Your Wedding Planning Checklist Based Off YOUR Needs

March 14, 2022

There’s not a lack of blogs telling you how to plan your wedding and when to do what. Most of them don’t take into account the most important part of a wedding though… Your dreams! No one wedding is going to be the same as another or have the same planning timeline, and that’s okay! This blog is here to give you a guide for planning your wedding and give you a couple of tips and tricks, but it isn’t an end all be all, check off each step in order type of wedding planning checklist. You don’t really want that anyway… You want your wedding to be one of a kind right? So your wedding planning checklist should be too! 

I’m not going to leave you hanging on the big stuff though so don’t stress too much! I’m going to give you some advice on the big stuff you’ll want to check off but the order is up to you. If you are looking to have a bigger, more traditional wedding, this is for you! If you are one for elopements and micro weddings, don’t worry I have some juicy stuff coming for ya soon.

Where to Start with your Wedding Planning Checklist?

Great question, I’m so glad you asked! There are two parts to that answer though. The very first thing you need to consider doing is setting a wedding budget. How are you going to start booking vendors if you have absolutely no idea how much you and your love can afford to spend on this wedding. Do yourself a favor and set a budget first thing. Chatting about money isn’t always the most fun, but it will make your lives so much easier in the long run!

The second part to this answer is fully dependent on you and your day. I’ll give you the breakdown on who you should book and how far in advance you should generally shoot for. As far as the exact order, it depends on what is most important to you! 

For my husband and I, our photographer was the most important part of our wedding. My husband wanted his friend that he’s known since high school to shoot our day. He wouldn’t feel comfortable with anyone else, so we had to call her and figure out her availability in September to then schedule everything else around that date. When trying to figure out where to start, think about what is most important to you as a couple. Are you dreaming of a certain venue? Is there a date that you HAVE to have for your wedding day? Is there a photographer or videographer that you NEED to photograph you and your significant other’s big day? Figure out what is your must-have vendor and then figure out a date based on their schedule or figure out your must-have date and pick out your vendors based on that date. 

All of these are equally important and should be booked at least a year in advance. I am not saying to wait months between booking all these big vendors for your day though! These should all be booked early and pretty close together. The exact order of operations for your venue, date, photographer, or videographer fully depends on your wants, needs, and dreams for your day.

What’s Next on the Wedding Planning Checklist?

It wouldn’t be a wedding planning checklist if I didn’t go through and list all the details you absolutely have to book and what is the normal time frame to do so. Choosing any of your vendors for your wedding is super important! Choosing your date, venue, photographer, videographer, and florist should be some of the first on your list for planning your day. The order in which you book those, though, is totally up to you! Below you’ll find vendors and when to book them for your day.

The wedding industry is being bombarded with tons of couples getting married in 2022 and 2023. A lot of photographers I know are starting to become fully booked into 2023! So keep in mind that the sooner you can book the better. Below is just a guide of “if you want to wait to book a vendor, don’t wait longer than this far out from your wedding”.

12-15 Months Before Your Big Day

  • Book your must-have vendors as soon as you can! The minimum I would give for your must-have vendors is 12 months, but if you’re engaged and know you want a certain vendor for your wedding, secure them as soon as you possibly can. There is a big chance they could be booked out by 12 months prior.
  • Beyond your must-have vendors, I would recommend prioritizing wedding planners, venues, florists, caterers, rentals, hair and make up artists, and (OF COURSE) photographers and videographers. I would book these vendors as soon as you can, but up to 12 months beforehand is normally a good rule of thumb.
Wedding planning checklist: your ultimate guide

9-11 Months Before Your Big Day

  • Choose your wedding party. You’ll want to give them plenty of time to plan around your day and get a dress or a tux so it doesn’t hurt to propose to your bridesmaids as soon as you can.
  • Secure your dress/tux as well as dresses and tuxes for the bridal party. This will allow plenty of time for shipping and alterations even if there are some delays.
  • Plan your wedding guest list. You’ll want to plan this tactfully. Plan your guest list for the budget you have and not the other way around. You want the day to be about you and your lover and not your second cousin twice removed. Plan for the right amount of people to fit your budget and then make the guest list according to that number.
  • Book your hotel room blocks and transportation.
  • Choose and send out your save-the-dates around 9 months out. If you want them to be extra gorgeous, have an engagement session with your photographer about a month before you plan on sending them out to give you enough time to get photos back and design the save-the-dates.
Wedding planning checklist: your ultimate guide

3-6 Months Before your Big Day

  • Shop for your wedding bands.
  • Check in with your vendors and finalize everything.
  • Hire a ceremony officiant, if you are going to have one.
  • Make a wedding registry! 
  • Send out your invites. You’ll want to account for shipping delays and supply chain issues so send them out a little earlier than you might think.
  • Apply for a marriage license. This should normally be within 1 month of your wedding since most states require it to be signed within 30 days, but just start thinking about it and put it on your radar.
  • Plan your honeymoon! Renew your passports if you are going out of the country.

Again every wedding is unique and some will have more to do and some will have less. My hope is you use this wedding planning checklist as a guide to make sure you don’t miss any big steps while planning your day. (and you book your vendors early enough to secure your date with them!) Let me know in the comments below what your must-have wedding vendor is. If you’re currently planning a wedding and looking for a wedding photographer, let’s chat!

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