Wedding Planning Timeline

With so much to do for your upcoming wedding, it can become overwhelming choosing what to do at first. The excitement of being engaged, choosing your bridal party, a venue and a dress shouldn’t be overshadowed by stress or confusion. Feel free to use this guideline to help your planning be as smooth as your wedding night dance moves.

9 to 12 Months Before Wedding

Congratulations, you are engaged! Here is a good place to start with your planning.

Start a wedding folder/binder/book. For the planning savy bride, this super cute Kate Spade planner is a great option, however, a normal scribbler or binder works great too. You may want to set up a wedding website at Wedding Wire or The Knot as well. This is a great place to find local vendors, keep track of your planning, and give more information to your guests.

Pick a date. 

Determine your budget. Whether you are planning an intimate mountain getaway or a rocking party in a ballroom, your budget needs to be determined from the start. This will allow you to make decisions easily. Wedding Wire has a great tool to help you determine your budget and track costs as you go. They also have an app available through the App Store and Google Play.

Choose your wedding party. Looking for a cute way to ask your bridesmaids? Here are some creative ideas. Although, they will be so excited to be asked regardless of how you do it.

Begin compiling your guest list. You don’t need to have it nailed down at this time but having an idea of numbers will help with discussions with venues and vendors.

Hire a wedding planner (if so desired). Wedding planners are very popular because they do this for a living and know how to get you exactly what you would like. They know the local venues, vendors, tricks & tips, and do a great job relieving your stress. There are many options from day-of coordination to full wedding planning and I would be happy to recommend some of the best.

Reserve your date with venues. Tour your top three ceremony and reception venues and reserve the date with your favourite. Always insist on a written contract with venues and vendors. This can protect you at a later date.

Research photographers, bands, DJs, florists, caterers, bartenders and bakers. Check with friends and family for recommendations as well as Facebook groups for feedback. Always insist on a written contract with venues and vendors. This can protect you at a later date.

Book your officiant. The best officiants book up far in advance. Service Alberta provides a list of officiants here.

Enjoy your time being engaged. The wedding planning process doesn’t need to be stressful. Your fiancé, friends, and families are there to support you and will want to help. Don’t be afraid to delegate.

9 Months Before Wedding

Finalize your guest list and send your Save the Dates. This can be as simple as an email or as fancy as printed cards, as long as your guests know to reserve the date for you two.

Book your tastings. Have some fun and eat some great food and cake.

Book your vendors. Choose your favourites, pay your retainers, and get a signed contract. I repeatedly stress the importance of a signed contract because it helps outline expectations, requirements, and your legal rights. Whether the vendor is your friend or a complete stranger, this will eliminate any surprises throughout the process.

Book your engagement photo session. It is up to you when you would like these photos taken. It will be a nice opportunity to see how your photographer works, have some photos for your invites and slideshows, and celebrate you two as a couple. Keep your eyes on your inbox in the coming days for tips on planning your engagement session.

Find your dream dress. Book appointments with a couple bridal stores, collect your entourage, and have some fun! This day is all about you so you will want to book a dinner reservation at a great restaurant to celebrate at the end of the day.

Book hotel rooms. If you are travelling, plan on getting ready at a hotel, plan on staying at a hotel the night of the wedding, or have guests coming from out of town, be sure to contact the hotel early. The majority of hotels will block off a section of rooms for guests and give you a code to include in your invites.

Register for your gift registry. Here are some ideas other than your local department store.

6 Months Before your Wedding

Select and order invitations. While you can get great deals through companies like Vistaprint (hint, they often have coupons if you sign up for their emails), I am all for supporting local. Check out Love+Design and Pink Polka Design.

Plan your honeymoon. This is a great time to enjoy each other and celebrate your marriage together. A travel agent can be a great asset in your planning. I highly recommend Alice Selcho with Expedia Cruise Ship Centres.

Shop for bridesmaid dresses and rent tuxedos or suits. Did you know your ladies don’t have to purchase their dresses? Their is the option to rent dresses, just like the gentlemen will with their suits. Check out Brides Made, a great Canadian company offering this option.

Meet with your officiant. This is a great time to discuss your ideas for your ceremony, what the timeline will look like, and if your officiant has any specifics you need to be aware of.

Select a Master of Ceremonies (MC). This will give them lots of time to prepare for their duties.

Book your rentals. This can include chairs, tables, linens, lighting, decorations, and portable toilets to name a few. I might sound like a broken record, but ensure you insist on a written contract.

Plan and start making decorations. If you are doing your own decor, Pinterest is a great resource for ideas. If DIY is your style, book a day with your girlfriends to get a lot done in a short amount of time.

Book your florist and meet to discuss your ideasCory Christopher does amazing work from his studio in downtown Edmonton.

Arrange transportation. This may be coordinating vehicles with family and friends or booking a limo to transport your bridal party. I highly recommend considering an option for guests to get home from the reception as well. Dedicated Designated Drivers is a local company that will get your guests and their vehicles home.

Draft a wedding day timeline. While it feels like your wedding day is still far in the future, this will allow you to picture your day and when different events need to happen. I will send over a sample wedding day timeline in the coming days for you to use as a template.

4 Months Before your Wedding

Plan your rehearsal. Make arrangements with the officiant and venue, make contact with everyone that needs to attend, and plan your rehearsal dinner. Your caterer is often happy to provide this dinner for a very reasonable price.

Send your invitations. Consider using your Wedding Wire or The Knot site to collect RSVPs.

Order your wedding cake (or cupcakes). I am a big fan of Whimsical Cake Studio.

Purchase your wedding shoes and undergarments. It can often take time to find the right shoes and the perfect fitting undergarments. Be sure to leave enough time incase you don’t find what you like right away.

Book your first dress fitting. It has been a long time since you saw your dress so this is also a good chance to get a peak at it again. Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t fit perfectly when you put it on. Seamstresses can work magic!

Book your hair and makeup artist. Many hair and makeup teams will come to you which saves you a lot of time on your wedding day and allows you to spend more time relaxing in the morning. Modern Urban Designers have a mobile team of hair and makeup artists. Kali Maidens is a local makeup artist that also does amazing work.

3 Months Before your Wedding

Finalize your menu and flowers. Be sure to check your contracts incase your vendor’s requirements are different.

Order your wedding favours. If you would like to go the non-traditional route, The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has the Tie the Knot program. In lieu of favours, you can choose to make a donation to the foundation. You will receive printed donation cards for your tables and can request donations for the program instead of having guests chime their glasses for kisses.

Make a list of toasts and speeches. Let those people know about what they will be doing at the reception to allow them lots of time to prepare.

Finalize the readings for your ceremony. This often requires others to read them so this is a good chance to decide who those people may be.

Schedule your second dress fitting. Be sure to wear your wedding day shoes and undergarments for the fitting.

Finalize the order of events. Be sure to fill in your MC on the plans.

Print menu cards and programs. It is always nice to get this out of the way early.

Purchase your rings. This will give you enough time to have them sized properly.

Send the event schedule to your vendors. This will allow them enough time to plan and let you know if there are any foreseen issues.

2 Months Before your Wedding

Touch base with your vendors. Communication is key!

Meet with your photographer. If you have specific requests for your wedding day, this is a good chance to discuss and document these. Your wedding photographer will walk through the events of the day with you and prepare themselves to capture the day.

Review your playlist. Whether you have a band, DJ, or an iPod with a speaker, spend some time talking about the music. Your DJ will often help with the timeline at the reception so be sure to fill them in on the events of the night. Also, be sure to designate someone to play the music at your ceremony if you don’t have musicians.

Follow up on RSVPs. If this is automated through your wedding website, it will be really easy.

Enjoy your bachelor and bachelorette parties. Your friends will have a great time planned for you! Celebrate with those closest to you!

One Month Before your Wedding

Follow up on RSVPs. There are always stragglers so the second reminder is usually needed.

Purchase your marriage license. Be sure to let your officiant know once you have received it. For information on how to get a license, Service Alberta has a great website.

Book your final dress fitting. Your alterations should be very minimal at this point.

Stock the bar. Whether punch and pop is your style or you plan to have beverages of a harder variety, keep an eye out for sales and capitalize! Here is a great calculator for estimating how much to buy.

Send out payments. Keep an eye on contracts and when payments are required.

Confirm your times. Get in contact with hair, makeup, transport, and all other vendors to confirm timing and locations.

Email directions to transporters. Whether using a limo service or family and friends, it will pay off to be very clear.

Assign seating. This is a good opportunity to confirm the table setup at your reception venue.

Purchase gifts. Common people to include are bridesmaids and groomsmen, your parents, your MC, and flower girls/ring bearers. You may want to include other family members like grandparents and siblings.

Write your vows and speeches. If you are saying your own vows, be sure to give yourself enough time to put your words to paper.

Book a hair appointment. Getting your hair cut and coloured a few weeks early gives it a chance to look natural on the day of your wedding.

Book spa appointments for the week of your wedding. Enjoy a break while getting pampered.

Week of your Wedding

Reconfirm arrival times with vendors. They may have last minute questions for you so this is a good chance to answer them.

Delegate, delegate, delegate! Your friends and families want to help and have more time on their hands than you likely will. Be sure you choose someone to bustle your dress (and be sure to practice a time or two).

Confirm the timeline with your bridal party. They will want to ensure they are available for you when you need them.

Pick up your dress and the mens suits. Yes, it is really that time already! Your wedding will be here before you know it.

Write cheques for vendors. Be sure to delegate one person to be in charge of paying your vendors the day of your wedding.

Send the final headcount to your caterer and venues. And anticipate all of the yummy food you’ll be eating at your wedding!

Break in your shoes. Wear them around your house to be sure your feet feel fabulous on your wedding day.

Pack for your honeymoon. Get this out of the way early if you are leaving right after your wedding.

Decorate. If you are looking after the decor, grab your friends and family and turn your hall into the venue you imagined.

Get married and enjoy your time with family, friends, and your new husband. Be sure to take enough time for yourself and enjoy this time. It goes by way too quickly and you will want to ensure you spend time enjoying your wedding day. Even if everything does not go perfectly on your wedding day, remember what is most important and why you are there. You will have sealed your vows with your partner, in front of those that mean the most to you.

I hope this timeline helps you with your planning. If you would like suggestions of vendors, I am more than happy to help.  I have worked with many of the cities’ vendors and can make recommendations.

See something I am missing? I would love to include it to allow other couples to have a great resource. Please feel free to get in touch to let me know!

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