6 Month DIY Wedding: The Timeline Checklist

First of all, what do I mean by a "DIY Wedding?"

A wedding that is at least 75% of planning and services done by YOU. This means NO fancy venues, expensive wedding cakes, unnecessary rentals, catering, and more. 

If this isn't you, then you will not find this DIY Wedding Checklist helpful...at all.
If this is you, then read on and enjoy!

On the side note....

Which one are you?:

Just got engaged (but having a short engagement -- 4 to 6 months)? No worries. You'd be surprised how many people pull of an entire DIY wedding in less than 4 or 5 months, so if they can, so can you. Just follow the Wedding Checklist and Timeline below:

Not yet "officially" engaged (but know you are about to be)? I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you to plan ahead, especially if you are planning the wedding all by yourself. No, you absolutely don't need to buy anything yet (and shouldn't) but you must plan ahead and know exactly what you want to do. That way, once the engagement finally comes, you can just start checking off the list and you won't have to decide on anything. This timeline checklist will also be very helpful to you.

ASAP After Engagement
  1. Engagement!
  2. Call family and close friends to announce engagement.
    • If possible, provide family with a tentative month (or season) for the wedding. You may even want to discuss the date with your fiancé before you start calling people because they will want to know in advance, even if it's not a specific date.
  3. Upload proposal pics and update relationship status to "Engaged" on social media, so other friends know the engagement has taken place. 
  4. Hire a friend or amateur photographer and get engagement pictures done, as soon as possible! 
    • These pictures will be added to your Save The Date cards, unless you're planning on only sending wedding invites. 
    • Wedding invites are normally sent 6-8 weeks before the wedding, but if you choose not sending Save The Dates, you need to send the invites a little sooner (approx. 10-12 weeks in advance). 
      • Guests will need to know in advance when to take off work or keep a weekend open to come to your wedding. You can come up with an idea to remind them as time gets closer, such as sending out a bulk email reminder several weeks before, or telling them to RSVP on a free wedding website that you created (that they can go back to for reference). 
        • Check out wix.com for a free website.
    • If you order invitations/save-the-dates online (i.e. Vistaprint), order as soon as you get your engagement pictures so you can add it to the card and get them sent to you quickly. 
  5. Determine the budget of the wedding. Determine who pays for what.
  6. Choose date and location with your fiancé. 
    • When choosing the date, make sure the most "important" guests will be able to come (parents, grandparents, siblings, maid of honor) before you confirm it with a venue. 
    • DIY Weddings are normally outdoors in someone's backyard or barn, or in a local church. These are typically the cheapest venues. 
      • **Keep this in mind: Whichever venue you want, you need to first call to see what dates the host or location has available for a wedding. Because venue availabilities can book extremely fast, if you are wanting a specific date, this may alter your wedding location. If you are wanting a specific location, this may alter your wedding date. 
  7. Determine guest list and obtain the addresses for all of the guests you want to invite.
    • Keep an online document of all the addresses you send out that way you will have them in the future for wedding invitations, other invites, thank you's, etc. 
  8. Make initial contact with any necessary vendors or family/friends you will need to borrow things from.
    • Examples of necessary vendors: outdoor tent for unexpected weather, tables and chairs, porta-potty (if large wedding in backyard), parking lot/shuttle reservation for guests, hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests, DJ/PA system, etc.
    • A DIY wedding should only pay for rentals or special services if it is necessary. DIY weddings attempt to eliminate or find alternative/cheaper options, if possible.
    • Let vendors/borrowers know what date and location you have confirmed, and an approximate guest count (you will confirm the final guest count with rentals after you receive RSVP's --if required).
  9. Choose an officiant/clergy (the man who marries you). 
  10. Register at local bridal registries (online or store).
  11. Register for pre-marital counseling (highly recommended!)
  12. Find your dream wedding dress.
    • *Note: I highly recommend you to not order a dress online. It's better to find a dress you love at a bridal store that fits you perfectly because with your short engagement, you won't have much time to get it altered if it doesn't fit right. Plus, if you order a dress online, it will already take long enough to become processed and shipped. Then you better pray the dress fits perfectly (and looks good on you) once you receive it.
    • For cheaper options, look on Craigslist or another site that you can conveniently meet up and try on the dress to see if it fits. You can also check out vintage shops or resale stores, in case you're feeling lucky. 
  13. Determine the theme and colors you will have for your wedding.
The Fat Decimator System
4-6 Months Before
  1. If you are sending Save the Dates (not the wedding invitation), do this as soon as engagement photos have been printed. Include registry information and/or wedding website.
    • If you are not sending Save The Dates, wait to send out wedding invitations 3 months in advance (approx. 10-12 weeks). 
  2. Have your wedding dress purchased and/or already getting altered, if needed. 
  3. Complete your honeymoon reservations, plane ticket purchases, and book a hotel room for the wedding night.
    • Make sure your passports are updated and valid for the time of your honeymoon, if you are going to another country. If not, you may have to pay a lot extra to get them processed quickly. 
  4. Find a place to live after the wedding.
    • Secure dates by confirming and paying a deposit to any rentals/services you reserved.
    • Reserve/block hotel rooms for out-of-town guests (optional).
    • Choose and order wedding rings. Allow extra time for custom engraving. 
    • Send engagement announcement in newspaper (optional).
    • Select bridesmaids and groomsmen. Select volunteers for wedding (parking directors, servers, set-up, etc.)
      • Order bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen tuxedos, or tell them what to buy. For custom measurements on dresses or tuxedos, do this ASAP (immediately after engagement if you can). Custom-made items can take 6-10 weeks.
    • Select the type of wedding cake option that you are going to ask someone to make (homemade). Choose who will be making the cake. 
      • Or do a cake tasting and order (of you're going to purchase a professional cake/cupcakes)
    • Start your diet and exercise program.
    • Decide on all decorations or any other items needed for the ceremony and reception. Collaborate how you want to decorate your wedding. Start making the DIY decor items.
    • Purchase stationery for your wedding invitations and programs. Make sure it is printable material that can go through a printer. Make sure you have enough ink. 
      • **First, do "Test" prints on regular paper so you don't mess up the nice paper you purchased for the invites (in case it doesn't look how you want it).
    • Get estimates and order flowers and flower arrangements for wedding and reception. Or if possible/available, ask to cut flowers from a family/friend's garden to use. 
    • Select what foods and beverages you will be serving at the wedding. Decide who will be making the homemade food/drink items.
    • Decide on your reception entertainment (if applicable). This can be anywhere from a friend that is in a band, a game for guests to play, a special dance, or even a surprise (such as a funny music video recorded after engagement).
    • Make doctor's appointments for pre-marital/physical exams.  
    2-3 Months Before
    1. Mail wedding invitations.
      • 6-weeks before the wedding; 8-weeks for out-of-town guests. 
      • If you did not send Save The Dates, invitations need to be sent out AT LEAST 10 weeks in advance.
    2. Choose shower date. Ask shower hosts to send out shower invites to all the addresses you provide them. Make sure they send invites out at least 4 weeks from the shower date, and include registry information.
      • Shower invites typically go out to all of the women you are inviting to the wedding. If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, still invite the ones you are close with just so they feel like they have the option to come if they are able to.
      • You may have multiple showers. Talk to your mom, your future mother-in-law, and bridesmaids to see if they knew someone who wanted to host a shower. 
    3. Purchase wedding gifts for wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen), wedding volunteers and helpers, parent's, and spouse. You can also do homemade, DIY gifts to cut on costs.
    4. Learn dance moves from YouTube and practice your first dance. 
    5. Finalize arrangements of accommodations for out-of-town guests.
    6. Attend your wedding shower(s). Make sure a bridesmaid writes down all the names from who the gifts are from, so you can reference it in the Thank You notes.
      • Keep current with "Thank You" notes from the showers and early wedding gifts. 
    7. Arrange all insurances to be ready (wedding ring, mortgage, honeymoon, etc.) 
    8. Have your bachelorette/bachelor parties!
      • You don't want your wedding to be another episode of "The Hangover," so make sure to do these parties at least one month in advance, especially if you will be outdoors. If you get sunburnt or an awkward sun tan line, it could ruin your complexion look for the wedding (some people don't start peeling until 2 weeks after!) Consider this.
    9. Buy wedding accessories from a thrift shop, or borrow from someone who already has them.
      • Cake knife, platters, garder, ring pillow, guest book, wedding shoes, toasting glasses, etc.
    10. Customize your wedding vows.
    11. Check state/county marriage license requirements. 
      • Get your marriage license (at least 30 days in advance).
    12. Determine wedding song playlist to play throughout the whole wedding and during the dances. Organize your iPod or laptop with the songs you want to play and get a volunteer to manage the songs.
    13. Finalize and put a deposit down for the place you will live in after the wedding.
    14. Get pictures from Groom's family (and yours) for photo timeline
      • You can do a timeline of photos since you have been dating or a photo timeline of you both growing up (from birth to present). Guests love to see pictures of the bride and groom as a kid.     
    15. Meet with videographer/photographer together and go over details and expectations. Tour the venue location close to the time your wedding would be (so they know what lighting to use), and so they know what to expect for picture/video purposes. 
      • This would also be a good time to put down a deposit/payment, if required. 
    16. Meet with your officiant to go over expectations, vows, etc.
    (At Least) 1 Month Before
    1. Once you receive wedding RSVP's from guests:
      1. Confirm head count with any rentals/services if needed (such as chair rentals, etc.)
      2. Purchase wedding favors and leaving favors (birdseed, sparklers, goody bags, etc.)
      3. Finalize seating plans for ceremony and reception.
    2. Finalize details and reservations for the rehearsal dinner.
    3. Do trials of your wedding hair and makeup to make sure you know what looks good and know how to do it correctly once the day comes. Go to YouTube or Pinterest for tips.
      • If you have a friend who is good at hair/makeup, ask her to practice on you for the wedding day.
      • This would be the time you get your bridal portraits taken from your photographer. Let them know in advance when you will do this.
    4. Have bridal portraits taken. 
      • This is where you put on your dress, do your hair and makeup in the way you would want it for the wedding to make sure it looks good. 
    5. Have your final fitting for bridal gown and bridesmaid's dresses.
      •  If your dress is too tight, you need to go on an emergency weight loss/work out program to shed some pounds so you can fit in your dress. If it's too loose, find out a way to get a quick alter or fix-up so it won't fall off of you. 
    6. Complete "Change of Address" information for the post-office.
      • Put together your ceremony programs.
      • Shop for furniture to go into new home/apartment.  
      • Ask off work for the day before your wedding, the day of your wedding, and for the honeymoon.
      2-3 Weeks Before
      1. Get your marriage license. Be sure to bring all needed information and documents. 
      2. Inform or send rehearsal invitations.
        • Include exact time and location of the rehearsal, as well as the time and location of the dinner.
        • Finalize seating arrangements for rehearsal dinner.
      3. Determine where the groom/groomsmen and bride/bridesmaids will be getting ready for the ceremony.
      4. Check in with vendors/services, transportation plans, photographer/videographer, florist, etc. to confirm all arrangements.
      5. Give your photographer/videographer a list of special shots that you want taken.
      6. Finalize wedding playlist and special dance songs on your iPod/laptop playlist. 
      7. Practice and finalize the special dance routines. 
      1 Week Before
      1. Review all the details. Do a walk-through of the whole event.
        • Check on parking, access for handicapped guests, volunteer checklist and duties, decor placements, seating reservations and arrangements, table and chair set-ups, food bar and table placements, wedding signs for clear direction to the ceremony for incoming/traveling guests, clear directions and accessibility for guests --guest book, wedding favors, food menu items, etc.
      2. Confirm honeymoon arrangements
      3. Pack for honeymoon
      4. Review final details for those in the wedding party.
      5. Appoint someone to be the "organizer" to handle any last minute problems.
      6. Arrange for utilities, etc. for your new home.
      One Day Before
      1. Take off work. 
      2. Clean your face and don't wear makeup until the rehearsal dinner (rejuvenating your face to prevent breakouts). Wash your hair if needed, that way your hair will be "dirtier" tomorrow for when you get your hair styled. 
      3. Check in to your flight (if you are flying somewhere for your honeymoon).
      4. Pack for your honeymoon.
      5. Organize gown, accessories, etc. to go to the ceremony.
      6. Get a massage or soak in a bath... do something super relaxing.
      7. Get a manicure and pedicure.
      8. Attend rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. 
        • This is where you give gifts to attendants and bridal party. 
      9. Give the rings and officiant/clergy's fee to the best man.
      The Wedding Day
      1. Mail wedding announcements.
      2. Don't forget breakfast! Add a mimosa to your meal.
        • Breakfast is not only the "best" meal of the day, but it is the #1 most important meal you need for your wedding day. Why? Because many times, the bride and groom don't have time or are too nervous to eat --the rest of the day! Especially during the reception, you will be spending a lot of your time meeting with guests and doing "wedding stuff," that you'll forget you hadn't eaten all day. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST!
      3. Take a fix-it/emergency kit with you to the location you will be getting ready at. Click here for a detailed Bridal Emergency Kit.
      4. Get hair, makeup, etc. done.
        • Be sure to allow yourself more than enough time to get ready. 
      5. Make sure you have rings and marriage license (and your vow if you're reading it at the ceremony).
      6. Have a time of prayer or meditation with bridesmaids to calm your nerves!
      7. Enjoy the day! You're getting married!  


      More Helpful Tips:

      Things You'll Need For Your DIY Wedding (Don't Forget These Things!)

      The Money Saving Garden: 100+ Ways to Save $$ On A Tight Budget

      • Don't forget to include your mom, your future mother-in-law, your grandparents, and your bridesmaids throughout your entire wedding planning. Even if you are an OCD planning freak (like me), the ones who care about you the most will truly want to help out as much as possible... even if it's something really small. This can be anything from inviting them to come pick out a wedding dress, to getting alterations on your dress, to making DIY crafts/decor, to creating wedding invites, etc. 
      • Yes, the wedding is YOUR day.... but even if you're the one paying for it, you need to be courteous to the guests you are inviting. For example, you really want alcohol at your wedding, but you know your grandparents (and maybe even your parents) will be offended by it. So instead, choose to only serve beer bottles and wine at the end of the reception when it's time for dancing. Older people will probably leave during that time, anyway.
      • If your fiancé wants to be involved in the decision making process for the wedding planning, ALLOW him to have an opinion... while respectfully considering his opinions. It's his big day, too. 
      • Be sure to hang out with your fiancé and go on dates.... and NOT talk about wedding stuff during that time. There is a time to discuss wedding details, but there is a time when you truly need to just hang out and relax, focusing on each other and not on the wedding. This is a healthy and necessary tool for allowing the wedding planning to be less stressful and enjoying your engagement more.


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