Like most couples, you’ve been dreaming of your wedding day long before the proposal. And you probably know the months leading up to the big day can be exciting and overwhelming as you try to plan every last detail to perfection. But don’t worry – we’re here to help!
At Curated Events, we specialize in luxury weddings that are both beautiful and unique. We’ve put together this complete wedding planning checklist to help you make sure you don’t forget anything as you’re planning your special day.
You will split your to-do list into seven distinct phases, from engagement to post-wedding, so you can easily see what you need to do and when. Of course, every wedding is different, so feel free to tailor this checklist to fit your needs and style.
If you have any questions along the way, our team of experts is always here to help!
Steps To Planning A Wedding:
Phase One: Engagement
One party bent the knee, the other said “yes,” and now it’s official – you’re engaged! Here are some essential things to do during the engagement phase:
Throwing An Engagement Party
Many couples decide to announce the big news to their families and friends with an engagement party. It’s a fun way to celebrate your new status as an engaged couple and also an excellent opportunity to start gathering some important wedding planning information, like potential guest list size and contact information.
Selecting Your Guest List
One of the first things you’ll need to do when planning your wedding is to create a guest list. This list will give you a good idea of how many people you’ll need to accommodate which will, in turn, help you choose a venue and plan your budget.
As you’re creating your guest list, you’ll also need to select the members of your wedding party. These people will stand by your side on the big day, so choose wisely! Choose those you know will be supportive and helpful throughout the planning process and who you think will make your wedding day even more special.
Bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor, best man, flower girl, and ring bearer are typically the roles filled by a wedding party. But don’t feel you need to stick to tradition – mix it up however you’d like!
Getting A Wedding Binder
If you’re the type who likes to keep all of your important information organized in one place, you’ll need to get yourself a wedding binder (or two). A wedding binder, or journal, is a great way to keep track of your budget, vendor contracts, guest list, and wedding day timeline.
It’s also a great place to store inspiration images as you start planning your overall wedding style. Think of it as your wedding planning HQ – a place where you can keep all your important information organized, accessible, and in one place.
Buying Wedding Rings
“No wedding is complete without a beautiful set of rings! “
Once engaged, it’s time to start shopping for your wedding bands. Couples spend an average of 3-6 months searching for the perfect rings, so take your time and find something you both love.
As you shop, remember that your wedding and engagement rings should complement each other. And don’t forget to budget for engraving, which is a great way to add a personal touch to your rings.
Along with rings, many couples also purchase other jewelry, like earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, to wear on their wedding day. Selecting a unique and thoughtful piece of jewelry for your fiance makes a great wedding day present!
Hiring A Wedding Planner
A good idea, especially if you are planning a large or more luxurious wedding, is to hire a wedding planner. A planner can help take care of all the details, big and small, so you can relax and enjoy the engagement period.
“You might wonder: “what does a wedding planner do, and do I need one?”
A wedding planner will have many connections with industry vendors, saving you time and money. And if you’re planning a destination wedding, they can be beneficial in coordinating all of the details from afar.
Phase Two: Planning
Weddings are a lot of work, but you can make the process easier with some planning. How long before a wedding should you start planning? That all depends on the size and scope of your wedding.
If you’re planning a small, intimate gathering, you might be able to get away with starting just a few months in advance. But starting at least a year out is best if you’re planning a larger, more elaborate wedding. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Deciding On A Wedding Type
We already know you want a luxury wedding, but what does that mean, exactly? There are many ways to make a wedding luxurious, so it’s crucial to narrow down your options and decide on the overall feel you want to create.
“Do you envision a grand affair with hundreds of guests or an intimate gathering with close family and friends? Will it be a destination wedding for you or a local event in your beloved hometown?”
How to plan an outdoor wedding will also be different than planning an indoor wedding. However, these are all essential factors to consider when planning your luxury wedding.
Setting A Budget
Budget isn’t always an issue, but most of the time couples have an idea in mind of what is feasible to spend. Setting a budget is still a good idea, even if it’s just for yourself. It will help you narrow down your options and make decisions more quickly.
When setting your budget, be realistic about what you can afford, and don’t be afraid to splurge on the things that are important to you. Being on a budget doesn’t mean your wedding can’t be lavish!
Our best tip when it comes to budget is to develop a list of the top three things that are most important to you and allocate your funds in that way. Average wedding cost is highly dependant on location, time of year and size of your guest list.
To get started, sit down with your partner and figure out how much you’re comfortable spending on your wedding. Then, start looking at prices for the things you’ll need and adjust your budget as needed.
Choosing The Wedding Date
Your wedding date will significantly affect the overall feel of your wedding, so choose wisely. If you’ve decided on a specific location, you’ll need to be loose with your date to get the venue you want. But if you have your heart set on a particular date for personal reasons, you might need to be flexible with your location.
Depending on the location, seasons can also significantly impact your wedding. For example, a winter wedding up North will have to account for weather conditions, whereas a summer wedding in the South will have to account for the blistering heat.
Buying Insurance For Wedding And Rings
“Wedding insurance can help protect you from financial losses due to unforeseen circumstances, like bad weather, vendor no-shows, or even the loss of your wedding photos.”
As you begin planning your wedding, think about insurance. For example, you’ll want to insure your engagement ring to cover it getting damaged, lost, or stolen, and you may also want to consider insuring your wedding bands.
If you’re planning a destination wedding, check with your travel insurance provider to see if they offer any wedding coverage. And if you’re hiring a wedding planner, ask if they carry any insurance in case of damages or accidents.
Taking Care Of Legal Stuff
Getting married is more than just a big party – there’s also the legal side of things to consider. Depending on your location, there may be different requirements for getting married. You’ll need to obtain a marriage license, set prenuptial agreements, and file for any name changes among the mountains of marital paperwork.
Sending Out Save The Dates
Are you wondering when to send out wedding invitations and save the date? Save the date means sending your guests a physical or electronic card with the wedding date and other essential information. It is generally sent out six to eight months before the wedding day.
This time frame allows your guests to request time off from work, book flights, and hotels if necessary, and add your wedding to their calendars.
Phase Three: Designing
Once you have all the legalities taken care of, it’s time to start thinking about the design of your wedding. The possibilities are endless, so check your options and decide based on your heart’s desires. Here’s where you get to show off your style and personality.
Choosing A Theme
Your wedding theme will set the tone for the entire event. For a luxury wedding, you need an elegant and sophisticated theme. At Curated Events, we classify most wedding looks into three themes: Garden, Classic, and Modern.
Garden weddings are romantic and dreamy, with an overall feeling of whimsy. For a garden wedding, you’ll want to choose light, airy colors and décor that evokes nature.
Classic weddings are timeless and elegant, with a focus on tradition. Therefore, the décor should be elegant and understated. For a classic wedding, classic colors like white, ivory, and gold are always big hits.
Modern weddings are unique and contemporary, with a focus on design. For a modern wedding, you’ll need to choose bold colors and exciting décor. Think outside the box and get creative!
Adding Colors and Flower Arrangements
Your wedding colors should match the theme you’ve chosen. Seasons and locations can also play a role in your color palette. If you need help selecting colors that compliment each other, check out these resources:
- Summer Wedding Color Schemes
- Fall Wedding Color Schemes
- Winter Wedding Color Schemes
- Spring Wedding Color Schemes
Flowers should ideally respect the color palette you’ve chosen. However, you can also use them to add special meaning to your wedding.
For example, people may have fond associations with certain flowers because maybe roses were the first flowers your fiance bought you, or you love hydrangeas because of a trip you took together where the hydrangeas were in bloom.
Preparing Your Attire
Next up is choosing all your attire!
“What does black tie optional mean? In short, you want your guests to dress to the nines, but you’re giving them a little wiggle room with the “optional” part.”
Black-tie would require men to wear a tuxedo and women to wear an evening gown, but black-tie optional allows your guests to choose either a tuxedo or a dark suit for men and an evening gown or cocktail dress for women.
The bride’s dress is undoubtedly the most critical part of the wedding, so take your time and find a gown that makes you feel like incredible. For bridesmaids, you’ll want to choose dresses that compliment your wedding theme and color palette.
Be mindful of style- many brides these days are selecting a certain color they want bridesmaids to wear, but allow bridesmaids to pick out whatever style they prefer. This gives your bridesmaids some say and allows them to dress in what makes them feel best!
It’s also important to consider the comfort of all parties involved – after all, nobody wants to be stuck in an uncomfortable dress all day! Finally, don’t forget about accessories! Veils, jewelry, shoes, and more can all help to pull your wedding day look together.
Lighting can help to set the mood for your wedding. Most people go with warm and inviting lighting that creates an intimate ambiance for luxury weddings. Candles, string lights, and soft white bulbs are all great options.
Planning for the lighting in advance is an even bigger priority if you have an outdoor wedding. You don’t want your guests to be fumbling around in the dark! Use our outdoor wedding seating plan ideas to help you design the perfect layout for your event.
“Indoors, take advantage of the architecture in the room. Use columns and arches to frame your décor and create a visually stunning space.”
Decorating The Ceremony And Reception
When it comes to ceremony and reception décor, you’ll want to choose pieces that match your wedding theme. Outdoor wedding decoration ideas include everything from garlands to lanterns to flower petals. You might also want to consider the different types of tents for outdoor weddings. Regardless of your location, you’ll need to account for:
- Chairs & tables
- Linens- tablecloths, runners, napkins
- Glassware, flatware, & serving pieces
- Dance floor
- Altar or arbor
- Aisle décor
High-end materials and furnishings are a must for luxury weddings. Consider renting speciality rental pieces from Curated Events. Things such as lounge or soft seating, farm tables, and speciality chairs will all make a beautiful impact! Everything will match and look cohesive.
Buying A Wedding Cake
Finally, no wedding would be complete without a cake! Wedding cakes come in all shapes and sizes, from simple and elegant to over-the-top and show-stopping. Talk to your baker about your vision for the cake, and taste-test a few flavors before making a decision. The cake should taste as good as it looks!
The cake is the climax of the wedding, so you’ll want to make sure it’s perfect and big enough to feed all your guests!
Phase Four: Bookings and Reservations
Now it’s time to get down to business! With so much to do, it’s vital to start booking your vendors as soon as possible. Popular vendors also book up quickly, so the earlier you book, the more likely you will secure your perfect vendors of choice. The first things you will want to book are your venue, your planner, your caterer and your rental selections (and tent if needed!)
Luxury weddings often require more planning and coordination than other events, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get everything in order.
Booking The Venue
A venue is often the first thing you’ll book when planning a wedding. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor space – the perfect venue is a must! It needs to be big enough to accommodate all your guests, and it should fit your wedding theme, even from afar.
“A ballroom would be more appropriate for a classic affair, while outdoors or a non-traditional venue would be better suited for a more contemporary wedding.”
If you choose one of the different tents for outdoor weddings, you’ll need to book a location with enough space to set it up.
Contact your top venue choices and schedule tours to see the spaces in person. Then, book it as soon as possible once you’ve found the perfect place! The best venues sell out over a year in advance, especially during peak wedding season.
Booking The Photographer
The next vendor you’ll want to book is a photographer. This professional will capture your wedding day memories and turn them into beautiful works of art. Before meeting with potential photographers, inspect their portfolios to see if their style aligns with your vision.
When you’re ready to book, ask about the photographer’s package options. The checklist of best questions to ask a wedding photographer before booking is a great place to start.
Reserving Hotels & Transportation
Unless all your friends and family live in the same neighborhood, you’ll need to provide hotel and transportation options for your guests.
Wedding block rates are a great way to save money on accommodations, and many hotels offer special perks for wedding parties, like free breakfast or a complimentary suite for the bride and groom.
For transportation, you might consider renting a party bus or limousines for your wedding day. This route will ensure that everyone arrives on time and in style!
Finding An Officiant
An unavoidable part of getting married is finding an officiant to perform the ceremony. This person can be a religious leader, justice of the peace, or anyone else who is authorized to solemnize a marriage. Find someone you are comfortable with and book them ASAP.
You should contact your church or synagogue in advance if you’re getting married in a religious ceremony. They will likely have a list of officiants you can choose. It would be best to have a backup officiant in mind, just in case your first choice is unavailable.
Finding Drinks And Food
Weddings are notoriously known for being marathon events, and your guests will need to keep their energy up! So make sure plenty of drinks and food are available throughout the day, from the pre-ceremony cocktails to the after-party late-night snacks. Our wedding menu ideas guide has tons of great options.
For alcoholic beverages, you might consider hiring a bartender or bar service. Many catering companies also offer bar packages, which can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Take a look at the wedding catering ideas guide for more inspiration.
Choosing Between Band, DJ, Or Playlist
Many couples struggle with choosing between a band, DJ, or playlist for their wedding reception. Each option has pros and cons, so weighing all your options before deciding is crucial. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference.
Bands are great for creating a festive and energetic atmosphere, but they can be more expensive and often require a lengthy sound check before the reception starts.
DJs can play a broader range of music, but they might not be able to get everyone up and dancing as a live band can.
Playlists are the most affordable option, but you’ll need to spend a lot of time ensuring that all your favorite songs play in the correct order and ensure you have a sound system that is reliable and loud enough.
Phase Five: Pre-Wedding
We’re almost there! The big day is creeping upon us. But before you can exchange rings, there are a few more things to take care of on your wedding checklist.
Registering For Gifts
A wedding gift registry is a service a retailer provides that allows couples to create and manage a list of gift items for their wedding. Guests can then purchase gifts from the registry, which the couple can use to start their new life together. It prevents duplicate gifts and ensures the couple gets what they want.
The most important thing to remember when creating a gift registry is to be realistic. There’s no sense in asking for a bunch of fancy kitchen gadgets you’ll never use! Only register for items you genuinely need and will use in your everyday life.
Also, give your guests enough time to purchase your gifts. The general rule is to create your registry three months before the wedding. That should provide guests with plenty of time to peruse your list and find the perfect gift for you.
Planning The Rehearsal Dinner
Usually done on the night before the wedding, a rehearsal dinner is a small gathering of the wedding party and immediate family to go over the details of the ceremony one last time. It’s also an opportunity for everyone to relax and get to know each other before the big day.
Rehearsal dinners don’t need to be fancy or expensive, but they should be fun! Ideally, you host the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant or other venue that has meaning to you and your partner.
Even your home would be a perfectly acceptable option. Let your rehearsal dinner set the tone for the fun weekend you are about to experience!
Writing Your Vows
Writing your vows is a beautiful way to personalize your ceremony and make it even more special. But it can also be daunting, especially if you’re not used to writing in a romantic style.
If you’re feeling stuck, try looking for some samples online. You can also ask your officiant for help, as they will have a good idea of what works well and doesn’t. And if all else fails, just be honest and write from the heart.
Your partner will appreciate your effort, no matter what you say.
Throwing A Bachelor/Bachelorette Party
Bachelor and bachelorette parties are a time-honored tradition for a reason. They’re a chance to let loose and have fun before settling into married life. Just remember to keep it safe and fun!
Putting Together A Wedding Day Emergency Kit
“Murphy’s Law dictates that something will always go wrong, no matter how much you prepare. So even if you follow this checklist to the letter, rare are the weddings that go entirely according to plan.”
That’s why having an emergency kit for the big day is crucial. Fill a small bag with items like Band-Aids, painkillers, a sewing kit, safety pins, and tissues. Your wedding planner is often the point person for all those random things that you’ll find yourself needing day of! Another reason why a wedding planner is your most valuable asset on wedding day.
Phase Six: The Wedding Day
At last, the big day is here! All your hard work has culminated in this one perfect moment. If you want to enjoy every minute, you must get prepared.
Here’s what you need to do on your wedding day:
Checking Your Mental Health
Your mental health should be your top priority leading up to and on the big day. So if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or just plain overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that everything will be alright.
“Premarital therapy is growing in popularity and is another way to get all your emotions out in the open and work through any issues you may have.”
Treat yourself to a spa day or two before the wedding is also a good idea. A massage, Mani/Pedi, or other relaxation treatment will help you feel your best on the big day.
Be sure to connect with your fiance during this time too and do things that bring you joy. Remember that your wedding is the beginning of your marriage, and your relationship with your fiance is the most important part of that!
Delegating Wedding Day Responsibilities
On your wedding day, you should be able to relax and enjoy yourself. That’s only possible if you delegate responsibility for various tasks to your wedding party and other trusted individuals.
Assign different people to tasks like handling the guest book, taking care of gifts, and ensuring everyone is where they’re supposed to be.
If you opt to not have a full wedding planner, you should at least hire a “day-of coordinator.” This person will ensure everything runs smoothly, from set up to clean up.
Enjoying Your Big Day!
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for is here. The day of your wedding has arrived, and everything is perfect. All that’s left to do is enjoy yourself!
“Make sure to take some time to savor the little moments, like seeing your partner for the first time or dancing with your parents. These are the memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.”
Phase Seven: Post-Wedding Activities
You’ve shaken a hundred hands, taken a thousand photos, and danced more than you ever thought possible. Finally, the wedding is over, but there are still a few things left to do on your checklist. But, don’t worry; these tasks are much simpler than planning the whole event!
Making Sure Everyone Was Paid & Tipped
Your vendors worked hard to make your wedding day perfect, so make an effort to ensure they are adequately compensated. If you haven’t already, write out checks or collect cash to pay for services rendered. Now is also the opportunity to tip any staff members who went above and beyond.
Nowadays, couples rely heavily on online reviews when planning their weddings. So if you had a positive experience with your vendors, take a few minutes to leave a glowing review. It will help other couples in the future as they search for the perfect team to help them plan their big day.
Sending Thank You Notes For Gifts
Your wedding day is over, but the gifts keep coming! Show your appreciation by sending out thank you notes on time. Writing and sending them within two months of receiving the gift is best.
A handwritten note is always appreciated, but feel free to type them out if you’re short on time.
Enjoying The Honeymoon
The honeymoon is the last and perhaps most personal item on this wedding checklist—your chance to get away from it all and enjoy quality time with your new spouse. The sky’s the limit regarding honeymoon destination ideas, so pick a place that speaks to you as a couple.
You could opt for a romantic getaway to a foreign country, a secluded cabin in the woods, or even a road trip across America. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that will help you relax and bond with your new partner.
Get Started Today
If you’re currently engaged or thinking about getting married, now is the perfect time to start planning an idyllic wedding. Use this checklist as your guide, and you’ll be on your way to a stress-free event that you’ll remember for years.
Curated Events would be happy to assist you in making your vision a reality.
Since 1952, Curated Events has provided couples with planning assistance, expert advice, and high-quality rentals to make their wedding day perfect. Our experienced professionals will work closely with you to understand your unique vision and style.
Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you create the wedding of your dreams.