Nine months to your dream wedding: A planning checklist

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Heidi Hoffman Photography Heidi Hoffman Photography


• Start a wedding folder, binder, or bookmarks tab with inspiration, aspirations, and ideas. • Work out your budget. What can you realistically spend on your wedding? Will your family or anyone else contribute? How much, if at all, are you willing to go into debt? • Pick your wedding party — everyone will want to know as soon as you’re engaged, anyhow! • Start considering your guest list. How many people do you want to invite? Bear in mind that each person adds a significant cost; as difficult as it may be, the very best way to keep cost low is to keep the guest list tight. • Hire a planner. They’ll help on every step of the process from here on out. • Book your officiant. • Think about and book dates and venues. • Start looking into options for photos, music, food, and flowers.


• Research and hire people to handle your photos, music, food, and flowers. • Get your wardrobe worked out. Depending on how you choose to handle this, you may need more than three fittings to get everything pitch-perfect; starting early saves you lots of rushing later. • Consider accommodations for out-of-town guests. Aim to have a number of price points available for guests of varying means. • Get your gift registry going. Consider making registries with three to five different retailers to give guests a variety of gift options.


• Select and purchase invitations. A calligrapher or other professional, while costly, saves you a huge amount of time in addressing all of your cards. • Honeymoon planning. Are your passports up-to-date? Do you have all your necessary shots? Are you having a romantic staycation? • Work out your wedding party’s wardrobe. Bridesmaid dresses can take six months or more to be ordered and sized, so start early! • Plan regular meetings with your officiant. Confirm that they’re the one you want to commemorate your special day, and that all of your official documents are in order. • Send out save-the-date cards, links, or other means to make sure your guests can arrive on your special day. • Consider the structural and electrical necessities. Will you need amplifiers? Port-o-potties? Tents (a must for any outdoor Pacific Northwest wedding)? • Arrange transportation for you and guests, if necessary. • Work with a wedding planner — or an experienced friend — to compose a day-of timeline. It’ll help you feel more secure about things from here on out.


• See how your invitations are coming along. • Select and order your cake. Require several tastings before committing to any baker; you won’t regret it, and plus you’ll get to eat lots of cake! • Book your venues for rehearsals, reh++earsal dinners, and brunches, if necessary. • Consider showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and any other commemorative fun you’d want before your wedding. • Schedule your hair and makeup artists, if necessary. • Plan your music. What should be playing at every point of the day? Make a detailed list of what you do — and don’t — want in your day’s tuneage.


• Order favors for your guests, if you’d like. • Make a list of who you want to give toasts — and give them ample time to plan (and fret!) about their new speaking engagement. • Finalize your ceremony’s readings. Work with your officiant to plan what you’d like to have read at the wedding, and who you’d like to have read it.


• Finalize your ceremony and reception order, and send it to your vendors for tweaks and feedback. • Purchase the rings. Three months will give you time for resizing and engraving, if necessary.


• Double check with every single one of your vendors to make sure everything is in order. A wedding planner can help immensely with this step. • Ensure that invitations have gone out. A good guideline: mail invites six to eight weeks before the ceremony, and set the cutoff point for three weeks after the postmark date (or one month before the wedding itself). An email blast can be helpful to encourage more timely RSVPs, as well! • Submit your wedding announcement to PQ Monthly and other publications.


• Make a list of your RSVPs — and follow up on any delinquencies. • File for your marriage license. • Send out invites for rehearsal dinners, brunches, or other celebrations around the date of your wedding. • Schedule final fittings for your clothing. • Now that you have a final headcount, work with the caterer and bar to finalize plans. • Send out final payments for vendors. • Confirm all appointments for hair and makeup. • Assign seating. One option is to create a board with a layout of the room, and then to have color-coded sticky notes represent each guest — for example, pink to indicate people in couples and blue to indicate singletons. This way, you can rearrange folks without resketching everything, and maybe even get some of your single friends hooked up! • Write your vows. • Get your hair done. If you’re planning a color change, make sure everything is ship-shape as close to the beginning of the month as possible. • Send a timeline and a final guest list to the wedding party, the vendors, and anyone who’s helping you. • Pick up your wardrobe from the tailor or cleaners, if necessary. • Break in your shoes. Seriously. You’ll be thankful later. • Pack for your honeymoon.


• Breathe. • Enjoy yourself. • Kiss your partner and mean it; you’ll never forget this kiss.