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Sharon Sacks Headshot

Wedding Timeline

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Everybody wants their wedding to be an unforgettable experience, and so do I. But to have that dream wedding, you're going to have to get the planning started far in advance. To save you the trouble and agony of figuring out what to plan and when to plan it, I've detailed here a full wedding timeline from start to wedding day! Not everyone's timeline is going to be the same, but believe me if you follow at least a part of this timeline, you're guaranteed to happy and hitch-free wedding!

10 to 12 Months Before
You should allot 10 to 12 months between your engagement and your ideal wedding date to start the planning process. The first step is working out your budget and deciding what items are a must-have. What do you want to splurge on, and what items are you willing to save on. From there you can begin envisioning your wedding. Start with Pinterest, blogs and magazines for inspiration.

Next you need to compile your guest list and have an idea of how many people you want to attend. Then you are going to want to decide on your wedding party. Who do you want by your side at the altar? Do you want an outdoor space? Would you like to get married in a hotel? At a ranch? You will have to decide on the venue for your ceremony and reception and, most important, to reserve the dates.

Next, you'll need to begin searching for your dream dress and begin assembling the perfect accessories. The earlier you find your dress, the better! If you want a wedding planner, now is the time to secure one -- they will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Finally what you're going to want to get started on as early as possible is shopping around for your particular vendors. You can never do enough research, so research, research, research! A caterer, florist, photographer/videographer and officiant are a few good vendors to start with.

6 to 9 Months to Go...
Once you've done all the preliminary work, you should be well on your way to getting the broad strokes of your wedding complete. Now is the time to begin refining the details. At this point there shouldn't be any confusion about the dates. You should be 100 percent committed to your planned dates. Send out your save-the-dates. Tell your friends and family to mark their calendars! Continue researching for vendors if you are not satisfied with the ones you've found, and if you are satisfied, start booking them. Make sure that you put everything in writing with vendors -- you will thank yourself later.

Create your gift registry and don't forget to update you wedding website! Arrange hotel room blocks for out-of-town guests and book your own suite for the wedding night. Shop for bridesmaid/flower girl dresses and give you attendants clear instructions on how to place their orders. Arrange and book any necessary transportation. You also need to go over bridal shower/bachelorette details and the guest list with your maid of honor/hostess.

3 to 5 Months to Go...
At this point your wedding should be coming together nicely. Hopefully you have secured and finalized your locations, vendors and guest lists, but if you haven't yet, book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner location. Put together your rehearsal dinner guest list as well, so you know who is included. Place an order for the wedding favors for your guests. Shop and reserve all your men's formalwear. If you haven't, finalize the guest list and get everyone's mailing address. This will take more time than you think! Get your menu, beverage and catering details in order. Consider if you'd like any kind of specialty items. If so, you will want to see if your vendor can create these items. Book your beautification process for the big day! Find your favorite hairstylist and makeup artist and arrange for a trial run so you know what look you will be getting. Make sure to have a photo of your dress ready for them as this will help decide on the total look. Start dreaming up your honeymoon. If you are heading somewhere exotic or far, you will want to start booking tickets and hotels. It will take a lot of time! Make sure your passports are up to date and that you have all the necessary shots/immunizations if you are traveling to a different country.

6-8 Weeks To Go...
Now it's beginning to feel real! In less than two months you'll be married! First off you need to mail out those invitations! Make sure you have a good plan in place for properly recording your RSVPs. If you have a wedding planner, make sure they will be handling this. It will help you immensely. Talk to your vendors and go over all the little details to make sure everyone is on the same page. Start researching marriage license requirements and name-change paperwork. It is not the most enjoyable task but it has to get done. Schedule your dress fitting. Write thank-you cards for bridal shower gifts and any early wedding gifts you have received.

3.5 Weeks to Go...
Now it's time to finalize all the details! Some things to keep in mind: Wedding vows and readings with your officiant, shot list with your photographer/videographer, song list for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception with your DJ and/or band/musicians, and your timeline for the reception, and lastly who is giving the toasts. Purchase your guest books, toasting flutes, cake servers, unity candle, and all that good stuff. Have your final dress fitting. Bring your shoes and accessories and maybe some Kleenex -- it might get emotional!

1 to 2 Weeks to Go...
Give your caterer/venue the final guest count. Arrange seating and create the seating chart and/or place cards. Confirm arrival times and finalize the wedding timeline with vendors and the wedding party -- make sure your maid of honor has a copy too. You might need a facial or massage this week. Book one and relax! Figure out tips and finalize payments to vendors. Put them in clearly marked envelopes and give them to the best man or another person you trust to hand out at the reception.

The Day Before...
Assign someone to pack up your gifts/belongings after the reception (don't forget the top tier of your cake!). Enjoy a mani-pedi with your mom or bridesmaids! Attend the rehearsal and dinner. Now is the time to give out your wedding party gifts. Try to get eight hours of sleep. You will need the beauty rest.

The Day Of...
Allow plenty of time for the bride beautification process. Do the rounds at the wedding -- greet everyone and thank them for coming. They will appreciate it and this will also give everyone a chance to take a photo with you! Take a deep breath and enjoy. YOU ARE MARRIED! Now stop and appreciate your new spouse and enjoy the little moments.