View of outdoor wedding ceremony as taken from behind the seated guests. Couple is getting married underneath large redwood trees.

5 Month Wedding Timeline & To Do List

Today I’m sharing my wedding to do list so that you can see the details of planning a wedding and when we did them. This is a month-by-month list of our tasks and deadlines.

Let me first give you some context about our wedding, though. Because I work in a creative field, I already knew some of the vendors I wanted to hire (such as the photographer, makeup artist, and day of coordinator). If you don’t have people in mind already, you’ll likely need to do some of the things on this list sooner than I did. For example, I didn’t have a trial with my makeup artist until three months out, but I knew her work already and was confident she was right for me. If you decide to hire a makeup artist but don’t have someone in mind, you should start earlier with makeup trails to ensure that the artist is someone you want to work with. Also, I wore a fairly simple lace dress (which I snagged on sale online). If you want a particular designer gown or a custom suit or something like that, you might need more time to order your garments and go through fittings.

This timeline is meant to help you think about the tasks you might need to undertake, but as I wrote in my first post about weddings, prioritize what’s important to you. The items on this list are specific to what we wanted to have, but hey, you may not want a makeup artist or a rehearsal dinner. You do you!

Table setting for a wedding. Tables has settings for 10 people. There are rolled up napkins containing utensils, water glasses, and three jars of flowers in the center.
Photo by Myleen Hollero

Five Months Out

Book venue & pay security deposit
Finalize guest list
Send Save the Date email (we made a little video.)
Book photographer
Book makeup artist
Contact catering and choose items for tasting

Four Months Out

Block hotel rooms
Create wedding website
Start composing day of timeline
Attend catering tasting
Research printing vendors (if you want physical invitations)
Book graphic designer to create invitations (if needed — there are also plenty of templates)
Start wedding outfit search

Three Months Out

Finalize wedding website
Print and send invitations
Meet with makeup artist for trial
Finalize menu selections with caterer
Obtain liability insurance
Pay balance to venue
Book bartending service (our venue required licensed bartenders)
Book photo booth (if you want one)
Ask someone to be our officiant
Make accommodation plan for families
Research wedding rings

Two Months Out

Send RSVP reminder to guests via email
Put deposit down on catering
Book day of coordinator (btw, you don’t need someone who specializes in weddings for this. someone who coordinates other types of events can do this.)
Book linens/glassware rental
Book entertainment/activity (for us, we asked musician friends to play. this was followed by karaoke. you might have to do this the month before, depending on what your entertainment is. we just had to rent a karaoke machine)
Buy decorations
Finalize day of timeline & send to vendors
Buy rings
Finalize day after wedding location (if you want to have an activity the next day. we had a brunch)

One Month Out

Send final reminders to anyone who has not RSVPed
Calculate final guest count
Remind guests about hotel booking deadline
Send vendors list, guest count, timeline, & floor plan to venue
Get alterations, if any, for clothing
Buy plates & utensils (we decided not to rent plates & cutlery and purchased compostable ones)
Buy photo booth props
Buy favors (if you want them. we ended up making ours a DIY activity, which was a big hit with kids and adults alike.)
Discuss photo shots & locations with photographer
Map out ceremony with officiant
Make invite list for rehearsal dinner & invite guests
Make reservation for rehearsal dinner
Get hair cut (depending on how early you like to get your hair cut and how short you wear it. I personally like three weeks out, but my partner went the week of the wedding)

Two Weeks Out

Obtain marriage license
Meet with catering to go over final details
Meet with day of coordinator
Send final guest count to catering, bartending, and linens rental
Check on rings for resizing (if needed)
Decide what volunteer tasks are needed and ask friends
Email guests with reminders & details
Send schedules to families & friends who are involved in ceremony, set up, or tear down
Finalize AV needs for ceremony, musicians, & karaoke
Make list of who is bringing what on the day of

1 Weeks Out & The Week Of

Order flowers from Trader Joe’s
Reconfirm arrival times with all vendors
Pick up rings after resizing
Write vows
Get a facial & manicure
Pick up flowers & assemble
Assemble bridal bouquet
Finalize ceremony with officiant
Order lunch for pick up for day of wedding

After the Wedding

Pay any vendors who still need to be paid
Follow up email to guests (with thank yous, link to photo booth photos, lost & found list)
Receive deposit back from venue
Write thank you notes


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