The Details that Go into a Wedding Checklist for Event Planners
A wedding is probably one of the most difficult events to plan, spanning several months to a year to make, refine, and finalize details. Yet, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the wedding planning business to pick up and flourish between now and 2020. Despite all the many hats to be worn when planning a wedding, event coordinators rise up to the challenge to help love struck couples celebrate their dream wedding successfully and stress-free.
As event planner, whether it is your first or the umpteenth time, one thing stands out as the ultimate tool that can make your job easy, quick, organized, and on schedule – the wedding timeline. It is an effective approach to keep track of tasks and monitor their progression leading up to the day of the wedding. However, weddings are not created equal and events can be unpredictable requiring a timeline that depends on each client. As soon as you’ve been contracted out and a deposit has been paid to you as event planner, begin creating the initial framework using basic information provided by the client: date and time of the wedding, budget, theme, venue, and vendors. It’s time to work on your primary responsibilities and skills from Day 1 to the wedding day, and even beyond.
Here’s a typical checklist of activities event planners can use, assuming you’re given a year to prepare for the wedding.
6 – 12 Months before the Wedding
- Research and compare venues. The sooner you identify the most appropriate one, the better. Arrange for booking immediately because venues are often full and it takes months in advance to make a reservation.
- Select vendors. Begin booking for the best wedding vendors within the client’s budget and preference. Just like venues, photographers/videographers, bands, emcees, florists, caterers, etc. can be booked a year before the event. Get an appointment with each of the vendor to discuss details, such as decorations, food selections or presentation in which food is to be served, color coordinates, music or song line up, pre-nuptial and wedding photos, etc.
- Create a guest list. Work with the client to know the names and addresses of people invited to the wedding and reception. Keep in mind that the list will continue to change so it’s important to wait until it becomes final before sending out the invites.
- Assist client on the selection of the wedding gown and the entourage attire. The bride may want your assistance and opinion on other matters, like corsage, bouquets, etc.
- Shop for wedding stationery. This includes invitations, RSVP cards, personal stationery, and thank you cards.
3 – 6 Months before the Wedding
- Finalize the guest list. The final list determines the number of invites and thank you cards to be ordered and sent out. The list also dictates the quantity of food to be prepared, the number of seats to reserve, and the count of people to keep entertained. At this point, the wedding invitations should be addressed with the correct names of guests and readied to be mailed out.
- Reserve party equipment and supplies to be rented for the ceremony and reception. This includes tables and chairs, tent, linens, china, crystal, flatware, silverware, arches, candelabras, vases, and other decorative items that match the theme.
- Arrange for accommodations of out-of-town guests. Some relatives and friends coming from far locations may need accommodations at nearby hotels to stay before and after the event.
- Reserve the wedding day transportation to be used by couple and bridal party.
- Sign up the couple in gift registry. With consent from the couple, you can register them up for gifts in one or three stores of their choice. Gift registries are a great way to help guests shop for items that the couple really wants and it prevents duplication of gifts.
- Arrange ceremony rehearsals. Create one or two rehearsal schedules to assemble all participants to practice their roles for the upcoming wedding. Make sure all concerned vendors, such as wedding singer, musician, and others are present during the rehearsals then finalize the details of the wedding program.
One Month before the Wedding
- Send out the Invites. Tradition and ethics dictate that wedding invitations are to be sent out at least a month prior to the wedding. It is enough time to allow guests to clear their schedules, make travel arrangements, and shop for dress and gifts.
- Finalize seating arrangement. A week after sending out the invitations, RSVP cards should be arriving. This helps you to get the final head count and to create the final seating chart. Follow up on some guests who haven’t responded positively so you can include the information in your program.
- Meet with caterer. When speaking with the caterer, you should be able to arrange for the way the reception meal is to be served as how the couple prefers, whether buffet, sit-down dinner, food stations, or hors d’oeuvres. Regardless of setup, now is the time to finalize all the catering details. Present the final guest list so the caterer can prepare the complete menu adequate for the number of people invited.
It is important to provide the caterer with the overall concept of the wedding theme to dress up the dining area appropriately, to include the flowers, centerpieces, candles, napkins, tableware, etc. A reception area that is set beyond what is expected is vital in achieving the couple’s vision to start their wedded bliss in the right environment.
The service to be provided by the caterer must be parallel to the quality and presentation of the food. The crew must be courteous, ethical, and properly garbed in outfit befitting personnel handling and serving food in events as memorable as a wedding.
- Check wedding supplies. Make a rundown of wedding accessories and supplies. Smart event planners know that it is best to get all the necessary wedding supplies – guest book and album, candles, couple’s glasses, etc. from a one-stop online shop to save on time and effort.
Two Weeks to the Wedding
- Finalize everything – head count, rehearsal plans, floor and seating plan, rental and deliveries. Verify and confirm with vendors to make sure that everything is set accordingly.
One Week to the Date
- Have a final consultation with the couple and vendors.
- Conduct general inspection of venues, decorations, supplies, and equipment. Confirm delivery of wedding cake and wine.
- Check and attend to bride’s personal needs.
- Make a thorough rundown of the wedding checklist to make sure all the bases have been covered.
- Get some rest.
On the Wedding Day
- Be appropriately dressed for the event. Make an impression about your professionalism, and that you remain in control of the wedding program.
- Make sure to prepare for alternative solutions in case some hitches arise during the ceremony and reception.
- Always check for the needs of the bridal party.
After the Wedding
- Take care of the client’s personal items and wedding gifts. Immediately after the ceremony or reception, secure these belongings in a storage area and arrange their delivery to the couple’s given address.
- Settle all due accounts to vendors and other suppliers.
- Write and send out thank you cards to guests.
The fact that every wedding is unique makes it difficult for event planners to apply the same timeline and rules. Regardless of a wedding’s nature, your primary duty is to meet the requirements of the client satisfactorily. These needs are always dynamic. However, as long as you have the commitment to fulfill your duties, you can be sure every wedding turns out to be the magical dream event that couples envision theirs to be.