If you’re newly engaged, Congrats! Now the wedding planning can begin, which is easier said than done. While the particulars of your wedding will certainly vary based on your culture and the type of wedding you want, here are a few general milestones to look out for that can be universal for nearly any wedding.
The following monthly planning breakdown is a general timeline to start with if you were to start planning a year in advance:
At this stage, start by setting the dates. Dates in the plural, since you’ll need to come up with 3-4 options. Then decide on the budget, and whether or not you’ll need a wedding planner. If you do decide on a planner, they’ll be the first service you’ll need to book at this time and will be your greatest resource for all things wedding planning.
Next, you’ll need to find your ceremony sites and venues. This is where your wedding dates come in, since venues may be booked on your first date choice. You might have to be willing to compromise here on either your date of choice or your venue of choice. But starting early will hopefully mean that you won’t have to compromise at all!
Now you’re ready to make a guestlist, send save-the-date cards, and collect the replies. This will help you with your estimated guest count which your vendors will ask you.
The last thing you’ll need to do is book a wedding Photographer and/or Videographer as soon as possible! Seriously, a lot of places are booked up to 12 months in advance, and a really good photographer and videographer will ensure your day is captured flawlessly and provide you with the images and/or videos to look back on to remember all the love and effort that went into this day.
Book an engagement shoot with your photographer. You’re only engaged once, and a photoshoot together visiting your favorite sentimental places and documenting this special time can be a fun way to celebrate. It’s a great way to get to know your photographer, become more familiar with their style and ease your fiance into having to take lots of photos on the big day! You can use some of these photos for the official invitations, and even frame them for display at your wedding. (Tip - schedule your hair and makeup trial on the same day as your engagement session so your hair and makeup will be professionally done!)
This is a good time to talk to your wedding planner and/or venue about any wedding themes, florals and decor you might have in mind. It’s never too early to start brainstorming, especially if you want your dress to match. Which leads right into the next milestone:
Start looking for your Wedding Dress! It can take 8-10 months alone for the dress to be manufactured, not to mention the time you’ll need for shopping beforehand and tailoring and alterations afterwords. Be sure to find a bridal salon that offers amazing service and a good trying-on selection, such as Miosa, schedule your dress fitting and final fitting as soon as you nail down your wedding date! Also start thinking of Attire for the Groom - if you’re looking for a place that makes custom suits in the Sacramento Area just down the street from Miosa, start by checking out R Douglas.
Now is a good time to book an Officiant, and check their availability on your wedding day at your decided location. Early on is also the time to start asking around among your friends and start assembling those who want to commit as bridesmaids and groomsmen!
If you want live music at your wedding, now is the time to start looking and booking them, whether it’s a stringed quartet, live band, a DJ or all of the above!
Maybe it seems a bit early, but now is also the time to book your honeymoon and transportation, especially if it involves plane tickets.
Finally, complete the official guest list and arrange to send out the official invites.
Book a caterer, if you haven’t already done so through the venue, and speak with them about the menu. Sometime a separate company such as patisserie can be booked for the wedding cake and dessert table, and this is usually the time when cake sampling comes into play. You can also find out from your venue if they’ll allow extra vendors to be brought in such as ice cream caterers, specialty coffee carts or anything else custom to your day!
Start looking for Hair and Makeup artists to help you get ready for your special day. If you have a specific plan in mind for your day-of look or are still indecisive, you can arrange a hair and makeup trial appointment to test out different looks. Sometimes this can be booked even earlier, if you want the look to tie in with your engagement shoot.
At this point, you’re pretty well along in your planning and have taken care of the majorly important details. All that’s really left to do is confirm your guest count with your vendors and arrange the seating plans.
Oh, and don’t forget to make arrangements for the week-of festivities, such as a bachelorette party, rehearsal ceremony, and the day-of transportation to and from the ceremony and venue sites.
Phew! And congratulations, you’ve made it this far. All that you can do now is attend said parties and rehearsal dinners, and anticipate the coming of the day you’ve been working so hard to plan and looking forward to!