The Complete Wedding Planning Checklist

The Northwest Wedding Resource produced by Butler Events is not only here to help you find the right wedding vendors but we’re here with advice on when to reach out to them with our complete 12-month wedding planning guide, including a printable checklist.

A month-to-month guide to planning your wedding

Photo by Uby Yanes on Unsplash

Photo by Uby Yanes on Unsplash

Congratulations, you said “Yes!”. Mixed with the excitement for the walk down the aisle there’s a lot of potentially overwhelming planning to happen before the big day, and we’re here to help. The Northwest Wedding Resource is not only here to help you find the right wedding vendors but we’re here with advice on when to reach out to them with our complete 12 month wedding planning guide, including a printable checklist.

12+ Months Out

  • Bookmark and follow us on Pinterest for quick access to all your wedding vendor needs and inspiration.

  • Decide on your wedding style and theme. Do you want an outdoor wedding, candlelit, bohemian, winery, barefoot, elaborate elegance, black tie? Your wedding should be a reflection of you as a couple. Are you PNW enthusiasts who hike weekly? Start thinking about how you can include that in your wedding decor. Utilize websites like, Pinterest, Instagram, and the like for advice, tips, vendor leads, and inspiration.

  • Create a budget. Consider all the vendors you’ll need in the budget for including such categories as DJs, transportation, florists, rentals, catering, photographer, videographer, photo booth, decor, favors, hair & makeup, officiant, and bridal attire.

  • Consider hiring a wedding planner. Day-of coordination or full planning services, a wedding planner is there to help guide you through the process and help make sure the lead up to your walk down the aisle is organized AND fun.

  • Pick possible wedding dates. A good rule of thumb is to have 3 dates in mind, as many venues are booked well over a year in advance and options lead to less heartache. Don’t forget to consider unconventional times and days for your wedding. Off-peak hours & days can often lead to a discount on venue fees and who doesn’t love a waffle bar if you have a Monday morning ceremony?

  • Find the perfect ceremony site. Contact and arrange a site-visit of potential wedding venues.

  • Choose your wedding party and start compiling your guest list. Whether you have a big wedding party or a small one, it can be pretty confusing to delegate who does what. Here are some helpful guidelines to make it a little easier.

  • Schedule engagement photos. Many photographers include engagement sessions in their wedding packages which is a great way to start building your relationship and comfort level with them. Here is some additional advice on What You Need To Know Before You Hire A Photographer.

  • Find wedding tours, shows, and open houses and add them to your calendar. These shows offer the advantage of a perfect time to meet and consult with area businesses and services, see what they have to offer all in one place and are fun events for you, and your partner, and bride tribe. The cake tasting alone is just one must-attend reason to go!

6-9 months

  • Book your appointment for the ultimate experience in finding the perfect bridal gown.

  • Put those engagement photos to good use and send out Save The Date cards.

  • Start confirming the wedding vendors you want, especially photographer, catering, rentals, and florists.

  • Block rooms for out-of-town guests and book the wedding night honeymoon suite. Plan welcome baskets for guests that include useful and fun items such as a map of the area and a locally made chocolate bar.

  • Start honeymoon planning. Don’t forget to check on passport expirations if looking to travel out of the country.

  • Finalize the rehearsal dinner guest list and book your rehearsal dinner venue.

  • Register for gifts, those bridal showers are going to start being scheduled!

  • Finalize bridesmaid, groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer attire, hair & makeup.

  • Purchase wedding bands

3-5 months

  • Book your hair & makeup trial

  • Finalize all wedding vendors including transportation and favors

  • Confirm mailing addresses for attendees and mail out invitations

  • Finalize seating arrangements, menus, music, and the timeline for the day

  • Apply for your marriage license

  • Finalize honeymoon plans including potential needed pet care, mail pick up, adequate suitcases, and so forth

2 weeks – 2 months

  • Confirm with all vendors and finalize plans; including RSVP count for catering, pick up & drop off times for transportation, requested photographs with your photographer, and your wedding party for their day of delegated duties.

  • Pick up bridal attire, rings, & gifts. Start breaking in those dancing Choo’s.

  • Write thank-you notes as gifts come in

  • Celebrate your bachelor & bachelorette parties!

  • Pick out or purchase rehearsal ceremony & dinner, wedding night, and honeymoon outfits.

  • Schedule personal beauty care appointments including teeth cleaning, facials, nails, waxing, hair cuts, and colors

The day before & the big day!

  • It’s here! Take time to appreciate all your hard work and planning, it will pay off!

  • Enjoy your rehearsal ceremony & dinner. Try and embrace moderation, as too little sleep and too much partying can show up in our skin.

  • Have thank you notes, final payments, and tips ready to pass out.

  • Make sure you have everything you need from your veil to the rings to breath mints.

  • Leave yourself plenty of time to get from one place to another without the added stress of running late, traffic can be unpredictable.

  • Stay hydrated and nourished. It seems simple but the days can get overwhelming and you need to stay healthy.

  • Breath. Love. Laugh.

Post Wedding

  • Write thank-you notes, good etiquette says within 3 months of your wedding day

  • Return any rentals as needed

  • If applicable, legally update your last name

  • Preserve your wedding attire, bouquet, and other special mementos from the day

  • Write an online review of your vendors on their Facebook page, a wedding website, or Google. This helps support small businesses and helps other engaged couples find their perfect wedding vendor match.

  • Order images for your parents and in-laws from the day, they make perfect gifts. Don’t forget to order a canvas of your favorite shot for the day to hang in your own home.

  • Enjoy wedded bliss!

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