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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.