Planning Your Dream Wedding? Stay on Track with This Handy Wedding Checklist

Your wedding day. A day everyone dreams about. And the closer it gets, the more the excitement builds.


But with so much to do between the day you get engaged and the day you say “I do,” it’s easy to get overwhelmed.


Your best bet is to start planning as soon as you’re engaged. Take care of your big-picture things early -- like your budget, theme and guest list. That’ll make filling in the details a little less stressful.


Here’s our handy wedding planning checklist to keep you on track.


10-12 Months

  • Set your wedding budget. Setting a budget early is the best way to keep your wedding from getting too expensive. Determine who will be paying for what -- will the bride and groom pay for everything, or will one or both sets of parents chip in?
  • Brainstorm wedding themes. Indoors or out? Formal or casual? Rustic or uptown? In addition to your budget, the overall look and feel you want will help you choose the right vendors and select the best wedding decorations.
  • Make a preliminary guest list. The number of guests will influence the cost and logistical requirements for your wedding -- the size of your venue, the number of invitations to print, and the amount of food to prepare, just to name a few.
  • Select your wedding venue. If you’re looking to save money, ask about off-peak times of year, such as October through May, or days of the week besides Saturday. Friday and Sunday weddings are growing in popularity and may save you money.
  • Start shopping for your gown & other wedding attire. Don’t pick a dress just because you saw it on someone else -- your wedding dress should be comfortable and flattering on you.
  • Select a wedding planner. Planning a wedding can take a lot of time and money. An experienced wedding planner can help you stay on track timewise and make the best choices to fit your theme and your budget.
  • Choose a caterer. Do you want hors d’oeuvres or a full-course meal? A buffet or wait staff serving guests at the table? Consider whether any of your guests have special dietary needs, and have at least a few festive non-alcoholic drinks available.
  • Plan your entertainment. If you’d like to hire live musicians or a DJ, you may be able to get better rates if your book early.
  • Choose other vendors. Shop around for photographers, bakeries, florists and other vendors. The earlier you start, the more time you -- and your vendors -- will have to plan ahead and get the finished product you’re looking for on your big day.

6-9 Months

  • Create your gift registry. This is one of the best things you can do for those who want to buy you a gift. Visit one or two favorite retailers to make a list of the items you’d like to receive.
  • Shop for bridesmaids and flower girl dresses. Schedule fittings. Look for colors and styles that match your dress and look good on your bridesmaids.

3-5 Months

  • Plan the rehearsal dinner. As with the wedding itself, think about guest list, venue, catering and other details.
  • Order wedding favors for your guests. Show your appreciation for everyone who comes to your wedding. This can be as simple as a few sweet treats, playful trinkets, or coupons to a favorite eatery.
  • Order men’s formal wear. This includes the groom’s tux and groomsmen’s attire. Schedule fittings to make sure everyone is comfortable and looks their best.
  • Order invitations. Do you prefer engraved or printed? Select wording and hire a calligrapher if desired. If you like the way your handwriting looks, one way to save money is to address and send them yourself.
  • Finalize your vows and ceremony readings. Meet with your officiant to plan your ceremony.
  • Finalize your wedding menu with your caterer.
  • Plan your hair and makeup. One possible money saver is to have your hair and makeup done at a salon instead of having your stylist come to the wedding venue.
  • Purchase those all-important wedding rings!
  • Finalize honeymoon plans and make sure your passport is ready if you’re going overseas.

Final 2 Months

  • Mail invitations and keep track of RSVPs.
  • Confirm details with vendors, including dates and payment terms.
  • Get that all-important marriage license. You want everything to be legal don’t you?
  • Begin dress fittings. This includes the bride, bridesmaids and flower girl.
  • Go over song selections with your band or DJ. Have a list of your favorite songs, but let them work in a few surprise numbers that’ll get that dance floor hopping.
  • Buy smaller wedding day essentials. These include things like your guest book, toasting flutes, cake servers and accessories for the ring bearer and flower girl.
  • Buy gifts for your wedding party.

Final 2 Weeks

  • Give the caterer your final guest count. Make your seating chart and have place cards prepared.
  • Go for your final dress fitting and pick up your wedding gown.
  • Start packing for that honeymoon. As noted above -- did you remember your passport?
  • Make time for self care. Schedule a pre-wedding haircut or color, facial, massage, manicure, pedicure and so on to help you relax as your big day approaches.

Wedding Day Eve

  • Have wedding day items packed and ready to go. This includes accessories and personal care items like toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush and makeup.
  • Go to bed early! If there’s one night when you need really need that extra beauty sleep, this is it!

Wedding Day

  • Rule #1: RELAX! This is your special day. All the planning is done, so now it’s time to go with the flow and celebrate.
  • Eat a good breakfast. It’ll give you the energy you need to get through the big day.
  • Give yourself time to get ready without feeling rushed.
  • Greet your guests and thank them for coming.

After the Wedding

  • Be sure to send thank-you notes.
  • Complete your gift registry.
  • Return duplicate or unwanted gifts.
  • Finish your wedding video and photo book
  • And the most important step of all: Focus on having a great marriage! Remember, life is full of ups and downs, and your life together will be too. Take things one day at a time and celebrate all the special milestones as you go. Marriage is a lifelong journey together, not just a one-day affair.

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! We hope this checklist helps you put together a wedding you and your guests will treasure forever.


And if you’d like to celebrate your big day in a breathtaking natural setting, contact San Cayetano Ranch to learn how to book your wedding with us.