NINE MONTHS TO A YEAR OUT:
- Buy a binder, the best place to hold ideas, contracts and other info. And keep it nearby -- you never know when inspiration will strike!
- Make a guest list, and start collecting snail-mail and email addresses.
- Hammer out a budget -- figure out where you can cut back and where you want to splurge.
- Decide on a destination. Unsure? Talk to a travel agent or hit the Internet.
- Research the marriage requirements in your chosen destination.
- Look into the potential wedding and reception sites, hotels and wedding planners in your locale.
- Book your engagement photo session.
- Start shopping for your gown, taking into consideration the ceremony site and the destination's climate.
- Choose your maid of honor, best man and other attendants.
- Design a wedding website. Add links to the tourism board, hotel and venues so your guests can have important info and get excited about where they're going.
SIX TO NINE MONTHS OUT:
- Set the date, reserve your site and pick your planner.
- Send out your save-the-dates with your website address.
- Select vendors, including caterer, photographer, florist, and band or DJ. Get recommendations from your hotel or planner, and check references from past clients.
- Choose an officiant, and start planning the service.
- Research activities and tours available in your locale, and plan at least one group option per day.
- Order your gown, and select attendants' dresses.
- Investigate any ethnic customs or cultural traditions you might want to incorporate into your event.
- Register for gifts or create a honeymoon registry.
FOUR TO SIX MONTHS OUT:
- Order your wedding rings.
- Obtain your passports and visas, and if neccesary, get any needed blood tests or vaccinations.
- Arrange any rental needs like chair covers and sound equipment.
- Order your wedding invitations and thank-you cards, plus any special stationery (welcome letters, menus, maps, itineraries, signs).
- Buy or reserve wedding duds for the groom and wedding party.
- Buy gifts for your attendants and family members, and start composing your thank-you notes to them.
- Book accommodations and airfare for your wedding and honeymoon.
- Make hair, makeup and spa appointments for you and your 'maids.
- Shop for wedding accessories (shoes, jewelry, headpiece, lingerie), resort wear, decor and other goods (cake topper, guest book, ring pillow).
TWO TO FOUR MONTHS OUT:
- Arrange and confirm all of your group activities, including transportation for offsite excursions.
- Finalize details with your vendors, including menus, photo poses and locations, floral specifics and special songs -- and get everything in writing.
- Make or order the guest favors and welcome-bag items.
ONE TO TWO MONTHS OUT:
- Send out your formal invites six to eight weeks before the big day; include a program of scheduled events, plus dress code, if applicable.
- Arrange for when and how welcome-bag items and decor should be delivered to your hotel.
- Have your final gown fitting, complete with lingerie and accessories.
- Assign wedding-weekend tasks to trusted friends and family members.
- Write your vows.
TWO WEEKS OUT:
- Review all the details you agreed on with your planner, caterer, photographer, videographer, florist, musicians and any other vendors involved in the wedding events.
- Confirm your travel bookings.
- Put together a seating chart, if needed, and make place cards.
- Confirm details with your planner and officiant.
- Apply for a marriage license.
- Inspect ceremony and reception sites.
- Assemble or approve welcome bags, and have them delivered to guests' rooms before they arrive.
THE WEDDING DAY:
- Forget about all the planning and focus on having a blast!