The ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist for international weddings
Have a look at our month to month checklist for your wedding!
Congratulations to your engagement! Whether you know exactly how your wedding day is supposed to look like, or you have never spent too much thought on it, you need an extensive checklist to make sure you think of every detail. We created for a you a checklist for each month before your wedding, to make sure you book the right vendors at the right time. Make sure to keep the checklist by your side: it will motivate you during your wedding planning journey, but it will also help you spread the work over the months before the big day. If you follow the timeline, it will help you to not feel overwhelmed with all the tasks. Make sure to assign different tasks to your partner: you are in this together and you should both be part of this adventure!
Of course, we highly recommend hiring a Wedding Planner. They can help you plan your wedding from A to Z, or you can hire them for specific parts of the journey. Click here to have a look at the services we offer!
This checklist is made specifically for couples who are getting married abroad, are having a destination wedding or have a lot of guests living abroad, but it can be used for any kind of wedding/elopement or celebration!
Wedding Planning Checklist:
1 year - 9 months before your wedding
It's time to sit down with your future spouse and make a budget plan. Maybe you have to pay for the wedding yourself, or your families will help you. It does not matter where you get the money from, you need to know how much you can spend and how much you are willing to spend.
Couples often underestimate the amount of friends and family they have. Start by each making a list of people that absolutely have to be at your wedding ( so-called VIP-guests), people that you would like to have at your wedding, people you have to invite (for some reason or another), and people you'd be happy to have if the budget allows.
Decide which guests you will invite and make a first draft of the list. This amount is the number you will communicate to all vendors. Make sure to also talk to your closest family about this list: maybe your mother ab-so-lu-te-ly needs to invite her best friend from kindergarden who you hadn't considered.
Hire a Wedding Planner
As a wedding planning company, we can't stress enough how important it is to delegate the wedding planning work to a professional. There are plenty of reasons why that is a smart thing to do, but the main reasons are that as professionals, they have the best connections to wedding vendors and they will always get better offers than you would. Moreover, they take away so much stress and make sure this adventure feels like something fun and nice for you, instead of turning into a stressful nightmare. Don't underestimate the work that it requires to plan a wedding!
Either you or your wedding planner need to contact many, many, many venues before you take a decision. You have to consider so many things when choosing a venue: space, location, decoration, times, catering, ... If you have the possibility to visit in person, make sure to do that. Otherwise, try to have a Skype call with the venue or send your wedding planner to have a site visit.
Many times, the venue has their own catering. Otherwise, it's time to choose your catering. Venue and Catering are the 2 main things you need to organize at the beginning of your wedding planning journey, because without a venue or without food, there's no celebration!
If you are getting married abroad or out of town, you might want to look into renting an Airbnb for you and your future spouse.
Hotel for guests
Probabaly you will have guests travelling from abroad. In that case, make sure that there are options for your guests to stay at. If there are not many hotels that your guests can choose from, it's wise to choose 1 hotel for your guests to book at. Your wedding planner can negociate an interesting price for your wedding guests!
Design / Styling
Once you have the venue, it's time to think about your wedding style! Rustic? Bohemian? Classic? Do you have a favorite color or flower that you want to use? Make sure to think about this before you start designing your invitations.
Save the Date / Invitation / Website
Whether you will send printed invitations, do a Facebook group or create your wedding website, make sure to base your invites on the design, style and colors of your wedding.
Photographer & Videographer
Wedding creatives are often booked many months ahead of time, especially the good ones! Make sure to at least start getting in contact 9-10 months before your wedding date.
Wedding Day Timeline
Start drafting the schedule of your big day. Read here, how you can make a Wedding Day Timeline.
9 months - 6 months before your wedding
It's time to consider looking for an officiant. Maybe someone of your family or friends will hold the ceremony, but in some countries only an official person is allowed to marry you. Look at what options are available to you.
Wedding dresses take around 8 months to be ordered and altered so make sure to look into that on time. Wedding suits tend to take less time, 4 months is the average.
DJ / Entertainment
Start looking at bands, DJ's and other entertainment you'd like to hire for your wedding. Make sure to read reviews and listen or watch past performances.
Hair & make-up stylist
Instagram is a good tool for finding hair and make-up artists. Make sure to know what style you are going for and look for some examples online. Share the example pictures with the stylists so that they can tell you whether the look is feasible or not. Prices differ, so make sure to request offers from many different stylists.
6 months - 3 months before your wedding
If you are getting married abroad, now is the time to travel one last time to the location and meet with your local vendors and the venue to discuss the details.
Hair & make-up trial
Plan one or two hair & make-up trials with your stylist.
Menu tasting with catering / alcohol
Meet with your caterer to taste some dishes and decide a menu.
If your guests are staying in a hotel, you might want to look into transportation possibilities to and from the venue. If everyone has to drive themselves, people won't be drinking at your dinner and party. That is okay, but it's definitely something you should consider. You could organize a shuttle service or your wedding planner can arrange a deal with the local taxi service.
Now is also the time to plan all the dinners and parties: Bachelorette and bachelor parties, a last trip with your best friend or mom, all the things you want to do before you get married.
Make sure to not only think of your wedding dress but also of the shoes, the earrings, bracelets, or any other accessories you might want to wear.
Ceremony & speeches
Now is also the time to start drafting your ceremony. You and your spouse can write down how you'd like your ceremony to go. Ask yourselves: how long should the ceremony last? How many speeches do we want to hear? Who should give a speech? What music are we going to play? When do we say our vows? How do we enter and exit the ceremony?
Also think about who should give a speech during the dinner and don't forget your own welcome or thank you speech for the guests!
Decoration & flowers
Discuss decoration details with your wedding planner. Think about the decoration on the dinner tables, at the ceremony, during the party... Now is the time to go through all those pictures you pinned on Pinterest!
Order your rings around 4 months before your wedding date. Try to negociate with your jeweler a 'test-period' meaning that after you paid for your rings, you will wear them for a couple days/weeks to see how it fits. If you then need a size smaller or bigger, the jeweller should be able to do that at no extra cost if you negociated well.
Wedding Day Timeline
Update your wedding day timeline with all the details you have acquired in the last couple months.
3 months - 2 months before your wedding
Meet with the person who will officiate your wedding ceremony and go through ceremony script. Make sure that the ceremony represents you and your future spouse.
Get your wedding license
In most countries you will need a wedding license before getting married. Tried to get this official document 3 months before your wedding date.
Confirm all vendors
Now is the time to e-mail every single vendor and confirm payments, services, date, amount of people, etc. Make sure to keep all the information. If you are working with a wedding planner, then she or he will take care of this on a more regular basis.
Hire Wedding Coordinator
If you don't have a wedding planner, now is the time to seriously consider hiring a day-of coordinator. He or she will meet with you a couple of months before your wedding date to discuss all the details of your big day. They will then double check everything with all your vendors and make sure your wedding day goes as smooth as possible!
Make a list of all your RSVP's (if possible with full names and phone numbers in case your wedding planner or day-of coordinator needs to contact someone).
Take your guestlist and start making a seating chart. This is a lot of work and requires a lot of patience and out-of-the-box thinking. Don't expect to do this within a day, you can come back to it and continue later on with a fresh mind.
Speech book (translations)
If you are getting married abroad or you are an international couple, chances are high that not all your wedding guests speak the same language. You might want to consider to have all speeches translated and printed in a speech book that your guests will then receive during the ceremony.
Wedding Day Timeline
Again, update your Wedding Day Timeline with all the details.
Last weeks before your wedding
Take time to relax
This is the most important point: make sure to enjoy the last weeks before your wedding. Plan some date-nights, have a brunch with some friends or just go to a spa by yourself and read your favorite book.
Finalize guest count
Double check all RSVP's and communicate the final number of guests to all your vendors.
Finalize your seating chart and send it to your wedding planner, day-off coordinator or venue and catering.
Wedding Day Timeline
Make a final update of your wedding day timeline and send it to your vendors.
Have the most magical day and enjoy every single second of it. Don't forget to have breakfast, drink water and take 20mins somewhere during the day, to be just with your new spouse!
If you need help with this super extensive checklist, have doubts or questions, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!