While the beauty and fun of a destination wedding is definitely worth it, it does require some careful planning. This timeline will help you make sure it’s all smooth sailing. (Or skiing, or bungee jumping…)
One year out
*Create your wedding binder. This is where you’ll keep fabric swatches, information about vendors, brilliant ideas, and anything else that’s useful so it’s all in one place. Anal-retentive? Yes. Better than tearing apart your desk looking for the number of that one florist? With the thing? You better believe it.
*Make up your wedding budget. You can do it! You’ll want to get it out of the way as soon as possible. It will help you plan, and the sooner you get it done, the sooner you can stop talking about it. Don’t forget to leave wiggle room for things you haven’t thought of!
*Hire a wedding coordinator. It’s good idea to have one for a destination wedding, especially if you’re going out of the country. Think of it as paying to keep that much more of your sanity.
* Consider purchasing wedding insurance. Again, when you’re undertaking something this big, it helps to take a few precautions.
Eleven months out
*Make a final decision on your destination.
* Visit your destination to make sure you’re really, truly certain.
*Check the weather patterns for your destination (Will your wedding be during the rainy season? The godawful hot season? The giant frog migration season?) to make sure you’re really, truly, for real, extra certain.
*Research hotel and travel options for your guests.
*Send out save-the-date cards.
*CHECK THE LOCAL WEDDING LAWS. You don’t want surprises in this category.
Ten months out
*Meet with any wedding professional who will be traveling to your wedding site.
* Discreetly sound out your friends and relatives to make sure none are wanted by the law in your wedding location.
Nine months out
* Make hotel reservations for the wedding party.
* Make your own travel arrangements.
*Encourage members of the wedding party to make their travel arrangements.
* GATHER ANY LEGAL DOCUMENTS YOU NEED FOR THE WEDDING. Put them someplace really, really safe. No, safer than that. Consider having them surgically implanted.
*Make arrangements for any tours or activities for the guests.
Eight months out
*Register for gifts. (Hooray!)
* Choose your wedding theme, style, colors, and other girly stuff.
*Start making decisions about invitations and stationery.
Seven months out
*Choose your gown.
*Order bridesmaids’ dresses.
*Order tuxes for the groom and groomsmen.
*Start shopping for the rings. (If the thought “Screw it. Let’s just get them out of a gumball machine,” enters your head at any point, take a much-needed break.)
Six months out
*Choose and order the cake.
*Make a final decision on a florist.
*Make final decisions on decorations for the wedding and reception.
*Set the menu.
* Make final decisions on transportation.
*Review the ceremony and purchase any necessary items like candles and candleholders, toasting goblets, hula hoops, fire batons, etc.
Five months out
*Time to give back! Purchase gifts for your wedding attendants. You’re still five months away, so avoid mayonnaise-based gifts.
*If you’re having them, order your wedding favors.
Four months out
*Address and mail your wedding invitations. Make sure it’s in that order.
*You are allowed to drink anything you want to get that glue taste off your tongue.
Three months out
*Remember how valuable being anal-retentive was earlier? It’s that time again. Whee!
*Review your wedding budget.
*Review your travel itineraries.
*Review contracts with wedding vendors.
*When you’ve gotten all this done, reward yourself by letting yourself smug out just once. When someone mentions everything you have to get done, breezily reply “Oh, it’s not too bad if you just stay organized.” Then duck.
Two months out
*Call any wedding invitees who haven’t responded.
*Make up your seating charts. Yes, you may put all the late responders at one Table of Shame, or next to that one family friend who loves to talk about the time he got the Norwalk virus.
One month out
*Confirm hotel and travel arrangements.
*Release hotel rooms you don’t need.
*Confirm the schedule for your wedding day.
*It’s one month away! Call a friend to flip out a little bit.
Three weeks out
*Call your vendors and make sure you’re all on the same page.
Three days out
* Arrive at your wedding destination. (Today at the latest.)
*Meet with your caterer or banquet manager.
* Get pre-wedding beauty treatments, such as manicures or pedicures. No matter how jetlagged you are, do not let yourself be talked into a bold new haircut.
The Big Day
*Stop reading this and go get married!
*Are you still reading? Stop it! Go put your dress on or something!