Planning a wedding in 6 months might seem impossible with how much there is to do, but Gartner Studios is here to tell you that it can be done - and it can be done with minimal stress! We've pulled together an inclusive checklist of everything that needs to be accomplished in this tight timeline.
First of all, congratulations on the engagement! This is a very exciting time for you and your new fiance as you begin to plan the next stage of your lives together. Planning a wedding is no small task, and at first glance it can seem very overwhelming. Even more so when you don’t have a full year to plan. You've just gotten engaged over the holidays, but have always dreamed of a spring wedding. That leave you 6 months to plan it all out. With a detailed checklist, keeping yourself organized and hard work, you can make your dream a reality.
1. Decide on a budget and a theme
The budget is the most important step of wedding planning, as it dictates every other decision from here on out. It is important to sit down with your fiance and discuss what you can expect to spend on this wedding. We've pulled together some steps to easily get a budget decided on and move into the planning stage! First of all, figure out how much money you have and run the numbers.
This numbers are the amount of money you have, money your fiance has, and money that any other loved ones (like parents) will be so lovingly contributing. Finding out who will all be contributing to your wedding is the very first step in calculating your overall budget. Once you know who will be contributing, and how much, you can look at you and your fiance's finances.
- How much can you and your fiancé realistically—and comfortably!— afford to spend after looking at day-to-day life expenses that need to be covered?
- Based on your monthly income, how much can you commit to saving between now and the wedding?
Once you have the answers to the above questions, you have your ballpark estimate budget! For even more helpful information on budget planning, check out this article on how to create a wedding budget in 5 easy steps.
Now that you have your budget decided on, its time to select the theme for your wedding. We think that a wedding theme should be about more than just looks or what is currently trending. It can be helpful to look at the new season's wedding trends, but don't get carried away with selecting only those things for your wedding. Your wedding theme should reflect your personality as a couple.
If you are thinking about wedding themes and are starting to feel overwhelmed, take some time to close your eyes and envision what you want your perfect wedding day to look like. What does it look like? What kind of impression are you trying to convey to your guests? Are you thinking light and airy? Dark and romantic? Think about these things when you're picturing everything.
- What kind of decorations do you see yourself purchasing?
- Does your venue have a rustic, sophisticated, modern, or vintage feel?
- Do you have a favorite flower that holds special meaning to you and your partner?
The above questions are just a few examples of things to ask when looking to decide on a theme. We have a section on our website dedicated to wedding decorations, organized by theme. You are sure to find something to spark inspiration here! Check out our inspiration pull below for gorgeous rustic wedding decor.
2. Start a list of potential venues and vendors
Choosing a wedding venue is a big deal. It’s likely going to be the most expensive piece that you're budgeting for. It sets the tone for your whole wedding, and that makes it worth the expense. If you aren't organized and ready for this big decision, it can turn into an incredibly overwhelming process. It becomes even more so if you decide you want a seperate venue for your reception! How can you possibly find the venue(s) that checks all your boxes? We've found some tips on how to choose the right venue that still hits on the 4 below main pieces.
- you need to be able to afford it
- you fell in love with it upon seeing it
- it is in a convenient location
- it isn’t already booked during timeframe
Since you've already set your budget, it is going to be incredibly helpful to have a place to list all of your venue choices. Having all of this information in one place keeps you cool and organized when comes time to make the decision. We have just the organization tool that you need to keep you from going crazy during all this! This book is an excellent tool that we just can't recommend enough, and a great item for venue selection. Our Wedding Planner Organization Book has over 80 pages of content on how to plan, save money, DIY your way through, and keep all your notes in one place.
3. Finalize guest list + send out Save the Dates
We know that your mom wants you to invite your piano teacher from 5th grade and your fiance wants to invite his old high school baseball coach, but let's be realistic. You can't invite everyone.
Here are some things to consider when creating the guest list:
- do you want a small and intimate wedding or a huge party?
- who are the most important people that you couldn't imagine getting married without having there?
- how many people is your venue going to be able to accommodate?
- can you invite people to the reception only?
Once you and your fiance have discussed the above, it's time to get started on the Save the Dates. You can view our selection of beautiful personalized save the dates, and find the perfect stationery to match your wedding theme.
4. Send out bridesmaid + groomsmen "proposals"
Bridal Party Proposal Boxes are such a fun new trend that's popped up in the last few years. Now that you're getting started with your wedding planning it’s time for one of the most exciting parts of your wedding planning process! Asking your bridesmaids to stand up with you as you say “I do”. Your bridesmaids are the most important girls in your life who are going to be there for you during the crazy wedding planning, and the fun times like the bachelorette party! We've pulled some inspiration for you to create a bridesmaid proposal box... the Gartner Studios way!
You can't go wrong with candles, mugs, cute keychains or other stationery items. Your bridesmaids are sure to say yes and be so thrilled to receive this box of goodies. When building your box, be sure to look up even more inspirational ideas on Pinterest!
Don't think we forgot about the groomsmen! The proposal box is something you see everywhere for bridesmaids, but that doesn't mean the same idea can't be used in a more masculine tone. We've gathered some inspiration for a gift box for your fiance to send out to his friends so they can stand up for him on the big day. Our new line of Terrapin items are a great fit for the occasion. The 'OK. Thanks' card is perfect to use, so he can thank his future groomsmen who are sure to say yes to being in the wedding.
1. Create bridal shower guest list
Who should be invited to the bridal shower? It can be a bit of a delicate situation when creating this guest list. You don't necessarily need to invite every single female wedding guest, unless you are planning a very intimate wedding with few people. The people you should be sending invitations to are close female friends and relatives of the bride, as well as any close female relatives of the groom that are helping with the wedding planning, or have a close relationship to the bride. Examples include the groom's mother, his sisters. The most important piece of etiquette to remember when creating this guest list is that everyone who is invited to this shower needs to be on the guest list for the wedding!
2. Create the wedding registry
While your guests' presence at your wedding is the most important thing, their gifts are also very precious and meaningful. You can help them out by creating a wedding registry at whichever store you and your fiance decide on.
Be sure to keep your personal style in mind when you are determining where to register. You will want to keep your wedding gifts for a long time, and so you want them to reflect you and your fiance's interests and lifestyle.
Write down items that you really need/really want to receive as wedding gifts. It can get a little overwhelming once you see everything that's available in the store and you might get carried away or forget the important things you really need!
Register for gifts with a wide price range to accomodate all of your guests.
Check out these extra tips to ensure smooth sailing throughout the whole gift registry process.
3. Get invitation proof/sample order
Your guests got a little sneak peek at your wedding theme when you sent out your Save the Date, and are very excited to see it all come together with the invitation! Whether you are opting for a traditional style or a more modern look, make sure that your invitations are personalized to match your own style and wedding theme.
1. Create bridal shower guest list + select shower invitations
Whether you or your Maid of Honor is planning the Bridal Shower, you're going to need invitations once you have nailed down the guest list. Browse our great selection of bridal shower invitations and you are sure to find something that perfectly matches the theme of the shower.
2. Create favors, gifts, and decor for the big day
- Wedding favors: handing out favors at your wedding is a nice gesture, but it can be tricky process. It can be hard to find meaningful items that fit into your budget, but won't end up being thrown away right after the reception. If your budget is already looking tight without counting in the wedding favors, you can create a favor that also doubles as a place card! You can give your guests a little something while also taking care of the seating chart. Just make sure when you are brainstorming gift favor ideas, the ideas reflect you and your fiance. Luckily, it's possible to find the perfect favor that checks all of these boxes with a little help from Gartner Studios!
Things to consider when selecting favors:
- plan to spend approximately 2-3% of your wedding budget on favors
- the fewer guests you have, the more elaborate and personalized your favors can be
- tip: if you choose to use favors to double as place cards, avoid highly scented candles that can interfere with the delicious smells of dinner.
Check out some of our ideas below to give you the inspiration you need for your wedding favors!
- Decor: Decorations are a great way to express you and your partner's style. While it is important to keep your wedding budget in check, you also want the space to look as gorgeous as you do on your big day. So, we've got some ideas for stunning decor that you will definitely be able to afford.
- use candles in paper lantern luminaries as table centerpieces to create a romantic atmosphere (candles are much less expensive than floral centerpiece arrangements)
- rather than filling vases with flowers, try filling them with seashells, beads, marbles, or colorful rocks that coordinate with your theme
- use faux rose petals or confetti to sprinkle on the tables
- decorate chairs with tulle, fabric overlay or ribbons for a dramatic and romantic look
- tip: don't forget to continue your theme into the restrooms! Guests will smile when they see you've gone the extra mile with small vases of flowers and your wedding colors.
3. Create wedding programs
Wedding programs serve multiple needs. They become a beautiful keepsake from your wedding day and provide a who's who for guests. One piece of the program includes the names of the bridal party, names of both sets of parents, officiant, and the names of anyone performing music before the ceremony. The other side of the program typically outlines what the ceremony includes such as prayers or rituals. That's not to say that your program needs to be two-sided however! It can be any shape, design, or color. Rather than simply being for informational purposes, it can hold a favorite quote of you and your partner, or a thank you to guests for sharing your special day.
Many couples opt to coordinate their program with the rest of their stationery for a complete look. If this is something you are interested in, Gartner Studios makes it easy by offering complete and easy to browse collections.
1. Order your wedding programs
Now that you've created your perfect wedding programs, it is time to order them. Ordering them about 3 months in advance gives you time to fix any errors or make any changes, should there be any.
2. Order your wedding favors
After you narrowed down your long list of favor ideas, you finally decided on something and it is time to order! Your guests are sure to love whatever you've chosen, and will love the appreciation you're showing them with this thoughtful gift. Ordering your favors three months in advance allows you time for the DIY pieces like the personalized tags.
3. Book rehearsal dinner space
Once you’ve booked your ceremony venue (and your reception venue if different), it’s time to look for and book your rehearsal dinner spot. Traditionally, the groom’s family handles the bill for this event, but it could also be hosted by the bride’s family or jointly by the couple. It's important to remember to schedule the dinner a day or two before the wedding. The rehearsal dinner usually follows the ceremony rehearsal. To make it as convenient as possible for your out-of town guests, try to find a space that is close in proximity to either the designated hotel or the wedding ceremony venue. It is up to you as a couple to decide how formal or informal you would like this dinner to be. It could be at a local restaurant, of the fanciest venue you can find.
1. Mail wedding invitations - make sure to include deadline for RSVPs
Mailing out the invitations is a very exciting step in wedding planning. Your friends and family will finally get to see the full effect of the gorgeous stationery you've chosen. We have some tips on what to write and what not to write on the envelopes when preparing to send out.
Outside of the envelope: It's proper to write out all information and avoid abbreviations. While this can seem overwhelming, especially when it comes to large weddings, we have a suggestion to help avoid carpel tunnel syndrome. We have gorgeous new address labels and envelope seals available to be personalized! This saves you some writing when it comes to the return label as you can simply peel and stick.
Inside of the envelope: Handwrite the names of all guests invited, including children if they are invited. This way, it is very clear who is invited and who is not. For invitations to single guests, simply add in 'plus guest' if you want them to have the option of bringing a date.
If you want to add a little something extra in your envelope, add decorative tissue paper. Tissue paper was once needed to keep the ink from smudging on paper, but today is purely optional and decorative for those looking to have a more traditional appearance.
2. Select gifts for parents and personal attendants
Attendant gifts and gifts for the parents are a way of showing appreciation for all of their hard work. These are the people who have helped with all of the wedding planning and are prepared to be with you on your big day. The ideal gift would be one that can serve as a memento of their time helping you with the wedding and something that will be meaningful and they will love for years to come. Some ideas for both male and female recipients are:
- bracelets with a charm chosen specifically for each attendant/mother
- a bag or purse to match their wedding outfit
- Monogrammed cups, such as tumblers or pint glasses
- Leather kits or pouches for traveling with toiletries
Other great ideas for men would include anything from our new Terrapin line! You'll be able to find the perfect gift for him with Gartner Studios. The Terrapin collection brings function, durability and style all together in each piece. Products range from canvas pouches, small accessories and one of a kind note cards that will make you want to hand write to everyone you know.
3. Send out Bridal Shower invitations - make sure to include RSVPs!
Now that you know when, where and who will be invited to the bridal shower, you can send out the invitations! The standard for sending out the invitations is around four to six weeks prior to the event date. This ensures that they won't be sent too early and people forget about the shower or sent too late and all guests have other obligations.
1. Review ceremony details with officiant
About a month before the wedding, you will meet with your officiant (or potential officiants) before your wedding to discuss the ceremony and any pre-ceremony requirements. This is the time to either decide on an officiant or make sure that the one you have chosen is the right fit. It’s good to go in to the meeting with some questions to ask - think of it like a job interview. Check out this article from Brides for some questions you should be prepared to ask in this meeting.
2. Apply for marriage license
In the whirlwind of planning everything in your wedding, it's surprisingly easy to forget that you need to apply for a marriage license. A marriage license is the legal confirmation that you and your partner are able to marry one another, something that is totally necessary to have before you say "I do."
So where to even begin? The internet is a great place to start with research. Most states have a government website that has all the information on what materials and documents are required and the office's contact information. Check out this very helpful website on US marriage laws.
1. Buy thank you cards + all thank you gifts
It is so important to acknowledge the thoughtfulness of all your wedding guests after receiving gifts. When writing the thank you card, thank them as if you were talking to them in person and make reference to their gift. For example, if you received money as a gift you may want to talk about what you are going to use it for.
Above all, the most important thing is to be sincere in your thank you. Don't send pre-printed thank you cards with a generic thanks! Your guests deserve a personal and meaningful thank you for their contributions to your big day.
When selecting the cards you want to use, make sure to look for something that really lets yours and your new partners' personality shine through. Whether that is something bright and colorful or a card personalized with your new wedding photos, your guests are sure to pick up on the extra thought that went into picking them out. View Gartner Studios' selection of thank you cards and find the perfect fit!
2. Have bridal shower and send out thank you cards
The amount of thank you cards you'll have to write may seem overwhelming, but the best way to get through is to not leave all of them until the last minute. Write the bridal shower thank you's while the party is still fresh in your mind and you can draw on that to make the cards even more sincere. Work on writing the wedding thank yous after getting back from your honeymoon, as tempting as it may be to put it off you'll thank yourself later for getting it done right away.
3. Deadline for RSVPs
It is important that your guests respect your timeline as you need this information to plan the number of place cards and table numbers!
4. Finalize Seating Chart
Once you have all the RSVPs in, the table numbers and the place cards created, you can finalize your seating chart! While assigned seating at a wedding definitely isn't mandatory, most brides do& create a seating plan. Creating a seating chart makes sure that there are no empty tables. When you are staring at a blank seating chart that is waiting to be filled in, it can seem very overwhelming at first. Once you start planning and writing, it can actually be fun!
We've mentioned our Wedding Planner Organization Book before, and we will continue to mention it forever! This book has a special guest list page that has table and chair stickers as well as a seating grid to allow you to plan out the venue (scaled down of course). You can personalize your seating chart to be exactly what you want!
1 Day Before
Feeling nervous on the day before the wedding? We can't blame you. Having the jitters the day before the wedding is a normal thing. Channel all that nervous energy into these activities and try to ease your stress. It's going to be a great day!
1. Get a manicure and pedicure
Enjoy and treat yourself to this fun activity on the day before your wedding. Your ring finger is going to be prime for attention, and you want those pictures to look amazing! We've pulled some ideas of our own for you to look at, but check out these beautiful wedding manicure ideas if you are looking for some extra sparkle.
And why not get a pedicure while you're at it? Throw in a little massage while you're there to ease the stress even more!
2. Rehearsal ceremony and dinner
Having a run through of the ceremony is something that may help calm your nerves. Practicing will help you see that there is nothing to worry about! You've been planning for 6 months, and tomorrow you will see it all come together. As an added bonus, you get to have a wonderful dinner with friends, family, and your soon to be partner to celebrate your love. Nothing but good things happening today!
3. Practice vows and speeches
You know the old saying. Practice makes perfect! Wedding vows are no exception, and are something that definitely need some practicing. Even if you have them written down and won't be reciting from memory, it is good to rehearse in front of an audience to let some of the nerves out and gauge reactions from the rest of the bridal party.