It’s one thing to hear it takes about a year to plan a wedding, it’s another thing to break down the tasks and figure out exactly when everything needs to happen. Don’t worry, though, this guide will get you through. What follows are the commonly recommended timelines to plan rentals and other vendor reservations. If you’re looking for hard to find or high demand features for your reception or ceremony, it’s never a bad idea to look a little early, though. It’s a good idea to rent tables and chairs ahead of time, as well. Hard to find items might need to be booked a month or two earlier than the items that are in perennial demand and widely available. Take that into account as you personalize your vendor timeline and move forward with a wedding plan.

One Year Out

12 months before your big day, you should be booking the venue and, if you’re using one, a wedding planner. Venues are in limited supply, and if you book it a full year out, you can wiggle that date if necessary. That’s why a lot of couples pick a venue before announcing their engagement widely. If the date can not be moved, it also gives you the opportunity to shop a few favorite venues for the best fit on the day you need. Similarly, you’ll want your wedding planner on board and working to streamline your experience in all the later steps if you use one, so you need to book early and bring your top choice up to speed on what you’ve already decided.

9-10 Months Before Your Ceremony

The professionals you trust to provide services during the ceremony and reception should be booked at least nine months early, if not sooner. That includes any of the following that fit your plan:

  • Reception music
  • Your Photographer/Videographer
  • Florists
  • Catering
  • The Officiant

Many couples who opt for a church wedding choose the officiant at the point where the ceremony venue gets booked, which is never a bad idea if the two dovetail nicely.

7-8 Months Before the Wedding

It’s time to get the cake and the clothes you’ll need before you get to the point where half your planning time is up. That means bridesmaid dresses as well as your wedding dress. It’s a good idea to get the guys going on tuxedo rentals or other tailoring needs during this time frame too. Bakers who do wedding cakes typically need at least seven months of lead time, so don’t forget to find the right fit during this phase. It’s also time to order save-the-dates so you can get them out around the time you’re six months from the ceremony. Early birds start on lantern rentals and other decorations during this period, but it’s okay if you need to take care of those with the rest of your service rentals. Don’t forget to book accommodations for out of town guests, though!

4-6 Months From Your Big Day

At this point, it’s time to get the invitations out and start tracking RSVPs. If you haven’t started finding the rentals already, it’s also time to get anything you need for service and seating. That means you need to find a great place to rent tables and chairs. It’s also time to look for your vintage glassware rentals. If you manage all of that before you are 90 days from your wedding, all that’s left are accessories, gifts for the wedding party, and thank-you notes for everyone who comes.