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Monday Message: Wedding Planning Checklist and 10 tips to consider

Original Post Date: January 16, 2017 | Deniesha Johnson

Were you just recently engaged? Have you decided on a date and started envisioning your wedding? Well here is our month to month checklist that you can use to help with your planning process.

D. Johnson & Co’s Month to Month Wedding Checklist

12+ months before

  • Envision your wedding and draw up a budget.

  • Assemble your "planning team." Consider hiring a wedding consultant.

  • Pick a wedding date and time. Select several options, then check with your venues, officiant and important guests before finalizing.

  • Start planning the guest list.

  • Look for and book ceremony sites and reception sites.

  • Ask friends and relatives to be in the wedding party.

  • Optional: Have an engagement party. You may want to register beforehand for gifts.

8–10 months before

  • Bride: Think about, shop for and order your gown.

  • Envision reception food.

  • Decide on wedding theme and color palette for your big day

  • Decide what type of entertainment you want. A pianist for the cocktail hour, strolling violinists, a DJ or band?

  • Think about your floral décor.

  • Research and book your wedding professionals. Interview vendors: photographer, videographer, reception band or DJ, and/or florist.

  • Research a wedding insurance policy to protect your deposits.

  • Research and reserve blocking accommodations for out-of-town guests.

  • Register for gifts.

  • Contact rental companies if you need to rent anything for the ceremony or reception, such as chairs, tables and a tent.

6–8 months before

  • Book ceremony musicians.

  • Order bridesmaid dresses.

  • Start planning honeymoon.

  • Send save-the-date cards. This is a particularly good idea if you're marrying during a tourist or holiday season or having a destination wedding.

4–6 months before

  • Attend pre-wedding counseling, if required.

  • Shop for and order invitations and wedding rings.

  • Grooms: Shop for formalwear.

  • Renew or get passports, if necessary and begin planning honeymoon

  • Envision your wedding cake and research, interview and book a cake designer.

3 months before

  • Order wedding cake.

  • Hire a calligrapher, if you want your invitations professionally addressed.

  • Attend your shower. (It may be earlier, depending on when your hosts decide to have it.)

  • Groom: Rent the men's formalwear.

  • Hire wedding day transportation: limousines, other cars. Look into transportation sooner if you're considering renting streetcars or over-the-top travel.

  • Optional: Plan Bachelor/bachelorette party(ies)

2 months before

  • Mail your invitations.

  • Write your vows.

  • Purchase gifts for parents, attendants and each other.

  • Book your stylist and try out wedding day hairstyles.

  • Book a makeup artist and go for a trial run.

1 month before

  • Apply for a marriage license. Check with the local bureau in the town where you'll wed.

  • Bride: Have final gown fitting. Bring your maid of honor along to learn how to bustle your dress. Have the dress pressed and bring it home.

  • Call all bridesmaids. Make sure they have their gowns ready for the wedding.

  • Make last-minute adjustments with vendors.

  • Create a wedding program to hand out to guests at the ceremony

  • Order and plan in-room welcome baskets for out-of-town guests.

  • Plan reception seating chart. Use current RSVPs or guest list if you’re still waiting on some RSVPs

  • Attend Bachelor/bachelorette party(ies)

2 weeks before

  • Review final RSVP list and call any guests who have not yet sent a response.

  • Deliver must-have shot lists to your photographer and videographer. Include who should be in formal portraits and determine when portraits will be taken.

  • Deliver final song list to your DJ or bandleader. Include special song requests and songs you don't want played. Also be sure to include MC moments for special announcements you’d like to have

  • Bride: Get your last pre-wedding haircut and color.

1 week before

  • Give reception site/caterer final guest head count. Include vendors, such as the photographer or band members, who will expect a meal. Ask how many extra plates the caterer will prepare.

  • Supply location manager with a list of vendor requests such as a table for DJ or setup space needed for a florist.

  • Print place and table cards, or finalize list with the calligrapher you've hired.

  • Call all wedding vendors and confirm arrangements/exceptions.

  • Give ceremony and reception site managers a schedule of vendor delivery and setup times, plus contact numbers.

  • Groom: Ask the best man to make sure all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits.

2–3 days before

  • Bride: If you need to, have your gown pressed or steamed… do it now

  • Groom: Go for final fitting and pick up your formalwear. 

  • Groom: Get your hair Cut.

  • Determine wedding party positions during the ceremony and the order of the party in the processional and recessional.

  • Hand off place cards, table cards, menus, disposable cameras, favors and any other items for setting the tables to the caterer and/or reception site manager unless you have a planner… leave it to them.

  • Reconfirm final details with all vendors. Discuss any necessary last-minute substitutions.

  • Call the limousine or car rental company for pickup times and locations.

  • Arrange for guests without cars to be picked up from the airport or train station. Ask friends, attendants or relatives to help.

  • Deliver welcome baskets to the hotel concierge; include names and delivery instructions.

Day before

  • Provide all wedding professionals with an emergency phone number to call on the day of the wedding.

  • Write checks and/or talk to wedding hosts (usually your parents, if not you) about any final balances to be paid at the end of the reception.

Night before

  • Rehearse ceremony. Meet with wedding party, ceremony readers, immediate family and your officiant at the ceremony site to rehearse and iron out the details.

  • Bring unity candle, aisle runner, yarmulkes or other ceremony accessories to the site. 

  • Give your marriage license to your officiant.

  • Attend rehearsal dinner.

  • Present attendants with gifts at the rehearsal dinner. You'll want to do this especially if the gifts are accessories to be worn during the wedding.

Day of

  • Present parents and each other with gifts.

  • Give wedding bands to the best man and maid of honor to hold during the ceremony.

  • Give best man the officiant's fee envelope, to be handed off after the ceremony. Unless you have a planner, ask them to do it for you.

  • Introduce your reception site manager to your consultant or maid of honor for questions or problems during the reception.

  • Assign a family member or attendant to be the photographer's contact so he/she knows who's who.


  • Prearrange for someone to return any rentals.

  • Preplan for attendants to take the bride's gown for cleaning and return the groom's tux to the rental shop.

  • Post wedding brunch to open gifts

  • Write and send thank-you notes to gift-bearing guests and vendors who were especially helpful.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Confirm vendors, make sure they know your expectations and that they're paid ahead of time

  2. Make a list for all of your vendors. For example you may want to consider making a list for your photographer of pictures they shouldn't miss

  3. Complete your seating chart early

  4. Don't try any new products on your face, body or hair so close to the wedding because you can have an adverse reaction

  5. Assign someone a list of tasks that you're worried about and of course, consider a "day-of" coordinator like D. Johnson & Co LLC

  6. Schedule the pick up of your dress & break-in your new shoes 2 weeks before the big day. May want to consider purchasing a second pair of shoes, if your budget allows, for the reception ... something a bit more comfortable for dancing in.

  7. Place your marriage license and other important items stored away in a box so you don't forget... maybe even give to your planner a few weeks before to ensure it'll get there.

  8. Confirm your honeymoon plans

  9. Practice your dance and/or grand-entrance-in the week of

  10. Most important remember that nothing is perfect; be flexible and find your sense of humor so that you can enjoy your day!