Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, meaning there were a lot of ladies who went from girlfriend to fiance after being proposed to by the one they love. Congratulations ladies, and welcome to 20 and Engaged! You probably woke up this morning in a daze, wondering if yesterday was just a dream, and in fact, you truly are engaged. The wedding planning starts, well, today!

It can be overwhelming, even if you started planning your wedding when you were 5. We’re here to help you through the planning process. There’s wedding planning and there’s marriage planning, and we want to guide you through them both. This series is a wedding planning timeline. Today we’ll discuss what to do when you’re a year out from your date.

12+ months before your wedding date

  • Set a date: When do you plan on getting married? Do you want a warm spring or summer wedding or do you prefer a cooler fall or winter wedding? You’ll most likely have your wedding on a weekend, but consider that Saturdays in May-November are peak wedding times, so you will be paying a premium price. To reduce the price, consider off peak wedding months on Friday or Sunday.
  • Choose a theme/colors: This is a fun part of wedding planning. There’s so many different themes and color schemes to choose from. I love black and white damask, I considered deep red and teal, pink and green are nice too. I’ve seen all sorts of themes, from winter wonderland, Pretty in Pink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a night in Vegas. Just remember not to make it too girly for your groom’s sake.
  • Will you have a wedding planner: Like I said, planning your wedding can be overwhelming, and if you don’t know where to begin, a wedding planner can help you figure things out, and even coordinate that everything goes smoothly the day of. Wedding planners can be expensive, so make sure it’s within your budget. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Set a budget: This is no doubt the most important part of your wedding planning. The average US wedding breaks the bank at around $30,000, which is an annual salary for some people. If you’re okay with spending that much money on one day, be our guest. If you’re looking to have a beautiful wedding and not go into debt to do it, we’re here to help.
  • Start your guest list: Who will be the lucky ones to witness your vows? Will some be invited to the ceremony while others are invited to the reception? Do you want every single person you’ve encountered there or just family and close friends? Decide on a number with your honey, and start on the list. Make your “must have” list, then your “if we have room” list. It’ll change over time.
  • Start on your web page: We’re in the digital age, and a website can be your communication liaison between you two and your guests. You’ll want to update as your plans develop, including when and where the wedding will be. You can even put an RSVP option to save on postage.
  • Choose wedding party: Choosing the lucky people you’ll have up there with you can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be. Do you want a large wedding party or do you want to keep it simple with just a maid of honor and best man. It’s up to you two. Also, it doesn’t have to be even. My sister had 2 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen.
  • Book ceremony/reception sites: Hey, you’re not the only one getting married girl! Think of all the other lucky ladies who were proposed to. Think of where you want to have your ceremony and reception, and book far in advance. Dates fill up quickly, especially peak times and weekends. Don’t make the decision in haste though, as many places require a down payment when you reserve the date, and if you change your mind, the money may be non-refundable.
  • Book officiant: Who do you want to officiate your wedding? Will it be the pastor of your church or maybe a family friend who has the power vested in them (they can get that online if you’d like). If it’s a pastor, they may also have bookings of other weddings, or even funerals, so have them in place ahead of time. It’s also good to have a backup.
  • Create a wedding folder/binder: You want to stay organized through the planning process, and what fun it would be to have a folder or binder with all your ideas and plans! They sell them in bookstores, or you can make your own. If you’re a digital lady, I love to use Evernote, where you can clip pictures from the web, share it with your friends, and sync it from your phone to your computer.
  • Research vendors: Do you know what you want at your reception? Caterers, photographers, videographers, florists, entertainment, etc. Again, these vendors will book quickly, especially if they’re popular. Get referrals from friends, research online, and make a list of prospects.

This is just 12+ months before your big day. You still have a ways to go, but again, we’re here to help! Stay tuned for the next part of the series, where we’ll discuss what to do 9-11 months before your wedding day.