To Do's for the Newly Engaged

sassy little bee wedding coordination

Here's a chronological run-down of essential action items to tackle during your wedding preparations.
While the exact timing will vary from couple to couple, stay on top of your $#!t. The longer you push things off, the less satisfied you’ll be with the rushed results.      
 

WE'RE ENGAGED...NOW WHAT??

  • Begin working on your estimated guest list; Use a flow chart rather than your emotions (aka guilty feelings) to determine who makes the cut; Start with "List #1: our wedding would just not be the same if these people couldn't be there," then move on to "List #2: we'd love to have these people there if it fits within our budget", and then on to "List #3: we feel obligated to invite these people." Once these are complete, take List #3 and throw it out. 
  • Start discussing your target wedding budget. This number should be based on the amount of money you feel comfortable spending on your wedding day, and should account for a reasonable amount of time to set that money aside when selecting your date.
  • Have a conversation about date options, and don't limit yourself to only one date, or only one month. If you fall in love with a venue that isn't available during the month you **have** to get married, would you rather settle for a sub-par venue, or move your date?
  • Before booking guest count dependant orders (food/beverage, florals, rentals, event staff, transportation/parking, etc) look at how the pricing will change if you drop down/go up by 10 & 20 guests...the total difference in cost can be quite surprising. Also, be aware that most food/beverage vendors will have guest reduction clauses in their contract, and other companies may only allow you to reduce your order by a small percentage once you've booked with them. Book your vendors with the most realistic expected guest count you expect, but also the guest count you can afford.
  • Decide if you need a full wedding planner, or a wedding coordinator, and yes, there IS a difference between those two roles. Based on a detailed meeting to discuss and define your vision/preferences for your wedding, your SLB planner then researches, requests quotes, reviews contracts, places orders and assists with booking your wedding vendors. In addition, they work with you on overall event design, tracking your budget, meeting and communicating directly with your vendors, and taking a ton of work off your plate. A SLB coordinator helps you keep on top of tasks and to-do's with monthly meetings, but you will be in charge of all of the vendor research, quoting, and booking. Once your vendors are locked in, your coordinator will begin your wedding Master File, day-of timeline & floorplans. All planning bookings include complete coordination services as well. 
  • As you encounter wedding-related crossroads, remind yourselves that the opinions that matter most are the two of yours. If you are worried that someone may be upset by or disapprove of the choice you want to make, ask yourself if it's worth settling for less than what you want just to keep them happy.

12 MONTHS OUT

  • Book your full service SLB wedding coordinator
  • Work on cutting your guest list; Imagine you had to purchase one $500 admission ticket for each guest in attendance at your wedding. With that in mind, look at your guest list again and decide who still makes the cut.
  • Research, visit and book your venues for ceremony and reception; Note that some venues may book more than a year out, while others only book 6-9 months out. Some even require a lottery drawing if multiple parties are interested in the same date, and some give priority to local residents over out of town/out of state folks.
  • Decide on an officiant. If you want to hire someone, the early bird gets the worm. Or, if you're asking someone you know to officiate, ask them early, and make sure they get ordained well in advance if this is their first time officiating.
  • Select your bridal party; Choose the people who-regardless of time and distance-will always support you, for better or worse, and *ask* them to be in your wedding party, don't tell them they are. It's absolutely acceptable to have a mixed wedding party of men & women on each side, or unbalanced numbers on each side, as long as those are the people who mean the most to you. Also, the bigger the bridal party, the less personal time and breathing room you have in the day-of schedule. The smaller the bridal party, the less volunteers you can enlist to help you with DIY projects before the wedding. 
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

11 MONTHS OUT

  • Research and book Photographers and Videographers
  • Research and book catering and bar service; menu specifics can be finalized closer to the wedding; ask about guest reduction clauses before signing contracts
  • Research guest accommodations (secure room blocks with low/no minimum guarantee or offer guests suggested nearby hotels without committing to a room block)
  • Design & Send Save The Dates
  • Decide on Ceremony and Reception start/end times; consider things like traffic, proximity to other large events in town happening that day, nearby construction, parking availability, etc  
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

10 MONTHS OUT

  • Research and book a florist
  • Research and book DJ, live musicians, entertainment (photobooth, live artists, etc)
  • Take engagement photos; establish a level of comfort and fun with your photographers; trust their guidance and direction; what may seem like awkward body positioning and staging for photos may feel unnatural, but the photos will come out stunning. Trust us. It's never a bad idea to schedule hair and makeup trials for the same day as your engagement session (or engagement party/bridal shower/etc)
  • Book hotel room blocks, prep hotel rooms (to check into the night before), honeymoon suite (often times this is the same room the bride gets prepped in day-of...so don't let the bridal party trash the place that morning)
  • Start selecting attire for yourselves and your wedding party
  • Remember to be flexible. Trust your vendors. Don't book vendors based on price alone, you get what you pay for. 
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

9 MONTHS OUT

  • Start logging mailing addresses (&/or email addresses) for invitations in your AllSeated.com event file; Phone numbers will be helpful if you want your planner/family/support staff to help get missing RSVP's
  • Research and book functional rentals (tables, chairs, linens,) and decor rentals (lighting, backdrops, lounges/vignettes)
  • Research and book event insurance if needed
  • Research bakery/dessert providers, schedule and attend tastings
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

8 MONTHS OUT

  • Research, do trial runs, and book Hair and Makeup; Hair and Makeup trials are great to schedule for the same day as your engagement photo session, engagement party/bridal shower/etc
  • Research and book any misc vendors 
  • Have you cut your guest list yet? 
  • Relax & have a moment of silence for all the couples who didn't do their homework and were pulling their hair out at this stage in the game
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

7 MONTHS OUT

  • Prepare and plan the ceremony contents with your officiant; Select any readers, singers, sponsors, ceremony attendants, etc. 
  • The more opinions you ask for, the more you'll get. Stay focused on why you're getting married rather than accommodating expectations. 
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

6 MONTHS OUT

  • Design invitations and printed needs (main invite, RSVP card, map/directions/accommodation/registry inserts, thank you cards, signage, escort cards, programs, etc)
  • Create a gift registry or honeymoon fund account
  • Finalize food and beverage menus
  • Print invites
  • Research and book transportation for wedding party &/or guests
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

5 MONTHS OUT

  • Send invitations (4-5 months out if mostly locals; 5-6 months out if you have lots of out of town'ers or are having a military base wedding requiring a gate list)
  • Design and print programs, ceremony & reception signage
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

4 MONTHS OUT

  • Select ties, cufflinks, shoes, accessories for bride(s), groom(s), wedding party
  • Finalize song choices for your reception events in the timeline, and your "Must Play" and "Do Not Play" lists
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

3 MONTHS OUT

  • Plan, purchase and prep items for out of town guest welcome bags
  • Make appointment to get marriage license
  • Finalize attire selections & alterations for bridal party
  • Finalize pre & post ceremony group photo list in your Google Master File
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

2 MONTHS OUT

  • Formalwear fitting & alterations (FINAL fittings are often scheduled closer to the wedding but that also depends on the tailor's workload/turn around time)
  • Finalize orders with florist, baker/desserts, BevMo, rental company
  • Write your vows
  • Begin logging your RSVP's in AllSeated (should be due back 6-8 weeks before the wedding, you're going to need time to call the jerks who didn't RSVP)
  • Finalize timeline and floor plans with your coordinator
  • Finish all DIY projects!!!
  • Log all questions you have for your coordinator in preparation for next month's phone meeting.

1 MONTH OUT

  • Transfer your position as vendor point of contact to your coordinator
  • Prep love notes/gifts to give each other on the morning of the wedding (these are usually delivered during day-of preparations by your maid of honor and best man if you're prepping at the same location)
  • Finalize guest seating assignments in allseated
  • Print escort cards &/or seating chart
  • Have anything that needs to get waxed?? 
  • Log questions you have for your coordinator for this month's final wrap up meeting

3 WEEKS OUT

  • Schedule mani/pedis for the week of the wedding
  • Have you written your vows yet??
  • Have formalwear pressed/steamed
  • Relax & have a moment of silence for all the couples who didn't do their homework and were pulling their hair out at this stage in the game

2 WEEKS OUT

  • Relax, have a cocktail. 
  • Submit final guest count to your coordinator/catering & bar service (some caterers may require final numbers sooner than 2 weeks prior)

1 WEEK OUT

  • Prep final payment envelopes &/or vendor thank you notes for day-of
  • Pack overnight bags for night before/night of the wedding

1 DAY OUT

  • Rehearsal/Rehearsal Dinner
  • Enjoy the company of your friends and family, and relax because your coordinator has everything under control.


    *Additional things solely under your jurisdiction that you'll need to find room for in the above schedule: planning the honeymoon, engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette parties, wedding rings, renewing passports for honeymoon travel, pre-wedding beauty services, bridal party gifts, rehearsal brunch/lunch/dinner…*