~ Cher Charest Photography's Wedding Planning Checklist ~
To plan the perfect celebration, use this comprehensive wedding checklist. An average U.S. engagement is 16-months. Being in the Wedding business we want to be as helpful as possible to our clients. ( Feel free to Print out this list as a general to-do guide. ) If you have come to us you are on the right track! Most Wedding couples will already have their date which should be the first thing to cross off the list. Please always inquire with preferred vendors to see if your date is available.
Select a Wedding Date!
If a church wedding, may want to discuss date availability with them first before finalizing a date.
~ 12 to 18 Months Before Wedding ~
* Decide on a Wedding budget.
A few things to make sure you plan for: the venue, your dress and alterations, flowers, photography, music, and invitations. TIP: What matters most to you? Discuss and list what the most important parts of your wedding, Then arrange the budget to reflect that list.
* Discuss guest list and count with your fiancé.
Do a rough count of people to figure a general budget. (Want to keep costs low? It may be brutal, but the best way to do it is to reduce your guest list.)
* Start a Wedding Folder.
Something large enough that will hold preferred vendor cards, magazine clippings, fabric swatch samples, guest lists, stationary examples, etc
* What type of a Wedding interests you? Explore Themes & Destination Weddings.
* Scout out Ceremony and Reception sites.
Seek out a few venues you really like and schedule visits to see them in person.
* Interview Wedding Photographers & Videographers.
TIP: Use your wedding photographer for engagement pictures. This gives you a chance to get to know them—and vice versa—before the big day. Hire pros you trust to capture beautiful memories of your special day.
* Think about your event’s theme and colors.
Start a Pinterest board and save ideas for your ceremony, reception, bridesmaid dresses, wedding cake, flowers, and more. ( This will make an easy reference when explaining what is wanted. )
* Consider your Wedding Dress options.
Browse styles online, magazines, and pintrest. TIP: Save images so that you can show people your preferences when they are assisting you.
* Overwhelmed? Hire a Wedding Coordinator or Planner.
They keep everything organized so you can simply enjoy the day. A trusted coordinator can be especially helpful for destination weddings.
* Make a #Hashtag!
This hashtag will go on all of your announcements. This way you have one spot for everything about your wedding. TIP: Make the hashtag really easy. Example: TomSarah2020 or a last name with date
* Start looking at Wedding Gowns.
* Confirm your Wedding date & book your Ceremony & Reception venues.
Read the contracts carefully and note whether you need to obtain permits or insurance.
* Schedule Engagement Photos!
This session will help you and your fiancé feel comfortable in front of the camera.
* Use the Photos given from the Engagement Photoshoot and Order & Send Save the Dates!
Select a design that matches your theme, or pick one that spotlights your engagement photos. TIP: Tell them to follow your hashtag and put it on your save the date cards.
* Enjoy your Engagement Celebration!
Coordinate with family and friends if you want to throw an engagement party. Remember, all invitees should be on your wedding guest list.
* Keep your Eyes & Ears open on who does great Bridal Hair & Make-up in your area.
* Start going to Bridal Shows!
TIP: Only go to the shows in the area of your Wedding to find the closest vendors.
~ 9 to 12 Months Before ~
* Taste Cakes!
Can’t pick just one kind of cake? Many bakers let you pick a different flavor for each layer.
* Pop the Question: Will you be my bridesmaid? Best Man?
* Ask your friends to stand by your side on the big day.
How many in the total Bridal Party?
* Start thinking about Bridesmaid & Groomsman gifts. ( Etsy has great custom options! )
* Choose your Wedding Dress.
Bring a friend or two if you’d like a second opinion!
* Schedule your first dress fitting.
Get the perfect fit with the help of our alterations experts. They can also personalize your dress with details like sleeves, a corset back, or a bustle. You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be postponed for another two to three months.
* Order your Wedding Cake.
Give your baker specific details and inspiration photos to ensure your cake is picture-perfect.
* Choose a color scheme.
Put together a wedding palette to tie together everything from invitations to bridesmaid dresses.
* Browse Bridesmaid Dresses.
Mark your favorite styles on our website or app, then share with your friends. Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
* Start a gift registry.
Make a date with your fiancé to set up your gift registry. It’s a good idea to do this early on so guests can use it for the engagement party, shower, and wedding. Sign up at a minimum of three retailers.
* Book your Ceremony Officiant.
If you don’t have a specific officiant in mind, ask your venue or photographer to recommend one who suits your style and spirit. A new trend is to have a friend or family member become ordained online and marry you.
* Plan and book your Honeymoon!
Get excited for your getaway! Book early so you'll have the best options—and the best prices. Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.
* Launch a Wedding Website.
Create your personal page through a free provider such as weddingchannel.com. Note the date of the wedding, travel information, and accommodations. Then send the link to invitees.
* Book a Band or D.J.
D.J's or a MC will keep the flow of your Wedding reception going in the right direction. Choose your music.
What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played.
~ 7 to 8 Months Before ~
* Schedule your Bridesmaids to look at Dresses.
* Decide on a Caterer.
If your venue doesn’t include catering, research options and give their sample menus a try.
* Research music options for your ceremony & reception.
From a string quartet to a rock band to your favorite playlist, music helps define the wedding’s vibe. Decide if you want live music or a DJ—or both. ( Depending if it is a popular band you may want to do this sooner. )
* Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
Pick three hotels at different price points close to the reception venue.
~ 5 to 6 Months Before ~
* Dress the Groom!
TIP: He will stand out stylishly if he wears a tie that’s a different color from the groomsmen’s.
* Choose Wedding-day looks for the guys.
Purchase or rent the groom’s tuxedo or suit, and select styles for groomsmen.
* Choose your Bridesmaid dresses. ( Review with them too! )
With so many colors and styles, there are endless ways to coordinate your bridesmaids.
* Arrange Wedding-day transportation.
Plan how your wedding party and guests will get to and from their hotel, the ceremony, and the reception.
* Browse Wedding invitations.
Don’t forget to include an RSVP date on your response card! It’s best to give guests 1–2 weeks to respond after they receive the invitation.
* Reserve a romantic Honeymoon Suite for your first night as a married couple.
* Purchase Wedding bands.
Consider engraving your rings with your initials and the wedding date or words that mean something special to the two of you.
* Discuss Bridal Shower & Bachelorette Party plans with your Maid of Honor.
TIP: Even though you’re not in charge of planning these events, prepare a list of invitees for the hostess. Consider an informal celebration to thank your bridesmaids for being a part of your special day.
* Meet with the officiant.
Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
~ 3 to 4 Months Before ~
* Schedule hair and makeup trials.
You don’t have any surprises on the big day. Don’t forget to bring your veil or other hair accessories to the appointment. Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out. Snap a photo at each so you can compare results. Some stylists specialize in Weddings. Inquire about on-location services. TIP: Even if you’re having a professional do your makeup, buy a tube of your wedding-day lipstick so you’ll have the right color for touch-ups.
* Book your Glam Squad after Beauty trials.
* Check in with Bridesmaids about their dresses.
Make sure your bridesmaids have ordered their dresses and accessories so they’ll arrive in time.
* Go to your first Bridal Gown fitting.
Invite your maid of honor or your mom to join you! Don’t forget to bring the undergarments and shoes you plan to wear at the wedding.
* Select Wedding Decorations.
Pick out all the trimmings you need to make the ceremony and reception venues feel festive, including a ring pillow, guest book, and unity candles.
* Order Wedding Flowers.
From bouquets to centerpieces, flowers add natural beauty to your wedding setting. TIP: Pinch a penny by adding a few more greens to the table than flowers.
* Finalize the details of your Ceremony.
Choose honored guests to say readings, and give them copies of the text so they’ll have plenty of time to practice. Decide on songs and who will be singing or playing them.
* Finalize the details of your Reception.
When's Dinner being served? How soon can you set up the area? How long do you have the space for? Finalize the menu.
* Order & mail out Invitations.
Sending invitations 8–12 weeks before the ceremony gives guests enough time to RSVP before you need to confirm the final head count with your caterer.
* Decide on your Wedding vows.
Discuss whether you’ll say traditional wedding vows or write your own.
* Find gifts for your Wedding party. ( Again, Etsy has great custom options! )
Thank your parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and flower girls with personalized gifts.
* Finalize the menu with your Caterer.
Discuss any special meal requests, and choose a signature cocktail to serve.
* Decide on Wedding favors. ( Little Thank You Treats )
Leave your guests with something to remember the day. We have little somethings to match every wedding theme, from rustic to elegant.
* Plan & Book your Rehearsal Dinner.
Send invitations to your rehearsal dinner guests. Some couples invite only the wedding party, but it’s also a nice gesture to include out-of-town guests. Negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that place as well
* Check in with your Mother & future Mother-in-Law about their dresses.
* Order Flower Girl dresses.
TIP: Since little girls grow fast, it’s best to shop for these styles a little closer to the date.
* Start composing a day-of timeline.
Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).
* Send your guest list to the host of your Bridal shower.
That is if you know about the shower. Sometimes these can be a surprise party for the Wedding Couple.
~ 1 to 2 Months Before ~
* Go to your final Gown fitting.
Bring your shoes, lingerie, and other wedding-day accessories for one last look!
* Enter RSVPs for your guest-list.
Phone people who have not yet responded.
* Arrange for your Marriage License & request certified copies.
Regulations vary by state, so check local guidelines. If you’re planning to change your name, you’ll need certified copies of your marriage license.
* Create your Wedding ceremony programs.
Customize your wedding ceremony programs with the names of the people in your wedding party, your ceremony readings, and a note of thanks to guests for attending.
* Order stationery for the Reception.
Coordinate your table numbers, escort cards or place cards, menus, napkins and more. You can save by making your own.
* Be a thoughtful Host.
Think about providing welcome bags and tips for out-of-towners. Consider hiring a babysitter OR planning kid-friendly activities so grown-up guests can relax and enjoy the party. TIP: Cher Charest has Coloring books or you can Download her Wedding Coloring pages! ( Just ask! )
* Choose your music if you haven't already.
What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played.
* Make a list of the people giving toasts.
Which loved ones would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
* Finalize the readings for your Ceremony.
Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony—and whom you wish to do the readings.
* Submit a newspaper Wedding announcement.
If you’re planning to include a photograph, check the publication’s website: Some have strict rules about how the photo should look.
~ 2 to 4 Weeks Before ~
* A signature cocktail is a great way to introduce guests to something new.
Don’t forget to give your drink a fun name! Also have it reflect your style of the Wedding.
* Confirm the Ceremony details with your Officiant.
Running through the order of the readings and other details will give you peace of mind.
* Confirm the guest count & meal options.
Call anyone on your guest list who hasn’t RSVP’d to find out if they’re coming.
* Give your seating chart & final head count to your caterer, venue, or host.
Figure out where everyone is sitting, and share the arrangement and meal counts. Don't forget to include food for the vendors like the photographer and DJ.
* Write or print Place cards & table cards.
Consider displaying place cards in a fun way that corresponds to your theme. TIP: If using anything that isn't in one solid piece such as a framed picture, put the Table Numbers with names. Ideally, Have Table number written large with names listed under. If done incorrectly it can be very confusing for guests to find their correct table.
* Write toasts for your rehearsal dinner & reception.
If you or your fiancé will be giving a speech, jot down your thoughts so you’re prepared when it’s time to stand in front of the mic.
* Enjoy a bachelorette party.
Arranging a night out with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honor. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, feel free to ask—for scheduling purposes, of course!—if a celebration is in the works.
* Send out as many final payments as you can.
* Confirm times Start times for all vendors.
* E-mail and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles.
This gives the chauffeurs ample time to navigate a route.
* Assign seating for the Reception.
TIP: Use sticky notes and a blank wall of your home so that you don't have to take up space on your dining room table. Write the names on small sticky notes so you can move people about without rewriting the entire setting. Plan based on tables given at the reception, and know how many people can fit at one table. Plus where will family sit, bridal party, or people that shouldn't sit together be placed.
* Pick up your dress.
Or make arrangements for a delivery.
~ 1 Week Before ~
* Prepare final payments & tips for your officiant & vendors.
TIP: Designate a responsible friend or relative to make sure everyone gets paid—that way you won’t have to worry at the reception. A handwritten thank-you note is always a nice touch.
* Put together a wedding-day Timeline schedule.
Send guests an email with a schedule of the day’s events, directions, and any transportation info. TIP: Don't note the exact minute, keep it the quarter hour, half or full.
* Ask your bridal party to help with wedding-day tasks.
Friends can distribute wedding programs, welcome guests, encourage guest book signatures. Bring extra beauty supplies, snacks, anything that you and your party might need or want before the ceremony. TIP: Once agreed, remind them that they are in charge of that particular job.
* Confirm transportation, deliveries, & the wedding-day schedule with vendors.
Double-check one last time that your baker, florist, photographer, and other vendors know where to go and what time to be there. TIP: Some vendors may want a timeline of your wedding day. This is important to photographers and D.J's so that we can keep your day on track.
* Break in your Wedding Shoes.
* Pack for your honeymoon.
* Create Welcome baskets for your Out-of-town guests.
~ 1 Day Before ~
* Head to the spa.
Invite your bridesmaids to get mani-pedis or massages.
* Book something fun for the Groom & Groomsmen. Golf or a fun activity?
* Rehearse the ceremony & enjoy the rehearsal dinner.
Run through the order of events to ensure everything goes smoothly on the actual day. At the rehearsal dinner, give your parents and party their gifts OR give the gifts before the ceremony.
* Distribute the welcome baskets and greet your guests from out-of-town.
Tip: If you don't have time to personally greet your guests. Have little welcome baskets delivered with hand written notes stating your gratitude for their attendance and that you are looking forward to seeing them at your wedding. What's in a welcome basket? It could be an assortment of fancy snacks with a bottle of wine. Really, whatever you want to give your guests to welcome them to your area.
~ Day Of Wedding ~
* Enjoy your wedding day!
Soak up every moment of the incredible celebration you planned.
~ After the Wedding ~
* Officially change your name & update important documents.
* If you’ve decided to make the switch, a name change service can streamline the process.
* Preserve your wedding dress.
* Turn your gown into a keepsake after the wedding by having it preserved.
Cleaning is included in the process, and you can also include your veil and other accessories.
* Deposit checks & cash gifts
Some banks are strict about the names on the account, so now is a good time to set up a joint account if you haven't yet.
* Go on your Honeymoon!
* Send thank-you notes.
A personal thank-you note is always appreciated! Aim to put them in the mail within two months of your wedding.
* Your Photography should be waiting for you once you are back from your Honeymoon! (Typically 2- 4 Weeks Processing time. )
* Use your provided Photo Product Credit from Cher Charest Photography and order a custom made wedding album!
Photo books make great gifts for parents and grandparents too. We give discounts on multiple albums ordered!
* Post Links to your online Guest Gallery so that your friends & family can download, print or share your Professional Wedding photos too!
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