Wedding rings on leaves by Rachel Ruhl Photography

What Every Bride Needs to Know When Creating Their Wedding Timeline

In a previous blog post, we discussed how to avoid becoming overly stressed when planning a wedding. One of the significant points in that post was how important it is to create a wedding timeline.

While planning a wedding may seem daunting, you can rest assured that a comprehensive wedding timeline will significantly reduce your stress in the long run. Here at Melhorn Manor, we consider ourselves experts in helping the wedding planning process go smoothly. To that end, we’ve put together this year-long wedding timeline for you to use.

Planning a Wedding (12+ Months Out)

The excitement of being newly engaged never entirely seems to wear off. Instead, that excitement tends to transform into anxiety and stress over not knowing where to begin when it comes to planning a wedding. Luckily, we’ve been there before and want to walk you through a few tips and recommendations.

Figure Out the Budget

First things first—talk about the budget with your significant other. Money is always a number one topic when it comes to potential arguments between couples. So before one of you drops a few thousand dollars on food and favors, talk to each other and any family members who may be helping out. Once you decide on a ballpark budget, you’ll both be able to move forward much more comfortably in the wedding planning process.

Set the Day

If you haven’t already done this, it’s time to set a date for your wedding! It could be anywhere from an anniversary to a pleasing number you and your partner agree on. Just remember to hold off on announcing the date until you lock down your venue. The last thing you want is to have to change the date or venue based on availability!

Book the Venue

Choosing and finalizing a wedding venue can be difficult. You’ll likely need to visit a few places before you ultimately decide on the perfect setting for your big day. Make sure when you visit that you ask a lot of questions, know which one fits within your budget, and what amenities they offer. But remember, when you’re looking for the perfect wedding venue that combines elegance with historic charm, Melhorn Manor is the place to go!

Determine Your Guest List

You can determine your guest list either before or after you book your venue, but you at least want to have a ballpark figure before you spend any money. Why? Because the more people you invite, the more expensive things can be. Your venue will also only have a certain amount of people it can accommodate. So before you think about adding your three cousins, twice removed on your dad’s side, your budget may ask you to reconsider.

Determine the Wedding Party

Who you choose to stand beside you on the big day can be another difficult decision. Maybe you have too many people you want to include, or not enough. Either way, remember that this is your day—only you and your significant other have a say. And, don’t forget that the more people you add, the more you’ll have to wrangle together for photos!

Throw an Engagement Party

Okay, you’re engaged, but have you had time to celebrate properly? If not, make sure you leave some time to enjoy newly engaged bliss. It’s okay to want to show off your new engagement ring bling, so go ahead and have a party with your closest friends and family!

Decide On Colors & Theme

So you have your venue, which means you likely have a “vision” for the day. Well, now’s the time to help that vision flourish and start finalizing colors and themes. We’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is to start a “mood board” with photos on Pinterest or in a folder on your phone. Start saving things you like, and when you notice a common theme, narrow it down to what you and your partner agree on.

Hire the Wedding Planner

Do you feel like your wedding timeline and details are making you too stressed already? If that’s the case, we highly recommend hiring a wedding planner to help plan the big day. They’ll be able to help you organize your thoughts, give you focus, and make planning a wedding go much more smoothly overall.

Start Making Some Big Wedding Timeline Decisions (12-10 Months Out)

One year may seem like a lot of time to tidy up your wedding planning, but think again! Most of the services and vendors that you choose should be booked at least a year in advance. Sometimes, you may even want to book more than a year in advance, depending on how in-demand your favored vendors are.

This one-year mark has a lot of big-ticket tasks to accomplish. Here are the ones we think you should get on as soon as possible.

Start Shopping for a Wedding Dress

While this is probably one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding, don’t save it for the last minute. Wedding dresses can take 6 to 9 months to come in! Now, this, of course, depends on where you’re shopping and what alterations are needed, but you don’t want to have it come down to the wire. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to try on different styles and have fun before you place your order.

Hire the Photographer

Luckily, there are plenty of photographers and videographers on the market right now for newly engaged couples. The key is to find one that you really click with. This can range from style to personality, and probably price. It’s okay to shop around for a wedding photographer—just ask plenty of questions. You may also be able to find one that has a package deal for engagement and wedding day photos!

Select the Caterer

When you think about past weddings you’ve attended, what’s the one thing you always tend to remember? The food! Well, that won’t be much different for your wedding either. Selecting a wedding caterer can be a lot of fun (who doesn’t love sampling food?), but you’ll want to have a good idea of how many people will be attending your wedding before booking. Don’t be afraid to try different caterers and be conscious of any food allergies your guests may have. You want all of your guests to have a good time!

Hire the DJ/Music

You can’t dance the night away at your wedding without proper music! Whether you’re looking for a DJ or a live band, start contacting a few businesses that seem like a good fit. We also recommend meeting with the actual DJ before the event to make sure your personalities mesh well.

Organize Hotel Blocks for Guests

Organizing hotel blocks is an essential part of your to-do list if you have a lot of people traveling from out of town. If there’s one thing you don’t want to forget in your wedding timeline, it’s this. You’ll want to consider where people will be driving/flying from, what hotel is closest to your ceremony, and closest to your reception venue. Ideally, you’ll find one close to all of these, so be considerate of your guests and reserve your hotel block as soon as possible.

Book the Officiant

If you want to be married legally, you’ll need someone who can lawfully wed you! You’ll want to talk to your pastor, a wedding officiant, or even an ordained friend well in advance of your wedding. This is often forgotten about in a wedding timeline, but just like with your other vendors, you’ll want time to meet them first.

Time to Start Planning the Details (10-8 Months Out)

Don’t panic, but your wedding is less than a year away! Hopefully, you have most of the big stuff done (if not, go back to the list above), so now you can focus on smaller, essential details.

Get Your Marriage License

The rules and regulations vary for every state when it comes to marriage licenses. You’ll need specific paperwork and may have to go through a waiting period. For example, in Pennsylvania, you have to wait 72 hours before you can get your license. Double-check with your local courthouse to learn more about the marriage license process.

Send Save the Dates

Sending save the dates isn’t a necessity, but it’s polite to make your guests aware of when the wedding is. The easiest thing to do is to hire a graphic designer to help you design and print save the dates. But if you are feeling creative, you can also easily make custom save the dates in certain online stores. Either way, make sure you send them out a few months before the invitations go out.

Other Important Wedding Timeline Purchases

Your wedding timeline is getting shorter and shorter, but now’s the time to book a few more wedding necessities. This list can vary from couple to couple, but we find these are some of the essentials to order or purchase around the 10- to 8-month mark.

  • Wedding Cake: Tasting cakes is a blast, but make sure you have one picked out and designed before the big day!
  • Flowers: Bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces…you may need a lot of flowers for the big day. Make sure to squeeze ordering these into your busy wedding timeline.
  • Rentals: From tuxes to tables, make sure your groomsmen have their tuxes rented and that your venue or caterer has tables available. This also means tent rentals if you have anything outdoors.
  • Honeymoon: While booking your honeymoon may not be high on the priority list, make sure your passports are at least up to date. That way, when you do book that flight to Mexico, you won’t have to worry about your passports arriving at the last minute.

Time to Finalize Decisions (8-4 Months Out)

You’re getting down to the wedding wire now, and you’re probably feeling the pressure. Don’t worry—keep breathing, and we promise you’ll make it. Now is the time to finalize a lot of things in your wedding timeline and put some of the bigger stuff behind you.

Have Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Attire Ordered

Just like your wedding dress, make sure all of your bridesmaids and groomsmen have purchased or rented their attire. While there’s still time for alterations, seasonal changes in lines of attire can cause issues for matching dresses. You’ll also want to ensure there’s enough time to order anything if there are any holidays that could delay the clothing from arriving on time.

Finalize Your Menu & Have Final Tastings

Whether it’s hors d’oeuvres, specialty drinks, desserts, or any other tasty item, now’s the time to finalize them. All of your tastings should be done and over with, and you should know (approximately) how many people will be attending. Talk to your caterer or other vendors to make sure everything is in place.

Draft Your Day-Of Wedding Timeline

Having a “day-of” wedding timeline is much more important than you think. If you get it over with now (likely with tweaks down the road), you’ll already have it prepared for all of your vendors way in advance. Your DJ, photographer, and caterer will want to know when to expect certain events, so make sure it’s as detailed as possible.

Finishing Touches (4-2 Months Out)

Your wedding is so close you can almost taste the cake. You have your perfect venue, the food, the dresses, etc. Now, there are only a few things to order and book before you get to all of your final preparations.

What to Order

  • Invitations: Hopefully, you’ve already had someone design these, but if not, get a move on! Your wedding invitations should be sent at least 2 to 3 months before your wedding (longer if it’s a destination wedding).
  • Wedding Favors: Even if you’re making the wedding favors yourself, now’s the time to order everything you need for them and put them together.

What to Book

  • Hair Stylist & Makeup: You and all of your bridesmaids should look fabulous on your big day. Talk to a hairstylist and makeup artist (they’re sometimes the same person) and book appointments for everyone that needs both of these services!
  • Transportation: Party bus? Limo? Shuttle? Whatever you need to get you, your bridal party, and your guests from the ceremony to the reception, book it now!
  • Dress Fittings: If you or your bridesmaids haven’t had dress fittings yet, make sure to fit them into your wedding timeline when you can.

Write Your Vows

Writing your vows doesn’t apply to everyone. And while you can draft them up at any old time, we like to suggest you write them a little bit in advance. That way, you may “forget” some of the sweet things you wrote, and they’ll be more meaningful when you read them the day of the wedding.

Confirming Details (2-1 Months Out)

You’re in the home stretch! There’s (hopefully) not much else for you to do at this point. It’s time to start dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s for some of those wedding timeline finishing touches.

Pick Up Marriage License

If you haven’t done this already, pick up your marriage license from the courthouse. You’ll need the paperwork the day you get married so it can be signed and then mailed to become official. It’s also helpful if you put it in a bag that you know will have all of your essentials on the day of the wedding.

Confirm with Vendors

Assuming you’ve made most of your payments already, now is the time to check in with your vendors. Most will likely have already reached out to you to finalize everything, but if not, shoot them a message to confirm everything. The worst-case scenario is that a vendor has the wrong date, and you correct it before the big day!

Send Invitations

Don’t forget to invite everyone! If you’ve already followed our previous wedding timeline tip and sent out your save the dates, your guests should be expecting the invites in the mail. The earlier you send them out, the better. That way, you’ll have a more finalized headcount and be able to organize your seating chart better. If people don’t RSVP, it’s okay to double-check with them.

Final Preparations (The Month Of)

You’re no longer counting down the months to your wedding, but now only the days. You may feel the panic starting to set in, but we promise it will be okay. If you’ve been following our suggested wedding timeline, there shouldn’t be much of anything left to stress over leading up to your wedding.

This is the month where you finalize everything and make sure everything is good to go. Here’s what we recommend for this final part of your wedding timeline.

What to Finalize

  • Fittings: Tuxes and bridesmaids dresses should be finished, but you may need one final fitting for your wedding dress.
  • Seating Chart: Your guests should have all RSVP’d by this point. If you have a seating chart, you’ll want to finalize it and finish up all of the seating name cards.
  • Payments: Do you have any outstanding payments due? Most of your vendors will require full payment before or on the day of your wedding, so take care of those payments as soon as possible.

Final Venue Walk Through

Everything about your big day should feel magical. You’ve been planning a wedding for months now, if not longer. So when it comes to your wedding venue, it should feel just as magical leading up to the event.

A professional wedding venue—like Melhorn Manor—will let you do a final walkthrough of everything before your day. Take the time to finalize any details, table placements, parking areas, etc.

Post-Wedding

Well, you’re finally married…so your wedding timeline is over, right? Not quite! Once you and your husband/wife get back from your honeymoon, there are a few loose ends you should be prepared to tie up. But after that, it’s complete wedded bliss for you and your new husband or wife.

Return All Rentals

You’ll likely do this step the day after your wedding, but don’t forget about it in all the hustle and bustle. All of the tuxes, chairs, or any other rented items should be returned as soon as possible. To avoid any late fees, it may be best to put a friend or family member in charge of this task.

Send “Thank You” Notes

This is not an essential to-do on your wedding timeline list, but it’s a nice gesture. If you received any money or gifts, take the time to send a quick hand-written thank you card. Your friends and family took the time to come out and celebrate with you, so show them how much you appreciated it!

Name Changing

Changing your name can seem like a frustrating or daunting task, but is typically a necessity. Thankfully, there are quite a few online guides and services to walk you through each step. The most important thing to remember is to make sure you change your name in all of the proper places.

Have Questions About Your Wedding Timeline or Venue?

Elegant, affordable, and full of rich history, you’ll get the complete package when you host your wedding at Melhorn Manor. On top of that, we can help answer any questions you have about your big day. From the wedding timeline down to the tiny details, we’ll help make your wedding planning as stress-free as possible.Send a message to us today to learn more about our venue or to schedule a tour!