Wedding Planning Timeline: The Complete Guide to a Stress-Free Wedding Day 

February 12, 2023


Firstly, congratulations on your engagement! It’s an exciting time with so many amazing things to look forward to. This 18 month wedding planning timeline has been designed for couples who aren’t sure where to begin. I’ve written this to help alleviate unnecessary stress and build the wedding celebration of your dreams. If you’re anything like me, you’ve jumped straight into building your wedding vision board and started looking for vendors. 

18 Month Wedding planning timeline: 

It’s important to note that this 18 month wedding planning timeline suits those starting to plan their wedding 12-18 months in advance. However, if you’re planning your wedding with less time, each section may still apply but run on a different schedule. 

Every couple who chooses to work with me as their wedding photographer will receive their very own “An Organised Life x Together Journal” wedding planner too!

12-18 months before

  • Estimate budget & guest numbers: You’ll want to start with a budget and approximate guest numbers. You don’t necessarily need to lock in your final guest list, but a rough number and budget will help make decisions when chatting with vendors a lot easier.  
  • Hire your planner: Here’s when you’ll also want to hire your wedding planner. Their job is to be with you from the start, so it should be one of the first things you book. You’ll also want to include the wedding planner fees in your budget. 
  • Secure your venue and set your date: Finally, you’ll want to work with your planner to secure your venue and date as soon as possible. Popular venues and dates are usually the first things to get booked up, so if these are important, give yourself plenty of time. 

Campbell Point House

Wedding Planning Timeline: 12 months before

  • Hire your celebrant, photographer & videographer: Once you have your budget, venue and date, you can hire your celebrant, photographer and videographer. Doing this 12 months from the wedding dates gives you plenty of time to chat with these vendors and learn more about the process before making your final decision. Not sure how to choose your wedding photographer? Here are 6 things to consider.

10-12 months before

  • Start dress shopping and order your dress: Most wedding dress designers in Australia require a minimum of 6 month lead time. Some of these production times have been extended to 8-10 months. The sooner you do this, the more time you’ll have for alterations and dress fittings.
  • Confirm your wedding party: You’re less than a year away, so now’s the time to start confirming your wedding party. This is especially important if any of your wedding party needs to book travel to attend your wedding. It will also help when planning a hen’s or bucks party. 

8 months before

  • Book hair and makeup: When booking hair and makeup, you’ll start with scheduling a trial. This can be done before finalising your hair and makeup artist. Once your trial is done, you can secure hair and makeup by putting down a deposit. 
  • Select and confirm your stationery: If you’re doing stationery, especially for the wedding reception, you’ll want to select and confirm this detail no later than eight months before. These vendors will also typically have lead times to guarantee their best work. 
  • Book your engagement or pre-wedding shoot: This detail is slightly different for every couple, but I recommend booking your engagement or pre-wedding shoot at least eight months before the wedding day. This time is also a great opportunity to meet your wedding photographer. 
  • Book and confirm your florist: Don’t forget about the flowers! Try to have this vendor organised before the 6-month mark so you can confirm the design and coordinate with the venue. 
  • Start building a wedding website: Wedding websites might be a newer trend, but they are very helpful for your guests and a great way to share updates and details. You can use the images from your engagement shoot as well!

Wedding Planning Timeline: 6 months before

  • Send save the dates: Before you send your invitations, you’ll want to send your save the dates. These are great if you have guests from out of town who may need to book accommodation and travel. These can also be digital to save on costs! 
  • Have an engagement or pre-wedding shoot: Treat your engagement shoot like a date and take a break from the wedding planning. Your pre-wedding shoot is a great opportunity to let your hair down and have some fun. You can also lock in your hair and makeup trial to test the longevity and what it looks like in your professional photographs.

3-5 months before

  • Send formal invitations: If you’re sending a physical invitation then you’ll want to send these at least 5 months before so you have plenty of time for them to arrive. These will also be included in the stationery you selected before. 

3 months before

  • Book dress fitting and start dress alterations: It’s time to make the final touches to your dress and purchase the final details. By this point, your dress should be nearly ready to go and tucked away for safekeeping. Of course, if your dress is couture, then follow the timeline of your dress designer.
  • Confirm hens or bucks: If you’re planning a hens or bucks, give yourself time to lock in the final details. Three months is not necessarily when you celebrate with your friends but when everything you finalise the details. 

Wedding planning timeline: 1-2 months before

  • Begin beauty appointments: If you get regular facials or waxing, you’ll want to start your beauty appointments roughly two months before. This is also important if you’re trying something new in case you have a reaction.
  • Book final appointments: Some beauty appointments, such as a spray tan, lash extensions or nails, need to be done only a few days before the wedding, so start booking these a couple of months before so you get the time you need.  

3 days before: 

  • Prep wedding day and night details: With only a few days to go, you can start to prepare your wedding day and night details, such as an overnight bag, wedding shoes, jewellery, perfume, rings, and brunch for the morning. 
  • Finish off appointments: If you have any outstanding appointments or errands, now’s the time to get them done. You should be starting to unwind and relax before the festivities. 
  • Check in with the wedding party and immediate family: Make sure to check in with your wedding party and immediate family a few days before. It will help ease any nerves and clear any last-minute tasks. 

1 day before

The eve of your wedding! Make sure to get a good night’s rest and try not to disrupt your normal routine as much as possible. Less is more leading up to the big day, and you should do what makes you feel calm. So surround yourself with your favourite people and enjoy all the love. 

Your wedding day 

Now it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy! This 18 month wedding planning timeline checklist will help you enjoy your celebration without any stress. You’ve hired your favourite vendors, surrounding yourself with your favourite people, and get to marry your best friend. The day will be wonderful no matter what happens.

Wondering how to plan your wedding day timeline?

Can I plan a wedding in less than 18 months?

Wondering whether you can plan a wedding in less than 18 months? I’m pleased to tell you it’s still possible. However, you might not get your dream venue or vendors with such short notice. Be flexible and creative with your vision and use this 18 month wedding planning timeline as a guide. The more flexibility you have with details, the more you’ll enjoy the process.

If you’re 18 months out from your big day and looking for your dream wedding photographer, I’ve officially opened my calendar for 2024. To learn more about my process and wedding photography packages, you can book a free, no-commitment discovery call here

xo, Sonya 

I'm Sonya and I'm so happy you're here. This blog is a journal about real weddings, real couples, editorials and all about my travels, fashion, and style. Stay a while and say hello!

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