verses and readings. Make sure the officiant you select is able to legally marry you according to local laws.

Send wedding invitations

Add the addresses and send them out! If you will be receiving RSVPs via mail, consider including a stamped self-addressed envelope to make it simple for guests to confirm their attendance.

Get your marriage license

The particulars of this really depend on where you are located. You’ll likely need to fill in some paperwork and pay the required fee. You, your spouse, and the officiant will need to sign the document, and it will then need to be returned to the office that provided it. International weddings will have their own set of paperwork from the host country you may need to look into.

1 Month Before the Wedding

Creating a seating chart

Seating charts can be more art than science. You’ll need to employ a bit of strategy and consider the relationships between your guests at the table. For printing the seating chart, we recommend using a Canva or Etsy design template.

Create your place cards

These show your guest where they are sitting and at which table. Place cards can also be a nice way to personalize your wedding and make your guests feel welcome.

Send venue & caterer final guest head count

Let your relevant vendors know exactly how many guests you are expecting so they can plan accordingly.

Woman in wedding dress standing on VW convertible

The Week Before

  • Have your engagement rings cleaned
  • Final wardrobe check for the bride, groom and wedding party
  • Call all vendors and confirm arrangements
  • Pack bags for the honeymoon (if needed)
  • Groomsmen to pick up their outfits
  • Finalize payment with vendors

The Day Before

  • Drop off all printed items (place cards, table cards, menus, favors, seating chart) to the venue
  • Iron or steam any clothing items that have been sitting in bags
  • Confirm wedding cake is ready to be delivered to the venue
  • Pack overnight bag for the reception (if needed)
  • Practice wedding vows
  • Get a good night’s sleep

The Morning Of

  • Don’t overdo it: eat breakfast & drink plenty of water
  • Introduce your wedding planner to your reception coordinator
  • Give the best man/bridesmaid any gifts to be delivered to your parents after the speeches
  • Give the best man the envelope containing the officiant’s fee, to be given after the ceremony
  • Have any envelopes containing cash for tips ready for vendors
  • Give wedding bands to the best man for the ceremony
  • Enjoy your big day!