We’ve got some time to kill at home and BOYA you just got engaged — here is a wedding planning timeline filled with tips and tricks for your big day. Why not plan that wedding out and get it done before the end of the coronavirus hibernation period? Who wants to spend 12 months or forever planning their wedding when with a little creativity, some time blocking, you can get things squared away in two weeks.
You’ve got the time, tons of resources on Pinterest and Google — let’s get to time blocking out your planning! You can also download our wedding planning timeline checklist that’ll get you down to the nitty-gritty by clicking here.
Wedding Planning Timeline: Deciding the Major 3
Budget, date, and size are the major three decisions of your wedding. These three decisions impact everything else (and sometimes each other) as well as your vendor decisions. Here are our planning tips for deciding these top 3 factors. You can do this before the end of reading our article!
Wedding Planning Tips: Deciding Your Budget
Here’s where you’re going to have to be firm with yourself. Look at your values, and what you’re willing to spend on one day. Do you want a multiple-day, weekend-long event? Look at what you’ve already saved, plus your saving potential to help decide what your realistic budget will be. Always give yourself a 20% wiggle room (oh shit) category.
Something to be mindful of: we spend an average of $245 per guest on guests. The size of your wedding is easily the biggest factor in your budget. Ironing out what you’re willing to spend on catering, photography, videography, DJ, hair and makeup, venue, and hotel costs in relation to the average cost of these services will help you figure out your budget. Nationwide, the average cost of an average photographer is about $2500. Go any less, and you’re either getting a sweet deal or you might be working with someone that may not have their ducks in a row. Go higher, and you’re looking at a potentially better quality photographer.
Wedding Planning Tips: Deciding Your Date
Start with a season. Are you getting married locally or doing a destination wedding? What season makes sense to get married, for you, in that location? Is your busy season at work winter? Maybe summer then makes sense to get married. But if you want an outdoor Florida wedding, you might want to consider late fall or early spring as the summer is hot as balls. Consider weather, seasonal impacts, community events and more when deciding which season you want to get married in.
Decide what season makes sense based on your own life challenges and the challenges of the area you want to get married in. You can ask venue options (we’ll talk about this soon) what their availability for the season is like. Think about the pro’s and con’s of weekday versus Sunday or Friday weddings — you can save quite a bit by having a non-Saturday date.
Once your venue options get back to you with available dates in that region, you can then narrow down to which specific date makes the most sense. Venues book out pretty quickly, so sometimes it’s hard to be choosey about a date unless you have some serious time ahead of your wedding date. With so much change and chaos in the wedding industry right now, being flexible will be your biggest asset.
Wedding Planning Timeline: Your Wedding Size — the Guestlist.
Here’s where you’re going to lose most of your budget. We already acknowledged that wedding guests cost you an average of $245/guest. While brainstorming your guest list think about whether or not you would spend that on each person on that list. It’ll help you keep that list to the folks that you really value and want present on your day.
Pinteresting Your Future Wedding Day: Identifying Your Wedding Vibe
Here’s where a little mindless Pinteresting is actually going to benefit you. Start pondering location, season and overall vibe and get to Pinteresting. If you’re thinking of a City Hall elopement, search that: City Hall elopement. If you’re totally puzzled as to what you want your day to feel like and be like, just look up different options. Boho chic barn wedding, chic city rooftop wedding, get creative and sink into some of what you’re seeing. Are any of the pictures resonating with what you’ve dreamed about?
Are you going for that big BLOW OUT bash? Or a more DIYed backyard party? Much of your vibe will be decided by your budget. If you have a larger budget, there’s obviously a lot more you can do. BUT if you keep your wedding small, you can certainly have that extra destination wedding that you’ve dreamed of.
This will also help you visualize more of what your wedding day will feel like and be like. Make 5 boards: Details, Getting Ready, Portraits, Ceremony, and Reception. Pin no more than 25 images to each of those boards and only pin FUCK YES pins. These are all boards you can send to your potential vendors to see how well they vibe with your vision. You can also pull from the vendors in the actual pins on Pinterest.
Wedding Planning Timeline: Finding Vendors
Finding a pool of potential vendors to interview…
Bear in mind this is all work a planner can do FOR you. Whether choosing 3 top vendors for each category for you to choose from, or just straight up choosing the vendors for you, a planner can make your day lightning easy.
First up is locking in your vendors. Start by finding a pool of potential vendors with availability that you will interview to see if they’re the right fit. TheKnot, Wedding Wire and Facebook are all good places to start. You can create a post on your wall looking for vendors that might give some trusted referrals from close friends. You could also post in groups for potential vendors. Make sure to identify your wedding date, (or potential dates), ideal budget and any other deal-breaker items in your post.
Another option to find a pool of potential wedding vendors is a virtual wedding show. With all that’s going on, check out vendors in the show. You can get to know them from afar without investing extensive time or energy into individual vendors.
Ask your pool of vendors these 5 easy questions…
There are a few ways to vet any vendor in the industry. Asking a few quick questions will give you an idea of their abilities, and their experience in the field.
(1) Do you use contracts and what is your refund policy?
A professional vendor will have contracts that outline both your services that are being provided as well as the payment schedule. Ask what the refund policy is for all payments, not just a retainer. Retainers are typically non-refundable, many vendors will often provide a credit for future services in an extreme or unusual circumstance.
(2) What is your back up plan if you can’t make our wedding for some reason?
All vendors should have a backup plan — whether it be other staff, folks that already work for them, an associate photographer, something. Make sure that the backup plan is outlined in your contract.
(3) Are you licensed and insured?
Every business should be licensed and insured. This provides both you and the vendor with protection. Ask for a certificate of their insurance policy and proof of licensure. Both should be readily accessible.
(4) Can we speak with and see some reviews from past clients?
This should be an easy one for folks. We all know that one client that sings our praises from the top of every mountain and if the vendor you’re looking at doesn’t have that one client that constantly pushes their business you may want to reconsider the vendor you’re looking at.
(5) Can you show me images from a wedding similar to what I want?
Share your Pinterest board, and ask the question — have you done anything like this and can you share work from a similar event? It’ll help you understand if this is the best vendor for executing the vision you have.
When picking your vendors, start with the venue.
This is the “epicenter” of the vendor team. Your venue is WHERE your wedding will happen. Start by choosing your venue, and next on the wedding planning timeline, move onto the big three:
These are the three most costly investments you’ll make for your day, after your venue. Picking them early, arranging payment plans and getting the vendor dream team you want (by picking your photographer or caterer early before others can swipe your date up) allows you to figure out the rest of your budget.
So you have your round up of eligible vendors and you’re not sure why to choose one. Think about your wedding day 10 years from now and what do you want your wedding to look like? Think about how you connect with your vendors, many you’ll be with on your wedding day for a LONG time. Interview on Zoom, and get to know them. It’s kind of like dating…
For catering you might want to think about an easy option: for your seating chart, create reserved tables for your VIP and having a buffet. Without a buffet or family-style meals, it’s difficult to have a loose seating chart. If you want a served meal, you will also need to make a more firm seating chart.
Wedding Attire: wedding dresses and tuxes.
Next up on the wedding planning to do, address your wedding outfits, giving you time to get alterations, and start addressing decor, guest book, favors, and gifts.
Your wedding outfits can be accomplished in so many ways. There are a few options you can order online and have altered to fit you perfectly. Ordering online, you can then have the outfit altered locally.
If ordering online isn’t for you, hop onto WeddingWire and look for 5 local dress shops. Take one day, and schedule fittings at all 5 dress shops. Head on in that day and find the dress that’ll make you cry.
Now, dresses aren’t for everyone (sometimes there isn’t a bride!) and if a dress just isn’t your jam, consider a jumpsuit or a tux. There are so many options and do what feels YOU. Dream up in that perfect bathtub or go for a run and think about what is the perfect outfit for you to walk down the aisle in.
Now y’all, you don’t have to wear a tux. Some people get married in jeans and a t-shirt, but certainly, if that’s your vibe, get it. Some folks get married in just dress pants and suspenders. What feels right to you? What matches the over feel and vibe of your wedding day? There’s plenty of options. Take a day to try on different styles and options.
Your Wedding Timeline — the Decor
You can tackle decor a few ways — go minimalistic, and only throw a few candles + wedding flowers on each table. Centerpieces can be the bouquets from your bridesmaids, stacks of books that you both love, or simply, a few tiered candles and vases. This is where Pinterest can totally be your friend — grab a few ideas on Pinterest and throw them your wedding party’s way, see which of them they like the most.
Wedding Party Gifts
Your wedding party gifts can be taken care of in a quick trip to Marshalls or HomeGoods — snag matching Marvel characters shirts, order personalized flasks for the guys and a few journals, candles and bath bombs for the ladies.
The Wedding Planning Timeline
So now that we’ve talked about everything, how do we go from here and organize it all? Here is your 2-week wedding planning timeline…
Tackle the big ones…
- Day 1: Decide the budget, season for your wedding, guest size, and overall vibe. Spend an hour picking out 5 Pins on Pinterest to describe what you want for decor, reception, ceremony, wedding party images, and catering.
- Day 2: Tackle picking out 3 venue options, 3 photo/video options, 3 catering options, and 3 floral options. Schedule appointments for over the next few days with each of those vendors. Schedule dress fittings with 5 different dress shops for a single day (or pick out some options online). Share your Pinterest boards with these folks.
- Day 3: Decide your wedding party + your guest list. Go shopping for your wedding party gifts and snag a few self-care items for yourself and take an hour for YOU.
- Day 4: Look at some decor options and wedding attire for your wedding party on Pinterest and look over some pictures from the 3 venue options on Instagram and on their website. Send some options to your wedding party and make a few decisions. Straighten out the details and all the information you need for your marriage license.
- Days 5-6: We’re going to save these days for time to talk to those vendors and tackle the fittings. During these two days, tackle your wedding cake option — what type of wedding cake do you want? Or do you want donuts… I would want donuts and tacos. (throughout the day/night). You can also straight the hotel rooms blocks today!
Take a quick break and then get down to the nitty-gritty.
- Day 7: You’re halfway there! Today is the day you and your fiance take for yourselves. Go on a date day and enjoy one another.
- Days 8-9: We’re going to save these days for time to talk to those vendors and tackle the fittings, cake tastings, seating chart, and catering tastings.
- Day 10: Today is the day you will figure out your Invites. Find 3 stationers that you LOVE or hop onto Minted.com . Tackle all of your calligraphy needs: wedding invitations, RSVPs, Save the Dates, menus, and place cards. Pick a consistent theme and either let a professional handle the rest.
- Day 11: Today is the day you’re going to wrap up decor and wedding party attire. Get it finished and iron out any details. Don’t forget your wedding website — theknot.com or zola.com have some easy peasy options.
- Day 12: Vows! You and your partner are writing your vows on Day 12. Here’s a handy article for you to read about writing your own vows. Also, decide on your first dance song today and any parent songs. Traditionally the Best Man and Maid of Honor provide speeches, but you could include others that may make sense.
- Day 13: Use this day to wrap up any last-minute or lingering details. You’ve got this.
- Day 14: GO ENJOY THE FACT THAT YOUR WEDDING DAY IS PLANNED AND YOU ARE READY TO GO.
That is IT. Phew. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Now that we’ve given you this timeline, get into it and jump feet first into wedding planning! Feel free to reach out with any questions.