Because you’re likely a work before play kind of gal, let’s check off the more tedious items first, then dive into the fun stuff. (And ICYMI, here are the 12-month and 8-month checklists for your destination wedding!)
1. Look Into Travel Requirements
There might be quite a few travel-hoops to jump through before reaching your wedding destination, especially if your wedding will be in a different country. Research whether things like visas or certain vaccinations will need to be obtained before entering the country, and ensure your passport is up-to-date.
2. Reserve a Block of Rooms, or Vacation Homes for Guests
Now that you (hopefully!) know how many people will be attending your wedding, you can figure out where they’ll sleep. Wedding venues that include a hotel, or work with nearby hotels, will usually allow you to block off a certain amount of rooms for guests at a discounted rate. If you think this would be a good option for your people, go ahead and block off those rooms as soon as possible.
If you’ll be in a location where vacation homes are the best option, research available accommodations and decide who would stay where, then include this information in the email you’ll send out in to-do #4.
3. Book Your Airline Tickets, and Help Guests Do the Same
On average, you can find the biggest variety, and best deals, on flights when you book about six months in advance. Research the various airports and transportation options available near your wedding venue and choose the option that best suits your needs. Then, take your research and share it with guests in the following to-do.
4. Make a Travel To-Do List for Your Confirmed Guests
To ensure all your people turn up at the right place at the right time, make their travel plans simple by sending out a thorough and well-organized travel to-do list, complete with a few options for each item. This list might include airline options, information for booking the accommodations you have blocked off, rental car choices, food options like nearby grocery stores, restaurants, or in-home chef services, and any other travel related to-do that pertains to your specific destination. Make it as easy as possible for them now, so you can avoid an avalanche of last minute questions and gripes.
5. Select an Officiant
If you’re religious, ask your wedding venue for recommendations of wedding officiants of your denomination (if you’re not bringing your own.) For secular or nondenominational weddings you have more flexibility in your officiant selection, and can even have a special friend or family member become ordained (can be done online) and officiate the wedding. After you’ve selected an officiant, work with them to create your ideal script and flow for the ceremony, which we’ll cover in a later to-do list.
6. Decide On Wedding Party Attire
Now is the time you’ll likely start receiving the “what do I need to wear?” question from your wedding party – well, at least from the ladies. Pow wow with your fiancé to decide the color palate, style, and materials you would like the wedding party’s attire to match and share that information with them as soon as possible – if you can include sample photos and shopping links, even better.
7. Buy a Gown
You’ve been exploring the silk and tulle-filled world of wedding dresses, have narrowed it down to a few faves, and are ready to take the plunge. Exciting! But, before you hand over that credit card, check in with yourself to ensure this dress is a yes for you in all ways. If you’re nervous about how it will fit, remember that it’s better for it to be a bit too big, or too long, than too tight or too short, as a good tailor can take it in and up to best suit your specific shape.
8. Purchase Outfits for Rehearsal Dinner, Reception Dancing, and Post-Wedding Brunch
While it’s certainly not a requirement to purchase new duds for each wedding event you’ll be having, it sure is fun to have an excuse to shop for these once-in-a-lifetime celebrations! Make a list of the events you’ll be having, which ones you would like a fresh outfit for, and what style would work best for each event (for example, a dress that’s easy to dance in would be nice for your wedding reception.) Then, set a budget for your extra outfits before you start to shop.
9. Buy Your Rings
If you choose to wear wedding bands it’s crucial for you and your fiancé to select options that are both comfortable and suit your personal style. These rings will hopefully be something you wear for the rest of your lives, so instead of being lured in by current trends, or even thinking you have to have diamonds because that’s the traditional choice, tune in to your own sense of style and preferences before making your selections. The two of you can find matching bands, or bands of a similar style, or you can purchase whatever best resonates with your unique tastes.
10. Plan Your Honeymoon
After a year of wedding planning, and then doing, you deserve a fab getaway. Decide whether you want to have a weddingmoon – where you honeymoon in the same location you marry (great option if you’re interested in saving money) – or, desire to jet off to a new location after your nuptials.
Make these travel plans with your fiancé to guarantee you’re both satisfied with the decisions. Avoid the inclination to pack too much into your trip (like staying at a new hotel every two nights) to ensure you’re able to accomplish the primary goal of a honeymoon – enjoying time with the lucky person you hitched yourself to!
Coming up next, your “3 Months Before” to-do list!
Bailey Gaddis is the author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood, a childbirth preparation educator, birth doula, and hypnotherapist who works with mothers-to-be, new mothers, and their support teams. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.