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The 4 Phases of Wedding Planning

Written by: Jeanne D'Aloia, Owner & Wedding Planner

Congratulations on your engagement! Are you ready to start planning your wedding?

That's great! When we meet with couples at the beginning of their wedding planning process and we ask, "How can we help?" The answer we get often is, "Well, we just don't know where to start and we're already overwhelmed!"

Let us assure you, that's NORMAL!

For most couples, their wedding is the first one they've had! Even if it's not, the wedding industry has changed so much in the past decade...heck, not to mention the past 2 years alone... that the planning process looks a lot different than it did when I got married back in 2010.

While we love helping our clients design and plan every aspect of their wedding, we understand that some couples want to take more of the planning on themselves, especially at the beginning of the process. So, we are here to help!

Our clients (whether you book a package or a single a la carte service), receive helpful resources from us to help them through the planning process. One of those resources is the "4 Phases of Wedding Planning Timeline." If you Google "wedding planning timeline" or "wedding planning checklist," you will come up with thousands of hits.

So, what makes our timeline different?

Most of the checklists you'll find online are generally 12 month timelines. Ours is broken down into phases. We've found that many couples are opting for longer engagements for a variety of reasons and they're taking their time planning the wedding to make sure it's exactly what they want. Also, we're finding that many venues are booking well over a year in advance with all of the weddings that were postponed due to COVID-19, making it more difficult to plan your dream wedding within a 12-month timeframe.

With our timeline, we help you figure out where to start, but we're not going to pressure you into making you think all these decisions have to happen within a certain month!

Enough talking, let's get to the real reason you're here...the planning process!

The 4 Phases of Wedding Planning

Phase 1 (at least 12-9 months before the wedding--but could be further in advance)

  • Talk with your partner and parents (if they're helping to pay for the wedding) about the wedding budget. Keep in mind weddings are an investment, with the average wedding in Minnesota costing $28,132 in 2020.

  • We highly recommend you book a wedding planner during this phase! A wedding planner has so many connections with vendors and can help you SAVE money (all the while working within your budget). We would love to meet with you for a free consultation to get to know you, your vision, and talk about how we can help! Email us at or go to the "Contact" tab at the top of our website to get in touch!

  • Talk about your wedding vision! Pick the top 3 things that are important to you, as a couple, for your wedding day. This is where the majority of your money will be allocated.

  • Tour & book your venue (this should be the first thing you book)!

  • Interview & book photographer!

  • Interview & book your entertainment (DJ, band, etc)!

  • Go shopping for your attire! Especially with shipping delays due to COVID, you'll want to start looking for your dress sooner rather than later.

  • If you have out of town guests or will be having your wedding out of town, look into hotel accommodations.

  • Plan and enjoy your engagement party (D'Amore can help here too!)!

Phase 2 (at least 9-6 months before the wedding)

  • Look at caterers and come up with a preliminary menu, schedule tastings. Consider what, if any, alcohol you will be offering/providing.

  • Solidify your bridal party! Will you be doing something special to ask them to be in your wedding? If so, plan ahead!

  • Need transportation? Now's a great time to start looking into different options!

  • Begin looking at florists and their styles. Begin visualizing what you want the venue to look like.

  • Send thank you notes after engagement party.

  • Pick out and order bridal party attire.

Phase 3 (at least 6-3 months before the wedding)

  • Book florist, if you haven't already.

  • Interview, do tastings, & book baker for wedding cake or desserts (if different than catering).

  • Interview & book hair/make-up for the wedding day. Begin trials!

  • Pick out stationery for save the dates (order these now), invitations, and other stationery needs.

  • Finalize/narrow down guest list.

  • Take engagement pictures at least 6 months before wedding.

  • Finalize menu.

  • Finalize entertainment (music, etc).

  • Focus on design elements in this phase--all the little details!

  • Choose & purchase wedding day accessories!

  • Planning an international honeymoon? Make sure your passport is up-to-date!

Phase 4 (at least 3 months - 1 day before the wedding)

  • Enjoy your showers & bachelor/bachelorette parties!

  • Finalize dress/suit alterations.

  • Send invitations a minimum of 2 months out in advance.

  • Request RSVPs back 1 month before wedding. Follow up with those that did not RSVP.

  • Get final count numbers to the florist, caterer, venue, etc. at least 2 weeks before wedding day.

  • Develop Wedding Day timeline and send to vendors at least 30 days in advance.

  • Finalize payments to all vendors according to contracts.

  • Complete your seating chart!

  • Apply for your marriage license at least 72 hours before wedding day!

  • Plan and attend rehearsal for the ceremony! Rehearsal/Groom's dinner? Enjoy!

  • Make sure you have everything packed and ready to go the night before the big day!

  • Get as much sleep as you can the week before the wedding and make sure to drink lots of water!

This is a simplified version of our 4 Phases of Wedding Planning Timeline! There are so many decisions to make when it comes to planning a wedding! D'Amore Wedding and Event Planning would love to help you make this an enjoyable and stress-free process for you. We have the training, expertise, and resources already! Think about how much time you could save instead of trying to research, contact, and source everything yourself!

Life is so busy! We want to make sure you have the time to slow down and enjoy this moment in your life! It goes by so quickly! We promise, you won't regret getting in touch with us! Our goal is to exceed all of your expectations!

Contact us today at for a free consultation. We can't wait to get to know you and your wedding vision!

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