A DIY Wedding Planning Checklist to Get Your Big Day Organized

You’re engaged – congratulations!

But now what? Where do you begin? Well, we’re here to help!

Here at Kennedy Blue we love all things weddings, which means we know exactly how overwhelming wedding planning can be. Our DIY wedding planning checklist is the perfect place to start. We’ve put together the ultimate wedding planning checklist, along with a detailed list of how to create your own binder at home if you prefer a more hands-on approach. Plus, we're breaking down the wedding planning timeline so you feel less stressed as you prepare for your big day. 

Time to get organized!


Wedding Planning Checklist

Getting Started – Your DIY Wedding Planning Timeline and Checklist Binder

If you choose to go the hands-on binder route, you’ll need to gather your supplies to put your binder together – Target dollar section, here we come!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1” binder
  • Tab dividers
  • Sticky notes
  • Colorful pens
  • Highlighters
  • Clear sheet covers – these will be used to store contracts, pictures, etc.
  • Calendar (free printable below!)
  • Wedding planning checklist (free printable below!)

Optional Items:

  • Washi tape
  • A clear zip pouch for storing swatches, business cards, etc.

Once you’ve gotten everything you need for your wedding binder, it’s time to put it together! For the dividers, we created the following 8 categories (you can always break them into sub-categories within, too).

Binder Categories:

  1. Budget – include your full budget breakdown here
  2. Guests & Invites – guests list and their addresses, wedding party contact information, hotel information, invites, etc.
  3. Ceremony – venue information, décor or rental information, contracts, wedding programs, officiant information, etc.
  4. Reception – venue information, décor or rental information, music playlists and DJ or band contact information, caterer information and menus, seating chart, contracts, etc.
  5. Attire & Beauty – bridal gown information (any information on shops you are visiting and where you purchased from), groom attire, bridal party attire, hair and makeup artist information, contracts, accessories, etc.
  6. Photographer – list of photos you would like – you can print off some pictures you’d like to show for ideas (or just use your Pinterest board!), vendor information, business cards, contracts, etc.
  7. Florist – pictures of inspiration or colors you like, vendor information, contracts, business cards, etc.
  8. Miscellaneous – honeymoon plans, registry information, rehearsal dinner information, etc.

A Printable Timeline Calendar and Planning Checklist to Get Your Wedding Binder Started

Wedding Planning Checklist Kennedy Blue

Two of the most essential elements of your wedding planning binder are going to be your timeline calendar and a wedding planning checklist.

 

It’s so important to stay on track with planning in order to meet your deadlines, and to promptly make all of your appointments. Plus this free printable calendar and checklist is ADORABLE.

 

Wedding Planning Checklist

 

The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline to Stay Organized

Planning your wedding comes along with some deadlines. You might be wondering about some of these and if you can push them back somewhat or not.

Don’t!

It is best to stay on top of things, so you don’t become overwhelmed towards the end and to ensure you get everything on time.

With our timeline, you are going to be able to have the most organized wedding planning checklist ever.

As you're pulling your wedding together, you need to know that some vendors need to be booked right away because they can quickly become fully booked at least a year in advance. Other things such as your bridal attire and bridesmaid dresses need to be ordered months in advance, due to production times and alterations, so we’ve put together the perfect wedding planning timeline for you to ensure you’re on top of things throughout the process. With your own personal wedding planning notebook, you can guarantee you won't miss any of the small tasks. 

Download our wedding planning checklist here to get started!

 

laptop with pens and phone | Wedding Planning Checklist Kennedy Blue

Wedding Planning Checklist: Right After Your Engagement

  1. Settle on your budget. Figure out how much money you have overall and then break down how much you can allot to each category.
  2. Make a Pinterest account and look for inspiration!
  3. Narrow down some potential dates. You’ll be able to set one once you’ve decided on your venue.
  4. Research wedding venues that interest you and book appointments for tours. Get information on pricing and available dates to see if they’ll fall in your budget and have availability for you.
  5. Meet with family to discuss financial expectations. Determine who is splitting costs, if your family will be paying for the wedding, or if you and your fiancé will cover everything. There is no right or wrong way to cover wedding costs - just be sure to communicate clearly!
  6. Have an engagement party if you wish! You can throw your own little soiree, if you’d like, or have a friend or family member host something too.

    Wedding Planning Checklist: 12 Months Before

    1. Start putting together your guest list and gathering addresses.
    2. Research photographers you are interested in and book appointments to meet with them. You’ll want to hire your photographer ASAP after you’ve met with them because many photographers are fully booked up to a year in advance. After booking, schedule your engagement photo session for about 8-9 months before your big day. You'll be able to use your engagement photos for your Save the Date cards if you plan ahead! 
    3. Begin shopping for your wedding dress – YAY! Don’t feel pressured to purchase one right away if you’re still 12 months out unless, of course, you know it’s THE one. Keep in mind, the sooner you do purchase your dress, the more time you will have to pay it off, and the sooner it will come in, as well.
    4. Finalize the date once you’ve narrowed down your venue and photographer and confirmed their availability for the same day.
    5. Book a block of hotel rooms for out of state guests at a nearby hotel.
    6. Choose your wedding party! We’ve got a great list of bridesmaid proposal ideas if you’re looking for a fun and creative way to ask your gals.

    bride and bridesmaids | Wedding Planning Checklist

      Kendra Elise Photography

      Wedding Planning Checklist: 11 Months Before

      1. Start planning your ceremony and reception décor. Whether you’ll be doing some DIY projects, or ordering rentals, you’ll want to get in contact with any vendors or start purchasing any supplies you need.
      2. Book your florist and meet with them to decide on what types of flowers you would like for bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, etc. Bring along any pictures or ideas you have in mind!
      3. Book your caterer and figure out your menu.

      Wedding Planning Checklist: 10 Months Before

      married couple with their wedding guests | Wedding Planning Checklist

      1. Finalize your guest list.
      2. Set up your registries. Make sure to register for enough stuff for the amount of guests you’ll be inviting!
      3. Book an officiant. This may be done through your church or elsewhere and there’s always the option to have a friend or family member get ordained to perform your ceremony!
      4. Book your DJ or band. This is a great vendor to get referrals from friends for. If you’ve been to a wedding where you loved the music, ask the bride or groom for contact information. You can also ask your wedding venue if they have any preferred DJs or bands that they enjoy working with. Start narrowing down your ceremony and reception music.

      Wedding Planning Checklist: 9 Months Before

      1. Order your bridal gown if you haven’t already done so! This will allow for enough time for production and any necessary alterations before your big day.
      2. Book your hair and makeup artist(s), and coordinate whether they will be coming on-site for these services or if you’ll need to make a trip to the salon. This is also a good time to book a trial run. You’ll want to schedule this about 4-6 months before your wedding.
      3. Discuss hair and makeup with your bridal party. Do you want everyone to have their hair and makeup done by the same people that are doing yours? Or will you allow your gals to go wherever they prefer (while giving them some guidelines to follow, of course) or even opt to do their own hair and makeup? Will you be paying for a portion of their hair and/or makeup as a gift? This is a good time to let them know your plans.
      4. Take your engagement photos!

      makeup artist doing bride's makeup | Wedding Planning Checklist

      Sophisticated Grace Photography

        Wedding Planning Checklist: 8 Months Before

        1. Order your accessories like shoes, jewelry, any hair accessories or shawls.
        2. Plan and book your honeymoon! This is a good time to book an international excursion you may be planning. If you’re doing something locally, that should be booked about 4 months before your big day.
        3. Order your bridesmaid dress samples and color swatches with our At Home Try-On service. Get a feel for what styles and colors you like and have your girls try on sample dresses in the comfort of your own home!

        couple kissing on beach | Wedding Planning Checklist

          Wedding Planning Checklist: 7-6 Months Before

          1. Edit, proof, and have your invitations printed. Don’t forget to order envelopes and enough postage for the type of invitations you’re purchasing. Order your Save the Date cards now as well.
          2. Do your hair and makeup trial run with your hair and makeup artist to ensure they can create the look you want. Bring along pictures for inspiration and if it doesn’t quite turn out how you like it, let them know!
          3. Make sure each of your girls has ordered her bridesmaid dress. Ordering this far in advance will ensure they do not have to pay any extra fees for rush shipping and will also allow enough time for any necessary alterations they may need. Keep in mind, if anyone is in between sizes, it is best to order one size up. Dresses can be easily altered and taken in if they are too big, whereas they cannot be let out much, if at all.

            Wedding Planning Checklist: 5 Months Before

            1. Plan for any rentals you may need for your ceremony or reception such as tables, chairs, linens, etc.
            2. Check in with your band or DJ to arrange any additional sound equipment you’ll need.
            3. Cake tasting – YUM! Time to figure out what kind of cake you want to serve at your reception.

            naked wedding cake | Wedding Planning Checklist

              Wedding Planning Checklist: 4 Months Before

              1. Choose groom and groomsmen attire. Bring along any fabric swatches you have gathered to pair the right colors.
              2. Send out Save the Date cards

              Wedding Planning Checklist: 3 Months Before

              1. Book your accommodations for your wedding night.

              Wedding Planning Checklist: 2 Months Before

              1. Send out your invitations.
              2. Finalize your food and drink menus with your caterer. If drinks aren’t included in catering, ask about bringing in your own alcohol and/or bartender.

              Wedding Planning Checklist: 6 Weeks Before

              wedding bands | Wedding Planning Checklist

              1. Purchase your wedding bands. It’s getting REAL now!
              2. Confirm number of bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces with your florist.
              3. Start a rough seating chart – you’ll want to wait until all RSVP’s have arrived before finalizing.

              Wedding Planning Checklist: 4 Weeks Before

              1. Finish up any DIY projects. You definitely don’t want to wait any longer on these. You won’t want (or need!) any extra projects or stress added in the next few weeks! You’ll also want to check to ensure all décor for the ceremony and reception is ready to go at this point.

              Wedding Planning Checklist: 2 Weeks Before – SO CLOSE!

              1. Get your marriage license lined up.
              2. Create your day-of schedule for bridesmaids, groomsmen, your photographer, and any other vendors that need to know when and where to be at a certain time. Pass out or email a copy to each person.
              3. Give your final guest head count to your caterer.
              4. Finalize your seating chart.
              5. Confirm all arrival times with vendors

              wedding reception | Wedding Planning Checklist

              WEDDING DAY!! It’s FINALLY HERE!

              1. Give a trusted friend or family member all checks for vendors to ensure they are paid on time.
              2. ENJOY THE BEST DAY EVER!!!

              Easy as pie, right?! We know, every wedding is different and not all are planned 12 months in advance, so your checklist may need a little tweaking.

              A lot goes into planning your big day, so we hope this wedding timeline and checklist is as helpful as can be to help make your wedding day the absolute best day ever!

              And if you haven't yet, download our wedding planning checklist to get started! 

              bride and bridesmaid jumping on bed | Wedding Planning Checklist

              Leigh Elizabeth Photography 

              ALL BRIDESMAID DRESSES WILL BE $99!

              Click the button to register for our Black Friday Sale. All bridesmaid dresses will be $99 starting November 1, 2021.

              REGISTER FOR $99 BRIDESMAID DRESSES

              Leave a comment

              Brittany Byrd
              June 05, 2018 09:55

              This was very helpful to me ! Thank you !

              Katie B
              April 06, 2018 13:08

              Thank you! I can’t wait to use this checklist. :)

              Kayla
              January 04, 2018 15:22

              Can you do a 2018 calendar please?! I love this layout!!!

              Emily
              June 09, 2017 13:35

              This was so helpful! I’m getting married next October and just starting the planning. Thanks!!

              Erin
              April 07, 2017 20:56

              Hey! The link for the Marry This! checklist isn’t working! A GoDaddy page comes up…any chance you still have the download you used that you could pass on!?!

              Kennedy Blue
              April 01, 2016 16:00

              Nicole and Karissa,

              Hey ladies! We actually are just featuring a calendar made by The Elli Blog, so unfortunately, we have no say on when she’ll be making a new one. I’m sure if you do a google or Pinterest search, you can find a cute one for 2017. That’s how we found this one!

              Karissa
              April 01, 2016 09:39

              Hello,

              I agree with Nicole! Will there be a 2017 calendar soon? :)

              Thanks!!
              Karissa

              Nicole S
              March 24, 2016 15:05

              Could you create a 2017 calendar as well? Thanks!

              Kennedy Blue
              March 04, 2016 08:21

              Hey Ashley,

              The 2016 calendar link should work now, we’ve just updated it! Here is the link if you’re having trouble finding it :) http://www.elli.com/blog/2016-free-printable-calendar/

              Happy planning!

              Ashley
              February 26, 2016 18:20

              When will the 2016 be uploaded? When I click on the link it takes me to 2015,

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