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Congratulations! You’re engaged! What an exciting time this is going to be for you both as you begin to plan your dream wedding. You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed and a little anxious about all the decisions that need to be made.

Timing is so critical with planning a wedding. You don’t want to find out that your dream location is already booked or that you should have started earlier planning things out. It’s okay! Deep breath.

“Your wedding is going to be all that you dreamed. You’re reading this because you understand how important planning is. That’s the first step and you’ve already completed it!” explains Giselle Hindley Wales, wedding planner and owner of Casa Lantana wedding venue

Meet Your Expert: Giselle

  • Giselle has helped countless couples achieve the wedding of their dreams. As owner of the award-winning Casa Lantana in Tampa Bay, FL, she has a flawless 5-star review reputation for outstanding events. Giselle decided to take her years of experience as a wedding planner to help couples across the country plan stress-free. 
  • Casa Lantana is a five star, fully accredited premier venue. Annual winner of Wedding Wire’s Couple’s Choice Award from 2013 – 2021 and is a member of The Knot’s Hall of Fame which puts Casa Lantana in the top 5% of wedding venues in the nation. Her weddings have been extensively featured and published including The Knot, Style Me Pretty, Southern Bride, Marry Me Tampa Bay, Ruffled, Borrowed & Blue, Green Wedding Shoes, Orange Blossom Bride, Whim Magazine, 100 Layer Cake and many more.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so we want to make sure you thoroughly enjoy the planning process. You’ve probably dreamed of selecting the flowers, sampling the cakes, and picking out something gorgeous to wear. Don’t let stress put a damper on all those fun memorable experiences.

Your wedding checklist is going to be your at-a-glance guide that keeps all your plans and ideas on paper, rather than swirling through your head. It’s your guide to when to make decisions to give yourself the most opportune timing and your action plan so you’re not worrying about what you may be forgetting. Essentially your wedding checklist is your roadmap to the wedding you always dreamed of. That’s why we named our expert-designed course The Dream Wedding Checklist. Dream Wedding Checklist gives you the perfect checklist for staying organized and on schedule, but that’s just the bonus feature included with the full course. In this course, you’ll get expert advice and information on every facet of the planning process, in easy to use video format presented by the one and only wedding planner extraordinaire, Giselle.

The Importance of a Wedding Checklist

Maybe you’re wondering if you really need a wedding checklist. It’s a great question. You don’t want to take the romance and fun out of the moment. Maybe a checklist feels like too much work for you. But a quick glance at a quality checklist and you’ll get a new impression. Wedding checklists actually eliminate much of the work and worry of wedding planning allowing you to have everything in one organized place.

Your wedding checklist also acts as your timeline guide, so that you know exactly when to make specific decisions. There’s nothing worse than a couple missing a milestone and losing the chance to work with the vendors of their choice. That’s the stuff of wedding disasters and not what you want for your special day.

If your goal is to simplify your planning process, then a great wedding checklist is a must-have tool. It will become your most important document during the special months of wedding planning.

We’re about to give you a complete rundown of the essentials to have on your wedding checklist. This is invaluable information to getting your fantasy wedding. But first, let’s start with answering some questions that many newly engaged couples have about the wedding planning process.

You Just Got Engaged? Now What Do You Do Next?

When you first get engaged, your head is probably spinning. Where do you start, what do you do first? It's a wonderful whirlwind feeling of so many amazing emotions. Be sure to just stop and savor this time. It is truly one of life’s magical events meant to be fully enjoyed in the moment.

After You’re Engaged, Before You Start Wedding Planning

Take Care of Your Ring

You’re now the owner of a very special piece of jewelry, so it's time to take special care of it. Here’s a few places to start:

  • Get Your Ring 
  • Insured Get Your Ring Sized Correctly
  • Take Photos!

Your Engagement Photo Shoot 

If a professional photographer wasn’t part of popping the question, you may want to commemorate the event with a special portrait session. In recent years these shoots have become more and more elaborate, but don’t feel pressured to out-shoot your friends. Focus on making your photo session special and personal to your journey as a couple. If hiring a professional photographer this can also be an opportunity to review and screen possible candidates for your wedding itself. And a lot of photographers will include an engagement shoot as part of their wedding package.

  • Select Your Engagement Shoot Photographer
  • Select a special location that means something special to you
  • Decide on outfits
  • Decide on props if using
  • Schedule Your Shoot
  • Review and Post Your Photos 

Throw an Engagement Party

Engagement parties have somewhat fallen out of favor. Some stats show only 25% of couples in recent years are finding it necessary to get their friends and family together for an engagement party. This can be in part attributed to the digital era. In decades past, the only way to commemorate an engagement was to gather your loved ones together in person. Now, thanks to social media, you can show off that engagement ring and announce the news in just a few clicks.

There are many options however. You could plan a small dinner, invite the people that you’d like to have in your wedding party to a small gathering, or just host a group of friends at your home. There aren’t specific rules, but with how many events are yet to come from bachelor parties to rehearsal dinners, some couples find they have enough to plan. It is a good idea to find out if your parents or immediate family would like to host a celebration. 

Indulge in Dreaming Together

Have fun scouring through Instagram wedding feeds, Pin to your heart's content on Pinterest, gather all the magazines in bed together and rip out your favorite inspiration shots. You’ve waited for this moment and there’s nothing like dreaming big together. These wedding brainstorming sessions are essential as much as they are fun. They’ll lead you both to understanding what you want and what you don’t. Trust your instincts and honor your preferences. Your wedding can be anything you want it to be!

When Should You Begin Your Wedding Planning?

As soon as you get over the glorious shock of being engaged, you might be tempted to buy every wedding magazine within reach and start Pinning on Pinterest like you’ve never pinned before.. For at least a short bit of time, enjoy the feeling of being engaged before you switch into active planning mode. It’s a time in your life that you won’t experience like this again, so take the time to make it special.

Did you know most engagements last between 12 to 18 months? Before any of the planning can begin, you and your partner will need to decide together on how long you want to wait before walking down the aisle. This decision will have the biggest impact on your wedding plans. Many venues and vendors book up between 12 to 18 months in advance, so those who want a shorter engagement will need to be more creative with their plans.

With 7 in 10 brides-to-be saying they feel immense pressure to have the ideal wedding and close to 80% of couples saying they stress about choosing their wedding date and starting planning, it’s essential to find ways to cut down on the stress and lessen the work involved in wedding planning. Using the Dream Wedding Checklist can take much of the stress and hassle out of the stage

How do you start a wedding planning checklist?

Now that you’re ready to start planning, you might be wondering where to begin. Before you get into all the details of your wedding, have some “big picture” conversations. These will narrow down the details that will be going into your checklist. Here’s where to begin:

Wedding Date

When do you both want to be married? Decide what season you both prefer. This can filter options down into a few favored months. Stay flexible if you want the most options! Remember there’s a lot of factors that go into finalizing that wedding date. Fun Facts:

Did you know October has become the most popular wedding month? Although Saturday remains the most popular day by far to get married, it also usually comes with a premium price tag. Friday and Sunday are becoming more popular wedding days and if you are willing to do a Monday thru Thursday date you may be looking at some substantial discounts.

Wedding Budget 

Often the topic couples don’t want to tackle but important you do it at the beginning. If you don’t select a budget, your wedding can quickly skyrocket out of control. We know you don’t want that to happen. It can lead to a lot of wasted time and disappointments looking at vendors/venues that are not realistically in your budget.. Instead, start with an actual number. Figure out what you can and cannot afford and begin prioritizing what are must-haves and what are optional. Fun Facts:

The average wedding costs around $35,000. About 50% of your wedding budget will most likely go to venue, catering, cake & rental costs.

Guest List

You don’t have to 100% narrow down your guest list at this moment, but it is helpful to agree on a general number of guests. Knowing the guest volume will help you begin the process of selecting the right venue options. It will also give you a better idea of how much your costs will be. Guest count has one of the biggest effects on budget and the fastest way to reduce expenditure is to cut your guest list!

Small Wedding: Under 50 guests 

Medium Wedding: 50-150 guests 

Large Wedding: Over 150 guests

Fun Facts:

The average guest cost is between $180-250. Stats show on average, weddings in the U.S. typically include around 160 guests.

Who will be planning your wedding?

This seems to have an obvious answer, right? You, of course! But there’s other people to think of. Will your fiancé also be making decisions? This is an important question to ask. For many couples, there is one person that has more opinions and visions than the other (Brides-to-be, perhaps?) That might not be the same half of the couple who is awesome at organizing details. So it may be beneficial to delegate the checklist to the person who is the best at keeping track of everything.

Also, you don’t want your partner to feel out of the loop. Although many fiancés, grooms in particular, say they are fine with whatever you choose, it is helpful to at least go over the checklist with them to see if there are any areas where they want their voices heard and want to be included in the decision making process. Your fiancé might hate cake and not care what wedding cake designer you choose, but when it comes to finding the deejay, they may be fully invested in that search process.

Also, will your parents and in-laws-to-be be contributing to your wedding? Do you want to include them in some or all of the planning? It may be beneficial to find out what their expectations are before the planning begins.

How about your maid of honor or best friend? You’ll definitely want to include your wedding planner if you are using one in reviewing your wedding checklist together.

One word of advice: delegate. As a couple you’ll find it much easier if you divide up some of the tasks involved in planning. Maybe one person makes calls while another answers emails. Or one person researches bakers while another looks into photographers. You can come together to make the big decisions, but divide and conquer the many busy work parts of wedding planning.

Recruiting friends and family is also helpful in the delegation process. Maybe you have a close friend who is begging to help. How about giving them a task that you aren’t majorly invested in. Then there is your support system who you’ll want to accompany you places, be there to vent to and bounce ideas off of. Wedding planning is much more fun and efficient when you have a great team to lean on. But you don’t want too many opinions and only those you truly value.

What do I need to put on my wedding checklist?

You definitely don’t want to attempt to create your wedding checklist alone. Leave the wedding checklist to the pros to create so you don’t miss any of the details or minutiae. . Giselle Hindley Wales created the Dream Wedding Checklist to give you everything you need to plan your wedding all in one place. It covers every major component that goes into planning a wedding so you can feel confident that you aren’t forgetting anything . It’s also packed with all the tips and budget saving tricks that only an experienced planner and wedding venue owner knows. Yep, no need to stress on what to include in your wedding checklist. That part has already been done for you. Now on to the planning!

How Often Should You Update Your Checklist

Your Wedding Checklist is going to become your go-to resource. We suggest that you get into the habit of keeping it handy and checking and updating it on a regular basis. Review where you are up to and what is still outstanding at least once a week to stay on track and make your planning so much easier.

Your checklist will become your sanity-saver and is the perfect way to stay organized. Much of the dreaded wedding planning stress comes from a fear of forgetting something. When you have everything pulled together in one place it’s a reassurance to your brain that every detail is being attended to and your wedding will go off without a hitch.

The first few months of wedding planning will most likely be the most intense. This is when you’ll nail down the big details of your wedding like finalizing your wedding date and venue. That means expect to dedicate more time to planning on the front end of the process. In general, most couples spend between 5-10 hours a week on wedding planning.

Wedding Planning Checklist Essentials 

After you’ve decided on the time of year you want to get married and have a working budget and guest list, it’s time to get started doing your research. Here are some of the steps you can expect to begin taking after the initial brainstorming sessions:

  • Exploring and touring venues and finding out their availability
  • Deciding on your ceremony location and if different from your venue       checking their joint availability
  • Considering the type of ceremony you want - religious, interfaith,                non-denominational, humanist, civil
  • Researching and interviewing florists, photographers, and DJs.
  • Deciding on a theme or “look” for your wedding. Do you want a                   farmhouse wedding, a “roaring ‘20s” style theme or maybe just                   elegant modern. It’s entirely up to you! 
  • Selecting your wedding party
  • Beginning the search for that perfect dress
  • Shopping for wedding rings

The key is to lock in as many of the major details early on. Time is definitely an asset in wedding planning. The more time you have, the easier things can be and the more choices you will have. But, that's not to say that a short engagement will be stressful, you’ll just need to squeeze more planning into less time. And with the Dream Wedding Checklist you will be sure to not overlook anything.

The more big decisions you can make early on will save you time and stress as your wedding date gets closer. However, there are some action items that just cannot be completed until closer to your wedding date such as your assigned seating. Our advice is to get as much as possible done ahead from finalizing your catering menu to deciding on the processional order of your ceremony. That way you will have the time to complete the last of your action items left for the home stretch in a more relaxed way.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’re about to break everything down so you can see just how smoothly your wedding planning can go. Our wedding planning checklist is based on a 12-18 month timeline and tends to be on the more proactive side. But it can be easily adjusted based on whatever the lead time is for your wedding. By just taking things one step at a time and recording your progress as you go, the wedding planning process can be fun and a memorable part of your wedding experience

Let the Wedding Countdown Begin!

Months 18 to 12

  • Set your budget.
  • Announce your engagement.
  • Schedule and organize your engagement party if you are going to do one.
  • Insure your engagement ring.
  • Put together an initial guest list
  • Hire a wedding planner if you are going to use one for full service especially if you want them to be involved in finding and selecting your venue.
  • Get organized & create/setup:
  • a calendar to track appointments and deadlines.
  • a personal wedding website and/or Facebook page
  • dedicated wedding email address
  • wedding bank account
  • wedding credit card
  • gift tracking
  • guest list with contact information
  • RSVP tracking
  • vendor list with contact information
  • wedding folders for planning/design. Maybe a binder for any hard copy items and online folders to save everything else.
  • Envision your wedding style & colors (create mood board, Pinterest, fabric/color swatches etc.)
  • Choose a wedding date and time or, decide to choose the venue first and go with their availability.
  • Research venues for ceremony and reception. (If you are doing your ceremony at a house of worship you will first need to reserve your date with them before you can book your reception venue. If both ceremony and reception are at the same site this will not be an issue.)
  • Select and book your venue(s) for the ceremony and reception.
  • Purchase wedding insurance both liability and cancellation policies.
  • Retain any first-choice vendors that you have identified and must have for your wedding (photographer, DJ, caterer etc.)
  • Decide on your wedding party.
  • Start shopping for your wedding dress and bridal party attire.

Months 11 to 8

  • Hire a wedding planner if using for partial planning or “month of” coordination. Or begin to work closely with your venues in house planner.
  • Finalize guest list.
  • Mail ‘Save the Dates’
  • Research vendors, select and retain them for your date. Below are the vendors you may or, may not need:
  • Wedding planner
  • Officiant
  • Hair & makeup
  • DJ/Band/Musicians
  • Photographer/Videographer/Photo Booth
  • Florist
  • Catering
  • RSVP tracking
  • Bar Service
  • Cake or, Desserts
  • Lighting vendor if applicable
  • Rentals if applicable.
  •   Tables, Chairs, Linens
  • Set up appointments in person or, remotely with all vendors to discuss wedding details.
  • Wedding planner
  • Officiant
  • Hair & makeup
  • DJ/Band/Musicians
  • Photographer/Videographer/Photo Booth
  • Florist
  • Catering- schedule a tasting
  • Bar Service
  • Cake or, Desserts - schedule a tasting
  • Limo, shuttle bus, auto rental
  • Lighting vendor if applicable
  • Rentals if applicable.
  •   Tables, Chairs, Linens
  • Order your dress
  • Schedule dress fittings
  • Purchase underwear and shoes ready for final dress fitting.
  • Decide on and order bridesmaids’ dresses and any bridal party attire or formalwear rentals.
  • Register for gifts.
  • Organize a room block at a specific hotel if relevant.
  • Finalize formal invitations and order

Months 7 to 4

  • Finalize guest list.
  • Mail invitations
  • Set up your system for receiving and tracking rsvp’s
  • Begin your assigned seating list for the dinner reception.
  • Attend pre wedding counseling if applicable.
  • Set up a gift log for gifts received.
  • Purchase rings.
  • Research marriage license requirements and understand the time frame for any paperwork needed.
  • Bridal shower if applicable
  • Discuss with vendors and finalize all the details for:
  • Hair & makeup
  • Officiant
  • Ceremony (vows, etc.)
  • Music
  • Photographer/Videographer/Photo Booth
  • Floral items
  • Catering
  • Bar
  • Cake or, Desserts
  • Limo, Bus, Shuttle
  • Outside rentals
  • Plan and schedule rehearsal.
  • Plan and reserve rehearsal dinner if applicable.
  • Finalize post wedding brunch/lunch details if applicable.
  • Plan and reserve all honeymoon arrangements if applicable.
  • Decide on and order favors.

Months 3 to 1

  • Purchase gifts for each other and write notes if applicable.
  • Purchase bridal party gifts and parent gifts.
  • Put together welcome bags for out-of-town guests.
  • Make pre-wedding beauty appointments (hair cut/color, mani/pedi, waxing, facials etc.).
  • Schedule hair/makeup trial.
  • Contact all guests who have not responded by your RSVP date.
  • Determine a final, exact guest count (don’t forget to include yourselves).
  • Put together your assigned seating and finalize the reception table layout and numbers.
  • Complete how you are going to communicate to guests where they are sitting for the reception. By using a chart, favors, escort cards etc.
  • Arrange and schedule Bachelor/Bachelorette parties if applicable.
  • Send out rehearsal dinner invitations if doing and not included in invitations.
  • Final dress fitting done.

3 to 4 Weeks Before

  • Get a marriage license and complete any necessary paperwork
  • Pack for honeymoon and/or an overnight bag.
  • Trial hair and makeup.
  • Confirm all final payments, delivery times, plus full details with all vendors and your venue.
  • Provide your final, exact guest count to vendors by their cutoff date – catering, bar, venue etc.

1 to 2 Weeks Before

  • Reconfirm, reconfirm, reconfirm with all vendors.
  • Make final payments or, place in envelopes for distributing along with gratuities
  • Drop off welcome bags to the hotel
  • One/Two Days Before:
  • Mani/Pedi
  • Load signs, guest book, favors, etc. and drop off at site if possible.
  • Wedding rehearsal.
  • Give license to officiant at rehearsal.
  • Rehearsal dinner
  • Give gifts to attendants.
  • Sleep

The Big Day!

  • Hair & makeup
  • Gifts to each other and parents if applicable
  • Give wedding rings to the best man and/or maid of honor.
  • Congratulations, relax and have fun.

Find out all the last minute steps to take in the weeks leading up to your wedding in the full, interactive, printable Dream Wedding Checklist. It covers everything from pre-planning right after you become engaged to the specific thing you’ll want to do three weeks before your wedding, two weeks before your wedding, leading up to what to do in the days after your big day.

Helpful Tips for Making the Most of Your Wedding Checklist

 Reminders are essential. Plot out important dates and milestone deadlines using your wedding checklist. Then add them to the calendar you use for everything else in life. Make certain your partner also has these dates on their calendar as well. This way you’ll get alerts on your phone and other devices. By keeping up-to-date with these milestones you ensure yourself that you won’t fall behind, which is an easy way to begin to feel overwhelmed and frazzled. Some important reminder dates on your calendars include:

  • Placing your flower order
  • Sending out invitations
  • Fittings and final fittings
  • RSVP date
  • Final guest count due dates for venue and vendors
  • Local wedding announcement placement
  • Obtaining the marriage license 

Think about any personal details that are specific to your wedding that need to be planned out and add those to the timeline. The more items you have on the list, the less you have to try to retain in your memory. Take a break from planning! Don’t forget to enjoy being an engaged couple while you’re a couple planning a wedding. That means date nights to destress and planner-free days so that not all your conversations revolve around the latest wedding updates.

With the average couple spending close to 5-10 hours a week on wedding planning, sometimes it can feel like a part-time job. But by using the Dream Wedding Checklist, you can save significant time and possibly money by focusing on the elements that matter most.

Your Wedding Planning Can Be a Joyous Experience with the Right System

Statistics show that wedding planning can be one of the most stressful experiences for a couple. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Wedding planning should be a fun, exciting time that’s about getting to your special day. You can have that experience with the right wedding checklist to stay organized. Being proactive and keeping yourself organized is the key to feeling relaxed and enjoying the moment or feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

What you found here is just a small preview of the Dream Wedding Checklist. If you like what you read, get the full printable Dream Wedding Checklist that comes free with our Dream Wedding Checklist video course. Together, they’ll let you fully enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime moment in life. The months of wedding planning will go by so fast, don’t let them be lost to stress and worry. Get your Dream Wedding Checklist and savor every moment.

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Take the Stress Out of Planning & Achieve the Wedding of Your Dreams