Ultimate List of Free Wedding Planning Checklists (By Timeline)
The Big List of Wedding Checklists to Plan Your Big Day
We’ve heard it asked time and time again from our overwhelmed brides; how on earth do people balance their day-to-day lives (work, school, family, responsibilities) while simultaneously planning a wedding? How do brides-to-be stay on track on top of everything else? All of the little details to keep organised… it seems nearly impossible, even more so if you don’t have a wedding planner. Well, we wanted to take some of the pressure off those engaged shoulders and remind you this is a time to be celebrating not worrying, looking forward with joy and excitement, not fear and stress. We know it’s confusing; the wedding planning process never seems to come without a little snag here and there (at the very least) but if you stay strategic and efficient, we promise it will be a breeze. (Or, at least a bit easier and more fun.) One of the very best tools we’ve found for doing just that? Keeping a wedding checklist or finding a wedding checklist PDF online. If you’re hunting down the best wedding planning checklist out there, we’ve taken note of all the best ones and combined them to give you the ultimate wedding list of things to do.
Whether you’ve found yourself desperately Googling for an easy-to-follow wedding checklist PDF, been hunting for an 18 month wedding checklist PDF that has everything and then some or searching for the absolute best wedding checklist in Australia, we’ve pulled together an ultimate list to, at the very least, get you started if not be your be-all-end-all for pocket planning for your wedding.
One Year +
Find Design Inspo
You’re engaged! Now what? When you get into your planning, in addition to finding your ultimate wedding checklist, you’ll want to define your wedding style and find inspiration pics to solidify the theme or mood you’re going for. Pinterest is such a fabulous resource for that!
Decide on Formality
Pinterest is your friend here as well. While you’re searching for design inspiration, you’ll undoubtedly get ideas for your own wedding day vision. Take note of the vibe of what you’re imagining; is it bohemian feeling, out on a lawn or in a forest where you see guests in semi-formal attire? A relaxed beach-y theme? Or maybe you see yourself in an industrial warehouse with everyone in modern formal wear? Defining your formality early on can really help influence other decisions later and make it easier to keep things cohesive.
Set Your Budget
We recommend defining your budget early on, this way once you have it laid out and decided upon you’ll be so much more likely to stick to it. We love Real Simple’s handy budget worksheet for this.
Decide on Your Wedding Party
First thing’s first: will you have a wedding party? Some couples forego bridesmaids and groomsmen altogether, some opt to have one or two people (siblings or best friends) stand with them at their ceremony. You and your partner being on the same page early on is super important here, you don’t want your fiancee imagining 15 people next to them while you want 1. (Although there’s no rule that says you have to have the same number!)
Set Your Guest List
While you’re on the topic of people at your wedding, this is a great time to start brainstorming your guest list. We love these recommended guest list trackers by The Spruce to help you along the way.
Decide on a Planner
If you’re thinking you’d like to hire a planner let this be one of the first decisions you make. While planners are amazing at swooping in to save the day last minute in crisis situations, it’s always best to decide early on if it’s right for you to have one, this way they can be there with you through all of your decisions and from the very start of your wedding planning. Here’s a helpful checklist of questions from The Knot to read over before booking your planner.
Pick Your Venue & Date
We know, it’s annoying when the first thing out of everyone’s mouth post-engagement is “When is the big day?” But they mean well, right? The truth is, securing your date (and venue!) is a big first step because so many of your other wedding details will depend on the time of year and location of your wedding. Your dream big day might look very different if your wish list wedding venue was booked up in spring and you had to swap to winter instead. Check out Here Comes the Guide’s incredible checklist of what to ask your wedding venue before booking with them.
Book Your Photographer / Videographer
Right after your venue is locked in this is a great next step to take. Photographers book up months (sometimes years) in advance just like venue’s do, and you want to be sure you’re booking someone you can connect with and be comfortable in front of. Have a peek at The Spruce’s checklist of things to ask your photographer for some of the best questions to keep in mind.
Choose Your Florist
Next up? Flowers. Your wedding vision can finally start coming together, break out all those inspiration pics from before! We can’t get enough of this amazing checklist by brides.com to ensure you don’t forget any detail when booking your floral arrangements.
Pick Your Caterer
Depending on the type of wedding you’re having you might be able to forego this. (IE: if your wedding is in a hotel or restaurant, they’ll have chefs on hand for you) but if your venue or location requires you to outsource your catering, it’s something you’ll want to do early on. Check out Minted’s checklist of must-know questions to ask your caterer before booking.
Choose Your Band/DJ
The last of your essential vendors — music is such a big part of any wedding day, whether it’s casual entertainment, a full on dance party, or elegant live music, it’s another one of those elements that can get booked up so fast, so you’ll want to secure your team ASAP to ensure you have a band or DJ that shares your vision for your wedding. Martha Stewart puts out a fab list of things to consider when choosing your music.
Book Additional Vendors
Because everyone’s wedding is different, everyone’s wedding planning experience will be different. Most of the vendors on this awesome checklist by Wedding Wire we cover later on in this list. But should you feel the need to book everyone early out have a look and see what suits you!
Book Remaining Entertainment
After a few weeks have passed, it’s good to review the vendors you’ve booked and see if you’re missed anything. Our visions sometimes change as we plan and that means our needs can change too.
Decide on Your Menu
Ah, the fun bit! Decide on the type of food you’d like to go for. You’ve probably thought about a general direction when you picked your caterer (someone wanting a taco/pizza truck or BBQ style wedding would likely go in a different direction that bride looking for a formal sit-down meal with several courses) but now it’s time to stop thinking in generalities and pick your delicious menu.
Dress Shopping Time!
Ahem. We feel we know a thing or two about this area of wedding planning. While brides choose to go dress shopping at all different times depending on their situation and what works for them, we generally recommend 8 months as a good rule of thumb to ensure your favourite styles will be available to you. Every designer is different but for our handmade wedding dresses this will let you choose from all of our styles available. Check out our blogs on gown silhouettes and our guide to gown shopping to get you started.
Book Hotel Rooms
Such an important point on this wedding planning checklist. If you require room blocks at a hotel for your wedding you’ll for sure want to take care of that early on. If you’ve already booked your venue and forget to block your hotel rooms until last minute, you might end up with a long journey for your guests at the end of the evening.
Start Your Gift Registry
We absolutely love Zola for this bit! Another fun part of the planning process; if you and your fiancee are having a gift registry, you’ll want to sit down and discuss what you’d like on there at this point. Feel free to do something a bit less traditional like have your guests purchase honeymoon activities, an option a little off the beaten path.
Make Your Wedding Website
If you’re opting for a wedding website, now is a great time to make one! The Knot has a phenomenal list of recommended site builders to make it a cinch.
Take Engagement Photos
It’s not something every couple does, but we highly recommend you take engagement photos. Not only for the amazing memories and celebration of you engagement, but we definitely suggest you take them after booking your wedding photographer so you can get comfortable with the person who will be snapping pics of you on your big day. Check out this awesome checklist for your engagement shoot to walk you through the best recommendations.
Order Your Invitations & Save the Dates
We’ve transitioned into the “6 months until wedding checklist” phase! You’ll want to start ordering your invites at this point. Find a vendor (calligrapher, online resource or DIY) that suits your needs and style.
Plan Your Honeymoon
We’ve got another fun one for your wedding planning list. Plan your honeymoon, babe! You and your fiancee might have dreamed of a special destination for months or years, or it might take a little brainstorming. Think about if you want a relaxing/beach type of honeymoon or if you want to go exploring faraway. (Or somewhere a bit closer to home that’s brand new to the both of you!)
Sort Your Bridesmaids Attire
If you’re having a bridal party, the 6 month point is a great time to start thinking about their attire. Do you want coordinated outfits/dresses? Similar colours? Maybe you want them in white mini dresses, or black suits. Have the convo with your girls (and/or guys). Now that you have your dress it’s time to think about what they’ll wear to rock your wedding day. While you’re at it, hand over your gals (and guys!) this helpful list from brides.com to make sure they have everything they need for the big day!
Book Your Officiant
Or decide on if someone you know will be your officiant. Whichever way you decide to go, this is a great time to solidify who will be marrying you and your fiancee. Before you move forward, check out this handy checklist of what to ask your officiant before booking.
Send Your Save The Dates
Once they come in, send out your save the dates. Let all of your guests know to get excited for your upcoming big day!
Book Your Rental Elements
Use Wedding Wire’s checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything, now is the time to begin booking the rental elements for your big day. Depending on your venue you might need tables and chairs, a dance floor, and everything else in between.
Book Your Transportation
If you need limos, a bus, or something a little non traditional, 6 months is when you’ll want to start booking your wedding transport. Think about you, your fiancee, your bridal party, immediate family and other guests. How will they get to your ceremony? Do you have separate venues for your ceremony and reception? Do they need to get to hotels after your reception? Or course with alcohol involved, you’ll want to be sure everyone has a way to get back safely.
Begin a Day-Of Timeline
Obviously we love lists and things to keep you organised. Writing out a day-of timeline a few months before your wedding and then adding to it as you go will save you a ton of headache’s down the line. Have a peek at these tips for doing so from brides.com.
Book Your Lighting
This is again, venue dependent. But if you require a lighting team for your big day you’ll want to get that squared away now. These teams have a tendency to book up, but now that you’re a few months into planning and have some of the other decisions made you’ll have a better idea of what your wedding looks like and what lighting will be required.
Sort Out Your Fiancee’s Attire
This is your wedding planning list. But we can’t forget your fiancee! Be sure they’ve sorted out their attire and their half of the bridal party’s attire too. You’ll need time to think about colour, formality and texture. Traditional or religious elements can sometimes effect your fiancee’s outfit as well, so starting early is key. The Knot puts out a fantastic checklist for grooms in the run-up to the big day as well, so you can be sure his style is completely covered.
Book Your Rehearsal Dinner Venue
Like most things on our wedding planning list, this is dependent on the style wedding your having. But if you plan to have a rehearsal dinner be sure to book in your reservation and lock in how many guests will be attending.
Choose Your Cake
Woot woot! Another purely fun element. Picking your cake should * hopefully * be stress free and extra enjoyable if there’s a tasting. Choosing a design, size and flavour means you’ll want to do this a few months before the big day. We’re loving this checklist by The Knot to go through before choosing your cake!
Do a Food Tasting
Hand in hand with your cake comes your menu tasting. If you’re getting married in a restaurant that doesn’t offer this, we recommend going there for a meal if you haven’t already and seeing what foods you’d like to be served on your big day.
Pick Your Shoes/Accessories
On this great, big wedding list of things to do we can’t forget your bridal accessories. Your shoes, jewellery, headpiece and any other small element of your wedding day look all defines your bridal style and sets the tone for your wedding. Leave yourself plenty of time so you’ll know you can get exactly what you want. (You’ll also want to be sure you have your shoes prior to your fitting appointments where you’ll want to wear your exact shoes to have your gown hem tailored.)
Book Your Hair/Makeup Team and Have a Trial
Are you doing your own makeup and hair? Is a family member of friend doing it for you? Whether or not you said yes to that you’ll want to solidify who will be doing your hair and makeup for your big day. Regardless of if it’s you or someone else, do a trial a few months prior so you’ll know if you have to make changes to your desired look. (Tip: you can also have your trial done early in the day around the three month mark when you’ll likely begin tailoring appointments, so you can see your hair and makeup together with your dress or bridal outfit when you try it on later that day.) Check out One Fab Day’s checklist here.
Create Your Music Playlist
You’ve booked your DJ/band weeks ago, so you’re set, right? Sort of — you’ll now want to let them know what music and any specific songs you want played at your wedding. Plus the specific times or during which part of the day you want them played. Have a look at this handy checklist by Modern Wedding while you’re at it.
Purchase Your Undergarments
A point so many brides forget about — start thinking about your undergarments before you do your fittings, as you’ll want to wear them to all of your fitting appointments. This will ensure you get a perfectly tailored gown and you’ll also be able to make absolutely sure that your undergarments work for your dress or outfit. Have a look at our secrets for choosing shape wear here if you’d like some of our best collected tips.
Begin Your Fittings
How could we compile the best wedding checklist in Australia and not tell you the answer to one of our most common questions: When should you start your fittings? We always recommend 10-15 weeks before your wedding, so plan on three months. You’ll likely have 3-5 alterations appointments depending on how much custom tailoring you need done on your gown or wedding outfit, and you’ll want a few weeks in between each appointment ideally.
Finalise Your Menu
In the previous section of our wedding planning checklist, we recommended you do a food tasting. Now it’s time to lock in your menu. You’ve already likely discussed with your team what you want on your menu, but this is the official time to decide on specifics.
Make or Order Your Favours
If you’re having favours at your wedding, you’re now just a few short weeks away. You’ll want to brainstorm with your fiancee what you’ll be giving out, and if they are custom you’ll want to be sure you have enough time to have exactly what you want made.
Decide on Your Toasts/Speeches
Firstly you’ll want to discuss with your fiancee if this fits in with the wedding you’re envisioning. If it does, make a list of who you want to give a speech and when you’d like them to give it/what order you’ll have the speeches in. If you and your fiancee are saying a few words, now is a great time to start planning what you’ll say. (Our best advice? Be genuine, be yourself!)
Plan the Readings at Your Ceremony
Hand in hand with your speeches are the readings at your ceremony. If you’re having them, decide who you’d like to do them (a guest or your officiant) and what readings you’d like to have said.
Finalise Your Day-Of Timeline
Remember a few months back when you started your day-of checklist? Well, now is a great time to make sure you didn’t forget anything back then so you’ll be smooth sailing on your wedding day.
Order Your Paper Goods
Besides the ever-present wedding list essentials like save the dates and invitations, you’ll also need menu cards and place cards if your wedding calls for that. Three months out is the perfect time to purchase (or DIY) all of the paper goods you’ll need for your big day.
Purchase Your Rings
It’s possible you were 100% surprised by your engagement ring, well now it’s time to be in on the secret. Make sure you and your fiancee purchase your wedding bands a few months before the big day, this way you can resize if needed with plenty of time to spare.
Send Your Event Schedule to Your Vendors
All the lovely groups and teams that will make your big day possible need to know what time to show up, what time to break down, and the order of events on your day. Send your vendors a list of times and how your day will pan out.
Create Your Photography List
Send Your Invitations
They’re here and ready to go! Time to send out your gorgeous invites so your guests can RSVP and you can finalise that ever-daunting guest list. (Helpful tip: don’t forget to buy postage, and if you want special postage you’ll want to have them custom made or purchased a bit in advance of your send-out timeline.)
Have Your Bachelorette
If it’s your thing, we definitely recommend checking out The Knot’s how-to for bachelorette planning. Probably a little bit of a different vibe from your wedding planning list, but hey, you deserve a break from all these details running around your head constantly. Having your bach two months before your wedding will help you ensure you have time to put aside to just focus on your girls/friends/guests who will attend, and not clash too closely to your actual wedding day.
DIY Any Items You Need
If you’re DIY-ing any part of your wedding, such as decor, give yourself time to order all of your elements, make mistakes, and have fun while creating, whether by yourself or with your trusted bride-tribe, or fiancee.
Make a List of Small Items You’ve Yet to Get
Guest books, cake stands, table numbers, cake toppers, place cards… these can all fly under the radar when you’re focused on the rest of your wedding planning list, so be sure to start a list a couple of months in advance so you have plenty of time to grab anything you may have forgotten.
Enter RSVPs Into a Spreadsheet
Your wedding timeline is dwindling fast, and that means you’re getting closer to the big day! Once you start getting your RSVPs back, enter them into a spreadsheet or list to stay organised.
Get Your Marriage License
Depending on where you are in the world, the rules and requirements are different. But a month out is a good rule of thumb to start planning to get your marriage license.
Stock Your Bar
If you’re having a wine menu, custom cocktails, or anything special in your bar, then take note and send this along to your venue/catering team/bar service. It’s time to pick what types of drinks you’ll be serving on the big day!
Make Your Final Payments
On your “wedding list of things to do” spreadsheet, be sure to keep track of what vendors you’ve paid in full and which you haven’t. In the weeks running up to the big day, be sure everyone gets paid off that requires full payments before your wedding day so you’ll have nothing to worry about in the coming days.
Confirm Times With Your Vendors
You’ve already sent over your schedule a few weeks back, but you’ll want to reconfirm times with each one of your vendors to ensure everything flows without a hitch on the big day.
Assign Your Seating
Creating a seating chart can be a daunting part of any wedding list. But once you have all of your RSVPs in, The Spruce have made it easy to find the best way for you and your fiancee to organise your guests, check it out here.
Create Thank You Gifts
If you’re having a wedding party, you might want to make or purchase something small for all of them for the morning of the big day. It’s a lovely way to commemorate your wedding and give them a keepsake to treasure.
Write Your Vows
If you’re writing your own vows, you’ll want to take your time and not rush it. Being intentional and saying how you truly feel is key. Lovelry has a beautiful checklist if you’re looking for tips and things to remember when writing them.
Have Your Hair Cut/Coloured
If needed, have your hair cut and/or coloured a month to a couple of weeks before. Just in case of a “this never happened before!” crisis, you’ll want to give yourself some buffer time for a correction in between, but have it done close enough to look fresh for your wedding day. (Pro tip: not only do you not want to wait until the last minute because of a potential colouring mishap, but colour always looks more natural a week or so after it’s done when your hair has relaxed after bleaching/dying.)
Have a Final Walk Through Your Venue
If you’re able, have a final walk through at your location with the coordinator there to make sure you’re on the same page with how everything will look and the order of events.
The Week Of
One Last Review Of Your Day-Of Timeline
Now you’ll want to add a task list as well to your wedding list timeline. Note down things that need to be done or packed etc. based on what your day-of timeline says. Don’t forget to send to your wedding party or any other necessary people!
Pick Up Your Gown/Outfit
Depending on your timeline you may be having your final fitting around one week out from the big day. You’ll leave with your dress on the day of your final fitting, though some tailors pack it and steam it and have you leave with it at a later date. Check with your alterations specialist in the run-up to your wedding to figure out how they work their pickups. If this is your final fitting and the day you’re leaving with your dress, have a friend or family member come with you to learn all the essentials: how to bustle your dress, do up your corset or any other thing whoever is dressing you on your wedding day might need to know.
One Final Check-In With Your Vendors
The big day is coming quick! Check in with your vendors one last time to make sure all systems are a-go.
Book in Your Spa Treatments/Beauty Treatments
If you’re treating yourself to a massage, facial, or having a mani-pedi be sure to book these in accordingly. Facials might want to be a few days to a week prior so your skin has time to relax, a massage or mani might want to be booked in the day before. Be sure to consult with your stylist/cosmetologist/etc. on when is best to have your treatment done. Here comes the guide puts out an amazing checklist for all of your beauty must-do’s before the big day!
Clear Your Work To-Do
It’s your wedding! Be sure to block yourself off by setting up an automatic email and clearing out your work calendar so you have nothing on your mind besides soaking up every second of your wedding day.
Practice Your Vows
If you’ve written your own, it’s a good idea to practice a few times before your ceremony. You can make any changes needed and get comfortable beforehand.
We couldn’t not include this on our wedding planning list because it’s one of our favourite things to do. Whether it’s to your fiancee, a parent, a sibling or a best friend (or all of the above) writing a sentimental card to give to a special person on your wedding day is sweet, beautiful and oh-so meaningful.
Set Aside Tips
Break in Your Shoes
We recommend doing this the week of your wedding. You’ve of course already worn your shoes to your fitting appointments, but be sure to wear them around the house for a little while too. They won’t get scuffed indoors and it will help you ensure your comfort on the big day.
Send Your Final Guest List to the Necessary Vendors
There’s always stragglers when it comes to RSVPing to big events. Last minute changes happen, so be sure to send an absolutely finalised guest list the week before your wedding day to all the vendors that need the info.
Make or Purchase Welcome Baskets
Depending on your wedding your might be making/buying welcome baskets for your bridal party or all of your guests. If you’re putting together essentials (like a personal bottle of champagne) take a look at One Fab Day’s checklist of welcome basket ideas here.
Pack For Your Honeymoon
Even if your not leaving the moment after your wedding, when the big day is done the last thing you’ll want to worry about is packing. We recommend doing this in the days leading up to the big day. Have a peek at The Knot’s packing checklist here!
The Night Before & Day Of
Pack Personal Items
Packing a small bag of personal items is essential. Check out this ultimate packing list here to make sure you have all the necessaries on hand on your wedding day.
Lay Out Items for Your Photographer to Capture
While you’re packing perfume, a pen, lipstick etc. for your personal bag, be sure to review this amazing list of tips on what to pack for your photographer to capture on the day of your wedding. Photos of your invitations, rings and everything in between are pictures you’ll want to look back on in years to come.
And we can’t stress this enough. You need to feel totally yourself and the last thing you want is to feel faint or unwell later in the day.
Champagne will be flowing but water is your friend. (See reasons above.)
It’s difficult, you’re excited, we get it. But besides all the stereotypical connotations with ‘beauty rest’ you also want to feel like your best self and not be totally exhausted on your wedding day. Though, if you find yourself with a bout of insomnia the night before the big day, we’re sure your adrenaline will kick in. (Though we don’t recommend relying on that solely if it’s avoidable.)
Steam Your Gown
Depending on how you’re transporting your gown to your venue, this can be done at different points the night before or the day of, but you’ll want to be sure to have a steamer and for you or a friend/family member to know how to steam any wrinkles out before you step into your gown.
If you wrote them for your partner/anyone else, don’t forget to pack your cards and hand them out! Let your photographer know if this is something you’d like them to capture as well.
Soak It All In
You’ve made it through the wedding checklist! If your big day is drawing closer, (or if it’s here) congratulations! Be sure to soak it all in because what they say is true; the hours slip on by and it’s over before you know it. Enjoy all of your hard work and we truly hope we were able to take some of the pressure of millions of details off your shoulders. Now… time to start thinking about the after wedding checklist, inclusive of; rejoice that the planning is through and look back on all the wonderful memories you now have and enjoy that honeymoon. (And look forward to getting your photos back, of course!)
Other Checklists we Love that Cover Everything
If you’re the type of bride that loves to cross her T’s and dot her I’s and leave absolutely no stone unturned, we have a couple other fool proof wedding checklists we’d love to recommend you to take a look at. We know the planning process can be hectic, so looking for a tool to guide you in that becomes priceless and necessary to find one that works for you and your needs.
* We love this printable wedding checklist from Junebug weddings
* This simple and easy 6 month wedding planning checklist by Perfete is incredible
* Have a look at this insanely detailed wedding checklist PDF by Martha Stewart
* And this easy to follow wedding checklist PDF by Little Wedding Guide
Ready to jump in to your planning? When you reach the stage (in our opinion, the best stage) where you’re searching for your gown, we’d love to see you! Book an appointment at your nearest KWH boutique to find your dream gown.