Your Complete Wedding Planning Timeline: From “Yes” to “I Do”
Newly engaged and not sure where to start when it comes to beginning your wedding planning journey? No need to panic! Use this complete planning timeline to guide you every step of the way. While there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline that will fit every event – especially in the post-COVID world of weddings – we hope you’ll find this in-depth guide a helpful tool when planning your North Carolina wedding!
First Steps: What to Do After Getting Engaged
If you’re ready to announce your engagement to friends and family, take a moment to enjoy sharing the joyful news. There’s no need to rush into planning without first enjoying being engaged!
Many couples choose to host an engagement party. Consider if this is something you’d like to do. There’s no pressure to throw a huge celebration if it’s not your style – do what makes you happy.
If you are itching to get a start on wedding planning, the first thing to consider is your budget. North Carolina weddings, along with events across the country, have only gotten more expensive since the pandemic. Make sure that you talk over what you’re comfortable spending with your soon-to-be-spouse so that you can embark on your planning journey with a clearly defined budget.
You may want to choose a wedding date at this point. Or, if you’re comfortable waiting until later in the planning process, you may pick a specific date depending on the availability and rates of your desired venue. Having an idea of the general location and time of year you’d like to tie the knot is helpful at this stage.
There are many free resources available to help you with your wedding planning journey. Start by signing up for our weekly newsletter and read through our recommendations for choosing a wedding planner.
18-10 Months Out: Define Your Budget and Guest List
Once you have a clear budget in mind, you’ll be ready to make real progress on your wedding planning timeline! Now you can begin to seek out and hire the vendors who will bring your day to life. Not quite sure where to begin wedding planning? Browse our blog for endless inspiration, tips and advise from the best NC wedding vendors.
Hiring key vendors is a surefire way to stay on track with your planning timeline. Begin researching these vendors by seeking out reviews, exploring their social media accounts and attending open houses. If you’re going to hire a wedding planner (and we recommend that you do) finding the one that best fits your needs as early as possible during your planning timeline is a great way to minimize stress and save money in the long run.
You’ll also need to have a clear guest count before you book your venue and additional vendors. It’s important to define how many guests you expect to have in order to plan the rest of your details. You can even search our digital venue guide by guest count to find the NC venues that can accommodate your event.
10-8 Months Out: Complete Your Vendor Team
Once you’ve secured a venue, you’ll be able to hire many of your additional vendors, such as a caterer (if food isn’t included in your venue rental), photographer, florist, rental company, cake baker, stationer and more.
Schedule appointments to shop for your wedding attire. Wedding dresses can take months to arrive and will likely need alterations. Play it safe and order your dress and accessories with time to spare.
Now is the time to send save-the-dates! You may decide to use engagement photos for these – if so, be sure to book your photographer early and inquire if you can add-on an engagement session. This can also serve as a great way to get comfortable with your photographer and posing with your partner ahead of the wedding.
8-6 Months Out: Pick Your Wedding Party
Make sure that you’ve chosen the members of your wedding party if you have not already; they will need time to plan, purchase attire and make travel arrangements. Chose what dresses or formalwear you’d like them to wear.
Consider setting up a wedding website if you haven’t already. This is a popular step in planning for modern couples. There’s many free platforms out there that you can use to set up a basic website that includes travel and lodging info for your guests. You’ll also want to set up your registry.
6-4 Months Out: Time for a Trial Run
We recommend booking a trial run with your hair and makeup teams. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll be pleased with your wedding day look. There’s lots more to consider when it comes to prepping your skin and hair for the big day – like lash extensions, skin treatments, how many weeks out to get a haircut and more.
Work with your wedding band or DJ to craft a song list for your first dance, dances with parents and the rest of your reception.
4-2 Months Out: Stick to Your Timeline
By this point you may feel like you’ve completed the bulk of the planning tasks on your timeline, but there’s still more to be done!
If you plan to have a bachelor or bachelorette party, you’ll want to do so a few months out from the wedding date.
This is the standard time to send out formal invitations and RSVPs to your guests. This will give them ample time to make travel arrangements or book hotel rooms if they need to.
Be sure to check your passport status before you tie the knot. You might leave this detail out of your wedding planning timeline, but if you’re planning an international honeymoon, this is not a step to skip!
If you plan to give gifts to your soon-to-be-spouse, parents, wedding party or other relatives, purchase these a couple of months in advance.
Month of: The Final Countdown!
If you plan to write personal vows, you may choose to do so a few weeks in advance of the wedding day. Make sure that you’ve discussed a plan for the ceremony with your officiant.
With your final guest count you can create a seating chart. Your wedding planner will likely help you with this and finalizing escort cards.
You may want to book a mani/pedi appointment during this time for yourself and your wedding party as well.
What to Remember the Week of Your Wedding
Consider steaming your wedding dress and/or bridesmaid dresses and attire a day or two before the wedding to save time the morning of. Pack an emergency kit that includes anything you might need while getting ready or in case of emergency on the day of.
Don’t forget to pick up your marriage license.
Make sure you’re prepared to give all of your service vendors a tip.
Get married and enjoy the moment! If you’ve carefully followed a detailed planning timeline, there’s no need to stress out on the big day. You’ve prepared and set yourself up for success! Be present and trust your vendor team to deal with any last-minute hiccups.
With all of the planning and steps that go into your pre-wedding timeline, it might seem like the hard part is wrapped up as you tie the knot! That’s not entirely the case. There’s still a few things you’ll need to take care of after the wedding day. Of course, changing your name (if you choose to) is a task you’ll want to do after the wedding.
Return any linens, furniture, tabletop or specialty rentals if necessary.
Leave reviews for your vendors via Google or through their website. This is a great way to thank your vendors for a job well done, and it can help them connect with couples who may be a good match in the future!
Send thank-you cards to your guests.
Lastly, submit your wedding to be featured on our blog!