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Wedding Planning Timeline



  • Pick a date

  • Decide on a budget

    • "When establishing a budget to make sure you are having an honest conversation with your families with what they are contributing." - H&K Weddings

  • Select and secure ceremony and reception venues

  • Hire an officiant or minister if your ceremony is taking place outside of a church with a minister/priest

  • Plan a simple dinner or larger engagement party, especially if the two families haven't met or spent much time together

First things to do after getting engaged:
  • Select bridal party members and ask them to participate

  • Start to figure out a rough estimate of # of guests

  • Start a Pinterest Page or get a wedding planning binder to keep all your ideas in one place.

  • Hire a wedding planner

  • Start researching & scheduling appointments with photographers and videographers, plus DJs or musicians for the reception music

    • "If you want to retain your first choice for [certain Wedding Pros, like Photographers] during a popular month like June or October, you need to make this decision as early in advance as possible. 'Non Football' weekends can fill up 12 months in advance" - William Ames Photography

12+ months before your wedding:
  • If your reception venue isn't providing food for your reception, start researching and scheduling appointments to talk to caterers

  • Decide on your colors, theme, style, etc

  • Start thinking about honeymoon options

  • Schedule appointments for bridal gown selection and fittings

11 months before your wedding:
  • Decide on and hire your photographers, videographers, DJ/reception music, and caterer

  • Select and order your gown

  • Schedule an engagement shoot

    • “Good photographers take lots more than the old-fashioned head shot for a newspaper. I {personally} shoot outdoors for maybe an hour, and the couple gets a lot of really fun images. An engagement session is also a great opportunity to learn about how clients react and how they look best.” - Photographs by Jan Thiessen (Retired)

  • Consider purchasing wedding insurance

  • If you need to rent anything, contact and arrange for Rental Items

10 months before your wedding:
Photo Courtesy of Photographs by Jan Thiessen
  • Start a wedding registry for gifts

  • Research and arrange hotel blocks for out-of-town guests

  • Meet with florists

  • Arrange for any day-of transportation (limos, etc)

  • If your ceremony site or officiant requires it, pay attention to when you need to do your religious education or pre-marital counseling

  • Select your menu with your caterer or venue

  • If your venue doesn’t provide alcohol, research and hire a bartender (*Make sure they are a certified, licensed and insured bartender!) and decide on what drinks are needed

9 months before your wedding:
  • Have your 1st gown fitting - make sure you have your shoes and undergarments for the fitting

  • Make sure any extra bridal accessories (veil, shoes, gloves, etc) are ordered

  • Decide if you want your invitations printed or handmade, and research calligraphers

  • If your church or DJ isn't providing ceremony music, consider what kind of music or live musicians you would like for your ceremony

8 months before your wedding:
Photo courtesy of Community Chamber Artists
  • Are you doing your homework?

    • If any of your Wedding Professionals have given you any worksheets or planners to fill out, be sure you are working on them

  • Consider adding some fun additions to your reception such as a photo booth or other entertainment and contact the appropriate Professionals

  • Order your attendant’s dresses

  • Book final details of your honeymoon

             “Scheduling at 7 months helps couples take advantage of some of the best deals” - L&S Travel

             “Schedule this earlier if it is during a peak time in State College, fall in particular” - M&C Cakery

  • Start researching hair and makeup - consider if you will go to a salon the day of or if you need someone to come see you on-site of your wedding ceremony

7 months before your wedding:
  • If you are ordering programs, have ceremony order and readers decided

  • Order invitations and other printed materials

  • Send out save-the-date cards

  • Order flower girl and mother of the bride/groom dresses

  • Finalize all orders, reservations and contracts with Wedding Professionals.

  • Check in with your Wedding Professionals to see if they specifically need anything from you at this point

  • Book rehearsal dinner & day after brunch

  • Select and order wedding cake

  • Getting way too stressed? It’s not too late to hire a wedding planner!

6 months before your wedding:
Photo Courtesy of Cakes for Occasions by Kim Morrison
  • Get your passports if needed

  • Have escort cards and table numbers printed if you have not already done so

  • Select and order your wedding rings

  • Schedule a tasting for your meals if your venue is providing the food

  • If you are having a bridal shower (or someone is planning one for you), get a list of invitees and addresses to whoever is planning it

5 months before your wedding:
Photo Courtesy of Confer's Jewelers
  • Schedule appointments to select men’s formalwear

  • Before you finalize your timeline, talk to your photographer

    • “The best pictures of the day always come from the period when just the bride, groom and photographer(s) are involved. Modern wedding photography requires more time than the old-school “look at the camera and smile” approach. Photographers need plenty of time to capture a range of romantic, artistic, fun, and dramatic images.”- Photographs by Jan Thiessen (Retired)

  • Finalize order of ceremony and reception; share with any Wedding Professionals that are involved

  • Write your vows, if doing so

  • Consider taking some dance lessons, especially if you want something specific for your first dance

Photo Courtesy of Simply Pictorial
4 months before your wedding:
  • Select readings for the ceremony and ask readers to participate if you haven’t already done so

  • Decide who you would like to give a toast/blessing and ask them

  • If you are hand-addressing invitations, start working on it

  • Finalize your menu and flowers

  • Make music selections for ceremony and reception

  • Order your favors

  • If you have pets that need care while you are on your honeymoon, make sure arrangements are made to take care of them

3 months before your wedding:
Photo courtesy of Deihl's Flowers, Inc
  • Weigh and purchase appropriate postage for your invitations

  • Send invitations - set your RSVP for 3-4 weeks after you send them out

  • Finish finalizing all details with your photographer, videographer and caterer. Make sure DJ or musicians have a music list

  • Finalize event order & room diagram/ placements

  • If you or your partner needs to schedule time off of work for the wedding or honeymoon, make sure your employer knows this and you take the proper steps required by your company

  • If there will be bachelor/bachelorette parties, plan them well before the wedding - the week of or night before the wedding adds too much stress and potential for problems. Schedule it well in advance

2 months before your wedding:
  • Get your marriage license

  • Final dress fitting

  • Complete your seating chart as RSVPs come in

  • As your RSVP date passes, call or appoint someone to call the missing RSVPs

  • Send out any final payments that are due

  • Purchase gifts for parents, bridal party, and any other VIPs

  • Appoint an emergency contact who can handle things on your wedding day so you aren’t bothered with silly details

    • Make sure your Wedding Professionals know who this contact is

  • If your bridal party is riding in a limo or other transportation from the ceremony to the reception, make sure they have a way to get home at the end of the night

  • Many hotels will ‘release your room block’ at a certain point before your wedding - meaning they only hold your block of rooms for a short time before making them available to the general public. Check that date with your hotel and make sure your guests book their rooms before that date or else they may not get a room

  • Double check your registry and remove/mark off any items you may have already recieved

1 month (4 weeks) before your wedding:
  • Make sure all homework is done and information has been turned in to the appropriate Wedding Professionals

  • Get a final head count to your caterer

  • Give the final head count to your cake baker, secure delivery details and make final payment

  • Assemble welcome baskets for out-of-town guests

  • Make favors if needed

  • Make facial & spa appointments

    • Don't get a facial or other skin treatments too close to your wedding- you don't want a breakout the day before your wedding!

  • Break in your wedding shoes

  • Final tuxedo fitting

  • If anything is planned to be outdoors, check the weather and consider contingency plans just in case

2 weeks before your wedding:
Favors and welcome baskets can be a way to add local flavor to your wedding
  • Decide who will do what the day of the wedding/day after to help you (such as; returning groom’s tux, who is responsible for your overnight bag getting where it needs to be when, cleaning up at end of reception if needed, who collects the gifts and takes them where, etc)

  • Get a massage

    • Do not get a massage the day before or the day of your wedding or else you may be sore and floppy!

  • Finalize your seating chart

  • Take your engagement ring to get cleaned

1 week before your wedding:
  • Pick up your gown

    • Have it steamed if needed

  • Give final head counts for rehearsal dinner and next-day brunch

  • Absolute last chance to finish your homework and get the information to your Wedding Pros

    • This includes head count, food/meal orders, and music requests among other things

    • Many companies close their systems 1 week-72 hours before your event to ensure ordering, preparation, and planning time

    • Last-minute changes and additions can result in mistakes and errors

  • Arrange breakfast and/or lunch for the day of the wedding

    • Decide what food you will need to be on-hand while you are getting ready for the day, even if it is something simple like a box of donuts or a some lunchmeat for sandwiches - You WILL need to eat that day!

  • Confirm start/drop-off times with all your Wedding Professionals, especially florist, cake, and limo/transportation

  • Decide how programs will be distributed at the ceremony and who will do it

  • Deliver welcome baskets to the hotel

Week of your wedding:
Photo courtesy of The Chatelaine B&B
Day before your wedding:
  • If you haven’t given your Wedding Pros their final payments, make up payment and tip envelopes that can be given to the Wedding Professionals at your wedding

  • Pick up tuxedoes

  • Assemble your ‘Bridal Emergency Kit

  • Pack your overnight bag for after the reception

  • Get a mani-pedi

  • Attend your wedding rehearsal & rehearsal dinner

  • Present gifts to parents, bridal party & VIPs if you haven’t already done so

  • Give your minister or officiant your license to make sure he or she gets it filled out correctly

  • Get some sleep!

PIcture courtesy of Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery
  • Relax, get married, and celebrate with your family, friends, and loved ones

    • You hired professionals, so trust them to do their jobs and you can relax

    • Have your emergency contact handle any little things that come up so that you can focus on celebrating your big day

Day of your wedding:
  • Write thank-you notes for gifts received

  • Go on your Honeymoon

  • If you are changing your name, start completing the necessary forms for banking, SS, taxes, credit cards, etc.

  • Preserve your bouquet

  • Have your gown cleaned and preserved

  • Take a little time to either write your Wedding Professionals a nice thank-you note or leave a positive review for them on an online site such as, Google, Yelp, Wedding Wire, or The Knot

After the wedding:

You're getting married! Now where to start? This timeline was created with collaboration and input directly from Centre County Wedding Professionals to help you sort it all out.

Need a printable checklist? Click here!

Good Luck!


If you still feel overwhelmed, see what tips some former brides have for wedding planning, or get more advice from our local Wedding Professionals.
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