Check yourself

Countdown to your wedding

Here’s everything we could think of—so you won’t have to—as you prepare for your wedding day. Depending on your wedding and personality, you likely won’t need to do everything on this list, though certain things can’t be avoided. (Don’t forget to get your marriage license!). The time frames given are just suggestions, but the more you plan ahead, the better. This checklist should at least get you started.

Sixteen to twelve months before

• Announce your engagement. Do not let your closest friends and family members first discover it on Facebook.

• Start a wedding folder. It comes in handy as more plans come together.

• Brainstorm: Look at magazines, blogs and websites. Talk to married friends for inspiration. Decide the size, tone and style of your wedding.

• Pick your wedding party.

• Decide your budget. Aim for the low end, as you’ll likely go over it.

• Start a guest list. Know the brutal fact that the shorter it is, the less expensive your wedding will be.

• Visit potential wedding venues and bakers for cake tastings.

• Start a wedding blog or website. You can use it to chronicle the planning process, from engagement to wedding day, or make it a place to share your love story, photos, and information about the wedding, like travel accommodations and where you’re registered.

Twelve to nine months

• Hire a planner. Or make a list, like this one, of all the tasks that need to be done, and designate willing friends and family members to carry them out.

• Reserve your date and venues.

• Book the officiant.

• Hire the photographer and videographer.

• Book the entertainment.

• Hire caterers.

• Register for gifts.

• Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.

• Buy invitations or materials to make them.

• Plan the honeymoon. Make sure passports are current, and schedule any shots you may need.

Nine to six months

• Buy the wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. It can take six months for alterations, so don’t wait until the last minute for this.

• Send save-the-date cards, either formally or electronically.

• Reserve rental equipment.

• Arrange transportation, from the getaway car to arranging transportation for guests from the hotel to the site.

Six to four months

• Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues.

• Order a cake.

• Schedule hair and makeup.

• Choose music for the ceremony, first dance and other important moments.

Four to two months

• Reserve attire for groom and groomsmen.

• Finalize the menu.

• Make or order favors.

• Finalize the readings, order of ceremony and reception.

• Choose and ask specific loved ones to make a toast.

• Buy wedding rings.

• Make a slide show of the bride and groom’s lives leading up to this day to show at rehearsal dinner, or hire someone to create this for you.

• Review the playlist, be it with a band, DJ or your iPod.

• Send invitations.

One month

• Get your marriage license.

• Have the final dress fitting with accessories.

• Confirm details with all vendors.

• Buy wedding party gifts.

• Write vows.

• Have program printed, if using.

• Get a guest book, flower basket and ring bearer pillow.

• Hold a bridal shower and/or bachelorette and bachelor party. (Make sure the invitees are also invited to the wedding.)

Week of

• Pick up the dress and groom’s apparel.

• Book mani-pedi treatment. If there’s one day you deserve it, it’s your wedding day.

• Break in your shoes.

• Pack for the honeymoon.

Day before

• Get manicure and pedicure.

• Have rehearsal.

• Have rehearsal dinner. Give gifts to wedding party.

• Prepare tip and payment envelope for vendors and officiant.

• Confirm transportation for getting guests and couple to the ceremony and reception.

The big day

• Have your hair and makeup done.

Take a moment. Look around. Enjoy. This day will fly by.