Ready to start putting your wedding together? We’ve paired down our tried-and-true approach to wedding planning, from 12 months out to the day-of, to serve as your checklist. Ahead, a step-by-step timeline for every important task, from booking a reception site to distributing a wedding-day schedule to your vendors. We’ve included all our means and methods along with our expert tips. Consider it a countdown to your new life together, and prepare for wedding planning to be a breeze! 12+ MONTHS ~ DRAFT A GUEST LIST ~ Look at extending invitations not as a social obligation, but as being surrounded by those you love and who love you. ~ SET A BUDGET ~ Before you begin any sort of planning, it’s crucial to determine how much you’re willing to spend. While tradition deems the bride’s parents responsible for wedding costs, modern day celebrations rarely stick to that rule. Instead, sit both your parents and your groom’s parents down and politely decide if they’ll be contributing, and if so, how much and for what. ~ FIND AND SECURE YOUR VENUES ~ Draw up your guest list before booking your venue. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a venue and wanting way more guests than it can accommodate. Every wedding venue has its pluses and minuses, so find a place that appeals to your unique couple style. ~ BOOK A PLANNER, IF USING ~ A wedding planner can help find and negotiate with the other vendors you’ll want to start hiring now as well. ~ PUT TOGETHER YOUR WEDDING PARTY ~ Ask people who love and support you to be attendants. You don’t need an even number of groomsmen and bridesmaids. Loved ones don’t come in matched sets; your wedding party doesn’t have to, either. 9+ MONTHS ~ ORDER YOUR DRESS ~ It can take up to nine months for a gown you’ve ordered to be made; if you select one early, you’ll avoid rush fees. Very short engagement? Don’t panic. Purchase a sample off the rack from our Brunswick Emporium or order a gown with priority fee. ~ BOOK THE CATERER, PHOTOGRAPHER, AND BAND OR DJ ~ If the venue doesn’t provide food, you’ll want to start looking into catering companies now. When hiring a photographer or videographer, ask to see an entire wedding he or she has shot, not just the highlights. Also secure the band or DJ for your big day. ~ HELP YOUR GUESTS ~ Consider booking a block of hotel rooms for your travelling guests to stay in. And while you’re at it, begin to build your wedding website, where guests can find travel information and even RSVP. 6 – 9 MONTHS ~ ORDER STATIONERY ~ The first hint guests will have of your wedding style is your invitations. Make sure they represent it well. Sending something too casual is confusing if you’re having an elegant formal wedding. ~ BOOK YOUR FLORIST ~ It’s helpful to bring your florist images of arrangements you love and lists of your favourite flowers and those that hold sentimental value to you (maybe you want to echo the ones your grandmother carried in her bouquet). ~ HIRE THE OFFICIANT ~ This is the time to find a celebrant who matches your couple style and if you’re getting married in your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, you likely already know the clergy person who will be performing your service. ~ ORDER BRIDESMAID DRESSES ~ Your day-of dress isn’t the only thing to worry about. Now’s the time to choose what your bridesmaids will be wearing, from colour to style – will dresses be uniform or mismatched? Make sure each bridesmaid has her dress ordered within this timeframe as well. 4 – 6 MONTHS ~ FACTOR IN FOOD AND MUSIC ~ Not all receptions need to involve a five-course dinner and dancing. Yours could be brunch, a cocktail affair, or an intimate family-style gathering. The few musts: The food, the cake, and the music ought to reflect you as a couple. ~ DEVISE A RECEPTION TIMELINE ~ Copy ours below, or create your own play-by-play to keep things moving smoothly. 00 Cocktail hour starts. 1:00 The couple enter and have their first dance. 1:30 At a sit-down dinner, the first course is served. The host and best man offer toasts. 2:30 The main course is served. 3:00 The newlyweds dance with their folks; guests join in. 3:50 The cake is cut. 4:00 Cake and dessert are served. 4:45 The bouquet is tossed. 5:00 The bride and groom depart. ~ BOOK RENTALS ~ This is were you book in your marquees, furniture, linens and transportation, including limos or buses for the day. ~ PLAN YOUR REHEARSAL ~ Book any spaces and make dinner reservations for day-before prep. 2-6 MONTHS ~ MAIL INVITATIONS ~ All invites should be sent at least eight weeks ahead, allowing your guests adequate time to respond and ensuring that you will get a reliable head count a week or two before the event. For destination or holiday-weekend weddings, the earlier they’re sent, the better. ~ PERSONALISE THE CEREMONY ~ Customise your service by choosing songs and readings, or by writing your vows. Look to poetry, literature, song lyrics, and even your own love letters for inspiration. ~ BOOK THE HAIRSTYLIST AND MAKEUP ARTIST ~ Schedule hair appointments for three hours before and makeup appointments at least an hour before; you won’t be harried and attendees won’t be kept waiting. We always suggest a makeup and hair trial before. ~ EVERYTHING SHOULD BE ORDERED ~ By this time, flowers, bridesmaid dresses, groomsmen outfits, gifts for your wedding party, as well as any extras for the wedding day. These include everything from cake knives and toasting glasses to guest books and candles. 6 WEEKS ~DRESS ALTERATION FITTING~ 5 – 6 weeks before your wedding should be your first dress fitting, make sure you take your shoes and undergarments to your 1st appointment. 4 WEEKS ~ CHART, SCHEDULE, SIGN, AND PLAN ~ By now, your ceremony should be finalised, but small details still need to be taken care of. Arrange seating charts, confirm who’ll be reading and toasting, write your vows, and print your programs. Also email your vendors a day-of schedule, so that they’re on the same page as you are. 2 WEEKS ~ FINAL DRESS FITTING ~ This is the last time you’ll try your gown on before your wedding day, make sure it’s perfect before you take it home. ~ CONFIRM DETAILS ~ Make sure your photographer knows the shot list and your band or DJ knows the playlist. Whoever’s decorating the reception site should be well informed, and transportation leaders should be assigned if lots of site-to-site guest travel is involved. Also run the final head count by your caterer. There’s nothing worse than too little food! ~ BREAK IN THOSE SHOES ~ Wear your wedding heels around the house – your feet will thank you later. THE WEEK OF ~ FINAL DETAILS ~ Putting together and confirming delivery and arrival times with vendors, hairstylist, and makeup artist. ~ TASKS TO ASSIGN ~ 1. A guest-gatherer for photos on wedding day. 2. A day-of point person for guest questions and concerns. 3. Someone to take wedding gifts home post-reception. ~ START PACKING ~ 1. Your dress, shoes, undergarments, and jewellery. 2. The groom’s and attendants’ gifts (if you didn’t give these tokens of appreciation the night before). 3. Your vows, if self-penned, and the wedding bands to hand off to the best man. THE DAY BEFORE ~ FINAL ARRANGEMENTS ~ 1. Prepare breakfast and snacks for the next morning also make sure your phone is charged. 2. To look your best on your special day, invest in a mani and pedi (you’ll need the break, we promise!), and after confirming times and addresses with your transportation (limo, etc.) service, head over to your rehearsal dinner and practice. THE DAY-OF ~ TAKE CARE ~ Naturally, you’ll have butterflies in your stomach. But these tactics will keep you smiling and glowing. Hydrate: It’s not just an important day, it’s one of the most ‘talky’ days of your life, sip water regularly as your wedding day approaches, and take it easy on the alcohol. And while a massage sounds relaxing, don’t have one just before the wedding; it can be dehydrating. Eat: Breakfast has never been more vital. Be a blushing—not fainting—bride. Don’t Rush: You can take your time, within reason. Allow up to 15 minutes for stragglers to find seats, but don’t annoy guests with excessive primping. ~ ENJOY IT! ~ Your monumental day will go by so fast. Take care to stay in the moment. Stay close to your new spouse. Try to stick together the entire reception, having shared moments of your wedding is so important to set off on your life as a couple.