They popped the question!!

Congratulations! The love of your life has popped the question, and you've said yes!! Now that you're on the path to married life, it's time to make the most of your engagement period. Step one: Celebrate and enjoy the special chapter—getting engaged is a big deal. Step two: Start to plan your wedding!

12+ months out

01 - Draft a guest list

It's time to figure out who's coming & who's not. If deciding who's coming (and who isn't) threatens to either bankrupt you or start a war with your families, many wedding planners recommend scaling back and honing in on the people who really matter. Make your guest list your A-list. If you haven't talked to them in the last year or two... why are they coming to your wedding?

02 - Set a budget

Before you begin any sort of planning, it's crucial to determine how much you're willing to spend. While tradition says the bride's parents responsible for wedding costs, today people 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.

03 - find & secure your venue

Having your guest list prior to booking a venue can be crucial. There's nothing more heartbreaking than falling in love with a venue & finding out it can't accommodate your guest count. Every wedding venue has its pluses and minuses, so find a spot that's convenient, exciting, and cost-effective. Once you find your venue you get to set a date! I have a full blog post that speaks about finding your perfect wedding date!

04 - 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.

05 - 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 out

05 - begin registering

People will send gifts starting with the first party thrown for you, be it an engagement celebration or a shower. Set up your wish list (ideally, at two national stores and one local) to make their lives easier.

06 - 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 from a bridal shop, or buy off of the rack from a store or resale website. There are a ton of amazing locally owned 'off the rack' bridal shops located all over the states!

07 - Book your Vendors

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. You can check my credentials out on my page! Also secure the band or DJ for your big day.

6-9 months out

08 - Order your stationaries

The first hint guests will have of your wedding's style is your invitations. Make sure they represent it well. Sending something too cutesy is confusing if you're having an elegant or formal wedding. Likewise, send out save-the-dates if you feel your wedding requires them. They're best for destination weddings or any other celebration that requires extra guest planning or travel booking.

09 - Book your florist

Booking a florist can be an intimidating task. Choosing flowers will make an impact on the overall aesthetic of your day. It is important to pick flowers that are in season - as this will be cheaper in the long run. It's helpful to bring your florist images of arrangements you love and lists of your favorite flowers and those that hold sentimental value to you (maybe you want to echo the ones your grandmother carried in her bouquet). If there are blooms you want that are hard to find or expensive, use them sparingly in arrangements, or save them for your bouquet.

10 - hire your officiant

If you're getting married in your church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, you likely know the clergyperson who'll be performing your service. When a ceremony combines religions and cultures, a unitarian minister is a good option. If you're wanting a friend to marry you, they can get ordained online! Whatever route you choose, call the city or county clerk's office where you'll be marrying to see if you need to complete any extra procedures.

11 - order bridesmaids 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 color (solids or prints?) to style (uniform or mismatched?) to length (long, short, or something in between?). Make sure each bridesmaid has her dress ordered within this time frame as well.

12 - Plan your honeymoon

It may feel far away, but travel plans always require time. Figure out where you want to go, and get started booking based on where you're headed and when.

4-6 months out

13 - book rentals

We're talking tents, tables, linens, you name it. Create a layout of how you want your reception to seat. This is when you need to decide on a seating chart or not. All things reception planning - happen at this point. Also make time to book any needed transportation, including limos or party buses for the day-of.

14 - Dress tailoring + fittings

Now that the dress is ordered, you'll need a few extra appointments to ensure that it fits like a glove. Start now so you have plenty of time for alterations.

15 - Plan reception

Book any spaces and make dinner reservations for day-before prep.

2-6 months out

16 - mail invitations

All invites should be sent at least six weeks ahead, allowing your guests adequate time to respond and ensuring that you'll 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.

17 - Plan ceremony

When it comes to walking down (and back up) the aisle, you can stick to the standard order. The groom waits at the altar as the wedding party enters, then the ring bearer and flower girl. Next, the bride is escorted by her father or parents. Or, mix it up. You might ask a person of mutual importance to escort both of you, one on each arm; walk one behind the other with your respective parents; or proceed down the aisle together hand in hand. Remember to keep guests comfortable and provide seating, even if the ceremony is 10 minutes or less. Don't make Grandma stand or torture Uncle Rick with his bad knee.

18 - customize your ceremony

Customize 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. Feel free to think outside the Canon-in-D processional, and pick songs that really speak to you.

19 - book hair + makeup

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. Also test-run a few different options beforehand. No bride wants an unsightly surprise the day of!

20 - Place all orders

By this time, flowers should be decided on, favors should be bought, and outfits for the groomsmen should be ordered.

6 weeks out

21 - Finalize the essentials

Are you doing a garter toss? Buy the garter. Have your rings been bought? Get them now. Want a signature cocktail at the reception? Start concocting. And make sure your venue has its loose ends tied. Power, for example, is a huge thing to check on. Is there enough for your performers and décor? Where are the outlets?

4 weeks out

22 - Chart, schedule, sign & plan

By now, your ceremony should be finalized, 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 send your vendors a day-of schedule so they're on the same page. If rehearsal dinner invitations haven't been mailed, send them now. Then, research your state laws and secure your marriage license. You won't be official without it!

2 weeks out

23 - Details, details, 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 having too little food!

24 - Break in your shoes

There's nothing worse than uncomfortable heels. Wear them around the house a little, go for a date night & break them in, do whatever you need to do to get those bad boys stretched out.

Week of the wedding

25 - use those vacation days

If you can, take a few days off before the wedding. You need time to confirm everything, schedule appointments, and just breath. Wedding planning is stressful. Here's some details to wrap up.

  • Picking up your dress and the rings
  • Putting together favors and welcome bags
  • Confirming delivery and arrival times with the vendors, hairstylist, and makeup artist

& here's some tasks to assign...

  • A guest-gatherer for photos on wedding day
  • A day-of point person for guest questions and concerns
  • Someone to take wedding gifts home post-reception

26 - packing, packing, packing!!!

A list of what you should bring...

  • Your dress, shoes, undergarments, and jewelry
  • The groom's and attendants' gifts (if you didn't give these tokens of appreciation the night before)
  • Your vows, if self-penned, and the wedding bands to hand off to the best man

A list of what MOH should bring...

  • Ibuprofen
  • Bobby pins
  • A sewing kit
  • Earring backs
  • Buttons
  • Krazy glue
  • Deodorant
  • Baby powder
  • Stain remover

Day before wedding

27 - wedding eve!!!

Day-before tasks include everything from arranging tip envelopes (for certain vendors and waitstaff) to preparing snacks for the getting-ready rooms (unless they've been pre-ordered through your caterer). To look your best on your special day, invest in a mani and pedi (you'll need the break, I promise!), and after confirming times and addresses with your transportation (limo, etc.) service, head over to your rehearsal dinner to practice, practice, practice.

It's wedding day!!

28 - morning of...

Naturally, you'll have butterflies in your stomach. But these tactics will keep you smiling and glowing. Make sure you drink PLENTY of water, eat plenty of food, and relax. Take your time & take in every moment.

29 - Enjoy it!

Your monumental day will go by so fast. Take care to stay in the moment. First, stay close to your new spouse. Try to stick together as much as you can! Also, don't forget Dad. If you have a good relationship with your father, build a memory by having a moment with him after you're dressed, it gets lost in the mix of everything else. Same goes for Mom & siblings!

30 - Spend it together

Take 5-10 minutes together after ceremony. Give yourselves a second to take each other in as spouses. It is a beautiful thing - to get married. Don't get so lost in the crazy of the day you can't enjoy each others company. Take every moment you can & soak it up!! It's your freaking wedding day!!!!