wedding planner, pink flowers, pins and tea

Timeline for Your Big Day: How to Stay on Task and Slay Your Schedule

December 19, 2019

Firstly, congratulations. You’re engaged. Secondly, take a breath. It’s all going to be fine. You have a lot to plan. But fear not, we have you covered. After your budget is established, read on for a month-by-month, step-by-step guide to your whoop-dee-(I) doo.

Dramatic image from second level looking down over beautifully decorated reception area. Live evergreens help complete the affect.
Book One Year Ahead

Venue and Planner

The second that engagement ring hits your finger, wedding gowns dance in your head like sugar plums. If you plan on visiting a bridal salon, remember your entire vibe is deeply dependent on location. Try on different dress styles and fabrics as you consider where you’ll be having your reception. Booking your venue is essentially the same as setting a date, and all other vendors need this most critical detail in order to determine their availability. This would also be the time to book a Wedding Planner (should you choose to use one) if your venue doesn’t include one. If you’re having trouble sifting through the innumerable Wisconsin reception and ceremony locations, book your planner first. He or she will save you from a lot of anticlimactic site visits and wasted time.

Red bridal bouquet by Bloom Lovely Floral Design
Book 9-10 Months Ahead

Caterer, Florist, Music, , Dance, Photographer

Now that you’ve put down roots with your venue, it’s time to pretty up the space. Florists require some time to design and source materials, so give them the time to get it just right. Your food, arguably the most important element second only to signing your marriage certificate, will need thoughtful research on your part, including a tasting or two and finalizing the menu. You don’t want to wind up with a bunch of frozen lasagnas because all of the quality caterers are already spoken for. Musicians and deejays also book out pretty far in advance, so get organized and start listening to entertainers right out of the gates. And don’t forget dance lessons! If you plan to show off your moves as bride and groom, now would be the time to start taking classes. Photographers are especially busy during holiday family photo season and in the summer months, so you might need to book this vendor even earlier than eight months in advance. If your guests are eating, dancing, and admiring the scenery, you are well on your way to marital bliss.

Woodsy cake with dripping chocolate
Book 7-8 Months Ahead

Baker, Officiant, Guest Accommodations, Honeymoon Plans, Stationery, and for Pete’s sake, would you buy your Wedding Dress already?

Now is the time to interview officiants, set up those cake tastings (yum!) and book travel arrangements for your much deserved honeymoon! This is a big couple of months for you, so stay cool. A wedding planner will come in really handy during this high pressure period if only for the benefit of being able to delegate to them. With or without outside help, you’re looking at weekly commitments to vendors in high demand. Beautiful stationary takes time, and coordination, so don’t put it off any longer. Most importantly, your dress may require special ordering and a fitting or two, so give that glorious gown and its creators the time they deserve.

Take good care to be aware of any conflicting events in your area the weekend of your wedding. The same goes for guest accommodations if you’re planning on reserving a block of rooms. Perhaps a large convention is occurring the same week, or a popular sporting event. Book early in this case and beat all the out-of-towners to your rightful hotel rooms.

Book 5-6 Months Ahead

Rentals, Hair & Makeup, Transportation, Tuxedo and all Attendant Apparel

Now is a great time to nail down everything that isn’t, well, nailed down. Tables and chairs, linens, lighting, backdrops, tents, and religious props all need to be selected by now. Is prom or homecoming a possible conflict for your limousine? How about the glam squad you’ve been eyeing on social media? If so, book them even earlier. And your groom and wedding party should probably find something snazzy to wear, with additional time for ordering and alterations.

Book 3-4 Months Ahead

Rings, Favors

We are in the home stretch, people! Buying your wedding bands is a fun milestone, when things start to really get real. If you’re planning on ordering custom favors, or a calligrapher for addressing seating cards and invitations, now’s the time to secure those services. 

A reminder that each of these stops on the timeline are ideal dates to book your vendors. Research will have to begin much sooner to narrow down and consult with each candidate. Once your venue is booked, your first question to potential vendors should be their availability, so as not to waste time on any that can’t accommodate you.

And from here, your vital contracts signed, you are nearly ready to sign that most important document to date. Stay focused and organized and you’ll be just fine. Download our Premier Bride MKE Planner here! Looking for a list of incredible Milwaukee wedding vendors? Click here!