The final countdown

Wedding planning checklist

Do-it-yourselfers may need to revise much of this list. Some things, like flowers from the supermarket rather than a florist, require less lead time. Other things, like making your own invitations, need more. Some things don’t have to be done at all. Don’t have 16 months to plan? We know couples who’ve thrown together beautiful weddings in six months or less. But these are some tasks that lie before you as you prepare for your wedding.

Sixteen to twelve months before

Start a wedding folder to prepare for organized chaos.

Start brainstorming: Look at magazines, blogs, websites, talk to married friends for inspiration. Decide what you’d like the size, tone and style of your wedding to be.

Pick your wedding party.

Decide your budget after finding out what your families are willing to contribute.

Start a guest list. Sad but true: Know that the shorter it is, the less expensive your wedding will be.

Visit potential wedding venues and bakers for cake tastings.

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 do this early.

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

Reserve rental equipment.

Arrange transportation, from the getaway car to renting vans for guests to be transported from the hotel to the site.

Six to four months

Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues.

Order a cake.

Schedule hair and makeup, if hiring others to do them.

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

Four to two months

Reserve groom and groomsmen attire.

Finalize the menu.

Make or order favors.

Finalize the readings, order of ceremony and reception.

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.

Week of

Pick up the dress and groom’s apparel.

Book mani-pedi treatment, if desired.

Break in your shoes.

Pack for the honeymoon.

Day before

Get manicure and pedicure.

Have rehearsal.

Have rehearsal dinner.

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.

Enjoy yourself. It’s your wedding day.