How Early Should You Start Planning Your Wedding? So the two of you just got engaged.. Congratulations! You’ve posted the announcement on Facebook, called your friends and family and have enjoyed all the excitement. Now, though, the reality of putting the event together is beginning to hit you. Using this timeline can help you stay on target so that the big day is not stressful. Just after the engagement. No matter how long you want your engagement to be, setting your budget from the beginning helps you find the right choices and avoid the letdown of finding a dress that you just love, only later to find out that it is too costly. Then, estimate the number of guests, because that will make a huge difference as far as your venue choices. Some places can accommodate 100 but not 150, while others can accommodate 150 but not 200. Once you have a list, use 80 percent of that number as your estimate, as there are always some who cannot go. Twelve Months Out Select your venue. This is your first priority for a couple of reasons: Knowing where you want to get married will help you choose a date, which is one of the crucial decisions involved in planning your wedding. Some of the most popular sites are booked more than a year ahead of time, particularly in popular sites or attractive destinations. Picking the venue also helps you figure out whether caterers or florists are available for your use on site. Knowing these restrictions has a significant effect on the rest of your wedding budget. Finally, nail that date down, so that the rest of the planning goes more smoothly. Nine to twelve months out Start the dress hunt. Let’s face it — brides love hunting for that perfect dress. However, starting this early also has practical benefits, as scheduling your fitting and ordering your gown can take some time. As soon as your dress gets in, set up the fittings, and take friends and relatives along. The earlier you start, the less stress you feel. This is also the right time to choose your vendors. If there is a photographer whom you just have to have at your wedding, book him or her as soon as possible. If you are working with vendors who just handle one wedding each day, make sure you book them as soon as you know your date. Six to nine months out Send out your save the date announcements. Invitations aren’t necessary yet, but these notices should go out now so that your out of town guests can start making their travel arrangements and request vacation time if needed. Some other things to take care of during this time frame include: Booking the minister/officiant. You want to make sure that your chosen person is legally certified if he or she is not a professional minister or a judge. Book the venue for the rehearsal. Line up the next round of your vendors. This includes your cake maker, makeup artist, hair stylist, florist and caterer. Choose and order your bridesmaids’ dresses. Four to six months out This is the time frame when you nail down the details. You’ll set the menu for the reception, structure the wedding ceremony, arrange for tuxes, and start planning your honeymoon. Heading overseas? Get that passport updated now. Two to three months out Make your decisions about programs, place cards, menus and your guestbook. You’ll also set up gifts for your wedding party, have last meetings with the vendors, and choose such details as toasting flutes, favors, display photos and cake knives, among others. Also, get your marriage license, buy the wedding rings and schedule that last dress fitting. Last three weeks Get your personal grooming done two weeks before. Waxing can leave red splotches in unwanted places, and men look better a week or so after a haircut. If you don’t have a wedding planner, ask a trusted friend to be your point person with the vendors. During the last few days, it’s time to start enjoying yourself. Get a massage or a mani-pedi, and break in your bridal shoes. Get packed for your honeymoon — after all, you’re starting a new life together! Plan Ahead To Save The Stress! Planning a wedding does not have to be stressful if you follow a clear time line. There are many decisions to make, but if you follow this timeline, you will see that things follow along nicely, and your big day will involve much less worry!