You’ve found the love of your life, and all you want to do is get married and live happily ever after. Now all you need is a wedding planning checklist to keep you sane!
We all know marriage isn’t quite that easy, but if you want a very short engagement, well, that’s a little more realistic.
I was a little older when I got married. When that very special person entered my life, we agreed that, given our ages, we would have a brief engagement. But since then, I have been witness to several engagements that were shorter yet: eight weeks, to be exact! We’ve all followed this wedding planning checklist and it worked out perfectly.
So, if you’re looking at a short timeline, you’ll have to stay focused. But this wedding planning checklist will help! The most important thing is to stay flexible. Also, delegate! Communicate what your desires are, but allow other reliable people to help you with the details.
If you have a small budget for your wedding, here are 7 tips to help you plan a cheap wedding.
Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist: 8 Weeks Until The Wedding Day
Here’s your wedding planning checklist:
8 Weeks Out
- Settle on a budget. This well may be the most important step. If everyone has different ideas on how much money can be spent, well, the engagement might be called off before the wedding even occurs! Let’s hope not….
- This will be the most intensive week of details. Solicit the help of a wedding coordinator. It can be a professional or a friend who follows this wedding planning checklist. Make sure it’s someone who can live in the details for you and can make decisions on your behalf. Be clear on what you want and what you’re flexible with, and then turn it over to this all-important person.
- Locate your venue. Go ahead and try your first, second, and even third choices. They’re most likely already booked, but you never know—there might just be that surprising cancellation that makes your date available. But if not, just be creative with where you can be happy getting married. I have seen gorgeous weddings in back yards, in cleaned-out pole barns, in downtown parks, and in small vineyards. It’s really amazing what some perfectly placed flowers, white lights, toile, and ribbon can do to dress up a place that at first glance seems pretty ordinary.
- Along with the venue come the seating arrangements. Rent chairs if necessary.
- Choose your bridal party. Again, it never hurts to ask if your special friends are available to be in your wedding, but given the shorter notice, be gracious if they have other plans. It never hurts to have a smaller bridal party.
- Compile the guest list and start gathering addresses. If you know of specific people you want to invite, send out a quick email, text, or digital invitation asking them to save the date.
- Book a Photographer. You want some great images that capture your day. Maybe you can’t get that award-winning photographer, but you still can acquire someone who has a great eye for detail. You might want to look for someone who is just launching their business. They’ll cut you a deal so they can have the exposure.
7 Weeks Out
- Set up an online wedding account and registry, such as weddingwire.com or theknot.com. This becomes your place for lists, for RSVPs, and for all the details your guests might need. Where was this incredible resource when I got married?
- Say yes to the dress. Obviously, you can’t travel to ten different stores (or maybe you can if you’re a go-getter), so find a couple of places recommended by friends and family. You’ll find your dream dress.
- While you’re shopping, go ahead and finalize shoes, bows, ties, and bridal party gifts. Maybe these get ordered online, or maybe you purchase them while you’re out shopping for your dress. Whatever you decide, just decide and go with it. If this seems like too much for your day, just move down this detail to week six or five.
- Decide on flowers. Most local florist shops are very accommodating.
- Decide on your menu. Again, I have seen all kinds of menus, from grilled burgers or pulled pork to elaborate catering services. Honestly, whatever was chosen seemed to perfectly fit the couple. Ask work or social club acquaintances to help serve. Be sure you have all you need with service ware. Do you need to rent dishes and table linens? Tables and chairs?
- Order your cake.
- Finalize bridal party attire. Maybe your bridesmaids can’t wear those gowns that take three months to receive from the date of ordering, but there are lots of other ways to get those gowns. Yes, you might have to shop off the rack, but there are some lovely, lovely dresses out there. Or, consider a color theme and allow your party to purchase their own dresses within that color scheme.
- Finalize ceremony music and official.
- Book a hairdresser, or forego this step and let the gals do their own hair.
- Instead of booking a DJ or band, rent sound equipment and pay someone to run it. Then, create your own music list later.
6 Weeks Out
- Finalize your rehearsal dinner venue.
- Address and send out your invitations. Make sure you direct guests to your online RSVP.
- Formalize the legal pieces. Make sure you have all you need for the wedding license.
- Outline your ceremony.
- Arrange the honeymoon. Unless you already have passports to travel out of the country, you might be limited to staying within the U.S. borders. That shouldn’t be a problem, as you have more than enough options to choose from for a romantic, solitary honeymoon.
5 Weeks Out
- Choose wedding bands.
- Create your wedding program and decide on how/where it will be printed.
- Purchase the guest book or decide on how guests will note their attendance.
- Touch base with venue, caterer, officials, bridal party, and others to ensure the details are being handled.
- Decide on where out-of-town guests and bridal party will stay.
- If you haven’t already, purchase bridal party gifts, and finalize shoes, ties, bows, and jewelry.
4 Weeks Out
- Decide on table centerpieces (unless you took care of this with your florist).
- Have your final gown fitting.
- Finalize photography shots.
- Create a music playlist.
- Contact those who have not yet RSVP-ed.
- Enjoy a wedding shower.
3 Weeks Out
- Provide a final head count to the caterer and baker.
- Create a table-seating plan.
- Focus on any other necessary details up to this point.
- Print out programs and place cards.
- Meet with your wedding official.
2 Weeks Out
- Show your wedding coordinator where you want your flowers, candles, and other arrangements set up.
- Decide on whether photos will be taken before or after the ceremony. Communicate with your photographer.
- Take some time to visit with your parents or guardians. Have your tender moments now.
- They’re important and necessary, but don’t wait until the final weeks when things get a bit more emotional.
- Contact all wedding suppliers to confirm arrangements.
- Provide ceremony and reception overseers with a schedule of vendor delivery, setup times, and contact numbers.
- Provide your wedding coordinator with all the supplier and overseer details.
- Decide on how you will leave the wedding venue for your honeymoon and purchase supplies, such as rice, birdseed, balloons, or whatever. Invite a close friend/family member to be in charge of this part of your day.
1 Week Out
- Pre-arrange for someone to return any rentals or supplies.
- Pre-arrange for someone to take the wedding dress to your home.
- If necessary, pre-arrange for someone to return rented tuxes to the rental shop.
- Pack for the honeymoon.
- Meet with your wedding coordinator. Stress that you will not be taking care of details on your wedding day; your coordinator will be in charge.
- Print off a running order for the rehearsal day and the wedding day.
- Write checks for final balances. Have one person (a parent, perhaps?) hand out the payments.
- Have the groom check in on his groomsmen and that they have all their attire in order.
- Run through your entire wedding gown process, from shoes to veil.
- Practice your make-up.
- Sometime between weeks 2 and 1, have your bachelor and bachelorette party. No need to stay up half the night before your actual wedding.
Three Days Before the Wedding
- Have everything set aside and grouped together: Things that go to the reception area; things that go to the dressing room; things that go to the wedding venue.
- Call the baker, florist, photographer, and caterer one final time.
- Pick up your marriage license or certificate.
- Enlist someone to deliver flowers to dressing rooms on the wedding day.
Two Days Before the Wedding
- Get a massage and facial.
- Prepare emotionally for your very special day.
- Give checks to the person you’ve enlisted to hand out.
- Give gifts to parents and bridal party.
- Take all necessary items to the wedding venue – table plan, table cards, favors, etc.
- Go over the ceremony with the official.
- Have the official or coordinator direct the rehearsal, and rehearse for the big day.
- Travel to your rehearsal dinner. Relax and enjoy.
You’ve made it to your wedding day with this wedding planning checklist!
Your Wedding Day
- Enjoy getting your hair, face, and nails ready.
- Give wedding rings to the best man and maid of honor.
- Take it all in. At this point, if there are any details that remain to be answered, ask a parent, the coordinator, or a trusted friend to take care of the detail.
- Arrive at the venue.
- Dress and enjoy some time with the bridal party.
- Be emotionally present for your ceremony.
With this ultimate wedding planning checklist, hopefully you can relax and enjoy your engagement!