Wedding Time Line
For all of you future brides, here is some helpful advice: the wedding timeline.
For those of you that are newly engaged or “hoping to be soon” it can be extremely overwhelming. Where do you even began. I know once Philip and I returned from our vacation, where we had just gotten engaged, the stress of planning started to set in. Where to start, what to do first, when to send what? I’m no wedding planner and I’m certainly not an expert on the topic but I have planned my own wedding and it really did turn out to be the wedding of my dreams. I have written out a short and simple timeline to help guide you through all the where, what and when’s.
First, and most important find your venue!!! Venues book up fast; some book up over a year in advance depending on how popular the venue is. Philip and I got engaged August 22nd 2014 and the venue we wanted was completely booked till the end of July 2015. Also, coordinate with your ceremony location and book the day you want at the same time as booking your venue.
Second, figure out who your bridesmaids and maid of honor are going to be. This is important to do at the beginning so that the girls can prepare financially because we all know being in someone’s wedding can get expensive. Ask them in a creative way like taking them all to brunch and giving a cute gift; don’t blow the bank on the gift because you will be giving them more gifts along the way.
Third, find a local photographer. The earlier, the better. The wedding photographers book fast too. I used my photographer for engagement pictures, bridals, and of course the wedding. I want to give credit to the amazing Julie Wilhite, who took beautiful pictures for each of those occasions.
Fourth, If you take engagement pictures you can use your favorite shot for the save the dates. Save the dates should go out 6 months before the wedding depending on your time line. If you are uncertain of your entire guest list and you’re not sure who you want to invite, I would only send save the dates to the guest you absolutely want to invite to the wedding. Once you start getting declined wedding invitations, you can always invite more people. I was engaged for a little over 10 months. We got engaged August 22nd 2014 and did our engagement pictures December 15th. Our wedding was July 25th 2015. I hope that helps on the timing of things. Also, this is a good time to block off hotel rooms for your out of town wedding guest. I would also think about creating a wedding website on the Knot. This is a good way to let your guests know where your registered and where to book a hotel if they are coming from out of town.
Fifth, book a DJ or band. I suggest getting references from friends because the entertainment will set the entire atmosphere for your guest. Get on youtube.com and listen to DJ’s and bands.
Sixth, start scheduling appointments at bridal boutiques to find your dream wedding dress. You should have your wedding dress picked out at least 6 months before your wedding. Most wedding dressed take about 4 months to come in after being ordered, depending on the designer. You will also need plenty of time for alterations. Also, pick out your bridesmaids dresses at about the same time as your dress. Bridesmaids dresses also take about 3 to 4 months to come in depending on what store you order them from. I ordered my bridesmaids dresses from Nordstrom which had standard shipping times; they only took 5 to 8 business days. Keep in mind that your bridesmaids will need hemming and alterations done so leave enough time for that as well.
Seventh, order wedding invitations. Invitations usually take 2 to 3 months to come in. I went with something simple, classic, and most importantly informative and concise. Wedding invitations should go out 2 months before the wedding unless you are having a destination wedding I would send them out 3 or 4 months before the wedding to give your guest more time to plan their travel.
Eight, choose your florist. I highly suggest asking friends for references when choosing a florist because you want someone who has done hundreds of weddings/events and knows the business well.
Ninth, choose who is going to make your wedding cake. This is one of the more fun parts of planning because you get to go taste cake samples. This is another subject I would recommend asking friends about. I recommend choosing a vendor that is located close to your venue; in case something goes wrong while transporting the cakes.
Tenth, find a hair and makeup artist. I would absolutely choose someone who does both hair and makeup to make things run smoother on your big day. I would again ask friends about who does a really amazing job. When considering hair and makeup people make sure they are in your general area of town because they will charge you for traveling. Schedule a hair and makeup trial to decide if you want to use the company or not. I scheduled my trial the day of my bridal portraits only because I had my hair and makeup done by them before for a friend’s wedding. Also, have pictures and ideas of what you think you want your hair and makeup to look like. I used Hair by Liz in Houston.
Eleventh, schedule your bridal portraits with your photographer and hair/makeup people if you decide you want bridals. I would do bridals 3 months before the wedding so you have an idea of what you are going to look like on your wedding day as well as use one of the photos for your portrait at the wedding.
Somewhere in between all the steps figure out where you both want to register. My advice on registering is making sure you have it done before any showers are being thrown for you. Make sure not to register during the month of December or when stores are about to transition into another season because stuff will be going on sale and then become discontinued. Register at least 3 different places no more than 5 which I think is a bit much to keep up with. Make sure to register for classic items that won’t get discontinued; such as your nice china. If years down the road a few plates break, you will want to be able to go back and purchase more. I made sure to register at places that would be convenient for our family and friends. One of the best things I did was write my thank you notes right after receiving a wedding gift so they don’t pill up. We registered at Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, Roberts China and Berings.
Happy wedding planning.