April 12th, 2018
Congratulations! You found the love of your life and got engaged! Now what? Wedding planning can be a little stressful, but also a lot of fun! We have couples that come to us 12 months + in advance and couples that come to us 4 months in advance. However long (or short) you decide to make your engagement period is up to you.
We have created a list of helpful things to think about, as you move through your engagement period. The rough timeline below will give you a good idea of what you should think about in the months leading up to your big day!
As Soon As You Are Engaged:
- Make a rough draft a wedding guest list count. Do this before you research venues / vendors, as you will need to know this for picking out a venue and for speaking with your caterer. Remember, roughly 83% of people that you invite actually come to your wedding, so you can plan on 17% declining.
- Book Your Venue. Websites like Wedding Wire and The Knot can be very helpful in finding venues in your desired area. Once you reach out to your venue, ask them for a list of preferred vendors. Most venues have a list of vendors that they have worked with countless times that know their property and can ensure the best level of service for your event. Find out what your venue requires- do they require you to use their caterer or their bar?
- Research & Book Vendors. Again, utilize websites such as Wedding Wire and The Knot and your newly booked venue. Make sure that you ask your venue for a list of their preferred vendors. Clarify with your venue whether they require you to utilize the vendors on their preferred list or not.
- Send out Save the Dates. It’s time to let everyone know that your big date has been decided and that you want them to be in attendance to celebrate with you!
- Say Yes to The Dress. Start looking for the perfect wedding dress to wear as you walk down the aisle.
Five Months Before:
- Finalize Venue & Vendors. If you haven’t finalized your venue or vendors, work hard to get this done during this month. Tour your favorite venues, meet with your top vendors and then secure the venue and vendors with a contract and deposit.
- Order Invitations. These do not need to be mailed out until two months before. However, start working with the graphic designer who will create your perfect invitation suite, ensuring that everything is ready to be mailed out by your two month mark.
- Décor: If you’re doing more DIY décor, start planning and assembling what you will need to decorate your venue. Look into what rental items you might need to supplement your décor. Ask your venue what décor guidelines they may or may not have.
- Create Your Wedding Registry. Think about what you and your new spouse need and want for starting your married life together! Amazon and Zola are great online websites, if you want to register online, rather than in a store.
- Find An Officiant. Find the person that you want to officiate your ceremony. Make sure that they have your date available and that they have a clear understanding of your expectations. Be clear about who is paying for the officiant’s hotel stay and if they are invited to the reception or not.
- Launch a Wedding Website. Not all couples choose to do this, but a wedding website can be a fun way to share the story of how you met, how you got engaged, who is in your wedding party and some notes about how the wedding is going to go (is it black tie, casual, in a field and ladies need to know not to wear heels, etc.). A wedding website can also be a way for guests to RSVP and find your registry for couples that want to be a little more paper conscious.
- Finalize the Guest List & Gather Addresses. Start asking family and friends for their addresses. A good rule to follow: “Would you invite this person to have dinner at your house with you and your fiancé?” If the answer is no, maybe consider a little more carefully about inviting them. Start texting / emailing your guest list asking them for their address. Be sure to save their address for the invitations and then thank you notes, following the wedding.
- Engagement Photos.
- Finalize Your Dress. Find your shoes, veil, jewelry and whatever else you want to complete your look for the big day.
- Find the Groom’s Attire. What will the groom be wearing?
- Hotel Room Blocks. Call a few hotels surrounding your venue to see if they have any availability for hotel room blocks. Ask what their cutoff date is for a wedding room block. Ask how many rooms they can set aside for you. Also ask if you need to sign a contract and if a deposit is required from you or your guests.
Four Months Before:
- Start Thinking Vacation. Look into where you want to go and celebrate for your honeymoon.
- Hair / Make Up. Call local salons or independent hair and makeup artists. See if they are available to come to your location, instead of you going to them. There may be a small fee for this, but it is always worth it. The less the wedding party has to move from place to place on the wedding day, the better.
- Will you have a shuttle transport guests to and from the hotel on your wedding day? If so, make arrangements. Again, ask your venue, as they will have worked with many transportation companies in the past.
- Talk with your venue to see if it is possible to hold your rehearsal on site. If not, ask them what they would suggest for alternative options. Also, book your rehearsal dinner.
- Plan the Ceremony. Meet with your officiant to go over exactly how you want the ceremony to go.
- Weekend Timeline. Start writing a timeline for the day of your wedding. If you have events going on the day before / day after, it would not hurt tp write an overview for those days, as well. This will help your bridal party and family know the clear expectations of what they can do to help you.
- Bridesmaid Dresses. Start shopping for the bridesmaid dresses. Depending on where you are looking to get these dresses from, you may need to purchase these right away to allow time for them to come in and have alterations.
- Schedule Cake Tastings. If you haven’t already secured your bakery, start shopping around for who you want to bake your cake or supply your dessert table. Schedule a tasting with your fiancé to taste all the delicious offerings for your wedding day.
Three Months Before:
- Finalize the Menu. Talk to the caterers and finalize your menu. Make sure you understand what they are supplying. Are they supplying the flatware, dishware and water glasses? Are they supplying the napkins? Have a clear understanding of who is bringing what.
- Buffet Dinner. Are guests walking up to a buffet? Clarify with the caterer if they will dismiss tables, or if you need to have the DJ do this.
- Finalize the Flowers.
- Print Menu Cards and Programs. You will most likely want to use your graphic designer that created your invitation suite to create these, as well, to make sure that you are keeping with the theme.
- Purchase the Rings.
- Finalize the Wedding Timeline. Oversharing, when related to your timeline can be extremely helpful! It does not hurt to send your timeline to all of the vendors that you have involved. It is especially important that you send the timeline to your venue so they know the details for your wedding.
- Share Vendor Information with the Venue. Share your vendor’s information with your venue. Many venues require a vendor agreement and proof of insurance. The venue should have plenty of time to send this out, in case there are any issues that the vendor / venue need to work out.
- Write Your Vows. Or use traditional vows, it’s up to you and your fiancé, as it is your special day.
Two Months Before:
- Meet With Your Photographer. Go over your timeline, expectations and shot list.
- Fun Idea. Want to remember everyone that was at your wedding? Ask the photographer to go around to each table and take a picture of everyone at the table!
- Meet With Your DJ / Band. Review timeline, expectations and set list. Go over the song that you want for your first dance, mother / son dance and father / daughter dance. Clarify if you want to do the bouquet toss and garter toss, as well. Make sure that the DJ knows exactly what you want him announcing.
- Send Out Invitations. Since you already have everyone’s address from the save the dates, the invitation process will be a lot easier for you. Figure out how you want to stay organized for when your guests send back their RSVPs. A simple spreadsheet with their name, total in their party and Yes / No will probably be adequate for keeping track of who is able to come to your wedding. This spreadsheet will be very helpful for your thank you notes following your wedding.
- Review any more questions that you might have for your vendors.
One Month Before:
- Mail out Rehearsal Dinner Invitations. Usually, it is the responsibility of the groom and his family to manage the rehearsal dinner. Allow the groom’s parents to do this, to take something off of your to do list.
- Confirm with Hair / Make Up. Double check the time and names of everyone getting their hair and makeup done.
- Get Your Marriage License. Make sure that you know exactly what county your ceremony is taking place. (This does vary by state, but in the state of Michigan, you cannot get your marriage license more than 33 days prior to your wedding date.)
- Shuttle Service. Speak with the shuttle service to ensure they have the correct addresses and pick up / drop off times.
- Final Payments. Send as many final payments out, as possible.
- Confirm Venue Set Up. Speak with your venue to confirm the setup of the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
- Finalize Guest Counts. Start letting your vendors know what your final guest counts are going to be. Make sure that you are clear on the number of children in attendance and the number of adults in attendance.
- Seating Assignments. Decide who is sitting where and how you want to handle escort cards. Or maybe you won’t have assigned seats at all, it’s up to you!
Two Weeks Prior:
- Updated Guest Counts. If the guest count changed at all, update all vendors on the change in numbers.
- Day of Event Timeline. Send your venue the finalized timeline.
Week of Wedding:
- Break in Your Shoes. Don’t let your wedding day be the first day you wear your wedding shoes!
- Pick up Wedding Dress. Try it on, one last time, before the big day!
- Confirm Weather-Related Back up Plan. Most venues need to know if you want to use your weather related back up plan 48 – 72 in advance of your wedding. Check the weather and decide how you want to proceed.
- Speak with Vendors. Confirm the timeline just one more time.
- Meet with Venue. Meet with your venue one final time to go over timeline, set up and any last minute questions you have for the venue or they have for you.
- Day of Event Contact. Give your vendors and venue a day of event contact, so that they are not contacting you should any last minute issues arrive.
When you book your wedding at Hotel Walloon, we work to ensure that you have all of the information that you need to have a successful wedding planning process and the perfect wedding day. Hotel Walloon does not function as your wedding planner or wedding coordinator or day of event coordinator. Hotel Walloon staff is there for vendor assistance and to help with the overall coordination of the setup. We do recommend that when having a ceremony, cocktail hour and reception with our venues, hiring either a wedding planner or a day of coordinator. Hiring a professional for your wedding makes your to-do list a lot smaller and allows you to focus on enjoying the engagement and wedding, rather than worrying about wedding timelines.
If you have any questions about the role of Hotel Walloon’s Staff and what we do in helping your day be a success, please feel free to contact us at (231) 497-2013.