18-Month Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist for 2020

2020/2021 Wedding Planning Checklist

wedding planning checklist
18-month Wedding Planning Guide
If you’re planning a wedding, quinceanera, party, or event in the Austin, San Antonio, or central Texas area, chances are, you’re pretty overwhelmed! 🙂 Actually, this applies to wedding planning anywhere in the world! We completely understand. As the owners of Austin’s Best DJs & Photo Booths, we’re also certified wedding/event planners, too!

We write this blog to help our clients (and anyone else) plan their wedding, quinceanera, or event! Here is our wedding planning checklist, for things to do 18 months in advance. 

Once you’ve decided to have an event, or have gotten engaged, it’s time to start planning! Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll need to do. For Austin/central Texas area weddings and events, we recommend starting your planning, 12-18 months in advance, if possible.

Let’s get to the comprehensive wedding planning checklist, now! 

Table of Contents

Things to Do 12 -18 Months Before Your Wedding/Event Date

  • Choose Your Wedding Date – First things first on your wedding planning checklist, you have to pick a date. Decided the season or time of year, and choose your top 3 dates. Know that Saturdays, during peak season, will cost the most. 
  • Determine Your Budget – Next, decide how much will you spend on everything you need. Okay, got that number? Now be prepared to double or triple it! 🙂 In reality,  it’s very hard to stick to your budget, but not impossible.
    • You’ll spend a good portion of your budget on the venue, catering, bartender/bar supplies, and cake. Check out our wedding spreadsheet article to help you plan your wedding budget! If you’d rather use a template to create your own, check out these budget spreadsheets, from Microsoft Office and easily create one!
  • Pick Your Party – As soon as you let everyone know you’re planning your wedding, quince or event, all your close friends want to know, who’s at the party? So start narrowing it down, soon! By the way, this is often listed as one of the most fun things on our wedding planning checklist! We love to see the videos and posts!
  • Start Your Guest List – Decide who you’re inviting and start a list of everyone, that includes their name and contact info. Be realistic and keep in mind the cost of food can average around $20 per person or more. Want to keep the cost lower? Start reducing the guest list. I know it’s tough, but you have a budget to stick to! 
  • Book Your Venue – Now that you have an estimated headcount of who’s coming to the wedding/event, it’s time to find a venue that will accommodate you and your guests. In Austin and central Texas area, there’s about an 18-month wait-list for any Saturday event at nearly every venue in the area!
    • This means that you have to plan early and possibly plan to have your event on another night, besides Saturday. The good thing about having your event on a different night is that you can usually save on the venue cost!
  • Hire a Planner – This is optional, but it certainly will make your life much easier, if you are planning a wedding! They will have their own wedding planning checklist, but feel free to share this with them.
    • Be sure to include all the notes of what you’ve already done! If you’re planning a quince or party, you can likely do most of the planning on your own, or with your designated team! 
  • Research – It’s time to start researching vendors. You’ll need to hire: an officiant, photographer, videographer (if desired), florist, band or DJ, catering, cake bakery, etc. Not every vendor will take a booking as far as 18 months out, but most should do 12-14 months in advance. 

Things to do 9-12 Months Before Your Wedding/Event Date

  • Hire Your Vendors – Okay, you’ve done a lot of work and crossed off several things on your wedding planning checklist. Now that you’ve researched your vendors and narrowed down your choices, it’s time to start contacting them. You’ll need to hire your: officiant, photographer, videographer (if desired), florist, band, or wedding DJ.
    • You’ll also need to hire catering, cake bakery, day or month-of coordinator (if desired), ceremony musicians (if desired), and anything else you may need. For quinceaneras, it’s a good time to research and book Mariachis, too!
  • Purchase Your Dress, Suit, etc. – This is the fun part of the wedding planning checklist for brides, grooms, and their wedding party! Brides will need plenty of time for alterations, to be sure your dress and suit(s) fit just right (6 months should be enough time). You can also shop for bridesmaids dresses, too, if you want to. For quinceaneras, this is also a lot of fun, too! Bring your friends and start trying on dresses! 
  • Reserve Hotel Rooms – Find 3-5 hotels near your venue and choose the one that best fits your budget. Be sure to ask about block discounts! 
  • Create a Gift Registry – Pick your top 3-5 favorite stores and start your wish list. This is fun, too! 
  • Create a Wedding Website – This is optional, but it’s a good way to keep track of RSVPs, guest headcount, etc. Using this site can work well with your wedding planning checklist. It will help you keep all of your info in one place.

Things to do 6-9 Months Before Your Wedding/Event Date

Okay, in case you didn’t know, you’re about halfway to your wedding date, yay!! This means half of the wedding planning checklist is done, woo who!!

  • Create Save-the-Date Cards – These can be electronic versions for those who have email and social media access. You can mail save-the-dates to older relatives who may not use email as much, and close friends/relatives, too. 
  • Choose Invitations – Sending these out takes time, so be sure to set aside a day or two, to do this. 
  • Start Planning Your Honeymoon! This is the most fun part of our event/wedding planning checklist! 🙂
  • Reserve Any Necessities – Check to see what your venue includes and what you may need, such as extra tables, chairs, linens, lighting, fans, heaters, etc.
  • Arrange Transportation – Find out what transportation will be best for your guests that are staying at a hotel. Average prices for buses are about $250 per hour, usually with a 4-hour minimum. 
  • Book Your Hair/Makeup Person 
  • Timeline of Events – Now you can start working on coordinating the timeline of events! Don’t forget, we have plenty of wedding planning checklist tips on this blog, for example, timelines, etc. 

Wedding to-do List: 4-6 Months Before Your Wedding/Event

This part of the wedding planning checklist is very important! It’s time to really start finalizing your details with all of your vendors. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have everything planned, but this will help you start to bring it all together. 

  • Start Meeting With Your Vendors – If you haven’t already started, start meeting with your vendors in person, or at least via phone conference or FaceTime.
    • (Phone and FaceTime are perfect if you’re out of town or planning a destination wedding). Let them know your overall vision and goals for your event or wedding. This is number one on the wedding to-do list since it’s very important!
  • Purchase Wedding Shoes & Accessories – Shoes, jewelry, etc. Psst… you can tell your partner that you’re simply crossing this off of your wedding planning checklist and buy a few pairs of shoes! We won’t tell! 🙂
  • Book Your Rehearsal Dinner Venue – Everything is negotiable for large parties! Offer to host your day-after brunch there and inquire about any discounts for doing both at your top 3 favorite venues!
  • Review Invitations – This is the tough time when EVERYONE wants to come to your wedding and you can only invite so many people. 🙁 It’s tough, but if you can’t afford a 500 person wedding, it’s time to narrow down the list!
  • Start Working on Ceremony and Reception Music – We don’t require music selections until about 3 weeks before, but be sure to check with your DJ for their requirements. 

Things to do 2-3 Months Before Your Wedding/Event

Okay, you’re now 3 months out, congrats! Now you get to cross off these great things from your wedding planning checklist!

  • Finalize Menus – Finalize your food and flowers with in-season flowers and veggies, to save a little! Decide on your bar drinks and any special cocktails or drinks! 
  • Finish Your Timeline – Woo whoo! This is the moment in our wedding planning checklist where it’s all coming together! 🙂 It’s time to finalize your entire weekend-of, timeline. If you have a planner, they should do this for you and get your feedback. Be sure to include any special moments like welcome speech, toasts, etc. 
  • Order Gifts or Favors – Optional (if you have a photo booth, the pictures can add custom text, which can also be a small favor). 
  • Buy Your Rings – You can certainly do this sooner if you’re worried about custom sizing. 
  • Print Programs & Menus – Optional to do, but you can also use a large board or chalkboard, to put a program on our agenda, too!
  • Send Invitations – Set an RSVP deadline of 3 weeks before.

Things to do 1-2 Months Before Your Wedding/Event

Okay, now it’s really crunch time. Your wedding planning checklist is just about a three-quarters of the way done! Here’s what to do next. 

  • Touch Base With Vendors – Meet with your photographer to discuss photo options and details; ask any remaining questions you have for all of your vendors. 
  • Finalize Music Playlist – Meet with your DJ or band, in person, or on Skype or phone call, to discuss your details. Be sure to include any do-not-play songs/artists, too!
  • Review Headcount – Be sure to send reminders to anyone, to RSVP
  • Enjoy a Bachelor/Bachelorette Party! 
  • Send out any last reminders for RSVP – You’ll need to close this about 3 weeks before the date. 
  • Apply for Your Marriage License – This can take up to a week, so it’s good to start this earlier. Don’t forget this small, but important detail on this wedding to-do list! 🙂
  • Plan Your Bar Menu – Now you can stock your bar with a good idea of your total headcount. Assume people will drink 2 drinks, each (if not more). 1 bottle of wine serves about 5 glasses. 1 bottle of liquor serves about 17 shots. Get your calculator! 🙂
  • Send Final Payments – Send as many final payments as possible, to all your vendors. You’ll have less to worry about, the day of the event! 
  • Write Vows – Writing vows are a great way to personalize your wedding. We’ve all heard the same ceremony, so make yours different! 
  • Hair/Makeup – Get your hair cut, or colored, and touch base with your makeup and hairstylist. 
  • Assign Seating- If Desired. Here’s a great website, to help you create your seating chart, free! https://www.allseated.com/ 
  • Check-in With Planner/Coordinator – If you have a planner/coordinator, be sure to check in with him/her and finalize the timeline. He/she will need to send this to the vendors, soon. Feel free to compare your wedding planning checklist with your planner. You want to be sure you’re both on the same page!

Wedding Planning Checklist- Week of the Wedding

wedding checklist week of
Wedding Planning Checklist: Week of the Wedding

The week you’ve been waiting months or years for, is finally here, yay! If you have done all of the other things listed in our event/wedding planning checklist, you shouldn’t have too much to stress about! Here are the final things to do, the week of your wedding.

  • Confirm Arrival Times – Vendors should confirm arrival times with you or your planner. Be sure they have enough time to set up and be sure to check in with the venue to find out how early you can arrive, the day of the event. 
  • Send Timeline – Send a timeline to all the vendors who may need it, and anyone in the bridal party or anyone else who may need it. If you have a planner, they should have done this for you. 
  • Pickup Your Dress – If you haven’t already done so, pick up your wedding dress, suit, tux, or whatever you are wearing on the big day. 
  • Make Payments – Make checks (yes, people still use checks at times), money orders, Venmo, or however you choose to pay, to all of your vendors that you have not already paid. Many vendors require payment a few weeks before the event date.
    • For those who do not, usually, those vendors expect to be paid before the event begins. Be sure to give the payments to your planner or someone in your bridal party, who can give these out. 
  • Treat Yourself – It’s a stressful time, so treat yourself to a spa for your mani/pedicure and a massage! This may seem out of place on our wedding planning checklist, but trust us, it’s not. Self-care is a must for stressful times. Treat yourself and you’ll be relaxed and ready for the fun!
  • Send Headcounts – Send the final headcounts to your catering and bartending company, they’ll need this at least 3 days before the event date. 
  • Work on Favors/Gifts – If you’re providing favors/gifts, it’s time to get them ready to go. 
  • Break-in Your Shoes – This sounds silly, but you need to do it! Your feet will thank you, the day of! So put those shoes on and start walking, dancing, etc. 🙂
  • Pack for Your Honeymoon – Finally, this is the last thing on the list! It’s time to see all your hard work pay off! 
Wedding Planning Checklist: Done! 

Overall, we know planning your wedding can be a long, exhausting journey, but rest assured, it’s worth it! You’ve completed the entire wedding planning checklist and should be feeling pretty confident right now. If you’re not, reach out to your vendors one last time for more questions.

The wedding rehearsal dinner is also a great time to run through all of the details and ask your planner/coordinator any questions. If you still have not planned your rehearsal, be sure to read our Top 10 Wedding Rehearsal Dinner Places in Austin/central TX article, for great places. Call them ASAP and reserve your spot!

We hope our wedding planning checklist has been helpful. As the company owners and certified wedding/event planners, weddings are our life! We’re always happy to help with any tips or suggestions. Please feel free to send us an email and we’ll be happy to provide help! 

– Austin’s Best DJs & Photo Booths

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