One of the most common complaints I hear from couples getting married is how disorganized they feel. Between their full-time jobs, stuff at home, and everything else that can unexpectedly pop up, planning a wedding can feel overwhelming. Even brides I know who have full-time wedding planners feel this way! It just feels like there is so much to do, and oftentimes you don’t even know where to start. But no matter how much time you have for wedding planning or even how big your budget is, my advice to couples is ALWAYS the same: The best way to plan a wedding without going crazy is create a wedding planning timeline and stick to it. The same way you would tackle a project at work or even at home, you want to create a PLAN and go through each item on your list, one by one. Seriously, it’s the ONLY way to do it.
When creating your wedding planning timeline, one of the first things you’ll want to do after you get engaged is to start your wedding website. (Side Note: Creating our wedding website and registry was probably our favorite part of the process). While most couples create their wedding website 8-12 months before their big day, it’s actually never too early to start yours. Why? Well, you’ll want to have plenty of time to either take engagement photos for it, or find old photos you love. Plus, you’ll want to have fun exploring all the different wedding website options (Zola offers hundreds of designs and matching wedding invites), crafting the perfect story about how you two met (and those details about your proposal!), and then you’ll eventually want to add all those other important wedding day details as they come in (such as travel and ceremony and reception info). No matter WHEN you start your wedding website, just make sure to have it up and ready to go by the time you send your Save the Dates, that way you can share your website URL on them and guests can stay updated on all the latest info.
And, don’t forget those gifts! You’ll definitely want to link your wedding registry to your wedding website, and if you’re using a free Zola wedding website along with a Zola registry, they make the process super easy for you AND guests (who will appreciate not having to leave your website to buy you a gift online!). The best part? Guests can also RSVP on your Zola wedding website, and you can keep track of all responses–on paper or online–via their innovative Guest List Manager tool. You can even use it to collect addresses via text or email, which will save you a ton of time.
Once your wedding website is created you’ll be ready to dive into the next wedding planning steps! To help you along the way, Zola has created this wedding planning timeline that will be BEYOND helpful as you start the process, below. Also be sure to check out Zola’s innovative wedding checklist, which you can customize with your unique wedding details. (Their app will also send you push notifications when something is due. How amazing is that?!).
8-12 Months Before
-Schedule and take engagement photos to be used on your invitations and website
- TIP: Photos from a photographer can take months to be edited, so be sure to leave yourself enough time so you can use the photos on your wedding website and Save the Dates.
-Launch a free Zola wedding website and link your registry to it
-Draft a guest list through your wedding website
- If you’re struggling with who to include, try creating a “definitely” and “maybe” list using Zola’s Guest List Manager tool.
- Once you have your list you can also use the Guest List Manager to collect addresses via text or email.
- It’s never too early to register for gifts! Just make sure to do it before your first wedding event (like an engagement party).
6-8 months before
-Send your Save the Dates (Zola has an awesome collection of invites starting at $1.18, plus free guest and addressing)
- Save some extra cards to send to people on your “maybe” list once you start to hear early declines.
- Include your wedding website url to direct people for more information.
4-5 months before
-Order your wedding invitations (you can even match your invites to your free Zola wedding website)
- Use Zola’s multiple events feature through your wedding website to invite different people to different events (like your wedding shower and rehearsal dinner)
3 months before
-Confirm your gift count, and add more gifts if you’re running low on options
- TIP: You can never have too many gifts! Plus, you can use your 20% post-wedding Zola discount to buy anything you really wanted but didn’t get.
2 months before
-Mail your wedding invitations (be sure to weigh a complete invite at the Post Office before you stamp and send)
- Keep track of your RSVPs through Zola’s Guest List Manager (guests can even RSVP on your Zola wedding website).
- As declines start to come in, move them over to your “Maybe” list and send out another round!
1 month before
-Be sure to keep track of all your wedding gifts
- Begin writing thank-you notes using Zola’s thank-you note tracker.
-Finalize your seating chart and review the final RSVP list
1 week before
-Confirm the final headcount using your Zola Guest List Manager and send it out to all vendors
-Have fun and get excited! You got this…