The Countdown Checklist
12 months before:
Announce your engagement
Arrange for your two sets of parents to get together if they
haven’t already met
Decide on a date
Choose the kind of wedding you want – evening wedding with
sit-down dinner, afternoon wedding with buffet, garden
Go over the budget (include both sets of parents if they’ll be
paying for any portion of the event,
Pick the ceremony site and visit the officiant.
Work on guest lists to get a rough guest count.
Visit reception sites and reserve one.
6-9 months before:
Interview wedding planners if you’ll be using one.
Choose your wedding party.
Choose a caterer.
Enroll in bridal gift registry.
Shop for gown.
Shop for bridal attendants’ dresses.
Choose a photographer and, if desired, a videographer.
Hire a florist.
Book musicians and/or DJ.
Choose a limousine.
4-6 months before:
Order wedding invitations, envelopes, thank-you cards and any
other wedding stationery you might want.
Order wedding gown.
Order tuxedos for groom and groomsmen.
Shop for cake.
Scout accommodations for out-of-towners so you can send
guests a list of nearby hotels in various price ranges. (Most
hotels offer lower rates if you tell them a group is coming.)
Meet with caterer or banquet manager to discuss menus,
service, style, wine lists, etc.
Complete guest list. Assume 20 percent of the invitees
probably won’t come.
Arrange rehearsal dinner.
2-5 months before:
Call county clerk’s office to find out about requirements for
Get blood test, if needed for license in your state.
Make honeymoon reservations. Compile all the necessary
travel documents (passport, visas, etc.).
Pick ceremony music. (Check with your ceremony site about
2-4 months before:
Pick reception music.
Order wedding cake.
Buy thank you gifts for attendants.
Shop for wedding bands.
Complete honeymoon plans. See Superclubs (inside cover).
Meet with party rental companies if special supplies (tables,
chairs) are being used for the reception.
4-8 weeks before:
Mail invitations eight weeks ahead of the date.
Do a hair and makeup run-through (with headpiece).
Have final dress fitting.
Look over insurance papers with your fiance (car, life, medical,
home). You may need to make changes in the policy when
you go from single to married.
2-4 weeks before:
Do seating for the reception.
Confirm details with caterer, florist, etc.
Give caterer final head count.
Make appointments with your favorite beauty pros to prepare
you for that all-eyes-on-you moment.
Send an engagement photograph with a wedding
announcement to newspapers.
1 week before:
Host bridesmaids’ party.
Place fees in envelopes to be given to the organist, soloist,
minister, etc. on the big day.
Appoint a punctual friend to bring cake knife, toasting glasses
or other heirlooms to the wedding site early (and to be
responsible for getting them home again).
Get a manicure, pedicure, facial, massage or other beauty
treatments of your choice.
Pack for the honeymoon (arrange for someone to bring your
luggage and going-away out fits to the reception site if
you’re leaving from the reception).
The day before:
Greet out-of-town guests.
Go to the gym, take a long walk, or do some other stressreducing
Schedule time for beauty – a manicure touch-up or a
hairstyling appointment – before the rehearsal dinner.
Attend the wedding rehearsal and dinner following.