Planning a wedding is no small undertaking – and with so many things to remember, from catering to décor to finding a photographer – it can quickly become a stressful experience. But with a little bit of help, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if you keep your cool and have a plan in place, planning your dream wedding can be loads of fun!

We’ve put together the ultimate wedding checklist to help you plan for your big day like a pro!

Set your budget

An elaborate wedding doesn’t come cheap, so before you start choosing colors for the bridesmaid’s dresses, you’ll need to establish what kind of budget you have to spend. Remember that there are always going to be unforeseen expenses that come up, so you need to have as much room to maneuver as possible.

Get quotations for all the costs you anticipate – and find out what the rates are for a smaller party too. If you see costs are going to be way out of your budget right from the get go, the easiest way to slash costs is to invite fewer guests! There’s little point in having every distant relative and every acquaintance in attendance if it’s going to end up putting you both in debt.  

Don’t feel obligated to include things you really don’t care about – spend your money on the things you love

It’s your wedding – if you don’t care much for floral arrangements or a string quartet, then there’s no written rule that you have to have them! If the most important thing for you is to have really gorgeous photos that will last for decades to come, then splurge on a really great wedding photographer and cut costs on the stuff you don’t care about. If you and your beloved are big foodies, then dedicate more of your budget to the catering and less to everything else – make your special day your own.

Now that that’s out of the way, here comes the guide!

+-12 months before wedding:

Discuss your preferred date, and decide whether you want a church or civil ceremony. Consult with your VIP guests to make sure they’ll be available.

Set your budget and emergency margin

Visit venues, compare prices and pick your winner!

Put together your guest list (don’t forget to ask for input from your parents too!)

+- 9 months before wedding:

Send out Save the Date cards

Start deciding on your menu and book your caterers

Pick your wedding photographer or videographer

Pick your bridesmaids, ushers and best man

Book your band, DJ, bongo drummers, or whatever entertainment takes your fancy

Start putting together ideas for The Dress

+- 6 months before wedding:

Book your florist and cake maker

Buy your accessories and shoes (start wearing them in at home if you need to!)

If your budget allows, books any extra entertainment like those white doves or horse drawn carriage

Order the Dress

+- 3 months before wedding:

Book your hair and makeup

Meet with your officiant and start putting together lists of readings or hymns

Plan and book your honeymoon!

Set up your wedding registry (and don’t feel bad about asking for cash donations towards the big day!)

Buy your wedding rings and start working on your vows

Send out your final invites

Do a walk-through of the venue with your photographer and discuss the must-have shots you want taken, put together a list if you wish

Finalize the menu with the caterers

+- 1 month before wedding:

Have your dress fitting and any necessary alterations done

Start planning rehearsals

Write speeches

Do confirmations with all of your suppliers and make sure all necessary deposits have been paid, reconfirm with honeymoon venue

Stock the bar

Follow up with any guests you haven’t RSVPed and finalize your numbers with caterers, decorators and your venue

Get your marriage license!

+- 1 week before wedding:

Have your hair trimmed and colored if you wish and confirm booking for manicures, pedicures and spa treatments  

Make sure everyone has a list of contact numbers and a timeline if need be

Double check bookings with photographer, DJ etc  

Collect any hired grooms wear and have your dress pressed if need be

Delegate small tasks to people for the big day – who will meet with each vendor, who will collect gifts, who will hand out tips to vendors, etc

Pack your bags for your honeymoon!

Enjoy your big day!

Remember that this list is a guide and only a guide – if there’s something really important to you, then feel free to do that first and change things up as you see fit. Have a magical wedding day, your way!