Things Needed for Planning a Wedding: A Complete Checklist

Updated on June 14, 2015
The ultimate exhaustive wedding checklist.
The ultimate exhaustive wedding checklist.

Everything You Need To Plan A Wedding

Almost everyone has a dream wedding plan in their head: white dress, smart tuxedo, that first dance, leaving for your honeymoon in a beautiful vintage car.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the romance of it all, there are a lot of things big and small that you may not think to consider when preparing for a wedding. With a wedding, the details—whether it’s gifts for your groomsmen or having a repair kit handy—can make or break the day.

Below, you can find a checklist to help you make sure that you’ve thought about and planned for every part of your wedding: from the earrings worn by the flower girls to the ribbons on your car.

Some items also have recommended places to source them. Hopefully this guide and checklist will help you have a happy wedding day!

Wedding Planning Timeline

This timeline will help you keep track of all your wedding plans.
This timeline will help you keep track of all your wedding plans.

Printed Items

  • Invitations.
  • Place Cards.
  • Thank You Notes.
  • Cake Bags.

Wedding Venue and Reception Checklist

When choosing the location for your wedding and reception you need to take quite a few things into consideration. Here are some things you should ask about when choosing a venue:

Disabled Access. Particularly important if you have elderly relatives or friends with walkers or wheelchairs.

Maximum Capacity. You'll probably book the wedding & reception venue before deciding on final numbers. Check that they can accommodate the number of people you wish to invite. The last thing you want is a venue that’s too small for your guests to fit comfortably.

Safety Measures. Many venues require the wedding party to take out liability insurance in the event of injury or property damage. Make sure you ask about any insurance requirements, or any other safety-related information .

Alcohol and Bar. Most venues allow you to pay a flat rate fee for a bartender and then either have an “open bar” for guests, meaning that you pay for all the alcohol, or have a “cash bar,” meaning that guests buy the alcohol themselves. Make sure to ask the venue manager what options you will have and what kind of alcohol you want to serve. Will it just be wine? Or will you also include hard alcohol as well?

Meal Choices. These days, everyone seems to have one dietary restriction or another. Whether they’re gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or allergic, you will want to speak with the caterers to make sure that your guests with special dietary needs are taken care of.

Bride and Bridesmaids: Things to Remember

The bridal dress is often the center of attraction at any wedding.
The bridal dress is often the center of attraction at any wedding.

There's more than meets the eye when dressing up several ladies for the big day. Here are some things you should make sure not to forget.

Hair and Makeup. Make sure you have a hair and makeup professional and that you've had some planning appointments to check what hairstyles will work best for your wedding theme. Since things will inevitably go wrong, you’ll want to make sure that you schedule the hair and makeup person to come early. That way you’re not rushing to finish before the ceremony starts.

Dresses. Some people prefer that their bridesmaids dress identically. Others give bridesmaids more flexibility, allowing them to choose the cut and style or even allowing them to wear any dress they’d like of a certain color.

Underwear. If your bridesmaid or bridal dresses are low cut, tight, or have high splits, will you need any special underwear that won't peek out? Make sure that you let your bridesmaids ahead of time if that will be an issue so they can plan ahead.

Shoes. As with the dresses, there are a number of different approaches to selecting a bridesmaid’s shoes. If you aren't too picky, you can ask your bridesmaids to bring their own shoes, just specify the type and color such as silver stilettos.

Garter. For the bride.

Earrings. Remember to check whether all bridesmaids have their ears pierced before purchasing the required amount.

Necklaces. Some accent jewelry for the bride can often be a lovely addition.

Groom & Groomsmen

When shopping for wedding suits, it's important to send along a woman, as most men think that just any old suit will do. Here are some things to check for:

Hiring or Buying? Sometimes it can cost nearly as much to hire as to buy a suit. However, you may be able to hire a nicer suit for the same money hiring as you can buying.

Cummerbunds. If you're hiring suits you'll need to either have them made to match or hire a set in addition to the suits.

The Cake

The cake is the centrepiece of the reception. But like everything else it requires some work!

Type. Decide if you want the whole cake to be the same flavor or whether you’d like different flavors on each tier. A three tier cake with chocolate, fruit and carrot cake caters for all guests.

Knives. For cutting the cake. You can use just any knife or you can buy specific wedding knives for the occasion and photos. Just make sure that the knife is easily accessible once it’s time to cut the cake.

Flowers

When picking flowers there is a lot to take into consideration including the color of the flowers, the size of the bouquet, and the price. Here are some of the more common areas where people areas where people things to remember:

Bouquets. For the bride and bridesmaids.

Corsages and Boutonnieres. For the groom, the groomsmen, and the mother of the bride.

Centerpieces. For reception decoration. People typically use flowers as centerpieces on the table for the reception. If the wedding ceremony is taking place under a canopy or trellis, people often will decorate those as well.

Extra Bouquet. If you plan to throw the bouquet at the end of the reception, you should think about whether you want to toss the one used in your ceremony or have a second one made up especially for the bouquet tossing.

The Wedding

An antique wedding bell
An antique wedding bell

When preparing the church, hall, garden or other location for the wedding you need to make sure everything's organized and suitable.

Chairs. If you plan to wed outdoors or in a hall you may need to hire seats. You may also want to make sure there are cushions, particularly if it will be a long ceremony. If you’re getting married outside, you’ll also likely want to avoid metal chairs, which can get very hot under the sun.

Flowers. Decorations at the front of the venue or at the trellis or canopy where the couple are to be wed.

Chair Decorations. Either on the pews or on the backs of chairs. Some also prefer to string ribbon or tulle along the chairs next to the aisle to mark the aisle off as well.

Cushions. Particularly if the bride and groom will be kneeling at any stage. If it’s a Jewish wedding, you’ll want to make sure you have something glass for the groom to break at the very end.

The Reception

Once you've chosen and paid for the reception venue you'll need to make sure everything's arranged and ready:

Table Decorations. Whether it’s a floral centerpiece or some artfully arranged stones, you’ll want to have some decorative item on your guests’ tables.

Tablecloth and Chair Covers. Sometimes supplied by venue. If not, you’ll need to coordinate with the vendor who will be supplying these items.

Music. You can go the traditional route and hire a band or DJ or you can use your own music and put together the wedding playlist of your choice. Don't forget to choose a special song for the first wedding dance.

Cake. Some venues will charge an extra fee for storing the cake before the wedding as well as cutting and bagging it after the official "bride and groom cutting".

Favors. Will you provide bomboniere or wedding favors to guests? Favors can often by a small piece of fancy chocolate or a packet of seeds they can plant when they come back home.

Wedding Photo Album. Do you want your wedding album or some sort of picture of the two of you available for guests to sign?

Gifts. Do you want to have a wedding registry? Do you have any preference in gifts you do or do not receive? Would you prefer guests to pay for their meal in lieu of gifts? Where will the gifts be placed?

Table Plans. Do you know where everyone will sit? You could decide to let people sit wherever they would like or you could arrange the tables in a way you think would be best.

Place Cards. So guests can easily find their seats.

Photo by allyrose18 on flickr.
Photo by allyrose18 on flickr.

The Photographs

Location. You need to decide if you'll have the official wedding portraits taken before or after the ceremony, where you will take the official photos, and whether you’ll also want more casual or candid pictures taken during the reception as well.

Video. Will you have a professional wedding video? If not, you could also recruit a friend to be the videographer for you.

Props. Are you planning to have any special keepsakes, memorabilia, or other items in the photo shoots?

Payment. Make sure you've got money with you if required for payment, or have arranged to pay either before or after.

Cars & Transport

Bridal Car. For transporting the bride and the father of the bride to the wedding ceremony and then the bride and groom to their honeymoon.

Bridesmaids’ Car. For transporting bridesmaids and flower girls.

Groom’s Transport. For taking the groom and groomsmen to the wedding before the start of the ceremony.

Honeymoon Car. Usually the couple or man's car. Remember that it's traditional in many places to decorate the vehicle in various ways including painting "Just Married" on the back windscreen or attaching tin cans to the bumper.

Guests Without Transport. Elderly relatives or those without transport may need transport and/or accommodation arranged. If the reception is far from the ceremony venue, you may also want to consider arranging transportation for all the guests just to cut down on confusion and make sure everyone gets there on time.

Car Ribbon. These can be sourced from sewing shops or bridal shops or even online.

Important People

Officiant or Priest. This is one person you better not forget! You should check with them first, some will wish to join you at the reception while others consider it more professional not to.

Wedding Planner. Many people hire a wedding planner to take some of the stress out of dealing with all the details of preparation. Wedding planners have contacts in the business and often know the best and cheapest places to go to make arrangements for your ceremony.

The Emcee. The Master of Ceremonies plays an important role in most weddings. His or her job is to make sure everything runs smoothly on the day (you'll be too busy!) and introduce the couple and wedding party at the reception, as well as introducing guest speakers and telling a few anecdotes.

The Photographer. You'll have choices when you choose what photographer and what price you pay for wedding photos. You can start out with basic photos or buy a wedding package with certain items in it. Depending on how much you wish to pay, you can have the photographer take photos during wedding preparation, at the wedding, reception and when leaving for the honeymoon as well as a wedding video. If you wish to go the cheapest way possible, simply arrange for one set of wedding photos at a park or nice location. Here are some more tips on choosing a cheap and high quality wedding photographer.

Ushers and Organisers. You'll need people to do any last minute setups (while you're busy getting dressed for the wedding), organise last minute details, make sure things run smoothly and also ushers ready to help people get to their seats, both at wedding and reception.

The Bridal Bag

On the special day chances are you'll need all sorts of little things. Pack a small bag that contains all the little extras just in case. Give the bag to someone who'll be nearby most of the day and carry it discreetly. Here's an idea of what to put in it:

  • Mobile Phones. For members of the bridal party.
  • White Chalk. Great for covering up stains on white dresses.
  • Needle and Thread. For little mishaps.
  • Colored and White Ribbon. For patching up, covering, and fixing any hair problems.
  • Tampons or softcups.
  • Safety Pins
  • Double-Sided Tape
  • Extra Makeup
  • Hairspray
  • Antihistamines and Tylenol
  • Dental Floss/Breath Mints
  • Wet Wipes
  • Bobby Pins
  • Perfume or Deodorant

The Honeymoon

Transport. Do you have a honeymoon car ready to whisk you from the wedding to your destination?

Clothing. Do you have a suitcase packed for both bride and groom with everything you'll need on the honeymoon?

Tickets and Travel Arrangements. Have you booked your holiday?

Other Things To Remember

Wishing Well. For guests to place money or cards.

Gifts. For bridesmaids, groomsmen and people such as the parents of the bride and groom.

Wedding Rings. Keep them in their original boxes so they're harder to lose or smudge.

Ring Cushion. For the page boy or ring bearer.

Thank You Cards. To send out after you get back from the honeymoon and sort through the gifts.

Cleanup, Gift Pickup & Payment. Will any bar tabs or reception costs need to be paid following the wedding? Who will take the gifts home from the reception? Will anyone need to clean up or pack up once the bride and groom leave the wedding reception to start their honeymoon?

Rentals. Do you need to rent any chairs or other items, especially if you are having an outdoor wedding?

Please note that I am a work-at-home mum who makes a living writing online. If you're planning to copy this article elsewhere, please take a moment to link back to it. If you are not seeing this article on wrylilt.hubpages.com, it is in breach of copyright and you may be at risk of having a DMCA filed on yourself or the site where it posted. I've had to post this due to the number of people reposting my content without any attribution. Thank you for understanding.

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    • profile image

      Merry merry 2 weeks ago

      This is beautiful, and simple, its actually gives me a headlight, was totally confused initially, but now I can take dem gradually, thanks alot

    • profile image

      autumn 3 weeks ago

      thank you this is so helpful my wedding is in 1 month and2 days.

    • profile image

      mariel 3 months ago

      we're having a project. we're going to make a triple wedding. what we should do to make it possible and organize??? thank you. please reply

    • profile image

      autumn 4 months ago

      its so helpful

    • profile image

      Selena 4 months ago

      So lovely

    • profile image

      Abigail Namasiku Njekwa 5 months ago

      This is a very beautiful page. it has really opened my mind on a lot of things. Especially the little things we forget during preparations. Thank you.

    • profile image

      FaithNicholas 5 months ago

      Hi

      Am planning on having a court wedding then the reception follows at a restaurant. ....Do I need a cake for a wedding like this? Pls reply

    • profile image

      Honey 6 months ago

      This is really helpful. Thank you..

    • profile image

      teejeey 14 months ago

      this is so informative thank you

    • profile image

      sandr benson 14 months ago

      were having a wedding blessing in six weeks its remembering every thing this list is brilliant ive gone through it ive got every thing right

    • profile image

      tandra2blsd@yahoo.com 14 months ago

      Very Very helpful! Getting married on July 18'. I pretty much like to plan ahead but for some reason asking others for help and others suggestions with the planning just isnt good enough for me. After reading this I can take these steps at my own pace and still be at ease about it. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Bee 15 months ago

      White chalk? Wow! I'm taking that with me. Thank you

    • profile image

      Kaye 15 months ago

      This is exactly what i was looking for. I hate all the 12 month countdowns because not everyone (the majority) have their wedding within 12 months. This was just simply put and to the point.

      Thank you :)

    • profile image

      Aravind 15 months ago

      Thanks a lot Of INFO

    • profile image

      Interior Design Student 18 months ago

      Thanks for your help on my research on wedding planning! Now I know what things a need to make sure, one venue needs to have if they wanted to prepare a wedding place service :)

    • profile image

      Radge 18 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      gina l 19 months ago

      Very nice tips. it helps a lot to the bride and groom to become their weeding a successful one.

    • profile image

      MATT 20 months ago

      thanks for posting this details this is awesome

    • profile image

      Fred 2 years ago

      Thank u very much

    • profile image

      Prince Tony Blair 2 years ago

      this is quite in order and so useful

    • profile image

      Paulyn 2 years ago

      Thanks.. Planning my wedding is a lot easier now

    • kbdressman profile image

      kbdressman 3 years ago from Harlem, New York

      Thanks for the list! We'll definitely use this at the end of the month. I hadn't thought about white chalk for covering stains on the dress. Now if only my dress were white instead of ivory! Ha!

    • profile image

      GroomToBe :) 3 years ago

      thankyou for posting this its very useful i can use this for my weeding.

    • profile image

      Stacey :) 3 years ago

      Thank you so much. I'm planning on my own and I just needed to make sure I had everything. this is by far the most useful article all the others was things to do before wedding not items needed and what not to forget.. Thank you again

    • profile image

      minister Anieti Akwa 3 years ago

      Is interesting! Thanks for making it easier for me

    • profile image

      Neltatta 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this amazing article! Very detailed & useful! Thank you!

    • profile image

      kristen 4 years ago

      With my wedding 15 days away, this looks more like a list of many things I would NEVER waste money on :/

    • profile image

      Esther 4 years ago

      So so helpful...God bless you. Preparing for my wedding!

    • alahiker28 profile image

      Vicki Parker 4 years ago from the Deep South

      great tips here. thanks.

    • HaileyAdams profile image

      Hailey 4 years ago

      Awesome article, thank for listing all those things to remember.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image

      Tope 5 years ago

      Very useful... Well detailed

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 5 years ago from Miami Florida

      Miss. Wrylilt Thank you for your excellent article.

    • AisleStore profile image

      The Aisle Company 5 years ago from Hartland, WI

      What a great checklist! But, don't forget an aisle runner, especially for a formal garden wedding, or for that extra special detail in the church..

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is very handy. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • CroftRoan profile image

      Kate Rolands 5 years ago

      Great hub! I'll definitely use this as a reference for Grace Under Fire.

    • profile image

      andrea 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for writing this!...:-)..will def. be helpful in the future...:-)

    • profile image

      Tiffany 5 years ago

      I'm getting married in about 3 or 4 years when I become a nurse and is write all this on a piece of paper so I can use it good job with this btw

    • profile image

      jnlwitney 5 years ago

      It covers alot but i still have this funny feeling ive forgotten something little that will make a big difference on the day

    • profile image

      SoontobeMrsJohnson 5 years ago

      This check list really helped me out being my wedding is in 4weeks and me going through the check list it seems I have done everything on it, because I was worried I was forgetting something. Thank you for this!!! I can take a deep breath now and rest assure MY DAY will be great!!!

    • profile image

      vivian 5 years ago

      Wonderful layout,I love dis,I knw it gonna help me out by dec,thanks so much

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Wow, you've thought of everything here! I'm going to send this link to a friend who's getting married soon. Well done...voted up and shared!

    • profile image

      Bride-to-be 6 years ago

      Very Very Useful! :)

    • profile image

      Bride 6 years ago

      Very useful if you have lots of money to spend but still good for people on a budget :)

    • favorcentral profile image

      favorcentral 6 years ago from Hayward, CA

      Very Thorough! I sure could've used this years ago!

    • TheWeddingSecret profile image

      TheWeddingSecret 7 years ago from Bath, UK

      Helpful and quick checklist! I'm sure any bride to be will find it very useful

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 7 years ago from North Carolina

      This is a good checklist.One can also consider party rentals when planning a garden wedding at home or a reception outdoors.

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