Everything You Need to Know to Begin Your Wedding Planning Timeline

·4 min read

Planning a wedding takes a lot of work, and if you're more of the type who'd like to plan their own wedding, there are plenty of resources available to help you check off all the boxes.

From booking vendors, to printing "Save the Date" cards and invitations, there's plenty to do in the whirlwind months between your engagement and wedding day. If you're currently in the wedding planning season of life, remember that you don't have to check every box and above everything, it's your day to celebrate.

Here are a few tips to help you construct your wedding planning timeline:

Plan your wedding about 12 to 18 months out from the date.

Unless you're having a smaller, intimate ceremony that doesn't need a large venue and other vendors, a planning window of about 12 to 18 months is typical. "As long as you're in that one year to year-and-a-half mark, you're going to be able to get everything you want and still get most of your top-tier, first choice vendors," Bryce Carson, lead coordinator of the Richmond, Virginia, office of Roberts & Co. Events, says.

A longer planning window is also a good precaution with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting some vendors' standard timelines.

Book vendors who can only host one event per day first.

This will ensure that you get your top choice venue, and other vendors like your beauty team, photographer, videographer, and band, Carson says. Other services like a caterer and florist can typically handle and schedule more than one event in a day.

Send your "Save the Date" cards once you've booked your wedding venue. Then, send your invitations two to three months before the date of your wedding.

The wedding scene will definitely be busy in 2022, so you'll want to send your date to loved ones as soon as possible. While some may argue that the traditional Southern rule of thumb for invites is six weeks before your wedding date, Carson advises adding two weeks to whatever you think is the appropriate timeline.

"With a lot of paper companies running behind, and supplies limited, you always want to give yourself a buffer right now to make sure everything gets out in a timely manner," he says.

Have your wedding registry and website prepared when you send out "Save the Dates."

"A couple weeks leading up to sending out 'Save the Dates,' we recommend you stopping by your favorite department stores, local stores, and home stores to work on your registry," Carson says. "That way when you send out 'Save the Dates,' those people who are ready to jump in, send you your gift, and are super excited for you, will have the opportunity to do so."

A wedding website is a great way to have all the essential information for your big day in one place. By the time you send out "Save the Date" cards, you want to at least have the generalities of your wedding on the site such as your room block for out-of-town guests, the time of day for your wedding, and a few photos of you and your partner.

"As you approach closer to invitations, you'll be able to flush out that website a good bit," Carson says. "Don't feel it's something that you have to rush to get done because guests will continue to check it throughout the process."

Expect to be busy reviewing final details during the last six weeks leading up to your wedding.

"Those final details are really dependent on your final guest count," Carson says. "You have your ideas in mind for your place cards, for your menus, for your programs, but you don't want to start printing and working on them until you have a pretty firm guest count."

Even though there's lot to do in the timeframe that you set for yourself, remember to set boundaries, and ask for help when you need it. Your wedding weekend should be one of the happiest moments of your life, and it's completely understandable to need a break amidst everything that you do in those moments.

"Think of it this way: go to as much as you want or as little as you want," Carson says. "By no means do you need to stay the entire time at your after-party after the reception.

You've been up since 8 a.m. getting hair and makeup, getting ready, and taking photos. Do as much as your body will let you do; you don't have to be fully present at everything."

And remember that everyone's timeline for planning is different. Your process may look completely different from someone else's, Carson says, but this general outline should allow you to visualize and prioritize everything you need to do leading up to your big day.