How to Create a Wedding Planning Timeline

Did you know there is a simple way to make a wedding planning timeline?

This article highlights the most important aspects of a wedding timeline for planners without overwhelming you.

You can download this 2 page PDF for a wedding planning timeline based on this article at the bottom.

Here are the main things a timeline helps with:

  • The timeline can help you to keep track of when to select and pay vendors.
  • You can increase the chance of your clients having their wedding ceremony and reception at their location of their choice, when the venues are booked early, remember venues book fast.
  • If the couple will be hiring live entertainment for their big day, booking months in advance, as opposed to days in advance, can result in substantial cost savings.

Before Creating the Timeline

When constructing your timeline, gather information from your couple about where they are in the planning process.  Is the couple hiring you for just day of coordination, full or partial planning?

The details of the layout of your timeline will vary with each client, however the framework with be pretty much standard.  Also keep in mind that your timeline as a professional planner, will be different from the timeline of a DIY bride.

10 – 12 Months

Budget

Schedule a time to meet with the couple to map out a budget. If they have set a budget, still meet to review it.  The couple’s budget will determine the location and style of the wedding, and most importantly the guest list. After the budget is determined give the couple an “action item” of encouraging them to work on their guest list.

Style Creation

Your services will be instrumental in helping the couple research themes and various ideas regarding the style of wedding they want.  This is where you can shine as a planner, offering your expertise on giving the couple a general idea of how much it will cost to bring their dream to life.

Our event planning Pinterest page is a great place to start looking for style ideas (be sure to follow our Pinterest page).

Location

As the planner, your job is to make life easy for the couple, therefore, you may want to gather information about what’s important to them regarding a wedding ceremony and reception site before having them tour different locations, if they don’t have one in mind.

Are cathedral ceilings a must-have for the couple, or does the church for the wedding ceremony have to have a steeple? Once you’ve found at least three locations, coordinate a time with your couple and the venues to schedule a tour.

Once the venue is selected, and a deposit is paid, review the contract and keep track of when the balance of the payment is due, which is usually one month to two weeks before the wedding date.

6 – 9 Months

Hire vendors

You can suggest the vendors from your preferred vendors list or you will need to research vendors such as a florist, caterer, event designer, d.j., band, photographer, and transportation, keeping in mind the client’s budget, style and the feel that they would like to experience for their big day.  It’s important to select vendors that will complement the couple’s taste.  After the couple has selected their vendors, review the contracts and make note of when the balance of the remaining payments is due.

Hotels

Be sure to get an idea of the number of out of town guest your couple will be expecting, and reserve the hotel rooms. Be aware that some hotels only offer discounts for blocks of ten or more.  In addition, some hotels will not block a set of rooms unless, you are blocking for ten people or more.  Also consider distance and travel time when booking a hotel.

Save-The-Date Cards / Website

By this time your couple would have already determined who they want to celebrate this special day with them.  The couple may even want your help in creating the Save-The-Date cards, and finding someone to hire to design a wedding website. There are easy website creators available too where a couple can use click-and-drag functionality to easily make their wedding site.

A new trend that is really cool is a Save-The-Date movie trailers, and websites.  Some movie trailers are created using an iPhone, some created by professional videographers.  These videos are posted on the couple’s social media pages or YouTube page (be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel), and individuals who the couple will later send a wedding invitation to are tagged on the post.

4 – 6 Months

Beauty

You will assist your bride in selecting a beauty stylist for her and the bridal party.  Some stylist will agree to meet the bridal party at a location chosen by the bride, or require that the bridal party have services rendered at their salon.  Either way make sure the appointments are scheduled early enough on the day of the wedding, so that none of the bridal party are still sitting in a salon chair, when they should be preparing to march down the aisle.

Order Invitations

Schedule a meeting with your couple to determine how they want to order their invitations. The couple may want to hire a calligrapher, or may want to take a different route for the wedding invitation design.  Your expertise may be needed to help with the wording on the invitation – every couple’s family dynamic is not the same.

Important tip – Be sure to order 25 extra invitations.

Finalize Guest List

Your job as a planner is to keep the couple grounded with their budget. This is another opportunity to show your expertise as a planner, by helping the couple control their catering cost.

Remind your bride about things like this – Does the person from college, who sat next to the bride in English class, who she just ran into at the grocery store last week really need to attend the wedding?

Couples often get wrapped up in the emotion of who to invite that they don’t think clearly and you can help with this by reminding them of the budget cost when they go over their invite count.

 Transportation

Help the couple determine what mode of transportation is best for them and their bridal party.  Will they rent a limousine, a party bus, or a carriage?  This is the time to book those services.

2 – 4 Months

Cake

Schedule cake tastings from three cake vendors. Make sure that the bakery of choice will deliver and set up the cake.  I was surprised to find the number of bakeries that do not provide this additional service.  Double check the delivery address that the bakery has on file for the wedding, as well as the delivery time.

Caterer

Coordinate a time to meet with the caterer, have the couple review the menu sections, and make sure the caterer has the general guest count.  Side note:  If you are providing décor such as chair covers in special colors requested by the couple, and the caterer customarily provide them with service, subtract them from the total bill.

Seating Chart

Schedule time with the couple to create the seating arrangements for the guest.  Determine if you will need seating for a children’s section, high chairs, or space that’s wheel chair accessible.

We have an article coming about seating charts next week.

1-2 months

Mailing Invitations

Be sure that the couple review the addresses on the mailing list, before mailing out invitations.

Create the Wedding Program

Schedule time to create the program flow for the wedding ceremony and reception with the couple.

Purchase Bridal Party Gifts

This is entirely optional as a planner.  In order to create an opportunity for potential business, some planners add the special touch of providing gifts to the bridal party. While some couples prefer to handle this all by themselves since they know their bridal party well.

2 weeks before

RSVP

Schedule time with your couple to review the final RSVP list.

Important tip – Encourage your couple to contact people who have not sent a response prior to scheduling time with you to review the final list.

Vendor Confirmations

Confirm all transportation plans, such as pick up times and locations. Touch base with the managers of the venue sites, make sure they have a list of vendor requirements, and set up times.  Review design with florist, and event designer.  Go over the list of must have pictures with the photographer, and give the list of preferred songs to the d.j. or band leader.

Ensure that all final payments are made to the vendors.  Be sure that each vendor has your contact information.  Deliver your final RSVP, guest count to the caterer, and review the contract for any cost adjustments.  The final head count may be lower than the initial head count.

1 week before

Items you will need on the day of

Print table cards and place cards, pack your bridal emergency kit, pack any décor elements that you will be providing for the event, bring unity candle, aisle runner, or other ceremony accessories to the site and don’t forget to pack the wedding programs.

2–3 days before

Wedding ceremony rehearsal 

Meet with the bridal party and anyone else who may be involved with the wedding ceremony, immediate family, the officiant and hosting staff, to enact every detail of how the bride would like her ceremony to be played out. Decide the wedding party positions during the ceremony and the order of the party in the processional and recessional.

Day of

Give the bride and bridal party a wakeup call.  Make sure the reception hall is set up according to the couple’s request, review the room décor.  Meet the bridal party at the ceremony site, and refer to your wedding program.

It’s show time!

Click here to download your very own Wedding Planning Timeline as a PDF.

(Pin on Pinterest)

4 Comments

  • Tim Sanchez

    Reply Reply March 16, 2017

    Very good summary – exactly what I needed right now as I get ready to plan my first paid wedding. Thank you.

  • Carlatta C Jones

    Reply Reply March 17, 2017

    Thanks a big help.

  • Lisa

    Reply Reply April 22, 2017

    Thank you so much perfect as I’m about to complete my proposal and need a timeline for my first payed wedding
    So excited everything is coming together.

    Need to know if all my vendors need contracts from me?????

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