Exclusive Wedding Planning Guide With Complete Timeline

So, the love of your life finally popped the big question. You’ve got a dazzling diamond engagement ring on your finger and after soaking in the moment, you’re ready to get started with wedding planning. From choosing the perfect Dallas wedding venue to picking out or DIYing memorable favors– you have a lot of exciting decisions ahead of you. 

As much as you’re probably looking forward to wedding planning, we know better than most how overwhelming it can be to get started. That’s why today, we’re sharing our exclusive wedding planning guide complete with timelines and tips straight from Hidden Creek’s skilled wedding coordinator, Brett Welch. 

9+ Months Before Your Wedding 

Create a Guest List

The very first step of wedding planning is creating a guest list. Without an accurate guest count, it’s hard to know which venue size will be right for you, request services from wedding vendors, or even keep track of your wedding budget. 

Wedding Budget Breakdown

The second thing you need to figure out is the budget. Sit down and have a conversation with your fiancé, their parents, your parents, and anyone else helping you pay for the wedding. 

If you’re financing the wedding yourselves, talk to your future spouse about how much you can afford, what you’re willing to splurge on, how much you can finance, and if you’re open to paying for wedding essentials on your credit cards. 

Once you’ve had an honest discussion about all of these things, it will be much easier to start shopping for venues, vendors, favors, wedding dresses, and more without overspending. 

Start Touring Dallas Wedding Venues

Now, it’s time to start scheduling wedding venue tours. If you don’t book your venue at least a year in advance, there will be slim pickings, and you might struggle to find a place to host your wedding at all. 

In the past, you could book and plan a wedding in six months, but that timeline has greatly increased in recent years. 

Everyone is booking in advance right now, especially because of the pandemic. Many weddings were postponed due to COVID-19 and most were rescheduled for 2022. 

So book a Dallas wedding venue like Hidden Creek, put down a deposit, and reserve your date no less than nine to twelve months in advance. 

This is essential since you can’t book any vendors until you have reserved a venue and claimed a date. If you don’t do this, your vendor will have no way of knowing if they’re already booked for your big day or if they can travel to you.

Create a Wedding Planning Email Account

This step often gets overlooked, but it makes your wedding planning so much easier. When you have all of your wedding-related emails going to the same place, it’s much easier to keep track of everything. 

It’s also worth noting that if you give your personal email to potential vendors, they will continue sending you promotional emails for years to come.

Buy Your Wedding Dress

Hidden Creek recommends buying your wedding dress at least nine months before the ceremony because it generally takes four to five months to come in. Once the dress arrives, you’ll probably have to wait another few months for your seamstress to complete alterations. While most people don’t buy their dress right off the rack, we highly recommend it for brides on a budget or those who are in a bit of a rush. 

For example, if you want bridal photos done before the wedding, you will need to book a photoshoot one to two months before the wedding. Otherwise, you might not get the pictures back in time to get prints and display them at the venue on your special day. 

Start Booking In-Demand Wedding Vendors

Priority vendors are different for everyone. If having exceptional wedding pictures and videos is a priority for you, then book your photographer now. This increases the likelihood that you’ll get on your favorite wedding photographer’s books. Hidden Creek recommends you book your top three vendors now.

Whatever your top three priorities are, book vendors who meet those needs ASAP. 

Engagement Party and Selecting Wedding Party

You will have your engagement party around this time and select your wedding party. Ask all of your girlfriends, the guys, the flower girl, and whoever else you want to be part of your wedding party to stand by your side at the wedding. Send them bridesmaid proposal boxes or a sweet card asking them to celebrate with you and help make your wedding even more special. 

Envision the Overall Wedding Theme and Colors

The last thing you want to figure out during this timeframe is the overall theme of your wedding and the colors you want to use. Now is also a good time to decide if you want to go casual or formal and how your vision will complement your wedding season.

4 to 8 Months Before Your Wedding

Finalize Bookings With Your Non-Priority Vendors

Book vendors for catering, photography, floral decorations, videography, and anything else you want to have at your wedding. Don’t wait past the four-month mark. That’s when you will have trouble finding people with availability. 

Dress Alterations

Complete wedding dress alterations and push your bridesmaids to select a dress if they haven’t already. Talk to your wedding party about the color, style, and sizes of their dresses, or let them know if you have already picked out a standard dress for all of them.

Find Wedding Tuxes

The guys also need to figure out what they’ll be wearing on your special day. Have them try on their tuxedos to find one they like. If they want to rent a tux, they can do so now. But rest assured, four months is more than enough time for the groom and groomsmen to find their perfect fit.

Wedding Hair and Makeup Test

Schedule a trial run with your hairstylist and makeup artist before the wedding to ensure that you love the look. Even if you completely trust your makeup and hair team, a practice run helps everything go off without a hitch on the day of the wedding.

Send Out “Save the Date” Cards

Send “save the date” cards to your guests six months before the wedding. Take a look at our in-depth video describing the difference between “save the date” cards and wedding invitations.

Research Wedding Insurance

Although wedding insurance is not required, we do highly recommend it, especially during these uncertain times.

Set Up Hotel Room Blocks

If you have numerous guests coming from out of town, you should look into setting up hotel room blocks for them. They will be super thankful that you gave them options for places to stay, especially if they are unfamiliar with the area.

Order Wedding Rentals, Finalize Catering Menu, Finalize Floral Selections

Order all of your wedding rentals, and don’t forget the plates, silverware, and napkins! You’ll also want to finalize your catering menu and floral selections. Chat with your wedding vendors and nail down those final details.

Plan Your Honeymoon

This is the last thing to do during the four to eight-month period of the wedding planning timeline. Honeymoon planning gives you a welcome break from all the wedding planning. Talk to your fiancee about where you want to go, accommodations, how many days you’ll be away, and research any activities you’d like to do. Go ahead and book the trip too. 

Bonus wedding planning tip: if you will be using a credit card to book all of your vendors, pay for the dress, and more– make sure that you are using one that gives you miles or points. You can then use these miles or points towards your honeymoon.

1 to 3 Months Before Your Wedding

Finalize Wedding Accessories

Make sure that you have finalized all of your accessories including your earrings, shoes, the veil, headpiece, necklace, etc. Have all of that ordered or already in your possession.

Schedule Beauty Appointments

Schedule all of your beauty appointments. This includes getting your nails done, hair dyed, a spray tan, and whatever else you want to book to feel your best. 

Premarital Counseling, Wedding Bands, Wedding Favors

Hidden Creek highly recommends premarital counseling. You can even tailor it to your specific religion. 

It is also time to get your wedding bands. This is separate from your engagement ring. You and your fiancé will both need wedding bands. 

Wedding favors are optional, but if you want them, order now. Favors are a gift that your guests take home as a memory from your wedding.

Send Out Wedding Invitations

Your wedding invitations need to be sent out three months before your wedding. You need all of those invitations back within a month of your big day. That’s because you need to give your caterer a final headcount and the people decorating the venue. So, make sure you include in your invitation that you need it back a month before your wedding to plan accordingly.

Bridal Photos and Vows

If you will be taking your bridal photos before the wedding, take them a couple of months in advance. That way, you have enough time to develop the photos and print them out. 

If you and your fiancée choose to write your vows instead of reciting traditional ones– start brainstorming now. This will give you enough time to reflect on what you want to say.

Bachelor and Bachelorette Party 

Have your parties at least a month before the wedding. This is so you have enough time to recover from any accidents that can take place, such as someone getting stuck in jail, breaking an arm, etc. We know many cases where things have turned out unexpectedly, so you want to have enough time to plan around them.

Finalize Your Wedding Playlist

Talk to your DJ, orchestra, or band and finalize the playlist. This includes songs for your first dance, your father-daughter dance, and the reception.

Plan The Rehearsal Dinner

You will need to do a final walkthrough with the venue one month before the wedding and select a time for the rehearsal dinner. This will essentially be a scrimmage to ensure the floor plan, and every detail of the ceremony is perfect. The rehearsal dinner is usually held a day or two before the wedding. 

Give Vendors The “Day Of” Timeline

Make sure every vendor knows what time everything is going to start. Hidden Creek will create this timeline and send it to your vendors to ensure that no one is late.

Final Weeks Before Your Wedding

Now that your wedding date is getting closer and closer, your hands may be a little sweaty. But don’t worry. Hidden Creek has you covered. Here is a list of final wedding planning details that you need to handle before your big day.

  • Get your marriage license (two or three weeks before the wedding) 
  • Finalize seating chart (where people will sit, with who, etc.)
  • Confirm all vendors and finalize payments (don’t forget to tip!)
  • Pack for the honeymoon
  • Pack an overnight bag for after the wedding
  • Prepare a “day of” emergency kit
  • Practice walking in your wedding shoes (break them in before the big day)
  • Give the photographer a list of pictures you must have (with your siblings, the cake, etc.)
  • Get your dressed steamed (in case of wrinkles from the bridal shoot)
  • Get your beauty appointments in
  • Confirm your toast (let your loved ones know weeks in advance)
  • Have your rehearsal dinner (a day or two before the wedding)

Day of the Wedding

Our goal is that you have nothing to worry about on your wedding day. We want to help you be as prepared as possible, so you can relax and enjoy your big day. Make sure you delegate any issues that arise on your wedding day to someone in your wedding party. It is okay to ask for help and let somebody else take care of it.

Here are a couple of tips to make you enjoy your special day to the max and to show your appreciation:

  • Drink a ton of water
  • Make sure you eat (at least lunch before the ceremony)
  • Give out parent gifts (optional)
  • Give out bridal party gifts (optional)
  • Have fun!!

If something doesn’t go as planned, no one will notice. So, there is no need to worry. Just shrug it off and have fun!

Post Wedding

After your wedding day, make sure that you turn your marriage license in. It is not a legal marriage until the courthouse has it on file. You only have 30 days to turn in your wedding license. And don’t forget to return the tuxes after the wedding to avoid any fines! 

We recommend having a family member take the wedding cake and freeze it when you leave for your honeymoon. They should freeze it that same night because it goes bad very quickly.  

Finally, write your thank you cards to your vendors and anyone that gave you gifts. Additionally, make sure to leave a great review for your vendors if you enjoyed their services.

Hidden Creek’s Wedding Planning Guide Is Here For You

Now that you know everything about planning a wedding, it’s time to get started! Schedule your tour with Hidden Creek today, and check out our enchanting indoor and outdoor venue. We are here to answer any questions or concerns about the wedding planning process and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Get started with our easy-to-follow wedding plan guide to make your dream wedding come true!