This Printable Wedding Checklist Will Make You Breathe Easier


“Get a Spray Tan” is not on this list even once

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

Image of couple with text free wedding checklist

Oh hey did you just realize you want a wedding checklist? Because after the initial “HEY HEY WE’RE GETTING ENGAGED” period, there’s generally a pretty rough comedown when you realize that oh, now you have to plan that wedding. Apparently, Pinterest/David Tutera isn’t going to swoop in and plan it for you, and also it turns out that planning a big event while holding down a full-time job may not actually be in your wheelhouse. But alas, the day comes when you have to step away from the “my crazy amazing wedding ideas” Pinterest board and figure out what you’re actually doing. And because we know that the wedding industry isn’t always the best at helping you actually plan a wedding (particularly if you don’t want to spend $100,000, and pay for a monthly facial for the six months leading up to your wedding), we’re here to provide you with a step-by-step wedding checklist for planning this thing. You know, one with some measure of sanity and helpfulness.

What Kind Of Planner Are You?

I planned my wedding budget on a post-it that I kept on my desk with a rough outline of a budget on it. While you should definitely not follow my lead (we have really solid wedding budgeting tips), suffice to say I was not a super type-A organized planner. A wedding checklist with a hundred steps would have just stressed me out. (In fact, I signed up for one, blacked out when I looked at it, and never checked it again.) So if you’re anything like me, we’ve created a simple wedding checklist—or, really, flowchart—for you. Print it out, put it on your fridge, and just follow the general big picture steps:

The Lowest Key Wedding Checklist

graphic of simple wedding checklist

BUT. It’s quite possible that what makes you feel calm is a nice long wedding checklist, with lots of things to check off, and a specific order for doing things, just to make sure you don’t miss anything. (Funny story about how I forgot that I had to pay for postage on our wedding invitations, hahahaha sob.) So finally we’ve created a free printable full wedding checklist for you, with all the things you (might) need.

We’ve structured this checklist around a twelve-month planning process, though you might be planning over two years, or two months. That’s fine! There is nothing particularly magical about a twelve-month planning period. Feel free to adjust this timeline—stretch it out and do it leisurely, or cut all the stuff you can’t be bothered with and do it in a few months. Likewise, remember that just because something is on the list, it does not mean that you have to do it. In fact, let’s discuss:

How To Use This Checklist

First, get a red pen and cross out everything on the wedding checklist you don’t care about. Seriously. Go crazy. If you’re getting married in your backyard, cross out all the stuff about finding a venue. If you really don’t care about flowers, cross out all the stuff about finding a florist. At the end of the day, all you need is the man, the preacher, and the dress. Or the lady, the pantsuit, and the justice of the peace. But beyond that, it’s all extra, so cross out what you don’t need.

Then feel free to reorder things. We’re wedding experts, but we’re not experts on your wedding, so if you want to do things in a different order, girlfriend, you do you. (Though seriously, don’t get your dress till you know where you’re getting married. Many a giant ball gown has been returned when the drive-through chapel in Vegas was picked as the venue…) So start here, and make it you. At every point along the way, we’ve linked to more detailed articles to give you all the guidance you need. (Oh right, and the APW Planner has a lot more detail on this whole planning thing, so probably pick that up.) And if you want to print it out, well lookit! We made you a free printable wedding checklist with boxes you can check off and everything. Put in your email at the bottom and it’s all yours.

Wedding Checklist

bride and groom standing together

When You’re Newly Engaged

  • You’re engaged!—have some bubbly, bliss out
  • Tell people the big news
  • Avoid jumping right into planning if you can possibly avoid it; chill out and enjoy
  • Pick up a copy of the APW Book and the APW Planner (but don’t start reading the planner till you’re ready to really get planning)
  • Sit down and figure out what your wedding priorities are
  • Come up with a wedding mission statement
  • Sign up for APW’s wedding planning email list so you have a built in wedding BFF
  • Have an engagement party or a super casual engagement toast
  • Decide if you want to elope and ditch the rest of this list

12 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING

couple sitting together on their wedding day

11 months before your wedding

10 months before your wedding

guests at a jewish wedding ceremony

  • Start shopping for wedding attire. Make appointments at bridal and clothing shops as needed. Remember traditional wedding dress shops will have long lead times on ordering dresses. (Check out advice on plus-sized dress shopping too.)
  • Research what kind of food you want to have, and begin to interview and book caterers
  • If you don’t want a caterer, start to look into self-catering or having a potluck wedding
  • Once you’ve booked your wedding photographer, shoot engagement photos (especially if you’re using them for save the dates)
  • Finalize your guest list before sending save the dates. Hot tip: Our spreadsheets can help you do this.
  • Create a basic version of your wedding website, especially if you want to include it in your save the dates
  • Design and order your save the dates

9 months before your wedding

two brides laughing together

8 months before your wedding

couple sitting together on a couch

7 months before your wedding

bride looking in a mirror

  • Book a florist, if you’re using one (here are tips!)
  • If you’ve decided on a band or a DJ, book one now
  • If you want a videographer, book one now
  • Research hair and makeup artists, if needed
  • Begin researching honeymoon destinations (because you KNOW you need a beak)

6 months before your wedding

two grooms standing together

  • Think about rehearsal dinner options
  • Start to plan any extra events associated with the wedding (after party, brunch, welcome party)
  • Finalize your guest list (we’ve got spreadsheets for that)
  • Set up a meeting with your officiant to discuss the ceremony and start marital counseling (if relevant)
  • Start thinking about your wedding vows and ceremony plan
  • If you’re having a friend officiate your wedding, now is a good time to ask them about doing so
  • If you’re not having a friend officiate your wedding, make sure you’ve booked someone (or the church/shul/mosque/temple)
  • Set up your wedding registry
  • Have a meeting with everyone who is helping (or start sharing those Google Docs!) and make sure they all understand what is expected
  • Find a baker for your wedding cake, and if you can schedule cake tastings, do so
  • If someone is throwing you a bridal shower, send that person these tips

5 months before your wedding

4 months before your wedding

wedding bouquet on rainbow wall

  • Finalize rehearsal dinner, and book anything you might need to book
  • Buy your wedding rings
  • Make sure your passport is up to date, if you’re leaving the country for your honeymoon
  • Book wedding transportation
  • Create a spreadsheet for RSVPs and guest list addresses
  • Talk to whoever is planning your bachelorette party, and hook them up with this checklist (same goes for any wedding showers)

3 months before your wedding

couple at their wedding reception

  • Address and mail your wedding invitations (double check the postage!)
  • Think about what ceremony extras you might need (chuppah, aisle runners, etc.), and buy or rent them
  • Start planning out your wedding ceremony script
  • If you’re DIYing anything for your wedding, start now or cross it off your list
  • Schedule dress fittings, as needed
  • Research your local marriage license, civil union, and domestic partnership rules

2 months before your wedding

couple walking under a waterfall

  • Begin working on your wedding vows in earnest
  • Make sure everyone in your wedding party has bought what they’re wearing
  • Figure out what you’re wearing to your rehearsal dinner
  • Put together a list of what you want to pack for your honeymoon, if you’re having one

6 weeks before your wedding

bride wearing gold glitter shoes

1 month before your wedding

bride standing in sunshine

two weeks before your wedding

bride standing on a wooden structure

  • Check in with guests who haven’t RSVPed
  • Confirm head counts, menus, and delivery with your caterers and bakers (also confirm vendor meal requests)
  • Confirm your photo requests, required family, and timeline with your photographer
  • Make sure that everyone who is delivering something to the wedding (rentals, flowers, etc.) has a confirmed, final timeline
  • Send a transportation schedule to transport providers
  • Make sure any clothing you want cleaned or pressed is taken care of
  • Ensure that there is a plan for wedding venue setup and breakdown

one week before your wedding

bride having her photo taken

  • Pack an overnight bag and include your toothbrush, birth control/condoms, something to sleep in, an outfit for the next day, honeymoon luggage, and your passport
  • Get your wedding manicure and pedicure (if it’s happening at all)
  • Make sure a copy of your honeymoon plans is left with family and friends
  • Put your final payments and tips for vendors in labeled envelopes, and give this to another person to manage
  • Get your wedding day “oh shit kit” put together (you’ll want aspirin, makeup, safety pins, mints, snacks, etc.)
  • Pick up your dress (if it wasn’t delivered to you)
  • Try on your entire wedding ensemble
  • Give all of your vendors an emergency number to call, just in case (note: not yours!)
  • Assign a family member to be the photographer’s point of contact
  • Hand over all of your planning docs to your wedding stage manager (including a copy of the vendor delivery schedule, set up times, and phone numbers) or DOC and take a step back to enjoy this thing!

1 day before your wedding

jewish couple during the hora

last-minute things you might forget

(AKA, rip this list out and stick it to your front door)

people dancing at a reception

  • Rings
  • Vows
  • Marriage license
  • Dresses
  • Suits
  • Drivers license
  • Wallet
  • Cash
  • Passport/ID
  • Socks, underwear, bra
  • Accessories
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Tips for vendors
  • Wedding playlist
  • Umbrella
  • Snacks and water

on your wedding day

couple walking down the aisle

  • Make sure you pause and appreciate your family, friends, and each other
  • Take a few minutes every so often to breathe and focus; smile at your friends, give hugs, be in the moment
  • GET MARRIED

After the wedding

couple at san francisco city hall

  • Send out your thank you notes (to people who helped with the wedding AND for gifts)
  • Make sure your vendors have been paid in full
  • Follow up and make sure you know when you’ll get your wedding photos back
  • Ensure that rentals, clothing, and accessories have been returned (as needed)
  • Toast your marriage! You did it! Now the good stuff starts for real.

Pretty amazing list, huh? We even made you a snazzy FREE printable Wedding Checklist version— Click here to download.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com. #NASTY

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  • Kari

    So this checklist is great, but I’d advise booking an officiant about 8 months out, especially if you need to book a place of worship too and ESPECIALLY if your chosen officiant doesn’t actually belong to the venue you’ve chosen. Good civil celebrants can be booked out a year in advance just like photographers or caterers, and many religions and their celebrants require at least six months notice for weddings (mostly as a way of avoiding shotgun weddings). There’s a lot of talk on APW about the importance of the ceremony – locking down your officiant and your ceremony venue merits a little more time and thought, I think.

    • Yes, I wouldn’t have even booked my reception venue if I wasn’t able to get the church on that day. (Although churches are also often willing to do multiple weddings in a day as long as they are at different times). Because IMO, the ceremony is where the wedding actually takes places (it’s where you get married!) and so you need that to happen.

      • Katharine Parker

        Yes, everything for me was set into place by the church being available. We got one of the last 3 PM weddings available for summer 2017 at my church. Churches book up quickly–my sister was surprised we were able to get our wedding date only 9 months out. Even considering a Friday evening or earlier Saturday wedding, we had very few options for the summer when looking this past fall. Luckily, one worked!

        If you’re a religious wedding person, hopefully you are aware of this, though? Most people I know who have gone the civil ceremony route have asked a friend to become ordained.

        • I was one of my first friends/cousins/family to get married, so it was news to me how quickly churches booked (and my parents, aunts, etc since no one had gotten married in 15+ years). I did know about the 6 month advance thing, but only because once I started thinking about getting married, I researched the Catholic churches requirements for marriage. I think it definitely is not common knowledge for a lot of people.

    • In the UK you have to have a registrar for the wedding (ordained friends can’t make it legal, for all they can make it special) and they often book up a year in advance. On our original date our only option was a 9:15am ceremony, followed by a reception that didn’t start until 1pm – way too long a gap to ask our guests to tolerate. We had to start over using the registrar’s availability as a guide for the date, then find a venue that could accommodate that.

  • Katelyn

    The thing that is most frustrating about wedding planning is, for me, I end up doing research for pretty much every line item while we’re putting together a budget because I have no idea what’s reasonable – averages don’t help a ton because I know where I am willing to scrimp, but I don’t know what’s a reasonable amount of “scrimp” versus a laughable pipe dream requiring a wedding fairy godmother. And then I have a half-planned mess on my hands where I expect to change our minds at least 10 times before the “deadline” due to the infinite number of choices available (thanks, internet).

    • sofar

      Yes, the research phase was so lengthy for me. And frustrating. It seemed like every friend/family member I asked who had gotten married in my area was like, “Oh I don’t even REMEMBER what I paid for that lol.”

      So I called an ungodly number of vendors and did lengthy interviews. And that was the ONLY way I was able to get an estimate of what was “reasonable” in our area for what I wanted and how much “scrimp” it was reasonable to ask for. And only THEN could I begin the negotiations process.

      I recently went to India and I liken it to the shopping process there — no price tags. You have to figure out what various vendors will quote you for A Thing and then start negotiating. Kinda fun, also time consuming.

      So glad I’m done planning a wedding.

      • toomanybooks

        I kind of wish I had kept detailed and obsessive spreadsheets about Every Vendor In The Area and how much they might cost just for other friends who will later be getting married in the same area. But also I barely contacted anyone for quotes. So. Mostly I just get on Skype with a friend who’s planning for a wedding in the future in her hometown where I still live and I give her recommendations for things I have found helpful. Like “oh yeah I looked at that venue too but I got a bad vibe from reviews that said they were hard to work with”

        • Meg Keene

          HA, that was totally me.

        • idkmybffjill

          I definitely did this – unfortunately the quotes get outdated so fast! People grow their business, etc etc. It’s depressing – but does give people at least an idea of what to expect.

    • Her Lindsayship

      WORD. I made up our line-by-line best-guess budget back when we first started planning, and yeah, I did a fair amount of research just to get those base line numbers. Mostly what I was depending on as a resource was published averages spent toward each category by couples in my city, which you would think would be specific enough that it would be helpful. So far we’ve gone over on most items (and NOT because we’ve decided to go for the luxury option!). Each line’s lowballing was probably due to a combination of the averages being really skewed by people who DIYed or had a friend to do the thing, and my initial research being a little more wishful in nature than I intended.

      Our budget is pretty low for our area, but obviously we did have the option to go over on things, so it’s not the strictest wedding budget ever. If we really didn’t have the room, I guess we would’ve made things work for less, but it would’ve been a struggle.

    • Katharine Parker

      God bless vendors who include their minimums and averages on their websites.

      • idkmybffjill

        Amen.

  • sage

    Thanks for this! I had been looking around for a detailed wedding checklist on APW but hadn’t seen one yet. I LOVE detailed wedding checklists because A) I feel like there is no way I will miss or completely forget to plan an element of the wedding; and B) they automatically break large tasks into smaller manageable tasks for you (think about what kind of wedding cake you want… research/contact bakeries… book bakery = really three separate tasks). YAY!

    • idkmybffjill

      Yes!!! Totally agree. I hadn’t been able to articulate why the larger task method made me so anxious. I need the smaller tasks to make them feel like I can handle them!

  • Katharine Parker

    One thing to consider in planning out when to do various tasks is what else is going on during your wedding weekend. If there is any kind of event happening the same day or the same weekend, you should do things like reserve hotel blocks or book transportation earlier. I started looking for hotel blocks eight months out and found that for my summer weekend wedding, when there was a local event occurring at the same time, many hotels were either at capacity on room blocks or weren’t offering them at all. It worked out in the end, but it was somewhat more work than I thought it would be. Be ready to do stuff earlier if your wedding is in a busy place.

    • idkmybffjill

      Thiissssss. We had to skip them entirely as there was a huge opthamology conference in Chicago the weekend of our wedding (what?!). We’d avoided the marathon weekend so thought we were gold…. there were no rooms to be blocked for less than $300, so we ended up just sending lists of alternatives (B&Bs, airbnbs, etc), to our traveling folk.

  • idkmybffjill

    oooh this is great! I wish this had been around when I was planning. I am the type that definitely loves a big long list. I used the Real Simple Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. The flow chart method is too broad strokes for me and gave me a bit of a panic attack. Will def be passing this list along to future brides!

    • idkmybffjill

      Also… umm – if you do want a spray tan (ME), use other events throughout the year to test out the colors. I ultimately wanted Benefit’s level 1 (basically just a healthy glow), and tested it at my bridal shower to make sure I didn’t hate it/see how long it lasted/how it wore off. But before I tested level 2 for a friend’s summer wedding, and while it looked great was TOO tan for bridal pics. You want to test those suckers out. A few days before your wedding is not the time to get your first ever spray tan.

      • idkmybffjill

        OH and if you can schedule a dress fitting for one of those times you’re testing it out (not the day after your spray tan), even better. That way you can make sure you like the look with your dress. OKAY DONE.

        • idkmybffjill

          SHOOT ONE MORE THING. If you’re getting a makeup artist – schedule your trial run with her for when you’re tanned. You’ll look (maybe only a tiny bit if you go my route!) different, and you’ll want to take that into account. My bestie got a spray tan for my wedding and just ran to sephora and got a foundation sample of her current shade. It worked like a charm!

          So if you want to know what that looks like in a schedule for a trial run, here’s how mine panned out:
          Thursday – Spray Tan
          Saturday Morning – Dress Fitting followed by MakeUp Trial
          Saturday Afternoon – Bridal Shower (bonus – make up all done for the shower)

          I followed the same Thursday tan schedule for my Saturday wedding and it worked perfectly! Highly recommend Benefit as their tans fade really naturally and not in that scary way that looks like your skin is falling off. OKTHX

          • JC

            I would never have thought of these things. You are the best.

          • idkmybffjill

            Woot! Glad it could be helpful. When I read the side note about spray tans I was like, “ooh but I really needed those logistics on my list.” :)

          • JC

            I have olive skin and I am DARK by the end of the summer, but boyfriend and I were just talking the other day about how we will probably need to schedule the wedding off-season to save money, and I realized I will be pasty white and sickly! I know nothing of spray tans, so your words of wisdom have been saved :)

          • idkmybffjill

            Bonus if you get some sun but end up with tanlines – a good artist can fix those for you.

          • jem

            Ha you are great I’m saving all of this– thank you!!

          • idkmybffjill

            haha yay! So glad it’s helpful!

      • Katharine Parker

        Yes, I am already planning on using my bridal shower as a spray tan test run!

        • idkmybffjill

          I love spray tans. Just the light ones, but they just make me look like me only glowier!

          • Katharine Parker

            Agreed! I’ve only ever done the booth before, but I’m going to get a custom tan for my wedding and I am PUMPED.

          • idkmybffjill

            It makes a huge difference, I must say. It’s a tad awkward getting in your birthday suit – but the aestheticians (sp?) are always uber pros so I basically immediately forgot I was naked. Ha

  • laddibugg

    Expecting a manicure to last a week seems like pretty wishful thinking unless you never use your hands…and even then…..

    We are just getting around to looking at venues for next year, but our plan kinda is just to ask ‘what’s the cheapest date in 2018 you have?’. We initially wanted to do our dating anniversary, but now I am just looking at budget.

    • idkmybffjill

      Will chime in and say if you do a gel manicure you’ll be set for a week. But if you’re going on a longish honeymoon after, you’re gonna want your nails done for it (if you’re the sort of person that likes your nails done). I got a gel manicure the Thursday before our Saturday wedding and it lasted pretty darn well even through a 10 day honeymoon.

      • laddibugg

        Yeah, usually lasts a good while, but I wouldn’t recommend getting a first gel manicure, or trying a new place that far in advance. If the product is crap, it can still chip or wear down easy (I’ve seen it happen).

        • idkmybffjill

          Oh true. This is me revealing that my true self – I literally always have a gel manicure on soooo. haha

      • Fushigidane

        Make sure to ask around. I got a gel manicure last month and it started peeling before the week was done. In the meantime my friend’s mom has one that’s been going strong for 4 weeks

        • idkmybffjill

          Some of this has to do with the natural oil levels in one’s nail beds, and partly has to do with the quality of the polish. Definitely ask around, and when in doubt – use OPI :).

    • Meg Keene

      Gel FTW. I get my nails done with gel and it lasts a month usually.

      • idkmybffjill

        Man I’m so jealous! Mine grow too dang fast. I feel like they’d last a month in the color department but after two weeks a quarter of my nail bed is visible and it makes me so sad.

  • Her Lindsayship

    This list perfectly toes the line between “detailed enough to reassure me I won’t forget anything important” and “broad enough that it doesn’t give me anxiety just looking at it”. I read like page one of another big wedding site’s checklist and felt faint. This one is now printed and chilling in my purse, and I think it will be extremely useful for me in these last four months of planning. Thanks APW!!

  • Just Me

    Great checklist but as someone who planned a wedding in ~5 months, it was disheartening to find that we were already “behind” on every single checklist known to the internet before we even started!

    We found that all of the things listed here as “to-dos” between 12 months before and 3 months before could pretty easily be squished into a much tighter window. Everything came together just fine!

    As several others have commented below, once you are thinking about a total budget, it’s not that far of a stretch to contact multiple vendors (photographer, DJ, catering) in the same few weeks to get an idea of what prices are like. If you find one you like during this initial budgeting, you might as well book it and get it crossed off the list! Based on happy hour comments, it seems that many people get most of the items done by ~10 months out and then there is a lull in planning until ~4 months before. If you feel better having extra time, obviously that’s great but if you are looking at this checklist and wondering if you will find a dress in time because you are already past the time listed above, don’t stress! (Even my sister, who had a more traditional 11 month engagement did not go dress shopping until 5 months before and still got the dress in time.)

    • Lala

      Yeah, I felt the same way, and we are also under six months out. Also, super confused by the placement of sending the invitations on the timeline and I have seen it EVERYWHERE: why send the invitations so late? Doesn’t that completely mess with your ability to get an accurate headcount for planning purposes? The vast majority of our guests are traveling, so I guess that changes things, but I didn’t want to send formal invites any less than 6 months out. Save the dates went out the minute we had booked the venue, to maximize the amount of time people have to plan. I just don’t get the etiquette behind sending the invites so late. Is it a holdover from back when fewer people were traveling? It seems to just create so much unnecessary stress for everyone.

      • Katharine Parker

        I can think of a few reasons why invitations are send out 6-8 (maybe 10) weeks ahead. As far as an accurate headcount goes, the rule is that you’re meant to invite only as many people (and the specific people) that you truly want to attend. So you aren’t supposed to be hoping that a certain number reply no so you can invite your B-list, or inviting 150 when your venue has a hard max of 100 people, or anything that would make knowing an exact count necessary earlier. So you set the RSVP deadline for a few weeks before your catering count is due but not earlier. This is also why people reserve hotel blocks–usually, the rooms are reserved until a month or so before the wedding date, so they are still available when invites go out.

        Another reason I can see is that people often don’t know if they can attend until closer to the wedding. Save the dates let people know to plan for your wedding, but they don’t obligate anyone to attend or to make a firm commitment to attending at that point. And as nice as it is to have something on the calendar six or eight months out, not everyone makes concrete plans to attend (even people traveling) until closer to the date–lots of things can change. People get pregnant, they move, they take new jobs, they develop illnesses, they take on different responsibilities. Asking for an RSVP more than a month out can make it hard for people to commit, so I think you would get more people declining because they are unsure if they can make it, or accepting but actually having to cancel closer to the time.

        If you’re sending out invitations six months out, but your RSVP date is still only a month out, I think it just encourages people to forget to RSVP. Five months is too long to have something tacked to your fridge or sitting on your hall table waiting for a reply. It would confuse me to receive this–if I already got a save the date, I know I’m invited. Why is the invite going out so early?

        The etiquette is somewhat different for destination weddings, but even then, I don’t think anyone recommends more than 12 weeks out on invites. That’s why you have save the dates! And you can always informally ask your invitees if they are planning on attending, and the hotels where you have room blocks can tell you who has booked at any point. So you can have a sense of what people are coming earlier than when your RSVPs are due.

        • Lala

          Totally understand where you’re coming from, and thanks for the explanation, that does make a bit more sense. Honestly though, I still think sending invites so late only really works if you don’t have people buying expensive plane tickets to be there. On top of that, we have a hotel booking situation where we have to let go of any rooms we don’t want 4 months ahead of time or we are responsible for the entire cost of those rooms. Therefore, our RSVP deadline is also far in advance, which I think is reasonable, given that no one books an international flight last minute unless they’re filthy rich, or someone died, or there’s a sale on Kayak. If people can’t come last minute, that wouldn’t change whether our RSVP deadline was 4 months out or one month out. Plus, as a guest, It has made me so confused when I get a save the date with zero info about the wedding itself beyond the city, but I don’t actually have any details about the wedding itself until a couple weeks ahead of time. How am I supposed to plan and budget for transportation and hotels accurately without full info?

          • Katharine Parker

            Usually now save the dates include the wedding website, unless everyone is local. If I got one without that, I’d probably ask the couple for more info–it’s meant to be useful, not confusing.

          • jem

            I agree! Put the wedding website on your save the dates. Put travel/hotel information on the website. Even if people don’t look at the website (no one is looking at ours! why?!), they will call you and ask about the hotel, and you can give them the deadline, etc. then (we sent our save-the-dates a month ago and are getting lots of phone calls from aunties and uncles asking about where to stay). If they miss the deadline for the room block, they can try to book a room at the hotel the old-fashioned way or find another place to stay.

          • Amy March

            I book last minute flights within 2 months of travel all the time. They often aren’t that much more expensive. And I plan and budget for hotels and transportation by looking at the wedding website which usually has all that info on it. And, frankly, that hotel situation is a reason to structure your accommodations plan differently, not impose on your guests with an unusually early ask.

      • I feel the same about invites. The idea of leaving it so late stresses me out as both a host and a guest. From the guest side of things, I really want to be able to RSVP 12 weeks out because after that travel and accommodation costs start climbing. Even for close weddings (we have two friends getting married this year the next city over, a 20 minute train ride) we’re probably going to book accommodation, because otherwise our choices are leave early, or spend an hour at the station waiting for the 2am train. Equally, I know things like annual leave work differently in the US, but most people I know in the UK need several months’ notice to book time off work, so an early invite makes people more likely to confirm they can attend than late.

        Our wedding is mid January, so really we’re not going to get anything off guests in the six weeks before the wedding if they haven’t already RSVPed (with the Christmas post, there’s a chance RSVPs could end up arriving post wedding if guests leave it until December). I don’t want to be calling the caterer on deadline day to tell them we can’t reach their minimum numbers because our final few guests have finally got in touch. Just… let us know in advance, and if some people can’t come we’ll upgrade to the super fancy food, and if everyone can then we can get things locked down with the caterer and focus on DIYing some fabulous favours for you all.

        • jem

          Wait but why can’t you book a flight/hotel room before you RSVP? Lots of our guests are booking flights/hotel rooms right now, and we’re not sending the formal invites for several months. As long as the save the dates go out well in advance, I don’t see how this is an issue?

          • idkmybffjill

            I don’t think it is at all. Frankly I think sending invites/insiting on early RSVPs is a recipe for a lot of complications.

          • Cultural difference I never realised existed time! In my experience, UK STDs usually contain just the couple and the date – no location or times (or information about plus ones / kids etc). They’re literally just to give you enough notice to book the time off work. I suspect we’ve adopted the idea from the US and took the name too literally!

        • idkmybffjill

          You can book travel before RSVPing? That’s why Save the Dates go out – for the folks who like to get a head start on figuring out their logistics.

          • I guess there may be a cultural difference in STDs? The last five we received were literally just dates, no locations or times. Most of them I could guess the region of the country, but not in enough detail to be confident booking anything.

      • Amy March

        I think it’s generally considered impolite and not particularly hospitable to make people decide if they can attend super early. You’re supposed to plan with a flexible headcount, and finalize things close to the date, so that guests also can plan their lives without having committed to you very early on their schedules. A Save the Date takes care of things from your guests point of view- they can go ahead and book their travel and vacation time whenever they want, if they want to.

        I personally really don’t like having to RSVP early, because frankly your wedding may not be my top priority, and I may not know if it is going to work for me until closer to the date. It also creates problems with inviting people’s significant others. If you send me an invite 6 months before your wedding, and make me RSVP 5 months out, and I’m single then, okay. But what happens when I then meet someone and am in a relationship by the time your date rolls around? If we’re talking just a few weeks, obviously totally fine to not invite him, but months and months? Not great.

        • Katharine Parker

          Oh god, figuring out your plus one a month out can be stressful enough. Five months out would be a nightmare.

    • Leah

      Ditto on this! We had a 6 month engagement, which honestly seemed like totally the perfect amount of time to plan a wedding. Not much lull, just one thing at a time and then WEDDING. The only time I’d stress about the timeline was when we would look at timelines like this one that were like ‘oh, we should have done this thing 8 months ago’ and I’d start to worry. But honestly none of that was the case. I can think of a handful of things that made this really doable, for those looking at shorter timelines

      1) we did look at venues asap, like 2 weeks after we got engaged.
      2) we were pretty flexible on dates – just wanted it to be summer/warm enough for outdoor wedding – so when we found the venue we liked, we took whatever summer date they had available, and that was our date. we sent out electronic save the dates to all the key people (who would 100% make whatever guest list we ended up with, esp those who had to travel) right away as soon as we booked the venue/date, so they could plan for it.
      3) i also got a 2nd hand dress, so didn’t have to deal with the insane-o timelines of dress stores.

      so if you are looking at this and you are doing a short engagement/planning timeline – don’t worry, it’s all gonna be fine! :)

  • xena warrior princess

    This is amazing! I’m using the checklists in the Planner and spreadsheets online, but I really needed a start-finish checklist that wasn’t from The Knot and designed to make me hyperventilate. This is a “You CAN Do This” list. FYI – the downloadable PDF is wonderful but none of the links are clickable, from what I can tell.

  • toomanybooks

    Yessss, thank you! I seriously use the “chill” basic checklist at the top ALL THE TIME when I decide I need to spend a day doubling down on planning stuff – I just look at the chart in my APW Planner and cross out everything I’ve done to see what’s left. So I’m really glad for a more detailed checklist coming from APW, because the one on WeddingWire is chock full of stuff that I’m not doing and I just want to be like “none of this is relevant to me!! Why are brides expected to be shopping for and selecting outfits for their spouse-to-be, flower girls, and ring bearers?” etc etc.

    but, Truth Corner: I scoffed at the idea that women marrying men have to find their fiance’s outfit for them when I saw it on the weddingwire checklist. Then I remembered that I had to find and order (with her card and her go-ahead) a dress for my fiancee because she is working on her PhD and is PEAK absentminded professor right now. Whoops. So like, yes, I am still doing most of the work, but it turns out I really like mulling over decisions on my own time and having lots of control. So. It works out.

    • toomanybooks

      update: just actually printed out a physical paper printout of this checklist. I never print things out in real life! *so excited*

  • This is amazing! I’m using the checklists in the Planner and spreadsheets online, but I really needed a start-finish checklist that wasn’t from The Knot and designed to make me hyperventilate. This is a “You CAN Do This” list. FYI – the downloadable PDF is wonderful but none of the links are clickable, from what I can tell.

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