You’re engaged! It’s an exciting time, but what do you to get started planning the occasion?
Sixteen to Nine Months Before
- Start a wedding folder or binder. Look through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration. Here at Ball we recommend checking out The Knot in Kansas City.
- Work out your budget. Determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own. This can be one of the most stressful aspects of planning, but if you remain calm and work as a team on it, everything will fall into place.
- Decide on your wedding party. As soon as you’re engaged, friends and family will start wondering if they will be chosen.
- Reserve your date and venue. Venues book far in advance – and of course we’d love to have you here at Ball Conference Center.
- Start the guest list. Make a head count database to use throughout your planning process, with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information. (Want to keep costs low? It may be difficult, but the best way to do it is to reduce your guest list.)
- Hire a planner, if desired. A planner will have relationships with—and insights about—vendors. The team at Ball can help you find the perfect fit.
- Decide whether to have separate locations for the ceremony and the reception, factoring in travel time between the two places.
- Book your officiant.
- Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers. Word of mouth is often the best way to go. Keep their contact information in your binder.
- Throw an engagement party, if you wish. Be sure to remember that your invitees should be on your wedding guest list as well.
Eight Months Before
- Hire the photographer and/or the videographer. Check out our resource list for some ideas. No need to talk specifics yet, but be sure that the people you hire are open to doing the shots that you want.
- Book the entertainment. Attend gigs of potential acts to see how they perform in front of audiences, then reserve your favorite. Or ask married friends who they used.
- Meet with caterers. This is another vendor category that books far in advance, so be sure to find the one you want and book in a timely matter.
- Purchase the dress of your dreams. You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be done at the same time.
- Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. Pick three hotels at different price points close to the reception venue.
- Register for gifts. Sign up at a minimum of three retailers.
- Launch a wedding website if you desire. Create your personal page through a free provider such as weddingchannel.com. Note the date of the wedding, travel information, and accommodations. Then send the link to invitees. This can make things easier on your guests when they can pull up information on their phone.
Seven to Six Months Before
- Select and purchase invitations. Addressing cards is time-consuming, so we recommend inviting friends over for lunch to help out.
- Start planning your honeymoon. Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.
- Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses. Consider the different body types of those who will be fitted and what will be flattering. Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
- Meet with the officiant. Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
- Send save-the-date cards or magnets.
- Book a florist. Florists can serve multiple clients on one day, which is why you can wait a little longer to engage one. Plus, at this point, you’ll be firm on what your wedding palette will be.
- Arrange transportation. Consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars. (Note that low-to-the-ground limos can make entries and exits dicey if you’re wearing a fitted gown.)
- Start composing a day-of timeline. Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance). Some caterers can assist with this.
Five to Four Months Before
- Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues. Negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that venue as well.
- Check on the wedding invitations. Ask the stationer for samples of the finished invitations and revise them to suit your needs.
- Taste samples and order the cake. Some bakers require a long lead time. Attend several tastings before committing to any baker.
- Send your guest list to the host of your shower. Provided you, ahem, know about the shower.
- Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
- Schedule hair and makeup artists. Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out. Snap a photo at each so you can compare results.
- Choose your music.What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played. The DJ can help you with this as well.
Three Months Before
- Finalize the menu and flowers. You’ll want to wait until now to see what will be available, since food and flowers are affected by season.
- Order favors, if desired. Some safe bets: a treat that represents your city or region, or framed quotes about love. If you’re planning to have welcome baskets for out-of-town guests, plan those now too.
- Make a list of the people giving toasts. Which loved ones would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
- Finalize the readings. Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony—and whom you wish to do the readings.
- Purchase your undergarments. And schedule your second dress fitting.
- Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception.
- Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs. No need to go to a printer, if that’s not in your budget: You can easily create these on your computer.
- Purchase the rings. This will give you time for resizing and engraving.
- Send your event schedule to the vendors. Giving them a first draft now allows ample time for tweaks and feedback.
Two Months Before
- Touch base again with all the vendors. Make sure any changes you wanted have been confirmed.
- Meet with the photographer. Discuss specific shots, and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you.
- Review the playlist with the band or deejay. Though you probably won’t be able to dictate every single song played, you should come prepared with a wish list.
- Send out the invitations. The rule of thumb: Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.
- Submit a newspaper wedding announcement. If you’re planning to include a photograph, check the publication’s website: Some have strict rules about how the photo should look.
- Enjoy a bachelorette party. Arranging a night out with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honor. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, feel free to ask—for scheduling purposes, of course!—if a celebration is in the works.
One Month Before
- Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database. Phone people who have not yet responded. You can also ask a member of the wedding party for assistance with this task.
- Obtain your marriage license. The process can take up to six days, but it’s good to give yourself some leeway. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
- Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations.
- Visit the dressmaker for (with luck!) your last dress fitting. For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly.
- Be sure you have a bar service booked. Now that you have a firm head count you can order accordingly.
- Send out as many final payments as you can.
- Confirm times for hair and makeup and all vendors.
- E-mail and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles. You can also put this on your wedding website. This gives the chauffeurs ample time to navigate a route.
- Assign seating. Your venue can give you a floor plan to use.
- Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts. Jewelry for the day of can be nice, but others prefer a nice gift basket. You’ll present these at the rehearsal dinner.
- Write vows, if necessary.
- Get your hair cut and colored, if desired.
Week of the Wedding
- Reconfirm arrival times with vendors.
- Delegate small wedding-day tasks. Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts (especially the enveloped sort), someone to hand out tips, and someone to be the point person for each vendor (or let the planner handle this)
- Send a timeline to the bridal party. Include every member’s contact information, along with the point people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise.
- Pick up your dress or make arrangements for a delivery.
- Check in one last time with the photographer. Supply him or her with a list of moments you want captured on film.
- Set aside checks for the vendors. And put tips in envelopes to be handed out at the event.
- Book a spa treatment. Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)
- Send the final guest count to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events. Typically, companies close their lists 72 hours in advance.
- Break in your shoes.
- Assemble and distribute the welcome baskets.
- Pack for your honeymoon.
Be sure to print this list out and keep it handy during your planning. And call us anytime with questions or for assistance!