Wedding Planning Month by Month List

You’ve got the ring…’re ready to plan your wedding….now what?  While wedding planning can be exciting, there are so many things to take care of…so many details to arrange that it can seem overwhelming.  Below is  a 12 month step by step list to get you started.  

NOTE: Getting married isn’t all about the dress, flowers, cake and decorations.  It’s a legally binding union. 

For your paperwork, go to the Lafayette Clerk of Court inside the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.  The marriage license must be purchased at least 72 hours in advance of the ceremony and expires 30 days from the issue date.  This license is only valid for ceremonies performed in the state, and only one party is required in person to purchase.

What you will need when you go to get your marriage license:

  1. $34.50 (cash) for the license. (this could change with the state you are in.  Call your local Court House to find out what amount you will need)
  2. A  certified copy of your birth certificate or birth card.  Foreign documents require a certified English translation.  Louisiana birth certificates or birth cards are available from the Clerk of Court.
  3. Social Security numbers; if no Social Security number has been issued to an applicant, they must appear in person and sign an affidavit to that effect.
  4. If either party was previously married, they must show proof of how the marriage ended.  This will be either a divorce judgment or death certificate.  These documents must be certified.

Wedding  Planning -9 to 12 months before:

  • Set a date. Decide on size and formality of event.
  • Visit with clergy member or Justice of the Peace to confirm the date.
  • Prepare a budget for you wedding, reception, and any other wedding-related parties.
  • Determine the time and place of your wedding.
  • Determine the place of your reception and book it.
  • Draw up your guest list.
  • Ask your fiancé’s family to draw up their guest list.
  • Ask family and/or friends to be in your wedding party.  Be sure to be sensitive to any financial limitations they may have.
  • Seek out and buy a wedding gown and accessories.
  • Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses.
  • Search for and book disc jockey, photographer, videographer, florist, musicians, caterer and cake maker.  Be sure to get a written contract.
  • Remember, if you are planning an outdoor wedding, be sure to have an alternate plan in case of inclement weather.  Plan if you’ll need to rent a tent, or perhaps move the function indoors.
  • Choose a color scheme.

 Wedding  Planning – 6 to 9 months before:

  • Have your fiancé ask his family and or friends to be in the wedding party.
  • Shop for wedding invitations and thank-you notes.
  • Decide on your fiancé’s wedding attire and that of his best man, groomsmen, ushers, your father, and his father.
  • Ask your mother and his mother to shop for dresses.
  • Start planning your honey-moon and book it.
  • Make sure your passports and birth certificates are current, if needed.
  • Search and select a calligrapher for the invitations, if needed.
  • Arrange for an engagement portrait.

 Wedding Planning –  4 to 6 months before:

  • Register with a bridal gift registry.
  • Reserve your rehearsal dinner location.
  • Book hotel accommodations for your attendants who live out of town, or arrange to have family or friends put them up.
  • Book a block of rooms at a hotel for other out-of-town guests.
  • Begin fittings for your wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses.
  • Select a wedding ring for your groom.
  • Select shoes for your wedding and bridesmaid dresses.
  • Select jewelry for your wedding and bridesmaid dresses.
  • Select head piece/veil for your wedding dress.
  • Order wedding invitations.
  • Order thank you notes.
  • Select and hire a hair stylist and makeup artist for your wedding day.
  • Get together with your photographer and have a photo done for your engagement announcement.
  • Choose ceremony music and musicians.

Wedding Planning – 3 to 4 months before:

  • Address invitations and announcements or bring to a calligrapher. (Make sure invitations are stuffed with response cards, maps and hotel information.) Stamp everything so the invitations are ready to send out six to eight weeks before the wedding.
  • Meet with your caterer to talk about menus.  Give your caterer a rough estimate of the number of guests you expect.
  • Take swatches of your dress and those of your bridesmaids, your mother and his mother to the florist.  Plan your flowers for the wedding ceremony and reception.
  • Firm up your honeymoon plans. This is traditionally the groom’s job.
  • Have your groom hire a limousine or other transportation to take the two of you from the wedding to the reception, if held at different locations.
  • Compile a list of people you’d like invited to showers in your honor.
  • Shop for clothing for young members of your bridal party. (Flower girls and ring bearers)
  • Shop for gifts for your attendants.
  • Have your fiancé begin shopping for his attendant’s gifts.
  • Shop for going away outfit and clothing for your trousseau.
  • Arrange with your photographer to have a formal bridal portrait taken six to eight weeks before the wedding.
  • Make appointments with a great hairstylist for the day of your formal portrait.
  • Start planning music selections for the First dance, Father/Daughter dance, Mother/Groom dance and any other specialty dance.
  • Decide on and order wedding rings.
  • Select a photo for engagement announcement and send it in to the newspapers.
  • Decide on something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
  • Get photos together of bride and groom to put on the sign-in table.  This is usually a photo of when you were a child.
  • Select menu with caterer.
  • List with bridal registries.
  • Select reader (s) for the ceremony.
  • Purchase accessories: Toasting goblets, garter, candles, ring bearer’s pillow, flower girl’s basket and place cards.
  • Confirm all details with hired vendors.
  • Request vacation time from work for honeymoon.

 Wedding Planning – 2 months before:

  • Call city hall for information on how to get a marriage license.
  • Mail wedding invitations.
  • Buy a journal for recording the gifts you receive.  Include the giver, address, the gift, when you received it and any comments to help you personalize the thank-you note.  Send these out as promptly as possible.
  • Meet with and discuss all specifics with the musicians involved with your wedding.
  • Send a bridal portrait and announcement to the newspapers.
  • Get together all necessary birth or baptismal certificates, passports, and other documents needed for your marriage license and honeymoon.  Remember: Birth certificates must be certified.
  • Offer to help your groom and his parents finalize all plans for the rehearsal dinner.
  • Schedule your final wedding dress fitting and have it ready for the bridal portrait for the newspapers.
  • Plan your bachelorette and bachelor party.
  • Choose wedding favors if they are being used.
  • Purchase attendants gifts.
  • Plan order of events at reception with DJ or band leader.
  • Send ceremony music to musicians.
  • Prepare announcement for papers.
  • Confirm Ceremony details with officiator. .
  • Have Best Man, Groomsmen, Ushers and Fathers of the Bride and Groom visit the Wedding Parlor to be measured for their tuxedos.
  • Have out -of-town Groomsmen call or send their measurements to the Wedding Parlor.

  Wedding Planning – 2 to 4 weeks before:

  • Set the wedding rehearsal and firm up rehearsal dinner plans.  Inform the bridal party, close family and friends.
  • Get your wedding license and put it in a safe place.
  • Have a final fitting of your gown and head piece/veil.
  • Double check the clothes of the members of your wedding party.
  • Buy a wedding guest book and pen.
  • Firm up plans with photographer for formal wedding shots of the bridal party as well as candid shots to be taken at the reception.
  • Give your caterer a solid estimate of the number of guests you expect to attend the reception. Make final menu decisions.
  • Talk to your florist to make sure all is going on schedule.  Double-check addresses and times of delivery to wedding and reception sites.
  • Double-check transportation plans: time, place, size, and number of vehicles.
  • Draw up seating arrangements and make place cards for the rehearsal dinner and the reception.
  • Decide who will stand in the receiving line and in what order.
  • One month prior to your wedding, mail invitations.
  • Buy Grooms’ gifts.
  • Confirm Honeymoon reservations.
  • Write Thank-you notes for gifts as they are received.
  • Get marriage license.
  • Attend showers in your honor.
  • Arrange for some time alone.
  • Make name and address changes on bank accounts, credit cards, driver’s license, social security card, utility bills and others, as necessary.
  • Pick up wedding rings.  Do they fit?
  • Meet with photographer.  Discuss special photographs you want to take.
  • Meet with DJ or band leader to confirm music requests and order of events.
  • Continue to send Thank-you notes.

Wedding Planning – 1 week before:

  • Begin packing for your honeymoon.  Remember those important documents, passport, etc.
  • Make sure your bridal-party gifts are wrapped.
  • Touch base with the florist and bakery to make sure all is in order.
  • Pick up your wedding rings and ensure that they fit.
  • Buy grooms wedding gift.
  • Touch base with Clergy member or Justice of the Peace.
  • Touch base with photographer, musicians, caterer, reception facility, videographer and DJ.
  • Check honeymoon reservations and arrangements.
  • Get straight pins for the money dance.
  • Get travelers checks, if needed.
  • Prepare Emergency Wedding Day Kit with safety pins, needle and thread, scissors, and band aids. Have a list of phone numbers of ALL of your vendors on hand.
  • Have all Groomsmen and other members of the wedding party visit the Wedding Parlor to try on and pick up tuxedos and accessories.
  • Provide caterer with final guest count. Confirm all details.
  • Get money and/or travelers checks for honeymoon.
  • Review details with each vendor.
  • Arrange time alone for you and your fiancé.
  • Pay clergy and musicians.
  • Get plenty of rest.

Wedding Planning – 72 Hours Before

  • Get your marriage license.

Wedding Planning – The day of your wedding

  • Give the money dance pins to the person who will be handing them out if they are not already at the reception hall.  Make sure the DJ starts the dance early before any guesst leave.
  • Give the groom’s ring to the best man.
  • Get to your hair and makeup appointments on time.  Be sure to bring your hair piece/veil.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get dressed.  Allow three hours to dress and relax. Let the professionals and/or family worry about the details.
  • Bring your marriage license and rings to the ceremony site.
  • Think about your family and friends gathered to share in your wedding.
  • Stay calm and relaxed.
  • Take a deep breath, smile and look at your fiancé as you walk down the aisle.
  • Enjoy your day!

Remember to keep your cool.  No wedding in the history of time has ever gone off without a few hitches.  Honestly, nobody will notice that the pink in the napkins is off, or the special cake-cutting knife you ordered never arrived.  If the day is magical for you, then it will be for everyone else, too.  

Happy Planning!



La Solange Honeymoon Cottage – Located in Lafayette, Louisiana.

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