12 Months before
- Buy a wedding planner or organizer.
- Talk with your fiancé and all parents about the big picture: budget, overall style, size, possible dates, sites, and participants.
- Decide on the ceremony and reception sites, and reserve both. Wedding venues in major cities can book up a year in advance.
- Start shopping for your dress. Have a good idea of the wedding's time and place, in order to search for something appropriate.
- Choose your attendants.
- Mail save-the-date cards, if you're marrying over a holiday weekend or in a location to which many guests will have to travel.
- Send your engagement announcement to the newspaper.
10 Months before
- Start scouting for a caterer, baker, florist, musicians, photographer, and videographer.
- Visit your clergy member with your fiancé, if you're having a religious ceremony. (Some faiths require you to attend premarital courses.) Then meet to discuss the details two months before the wedding.
8 Months before
- Book your caterer, baker, florist, musicians, photographer, and videographer.
- Choose and order your dress.
- Register for presents. Check your registry periodically, and, if necessary, add to it as items are purchased.
- Begin the guest list. Typically, half the list is allotted to the bride and her family and half to the groom and his family.
6 Months before
- Research the honeymoon, but wait to visit a travel agent until you have a general idea of the type of trip you want.
- Plan the details with all the wedding professionals. Decide on the menu with your caterer, the bouquets with your florist, etc.
- Book a calligrapher, limos for the wedding party, and a portrait photographer. (Your wedding photographer may not do portraits.)
- Order wedding stationery--invitations, response cards, maps, programs, and thank-you notes. Proofread them upon delivery.
4 Months before
- Book your honeymoon. Apply for passports if you'll need them.
- Finalize the guest list. Give complete names, with addresses and zip codes, to the calligrapher so she can start on the envelopes
- Make an appointment for your first dress fitting.
- Order the wedding rings.
- Schedule the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.
- Visit the formalwear shop in the town where you'll be marrying—if the groom and ushers will be renting their outfits—to select and reserve their morning suits, strollers, or tuxedos.
- Book a hotel room for your wedding night.
2 Months before
- Visit your officiant to go over vows, readings, music.
- Shop for lingerie and honeymoon clothes.
- Have your portrait taken. If you are getting your makeup professionally done for the wedding, this is a good time for a trial run..
- Check to see if the state where you're marrying requires blood tests; if so, make an appointment with your doctor.
- Mail your invitations. To ensure you're using the right postage, take one complete invitation to the post office to be weighed.
- Choose gifts for your attendants.
- Arrange to transport your belongings, if either of you is moving. Send change-of-address information to the post office.
- Get name-change forms from the department of motor vehicles, Social Security office, credit-card issuers, etc., if you're taking your fiance's name.
6 Weeks before
- Have the final dress fitting.
- Pick up the rings.
- Make an appointment with your hairstylist to do a practice run with your headpiece; book her for the wedding.
- Get programs printed.
- Send your announcement to the newspapers.
2 Weeks before
- Get the marriage license.
- Submit lists of must-take shots to the photographer and videographer, and your playlist to musicians.
- Arrange the seating plan. Write out table and place cards.
- Confirm honeymoon reservations.
- Break in your shoes. Scuff the soles to avoid slipping.
- Write toasts for the rehearsal dinner and reception.
1 Week before
- Pack for the honeymoon; get your going-away clothes ready.
- Check about using your ATM card at your honeymoon site. If travelling abroad, purchase a small amount of the local currency.
- Give the final guest count to your caterer.
- Keep up with thank-you notes.
- Remind all attendants of the rehearsal details.
- Throw the bridesmaids' party, at which you'll distribute gifts.
- Pick up your dress a few days before the wedding.
- Give copies of ceremony readings to those doing them.
1 Day before
- Treat yourself and your mom to a manicure.
- Hold the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.
- Go to bed early and try to get a good night's sleep.
Day of the Wedding
- Eat breakfast—nerves don't mix with an empty stomach.
- Splurge on a massage. (Raid your "emergency" fund.)
- Make sure announcements are in the mail.