Ultimately everyone starts planning their weddings at different times, maybe a year before and maybe a few months before the wedding date. This checklist is to be used as a guideline to create your own checklist that applies to you. The main things to remember for your event in Hawaii are that your flower order and most final payments are due one month before your wedding date. Final meal counts are typically due to your catering/banquet staff between 2 weeks and 3 days before your date, but you will need to check your contracts for specifics.
9-12 Months Before:
*Think about the type of wedding you want. Do you want a formal or informal affair? Extravagant or intimate? Indoors or outdoors? Also think about the time of year you want it to take place.
*Create a budget. Think about how much money you have now, what you will save in the next few months and any financial assistance you are receiving. What do you want to spend, what is your vision, and what will it cost to have your vision? Are you going to compromise on your vision or your budget? *Decide on the size of your wedding and develop a guest list: The rule of thumb is that about 20% of invited guests will not attend a traditional wedding, but this number goes up slightly for a destination wedding. Have an A list and a B list. The A list people who cannot attend will free up space for you to invite your B list guests.
* Collect guest’s email and mailing addresses. You need to know how many guests you are going to invite so you know what venues you can consider. For example, if you are inviting 100 people and the venue can only accommodate 50, that is not a venue you should consider.
*Select the members of your wedding party
*Choose a destination: Unsure? Talk to a travel agent or hit the Internet.
*Gather information about marriage requirements for your destination
*Hire your wedding coordinator
*Research Venues: Request proposals and photos from resorts and/or venues that interest you
*Research Vendors: Begin researching wedding vendors including photographers, videographers, florist, reception bands & DJ’s
Get organized: Start a binder to file all your paperwork, ideas and inspiration in one place. For example, contracts, magazine pages or print outs of photos that inspire you (flowers, attire, favors, decorations)
*Go for a site visit: If time and budget allows it, this would be a great time to go for a site visit. You can scout venues/resorts in person before making a decision, meet with vendors, do food tastings and hair/makeup trials.
*Choose a wedding date: When choosing a date be sure to consider holidays, high season, weekend vs. weekdays, weather conditions that time of year, graduation time, etc.
*Select a venue, wedding date, and put down a deposit to secure the venue.
* Shop for your dress: Keep in mind the destination’s climate and your venue’s setting when choosing the style and fabric.
*Choose your Caterer/menu
*•Book your engagement photo session.
6-9 Months Before
*Decide on theme/colors/overall look of your wedding
*Investigate any ethnic customs or cultural traditions you might want to incorporate into your event.
*Choose an Officiant: Discuss options with your local wedding planner
*Book a photographer and videographer/cinematographer: The good ones are booked quickly so do this sooner than later
* Block hotel rooms for your guests: Make sure you negotiate a group discount
*Launch a wedding website: Include photos of the destination and resort, links to make reservations, a list of wedding events, travel requirements. Use this website to keep your guests updated and collect RSVP’s
*Send out save the dates: Include your website address
*Hire a florist (if not provided by your venue)
*Book the Entertainment for your ceremony and reception: DJ, musician, band, etc. If you can’t meet them in person, ask them to email you a demo of their music. Be sure to consult your venue’s contract to see what is permitted and share the rules with your vendors.
*Buy your bridal accessories: shoes, headpiece, jewelry, garter, lingerie
*Select your bridesmaids dress style and color
*Create a gift registry: Consider a honeymoon registry where guests can give you parts of your honeymoon experience such as spa treatments, excursions or romantic dinners. Be sure to place your gift registry information on your website, NOT in your invitation.
*Select your cake design and pastry chef
*Groom-begin shopping for attire for you and your groomsmen
4-6 Months Before
* Gather all of the documentation you will need in order to be married at your destination: If required by your destination, get blood tests or vaccines.
* Apply for passport if you do not have one. If you have a passport, be sure it is still valid.
*Obtain a visa if your destination requires one.
*Obtain translations for your documents if required by your destination
* Purchase your wedding rings
*Order your wedding invitations and thank you cards: We suggest these be sent out to your guests at least 2 months prior to your wedding date to give them time to respond and give you time to call them when they forget to respond.
*Book your flight and accommodations: Encourage your guests to do the same
*Buy any goods or accessories you need such as décor, guest book, cake topper, etc..
*Shop for resort/honeymoon wear
*Book wedding day transportation: Could include limos and shuttle bus to transport guests to venue
*Arrange transportation/transfer from airport to hotel for you and your guests: It is not necessary to do this for your guests, but it is a nice gesture to include this information on your website so they know of their options.
*Make arrangements for pre-wedding events/activities: Consider group excursions, welcome reception or rehearsal dinner
*Buy groom’s wedding attire: Or arrange for rentals
*Make sure your bridal party order their dresses
*Start a list of must play (and must NOT play) songs for the DJ: Continue to update it throughout the next few months
*Rentals: Arrange any rental needs like chair covers, linens, furniture, lighting, and sound equipment.
2-3 Months Before
*Order favors and welcome bag items
*Confirm details with all your vendors: Including floral arrangements, photography package, DJ song list, menus. And get everything in writing! Be sure to share the rules of the venue with your vendors, including noise restrictions, rules for set up of décor, etc. Be sure to get a list of their needs, including tables, chairs, linens, electrical, etc.
* Address and Mail your wedding invitations: Give your guests plenty of time to put in vacation time at work, arrange babysitting and save money for the trip. Plus, you will need time to call them when they forget to RSVP.
* Begin designing wedding program if you intend to have one
*Book a hairstylist and make-up artist: Your local wedding planner or resort can offer suggestions
*Purchase gifts for attendants, parents & each other
*Consider a spa treatment at your wedding destination
1 Month Before
*Finalize your flower order
*Finalize your menu and bar/beverages
*Finalize your music selections and share with musicians/DJ
*Finalize your processional/ceremony order
*Finalize your ceremony and communicate it to your officiant
*Meet with your photographer to discuss the pictures that are important to you, or email a photo list to him/her
*Make or order wedding programs
*Assemble welcome bags
*Prepare welcome letter
*Arrange how your welcome bag items, favors and decorations will be delivered to your hotel and your guests’ accommodations
*Have your final gown fitting: Make sure to bring your shoes and accessories
*Check in with bridesmaids to be sure their alterations are on schedule
*Make arrangements to pick up your dress or have it delivered
*Write your vows and choose the readings for your ceremony
*Ensure hotel reservations for your guests have been completed
2 Weeks Before
*Call guests who have not returned their RSVP
* Confirm your flight and hotel bookings
* Review and re-confirm all details with all vendors to make sure you are on the same page and nothing falls through the cracks
* Create a seating chart and place cards
*Enter RSVP’s into a guest list spreadsheet along with their arrival date, hotel, phone, etc…
*Bride-get your hair trimmed and colored
1 Week Before
*Start packing and make arrangements to have family members take some items such as favors/welcome bag in their luggage: This may seem early, but with so many important items to take you don’t want to leave it for the last minute
*Finalize your MC script/announcements
When you arrive at your destination
*Meet with your coordinator and vendors. Confirm all details and make sure they have a written schedule of events and a timeline. Verify arrival and setup times; have a backup plan in case of bad weather.
*Site inspection: Inspect ceremony and reception sites. This is a good time to do food tastings and change any menu item you don’t like.
*Rehearsal: Do a walk through/rehearsal at the ceremony site
*Confirm details with your ceremony officiant and planner
*Marriage License: Apply for a marriage license. Remember to bring it with you to the wedding. If your destination requires on-site blood test, make arrangements to have them done
*Welcome Bags: Assemble your welcome bags and make arrangements to have them delivered to guests rooms or handed to guests by the front desk at check in
*Flower Delivery: If you need to have any wedding flowers delivered to your hotel before the wedding so you have them for photos, be sure to communicate this to your florist. Otherwise your flowers will all be delivered to your wedding venue.
*Book a manicure/pedicure for the day before the wedding
*Hair and Makeup Trial: Have a hair and make up trial with your headpiece/veil prior to the wedding to make sure it’s exactly what you’ll want on your big day
*Make sure to steam your dress and his tux. Organize all of your weekend and wedding-day attire and accessories
* Plan a romantic dinner just for the two of you to relax and unwind.
*When attendants arrive, treat them to a special outing like a sailboat ride or a mani/pedi for the girls and a golf outing for the guys.
*Eat something and stay hydrated
*Wedding Gift Exchange: Have one of your Bridesmaids/Groomsmen deliver your wedding day gift to your fiancé while s/he gets ready
*Remember: To bring your license and rings to the wedding
*Use the restroom before you report to the ceremony to walk down the aisle.
*Reward yourself for checking off all the items on this massive list…then RELAX and have fun!!
*Enjoy every moment, because you don’t get to rewind the day and it goes by quickly. No one knows if a flower is out of place or not the right color. If you are having fun, that is what your guests care about, and THEY will have fun.