A year may seem like a long time, but it can fly by when you’re planning a wedding! Now is the perfect time to start getting organized and discussing plans with your spouse. The earlier you start planning, the more you will be able to relax and enjoy your big day. Here is your ultimate checklist of 12 things to do when your wedding is 12 months away!
1. Find a wedding planner.
Working with a wedding planner can dramatically reduce your stress levels as the big day grows closer. Your first step should be to find a planner that you trust. When searching for a wedding planner, you’ll want to look at many different options. Look through portfolios of each planner’s previous weddings, and see which ones are closest to your style. This is a great way to narrow down your options.
You’ll also want to schedule a consultation with each planner and get to know them. Before your consultation, prepare some general ideas of what you want your wedding to look like. Pay attention to how the planner reacts to your ideas - do they work within the bounds of the concepts you’ve set, or do they try to add their own ideas? Your ideal wedding planner should be organized and creative, but ultimately they should respect your vision for the wedding and make you feel comfortable. If you’re having trouble deciding on a planner, don’t be afraid to call their references. Talking to their past clients will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Here are 15 Wedding Planning Tips from Experts.
2. Decide if you prefer a local or destination wedding.
Before you can start looking for venues, you’ll need to decide where exactly you want your wedding to happen. For many people, a local wedding is the best choice, because more friends and family will be able to attend, and it allows them to work more closely with the vendors before the big day. However, others prefer the magic of a destination wedding and choosing a location that’s close to their heart. Sit down with your fiance to make the decision about what makes the most sense for you. Some variables to think about: travel time, weather, the budget of your guests.
Destination weddings pretty much require a destination wedding planner - check out the best ones here!
3. Start touring venues.
Once you’ve decided on the general location for your wedding, it’s time to start touring potential venues. This is one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding - the ceremony & reception venue really sets the backdrop for the entire event. When you find the right venue, it’s likely that many other aspects of the celebration will click into place. Even if you think you know exactly which venue you want, you should always look at multiple options. You might be surprised by which places really capture your imagination (and fits your budget!).
You should also always have a backup plan - the best venues get booked up quickly, and your dream venue may not be available at the dates you need. If you’re looking for wedding venues in Minnesota, be sure to check out our favorite options here!
4. Determine your wedding budget.
While touring weddings is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning, making a budget is a little less fun. However, it’s something you need to do early to prevent financial challenges later on!
Start by looking at how much you and your fiance can realistically afford to save between now and the wedding. Look at both of your incomes month by month, and total up how much you’ll be able to spend without having to cut back on essentials like rent, bills, and food. Add in any savings you already have, and then factor in any money that other relatives may be willing to contribute. It’s worth asking your family members to see how they feel about contributing! Your parents or grandparents might be happy to pay for certain aspects of the celebration, since they are going to be closely involved. Once you have the total, set aside 30% for tips, gratuities, etc. You’ll be thankful you did later!
5. Look for wedding inspiration.
Next, it’s time to decide what style of wedding you want. Your wedding is a representation of you and your fiance’s personal tastes, so you can get as creative as you want. Browsing social media networks like Pinterest and Instagram is a great way to start gathering inspiration, but can be hard to locate the actual source of what you’re looking for. Our blog is another great place to search for ideas! Start favoriting the blogs you are interested in so you can reference them later.
While traditional weddings are always elegant and beautiful, there are many other themes to consider for your big day! Boho weddings have been particularly trendy lately, and there’s plenty of inspiration online that you can use when planning your big day. An offshoot of this style is the country/farmhouse wedding. If you are planning on hosting your wedding in the countryside anyway, this is a great theme to consider. Another twist on the boho theme is a beach wedding - it has many of the same relaxed elements, but focuses more on the stunning natural backdrop. If your style is a little more edgy, consider a minimalist or industrial wedding. Hygge has also been very popular lately - this Scandinavian style combines minimalist design with cozy details for an incredibly chic experience.
6. Pick your wedding party.
Next, it's time to pick your wedding party and personal attendant! These are the people who are going to be there for you on one of the most important days of your life, so you shouldn't take this decision lightly. Of course, you'll want to include close friends, but there are plenty of other practicalities you'll want to take into consideration. Like, you'll want a wedding party that has the energy and free time to be there for things like dress shopping, bachelorette parties, and rehearsal dinners. Many couples also want to have the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, which can present you with some difficult decisions. There are many advantages to having a big wedding party (you'll have more support!), but it can also come with added stress. Work with your fiance to determine who you really want to include on your wedding day.
7. Find a photographer and schedule engagement photos.
You'll want to make sure you have a talented photographer there to capture you on your big day. Now is the time to start browsing through photographer portfolios to find someone that suits your style. Look at online reviews to get an idea of other brides' experiences with each photographer - this can help you narrow down your options. Next, you should schedule a consultation with the photographers you are interested in to discuss your specific vision, as well as rates, schedules, and other practical questions.
Once you find a photographer you click with, the next step is to schedule engagement photos. We have tons of engagement picture inspo, blogs, and a podcast episode to help you navigate this! Engagement photos are a great way to document this exciting time in your relationship, and you'll love looking back on them for years to come. Schedule your engagement photos well in advance to make sure you aren't stuck doing them at the last minute.This is also a good time to discuss locations, themes, and outfits for your engagement shoot to come up with something that suits your taste! Plus, the sooner you do them the bigger the buffer you have incase of bad weather or your schedule changes!
8. Start compiling a guest list.
One of the most challenging parts of planning a wedding is putting together a guest list. Before you start compiling a list of names, look at your budget and determine how many people you can afford to invite. You don't want to put together your list only to realize that you can't actually invite half the people on it. Then, sit down with your fiance and figure out who you want at your wedding. Go through family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else who is important to you! Keep in mind that you may have to make some compromises with your spouse, especially if you are allowing guests to bring dates.
To keep all your guests organized, use a spreadsheet on your computer or smartphone. Beside each guest's name, list their address and whether or not they've sent in an RSVP. You can also use the spreadsheet to keep track of their meal preferences as well as any other helpful information!
9. Look at wedding dress styles and plan a shopping list.
Next, it’s time to start thinking about the type of dress you want to have for your wedding. Pinterest and other wedding blogs are a great source of inspiration, and you can also browse designer catalogs directly online. Here are some great dress shops to get you started in your search. When choosing your dress, you’ll want to think not only about what styles you like the most, but also what you’ll be the most comfortable in on your wedding day. While you’ll want to look great, it’s also important that you’re comfortable enough to move around in your dress. You should also consider your body type and what you think will look most flattering on your frame (bridal consultants can help you with this!).
A year away from your wedding may seem like a long time and you might fear "second guessing" your dress, but it is so important to schedule a shopping trip now so you can try on the dresses, have time for alterations, and have time to find the perfect accessories! Bring a few friends or family members with you so you can get multiple opinions on the dresses. Having friends along for the ride will make your shopping day easier and more fun! Visit multiple shops if you can, just to make sure you’re getting a good variety of options.
Check out our recent podcast episode about this! What You Need to Know Before Wedding Dress Shopping featuring The Wedding Shoppe!
10. Attend the Forever Bride Market.
Attending a bridal convention is an excellent way to browse vendors in person. The Forever Bride Market is Minnesota’s leading bridal convention, and you can shop for wedding decor, browse potential vendors, and enjoy plenty of swag bags and giveaways in just a few hours! Not only is it an ideal place to gather some inspiration for your wedding, but it’s also a fun way to bond with your bridesmaids and meet other new brides. The event is held at Radisson Blu Mall of America, but don’t expect the overwhelming style of a typical convention. This event focuses on providing a boutique style experience where brides can shop and really get to know their vendors!
11. Subscribe to the Forever Bride Show.
Want to keep up with everything going on in the wedding industry? Make sure you subscribe to The Forever Bride Show to keep up with the latest design trends and planning tips. This helpful podcast covers a number of helpful concepts for new brides to make wedding planning easier! We also share advice from professionals and give tangible tips that you can use in your own wedding! It’s the perfect thing to listen to on your morning commute or while you’re getting ready for work!
iTunes, Spotify, Youtube, and wherever else you listen to podcasts!
12. Join the Forever Brides private Facebook group.
Planning a wedding is incredibly exciting, but it can also be very stressful. Sometimes the best way to deal with the stress of the planning process is to talk to other women going through the same thing! When you start planning your wedding, join the Forever Brides Facebook group to get inspiration and chat with other brides who are also in the midst of the planning process. It’s a completely positive space where you can get encouragement and good vibes during this incredibly exciting time in your life. You can browse through for photo and video inspiration, ask your burning questions, and connect with other brides who are similar to you! If you join the group before The Forever Bride Market, you may even be able to connect with other members in person at the event!
Planning a wedding may be intense, but it’s also a build-up to one of the most memorable days of your life. Savor the wedding planning process, because even though it might be stressful now, it’s something you’ll likely look back on with fond memories later in life. The earlier you start planning, the more organized you’ll be when the big day finally rolls around. When you give yourself more time, you’ll be more likely to find the perfect vendors for you. Happy planning!
last image // Lahzeh Photography