Happy Couple with Bouquet - Celebrating Love at a Simple Wedding

12-Months Wedding Planning Timeline

Do you want to get an organized plan for your upcoming wedding, and you’re not sure what to do first, or when, or how? How will you know when to choose your venue or when to pick up the wedding rings? Are you feeling a bit stressed at everything you have to remember? There are so many tiny little details that need to be addressed.  A schedule and plan are your first steps to keep you on track and within your desired budget.

At Zion Springs, we have helped hundreds of couples plan their weddings, and we are sharing our tried and true wedding checklist from the engagement through to the honeymoon to ensure you cover all bases to create your perfect wedding.

First, find the right venue

You are about to embark on a year-long planning, scheduling, and negotiating journey.   Using the checklist below can keep you organized and on-task.  Be prepared that some actions might be delayed, so make notes to remind you to follow up. 

Are you seeing yourself atop a beautiful mountain, or at a  historic mansion, or maybe even an elegant hotel ballroom?  Your venue is your first step in planning your wedding.  It should reflect your and your partner’s vibe

If you are looking to save yourself the stress and time planning your wedding, you might want to consider using an all-inclusive wedding venue might save you time and stress, especially if it is a truly all-inclusive venue.  Bear in mind that some venues claim they are all-inclusive and leave you with contacting their approved vendors yourself, such as catering, florist, photography, wedding planner, DJ, lighting, etc.)

Hire a wedding planner

Hiring a wedding planner can remove many of the stressful decisions off your plate.  Their knowledge of and access to vendors eliminates your need to pare down a long list of potential suppliers. They will save you time and effort and give you excellent advice and suggestions. 

Month-by-month wedding checklist

Use this checklist starting 12 months prior to your wedding day.  You can either download or copy and paste the checklist. Check off each item as you complete it. 






Set your wedding budget and priorities list

This dictates the size of your wedding, the number of guests, and where you want to spend most of your money.

Start your guest list with names and contact information

You will be adding to this list, and starting it early with your must-haves makes it easier when it comes to editing your list.

Narrow down what venues appeal to you

Much of this is determined by how many guests you plan to invite.  Do you want something romantic, rustic, modern, industrial, or natural? 

Research venues

  • Search online
  • Ask friends and family for suggestions and recommendations

Choose and reserve a venue

Narrow down your list to 3-4 venues that fit around your timeline.  You may need some flexibility if you marry during a busy season.

Set your wedding date and time

Your date might be determined by the venue.  If possible, be open unless you have a particular date in mind.  This offers you more venues that might be available.

Hire a wedding planner

A wedding planner eliminates the stress of planning your wedding, and their experience and knowledge enhance your celebrations.

Book your wedding officiant/celebrant

If you are marrying in the busy season, you want to make sure you have somebody available.   It doesn’t hurt to get them scheduled early.

Select your wedding party

Maid of honor and bridesmaids, best man and groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer.

Start shopping for dresses for the bride and bridesmaids

Include the veil, shoes, and accessories.  You must start early because of the lead time required for making the dress and alterations. 

Shop early to avoid those very costly “rush fees.” 


Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests

You will need this info to include with the invitations.

Reserve your wedding night accommodation

See if your venue has a (complimentary) bridal suite.  

Set your theme and color scheme for your wedding

If you use a wedding planner, they can help with suggestions.   

Use Pinterest for inspiration.

Start shopping for groom and groomsmen attire

Use your color scheme to compliment your theme.

Create a wedding website

Central place for all announcements, information, and updates.

Choose and order your wedding invitations and Save the Date notices

Base the number of invitations on the venue occupancy limit if you haven’t completed your guest list. 

Hire a catering vendor

Select the menu and set up a tasting date, beverage, and bar options.

Apply for destination wedding travel documents (if required)

Make sure your passports and visas are up to date.


Select your vendors (if they are not included in an all-inclusive venue package)

  • Florist
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • DJ/musicians
  • Rental furniture
  • Flatware, glassware, and linens
  • Photobooth

Purchase wedding insurance

This covers damages and loss for both you and your vendors.

Set up a gift registry

Post this to your wedding website.

Plan and book the honeymoon

Remember to check if passports and visas are up to date if traveling abroad.


Research wedding ring designs

Reserve transportation

This includes shuttles and limousines, as well as transportation from airports for out-of-town guests.

Wedding dress fitting

On average, it takes 3-6 months for your dress to be delivered.  Schedule your fittings for alterations.

Take engagement photos

Often, the wedding photographer will include these in your package.


Send Save the Date notices

Online announcements are acceptable if you choose not to send them through the mail.

Set up a tasting date and hire a cake vendor

See if the caterer includes the wedding cake and set up a tasting date

Rent bathroom trailers (if required)

If you are getting married in a natural setting, you will possibly need ablution facilities.  Select from basic through to luxury.

Research and order wedding favors


Book the rehearsal dinner venue

Make sure it is close to your ceremony venue as it is usually held the same day. 

Remember to send out invitations and RSVPs.

Send bridal shower and bachelor party guests’ contact information to the maid of honor and best man


Purchase the wedding rings

Give extra time for engravings 


Check in with your florist

They can give you updates on special orders and flowers in season.

Decide on a playlist and share it with your DJ/musicians

Remember to add your choice for the bride and groom dance.

Check in with your sound and lighting vendors

Let them know of any specifics in your playlist that require action from them.

Purchase thank-you gifts for the wedding party

These are often presented during the rehearsal dinner.


Schedule make-up and hair appointments

Schedule test runs.

Groom and groomsmen suits and schedule alteration fittings

Suits, ties, tie pins, shoes, cufflinks, etc.


Organize childcare arrangements and activities if required

Post the details on your wedding website if you plan on providing childcare.

Send wedding invitations

Include information on

  • accommodation 
  • transportation 
  • childcare arrangements and activities
  • dietary requests


Choose ceremony readings and write the vows and reception speeches

Share the readings with the wedding party members you selected to read so they can practice.

Apply for the marriage license

Research online for requirements. 

Valid for 60 days before the wedding day.

Finalize the menu with the caterer

Advise them of dietary requirements of your guests based on the RSVPs.

Bachelor & Bachelorette party

Your maid of honor and best man organize the celebrations.

Create and share the run-sheet with vendors

The run-sheet is the checklist for vendors to know the detailed schedule of your wedding day so they can plan the set-up and break-down of their services.

Buy day-of accessories

Guest book and pen, toasting champagne flutes, cake knife and servers, unity candle, ring pillow, etc.

Order the wedding programs, menu cards, and thank you notes

These are possibly part of the wedding stationery package keeping within your theme.

4 weeks

Start creating the seating chart

Anticipate there might be last-minute or unexpected guests, and determine how to accommodate them in your chart.

Follow up tardy RSVPs

Let your vendors know if there are any changes in numbers.

Confirm the ceremony running order with your celebrant/officiant

Confirm the shot list with your photographer and videographer

Confirm your song list for the ceremony and reception with your musicians/DJ

Schedule hair and make-up test run

Check if your stylist includes a package for both test-runs and the day-of.

Purchase wedding decor

This includes decorations for the ceremony and reception sites.

Finalize your full-day timeline

3 weeks

Finalize your seating arrangements

Share this with your caterer and venue.

Confirm your honeymoon bookings

Include the rental car if applicable.

2 weeks

Give a final headcount to your caterer and rental vendors

Finalize with your vendors

Check that everything is on schedule. 

Make sure your wedding planner or someone you trust has a copy, too. 

Confirm the arrival and delivery times.

Print the seating chart table and cards

Confirm your rehearsal dinner booking

Let them know of any special requirements for your guests, and confirm the numbers.

Assign somebody to collect your gifts and belongings after the reception

This is usually your wedding planner or a member of your wedding party.

Assign somebody to oversee the return of rental items, including tuxes, the day after the wedding

Set up your support team

They handle problems or issues during the ceremony and reception in your place.  They include the wedding planner and wedding party members.

1 week

Give your wedding planner a final timeline

Break in your wedding shoes

You want to avoid those blisters on the wedding day!

Begin packing for the honeymoon

Pack emergency kit

  • pain-killer/headache pills
  • bandaids
  • sewing kit
  • wet wipes
  • laundry wipes/spray
  • pen & paper
  • small bottle of water

Confirm transportation arrangements

Confirm both wedding day and out-of-town guests’ transportation  

Review contingency plan with the venue in case of bad weather

Make gratuity envelopes for vendor staff if not included in the invoice

Have a wedding planner or wedding party member hand them out after the reception.

Day before

Pick up rental tuxedos (if required)

Deliver special items to the venue and the wedding planner

Decorations, wedding favors, ceremony items, posters, etc., with written instructions.

Check the weather report and pack essentials for inclement weather

Have your marriage license and rings ready and in a safe place

Ceremony rehearsal 

Rehearsal dinner

Using a 12-month wedding checklist

You might have been fretting about organizing your wedding plans and wondering what you are supposed to do and when. With this checklist, you can be assured that you are covering all the bases and staying on task.  

Copy the checklist above to add or delete lines as needed.  Check off each item as you complete them, or highlight others that require a follow-up.  

If you are wondering how much your wedding is going to cost, there is a comprehensive breakdown of what you will spend on your wedding in What is our wedding going to cost? that includes many of the unexpected costs of planning your wedding.

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