We can’t stress enough how important timelines are. It’s super important that everything is on time, or early if possible. From booking venues, caterers, and suppliers to your cue to walk down the aisle, wedding planning is extremely important. Just a few minutes of running late can throw everyone off track, and result in unnecessary jitters for you and your partner-to-be.
It’s always best to draft out your dates, timelines and check this as often as you can to make sure you are not missing out on important tasks. Working closely with your wedding coordinator is going to be very beneficial for you and your wedding party to ensure that everything happens at the right time.
What to Include In Your Timeline
Location and Transportation Planning
Consider the location of your wedding. You need to make plans as to whether you will be getting ready at the location of the wedding, or if you will be transported to the location in time for the wedding. Most couples avoid the stress of being late to their own wedding by booking a room or staying in a hotel nearby.
You should also consider how your guests will be getting to the wedding venue. Will you be booking rooms for them and providing transportation for them? Will your wedding venue require advance booking of up to two months in advance? Is the location of the ceremony be in a different place than the reception? Then you need to make sure you allocate time for this.
Wedding Ceremony and Reception Duration
Each wedding differs from the rest, and yours may have a different structure than others. A traditional wedding would have the usual entrance of your entourage, followed by a short sermon or word by a priest or pastor or officiant, wedding vows, and other rituals that are included in the vows.
Coordinating with your celebrant, pastor, priest or officiant will give you a good idea of how long your wedding ceremony would take -- and remember, that’s just the wedding ceremony alone. You need to take into account how long you are allowed to utilize the venue for your ceremony and your wedding reception so that you can plan accordingly and include all the need-to-dos for your wedding ceremony.
Timing for Photos
Most wedding photo and video packages offer several options to complete your wedding album, including photos before the wedding, and after. If you would like to make sure you get those photos in and maximize the moment, then you’ll need to schedule this in your timeline and make sure everyone who is going to be in the photo session to be ready and available.
Cocktails Before Reception
Give your guests a little breather and some time to take photos and hang back before you start the reception! Cocktails and refreshments are usually offered to the guests before they settle down for the wedding reception.
Creating your Wedding Timeline
You usually get a good idea about creating your wedding timeline when you’re getting together with your suppliers and caterers and reaching out to friends and family. You need to reserve some time to plan your guest list, table seating arrangement, food tasting, and souvenir shopping.
It’s not extremely hard to create a wedding timeline, and it’s super important so that you don’t forget to visit the florist or drop by the dressmaker’s to drop off additional instructions.
Ideally, your wedding timeline should include everything from planning to the wedding reception. A good timeline includes at least 18 months of planning. Here is what a 12-to-18 month Wedding Planning Timeline should look like:
12 to 18 Months
• Throw an engagement party. This is the best time to announce your wedding plans.
• Set your wedding budget. Make sure you stick to the budget. If you need to, set a ceiling budget.
• Choose your guests. Remember to give priority to those whom you actually want to be there, and not because you were forced to have them there.
• Choose your bridal party. Who makes the cut to be part of your IT team? This is the best time to choose those people and ask them formally to be part of your bridal party.
• Select a wedding venue and reception. Do the research and consider this when choosing your wedding date as well.
• Zone in on your wedding date, and save the date!
8 Months Prior
• Hire a wedding planner. This is completely optional, but it would be very helpful if planning this event is stressing both you and your partner out.
• Choose your theme and motif. This is going to be the base foundation of all your planning.
• Hire your photographer/videographer. Go for a pro! Choose a photographer and videographer that fits your style and comfort level so you can enjoy it when the moment comes.
• Choose your caterer. One of the highlights of a wedding is the food served, and there’s nothing that increases enjoyment than sitting down to amazing flavors (and a full stomach) at a wedding.
• Book your celebrant. Celebrants not only officiate your wedding, but they can also tailor-fit your wedding ceremony to reflect you and your love for each other, so make sure they’re available for your wedding.
• Start shopping for your wedding dress. With plenty of time in your hands, you could have a wedding dress tailored to fit, or you could buy one from a bridal gown boutique. Check out designs for inspiration, and most of all, whatever makes you look awesome while being comfortable in it, is the one to get.
6 Months Prior
• Order your wedding dress. Finalize the design, customizations, and give ample time for alterations and fittings.
• Order your wedding cake and hire a florist. Secure the cake and your bouquet this early. You’ll be able to find out which flowers are in season, and what would look best in your bouquet.
• Book your honeymoon - this equally requires time and planning, and most importantly, the right date. You want to make sure your honeymoon venue is available to you on your honeymoon night.
• Hire a DJ and Music Entertainment. Whether it’s a string quartet or a DJ, you want to make sure they’re available for your wedding.
• Try out different hairstyles and makeup. This is a great time to allow room for trial and errors -- hopefully, none too damaging -- which will let you find out what is the best hairstyle and make-up look for your features.
4 Months Prior
• Order Groom and Groomsmen attire. Make sure the colors are coordinated, and that
• Order your bridesmaid dresses. By now, you should have the final list, and you can get their dresses to them right on time.
• Purchase your wedding bands. Now is a nice time to get those rings you’ve been eyeing.
• Send your Save the Dates. Four months ahead should be enough time for your guests to receive the formal pre-invite so they can make arrangements as well.
• Order your wedding invitations. Now that you’ve got the Save the Dates out the door, it’s time to get the invitations straightened out.
2 Months Prior
• Shop for wedding favors. Two months is ample time for the supplier to put together your favors so that all you need to do would be to hand them out.
• Finalize your vows. Keep it short, simple, and sweet. Of course, this should be a rough outline of what you’re going to say, but hey, a cheat sheet is good to have, too!
• Pick out bridal party gifts. You don’t have to, but it adds that perfect touch especially if it’s sentimental and meaningful.
• Plan out transportation and logistics. You now have a nearly concrete plan of how things are going to go, so make sure you and everyone else get to the venues on time!
6 Weeks Prior
• Get your documents ready. Secure the necessary marriage licenses and other government and state requirements which will be needed at the time of the wedding.
• Confirm all the details with your vendors and suppliers. Check-in and finalize everything with them.
• Finalize your ceremony program and reception details.
• Mail out your wedding invitations.
3 Weeks Prior
• Pamper, haircut, facial, spa-treatment -- this is it! Get started on the well-deserved rest and relaxation in time for your wedding so that your body can gear up to the marathon that is going to be your wedding!
• Final dress fitting -- just to make sure your dress is good to go.
• Pre-wedding celebrations, bachelorette, and bachelor parties usually happen during this time, and are either planned by your bridesmaids and groomsmen so have fun and enjoy the time!
1 Week Prior
• Finalize your seating chart. Remove last minute-cancellations, and fit in last-minute guests.
• Gather everything you’ll need for your ‘Bridal Bag’ plus the things you need with you on the day of your wedding.
• Provide the final headcount to your caterers and to the venue.
2 Days Before
• Get your spray tan and mani-pedi done.
• Rest, rest, rest and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If there is anything that will help you keep up, it’s getting enough rest and hydration. Plus, make-up looks better and stays on longer when your skin is well-rested and hydrated.
• Relax and wait for your wedding day!
We hope this list helps you put together your own timeline and a basic overview of what you’ll be needing to make sure you have everything you need for your wedding. We truly wish you all the best on your wedding day, and with a timeline such as this, you’re going to be ahead of the game and resting on your laurels right before your wedding day.
Kara has been with Wedding Favors Unlimited for 2 years. She’s been giving wedding and style advice for the past 5 years from bridal magazines to bridal boutiques. Feel free to ask Kara a question below!
What's on This Page
- What to Include In Your Timeline
- Location and Transportation Planning
- Wedding Ceremony and Reception Duration
- Timing for Photos
- Cocktails Before Reception
- Creating your Wedding Timeline
- 12 to 18 Months
- 8 Months Prior
- 6 Months Prior
- 4 Months Prior
- 2 Months Prior
- 6 Weeks Prior
- 3 Weeks Prior
- 1 Week Prior
- 2 Days Before