Our last article talked about the general list of wedding vendors and the costs that come with planning a wedding. But what I failed to tell you in that last article was when you should book those vendors before your wedding day.
As a general rule of thumb, the sooner you book a vendor, the better. If you have a full-coordination wedding planner, they should be able to help you with this checklist. But if you don’t have a full-time planner and have to schedule things yourself, here’s a checklist that can help you countdown to your big day.
While some couples plan their wedding for more than a year, most wedding planners believe you need at least a year to plan a wedding. You could try to pull off a wedding in less than 12 months, but expect that most of the vendors you want may be fully booked or raise their fees because they know you might be rushing.
- Settle on a wedding date.
Choose up to three wedding dates if you want to be a bit more flexible. Expect fewer guests to show up for a weekday wedding, but you’ll be competing with other couples and events for vendors for weekend weddings.
- Settle on a budget.
Now’s not the time to be coy with Mama and Papa. Find out whether or not your and your partner’s parents will be contributing to your budget or if you’ll be paying for everything yourselves. You can’t start hiring vendors until you know how much you have to work with.
- Hire a wedding planner.
Decide if you’ll want a full-coordination (the planner does most of the organizing), partial coordination (the planner will help with some of the planning), or on-the-day coordination (you prepare everything, the planner organizes everything on the wedding day only). The more workload you give them, the more expensive they’ll be.
- Book your wedding venue.
If you have multiple tentative wedding dates, this should help you settle on a final date. Book as early as possible, especially if you’re eyeing a church and reception venue that are popular wedding venues. You can book your reception venue as soon as you put a down payment, but if you’re having a church wedding, don’t forget to complete your church wedding requirements in the months to come.
- Finalize your wedding theme and colors.
Knowing your budget and venue, you can start to finalize what you want your wedding to look like. Moving forward, this will be the theme you keep in mind when coordinating wedding details.
- Browse for wedding dresses and veils.
Customized and made-to-order wedding gowns require a lead time of at least six months. However, it’s dangerous to start ordering that late into planning especially from high-demand designers or for complex gown designs. You should already have an idea of what you want 10 months before your wedding.
- Choose your bridal party.
Given that bridesmaids and groomsmen in the Philippines are mostly a symbolic role, they don’t have a lot to do except show up and stand by you and your partner by the altar in the outfits you pick. The difficult part of choosing your bridal entourage in a Philippine wedding, however, are the principal and secondary sponsors. Choose wisely.
- Create your wedding website.
Your wedding website is a convenient place to share your wedding details and registry and collect RSVPs from your guests.
As much as possible, you’ll want to start booking all your vendors within the next four months. This is to avoid booking last minute or finding out that they’re already booked for a different event.
- Book your venue stylist, photographer, videographer, caterer, hair and makeup artist, and florist.
These are the vendors that are likely to be booked quickly within the next few months, so book them ASAP. Booking your vendors early also allows you to shop for different vendors and compare prices.
- Schedule pre-nuptial photoshoot.
This may be the photo in your save-the-date, wedding invites, wedding website, and other materials for your wedding. Coordinate with your HMUA, photographer, videographer, and venue coordinator for special rates to do both your pre-nup and wedding.
- Create a guest list.
Start drafting your guest list based on your budget. Everyone in this first guest list will be given a save-the-date card, so plan carefully. You can always send formal invites to those who weren’t given a save-the-date, but it’s rude to give them a save-the-date and then not formally invite them to the wedding.
- Start your fitness plan.
Healthy diets take months before you can see noticeable weight loss. If you want to slim down a bit for your big day, start your diet at least 10 to 11 months in advance.
- Buy your wedding gown and veil.
By now you should have found a designer or dressmaker to either create a made-to-order gown to your measurements or customize your gown. Most vendors can provide a matching veil, but if you want to cut down costs and buy a pre-made veil, you can buy it as late as 6 months along with the other accessories you plan on wearing.
- Order your Save-the-Date Cards.
Depending on how simple or complex your save-the-date is, printing could take two to three weeks. Be sure your cards have the date, venue, and wedding website link so they can get an advanced head’s up.
- Set up a gift registry.
A tasteful way of letting your guests know what you want for wedding gifts without the risk of multiple guests buying the same thing. Gift registries in the Philippines include The SM Store, Robinsons Department Store, Rustan’s Weddings and Beyond, and Crate and Barrel. Be sure to add your registry links to your wedding website.
- Book your officiant.
That’s assuming the church you booked does not include an officiant to preside the wedding. For church weddings, it can be a religious leader authorized to perform weddings. But for civil weddings, a judge or mayor can only officiate if they’re in their jurisdiction.
- Book your music provider and select your reception music.
DJ? Singer? Live band? Regardless, it’s time to book them. Also, give them a list of songs you want to play or don’t want to be played during your reception.
- Buy the outfits of your groom and the rest of your entourage.
Unlike a wedding gown, the outfits of the rest of the party aren’t as complex and won’t take as much time. By now, you should have already bought RTW outfits or have a designer, tailor, or seamstress creating their outfits.
- Send your save-the-date cards.
Send the save-the-dates. Alternatively, you could save a few thousand pesos by simply announcing the date of your wedding online.
- Browse wedding invitation designs.
This should be easier to do since you have a theme and color scheme in mind.
- (For out-of-town weddings) Book your and your entourage’s hotel accommodation
Book ahead of time to avoid the hotel you want from getting fully booked on your wedding day. If it’s out of town, start your booking for the day before your wedding.
- Browse honeymoon options.
Consider where your budget can afford and where you and your partner want to go. You can start to make arrangements if you have the time and money, but otherwise, you can put off booking necessary things until a few months later.
- Adjust your guest list.
Some of your guests who received the save-the-dates may have come to you to say they aren’t free to attend or have requested additional seats for plus-ones. Adjust your guest list accordingly. If your guest list shrunk, feel free to add more people you couldn’t squeeze in before. If it grew, update your caterer and venue stylist and expect to pay for more meal portions and tables.
- Book transportation (bridal car, car rental, driver).
- Book ceremony musicians or select music for the ceremony.
Most churches already have a sound system, but if you want a live band to perform, book them immediately.
- Book cake vendor.
Schedule a cake tasting with vendors and finalize the cake you want at your wedding.
- Book ALL vendors for the event.
Book all the different vendors expected to be there at your wedding (i.e. mobile bar, photo booth rental, fireworks technician). You should have already booked all these vendors at the six-month mark.
- Order wedding invitations.
Finalize the wedding invitation design you want and order enough for all your guests.
- Schedule dress fittings.
Your first dress fitting should be around three to four months after placing an order, though this may change depending on your designer. This is usually just the skeleton of the dress and does not include all the embellishments.
- Browse hair and makeup styles.
Your designer can suggest ideas for your hair and makeup to complement the gown and your wedding theme.
- Purchase undergarments and accessories for the wedding gown.
Some designers provide undergarments like push-up bras and corsets to attach it to the gown. If yours doesn’t, ask what kind and color of a bra (and underwear, for tight-fitting gowns) you need to have. Don’t forget to bring it to the final fitting.
- Purchase wedding bands.
This may take several months to procure if customized.
- (For international honeymoon) Make honeymoon arrangements.
This can include airplane tickets, accommodations, and tour packages.
- Schedule meeting with the florist to discuss flower arrangements
Finalize the designs for your bouquet, altar arrangement, table pieces, and more.
- Begin creating DIY favors.
If you’re planning to DIY your wedding favors, you might want to start now instead or rushing at the last few months. However, for perishable favors like cupcakes and cookies, you’ll want to make them a few days before the wedding.
- (For local honeymoon) Make honeymoon arrangements.
- Get a marriage license.
It takes 10 working days after submitting your requirements to get your marriage license. While it’s valid for 120 days, it’s best to get it around this time because some churches have a deadline when completing your requirements, including the license.
- Order wedding favors.
For both perishable and non-perishable giveaways. Perishable favors may be delivered to the reception venue, though some suppliers may add an additional fee.
- Plan the reception seating arrangement.
More formal weddings practice a seating arrangement accompanied by place cards.
- Do hair and makeup testing with HMUA.
A trial run for the big day to see if your idea and accessories will look good on you or if you need to take a different route. Better to do it three months ahead than to re-do an entire styling and delay your wedding.
- Purchase wedding ceremony accessories.
If you’re holding a traditional church wedding, this includes a Bible, the arrhae, candles, veils, and cord.
- Finalize menu with caterer.
- Order menu cards, programs, seating cards, etc.
- Finish all DIY projects.
You should be finished with all décor, souvenirs, and other things you planned to DIY.
- Send wedding invitations.
Either personally deliver the invites or use a courier service like LBC to send it to your guests.
- Begin writing your vows.
Because some couples prefer to stray from traditional vows and write their own.
- Go over ceremony details with wedding officiant.
They may host a traditional mass, but you can ask them to remove the second reading or keep the homily short.
- Final fittings for the bridal party.
- Have hair treatment and spa treatments.
Do this especially if you’ve never had your hair treated or you’ve never tried certain treatments in the past. If you don’t like the way your hair or skin looks after the process, at least you’ll still have two months to remedy it.
- Avoid trying out new hair treatments or skincare routines.
Now is not the time to try a new haircut or see how effective a new trendy skin care product is, as it could lead to breakouts or allergies that could take weeks to soothe.
- Final wedding dress fitting.
Don’t forget to bring your undergarments, shoes, and accessories.
- Buy gifts for the bridal party.
A simple gift for thanking them for being a part of your wedding.
- Coordinate with vendors over the final details.
Confirm the date and time of the wedding. If you have a planner, they’ll do this for you as they’ll be the one coordinating on your wedding day.
- (If leaving for a honeymoon immediately after the wedding) Pack for honeymoon.
Set aside the things you’ll be bringing on your honeymoon especially if you’re leaving immediately after your wedding.
- Follow up RSVPs.
Follow up with those who haven’t confirmed their attendance. Either they haven’t received their invite, forgot to confirm, or aren’t really familiar with the importance of RSVPs.
- Finalize seating arrangements.
Especially for formal occasions and in special cases where caterers need to know where the people with special dietary needs are seated.
- Send the final headcount to the caterer.
- Print Thank You Cards.
You might have already begun to receive gifts from the registry. You can thank them personally or online, but a traditional thank you card can be very sweet.
- Make final arrangements for the honeymoon.
Double-check if you have everything you need before you leave.
- Final haircut and color.
Two weeks is the earliest you can go because a bad haircut can improve with time and two weeks is enough time to have the hair dye set while still not risking the root color from growing out.
- Delegate wedding day and post-wedding day duties.
For ushers and members of the bridal party assigned to do certain tasks on the wedding day. If you’ll be leaving for your honeymoon right after, you’ll want to assign who’s in charge of tasks like driving the wedding gifts home.
- Confirm wedding day details with the bridal car driver.
Confirm the details with the driver to ensure there is no miscommunication.
- Set aside money to pay (and tip) the vendors.
Most of your vendors have clauses where you need to give full payment by your wedding day. It’s also polite to tip them for their services.
- (For out-of-town weddings) Prepare things to bring to the hotel.
You might be traveling to your wedding’s city or province the day before the wedding. To avoid rushing and forgetting something behind, start packing everything you need to bring to the wedding.
- Give the wedding ring to Best Man/Wedding Planner/Someone you trust.
The Day Before
- For out-of-town weddings) Check-in your accommodations.
Since most hotels’ check-in times are in the afternoon, it’s unwise to check-in on the day of your wedding as you’ll have a limited amount of time to get ready.
- Attend the wedding rehearsals.
As much as possible, you, your partner, and everyone with a role in the wedding should be present.
Take note that you don’t have to strictly follow this checklist. For example, if you can purchase the wedding bands earlier than six months or you can book all your vendors before the seventh-month mark, that’s fine too. However, try not to be later than this schedule as it may be harder for you to book or make arrangements.
The exception to this is wedding invites. Wedding planning experts advise sending out invitations two months before the wedding (three if it’s a relatively far destination) and as late as six weeks before the wedding. This is to give guests plenty of time to clear their schedules on your wedding day (though it’s likely they already did after receiving your save-the-date card) and book their own accommodations if it’s out-of-town. It’s best not to do this more than three months before the wedding because they might forget about your wedding due to the large gap between your wedding day and their receiving your invite.
Author: Justine Lubag
Justine loves costumes, puns, horror films, and blue dresses. A literature graduate from the south, she writes online content for a living but is super shy about others reading her fan fiction.