The Essential Wedding Planning Checklist

Jane and Julius's wedding at Seven-Degrees in Laguna Beach. Photos by Sanaz Photography.

So you’ve never planned a wedding before? Don’t worry, that’s why you hire the experts. Our wedding planning team put together this essential wedding planning checklist for you to keep the planning process organized and fun–like it should be! We start 12 months in advance to make sure you have plenty of time to get your ducks in a line. From vendors to arranging your menu, guest list and more, we cover every detail of your wedding planning experience. And don’t forget, when you have your wedding with us at Seven-Degrees, our team of coordinators and event virtuosos can help you with so many of the aspects below. You are not alone in this! Contact us today to see how we can help you. Want this handy wedding planning checklist in printout form? We have you covered!

Photo above by Sanaz Photography. Flowers by Bella Blooms. Wedding Planning & Design by Lauren Pulver at Seven-Degrees. Officiant: Pastor Jon Olson. Couple: Jane and Julius.

Download a Printout Version

of the Essential Wedding Planning Checklist

Seven-Degrees essential Wedding Planning Checklist12 Months before:

• Research vendors: photographers, videographers, DJ, band, officiant, florist, cake, etc.

• Photographers & Videographers– When you’re smiling for pictures, you will probably want a friendly face on the other side of the camera. Be sure you feel comfortable with them and they have a good understanding of what you envision. (Be sure vendors have insurance. We have a list you can use to check).

• Gather photos for inspiration (basically, you officially have permission to go nuts on Pinterest!)

• Pick the Bridal party, you’re going to want all the help and support you can get!

11 Months before:

• Hire & Book all your vendors: photographers, videographers, DJ, band, officiant, florist, cake, etc.

• Sign the contract and put down the initial deposit. (if booking with a Seven-Degrees preferred vendor let your wedding coordinator know and we will take care of this for you!)

• Request necessary insurance documents from vendors so they have plenty of time to get that taken care of.

• Give your Seven-Degrees coordinator your vendors contact information

• Firm up your guest list, this is a big one!

• Start shopping for your Wedding Dress (the fun part!). You will need approximately three dress fittings, so be sure you plan time for each.

• Begin planning your menu.

• Thinking about doing a tasting? Yum! Contact your coordinator and schedule the tasting with us no later than 4 months out from your wedding.

• Start planning Save the Dates.

• Take engagement photos, these are great to send out with (or as) your Save the Dates!

• Reserve a block of rooms for out of town guests.

6 to 7 Months before:

• Send out Save the Dates (don’t forget those lovely engagement photos!).

• Design & finalize your Wedding Invitations. A couple things you might want to include on your invitations:”Ceremony promptly begins at” and an RSVP date of at least a month prior to your wedding.

• Begin planning out your ceremony

• Start talking to your officiant about the ceremony script and any traditional items you want to incorporate into the ceremony. (readings, singing, candle lighting ceremony, personalized wedding vows, etc.) Also, discuss all the official marriage documents you need to get.

• Meet and begin finalizing everything with your florist. Discuss centerpieces, ceremony & personal flowers with your florist and schedule a mock-up/ sample table set up. Think about what types of flowers go with your theme, color scheme, or hold a special meaning.

• Look for specialty linens if you want custom linens other than the ones Seven-Degrees offers.

• Purchase your Wedding Dress!

• Start shopping for Bridesmaids Dresses.

4 to 5 Months before:

• Begin purchasing accessories-shoes, veil, jewelry. We don’t need to tell a lady how important shoes are, but do be sure you get them before your fitting so your dress can be adjusted to the perfect length.

• Start to finalize the Groom and Groomsmen attire.

• Purchase and receive your Wedding Invitations no later than 4 months prior.

• Once they are received begin addressing them. (Overwhelmed? You can bribe your wedding party crew with a wine and cheese night and form an assembly line).

• Book your mock-up/sample table meeting with your florist to finalize your florals.

• Begin purchasing decor items for your ceremony or reception that you are planning on providing.

• Start to narrow down and choose your music choices. Choose music for your ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, first dance, parents dances, bouquet/garter toss, cake cutting, last song of the evening, required songs you must have played (i.e.That one song you and your girls sang over and over in the car when you were in college), or do not want played (i.e. The Chicken Dance–unless you just love that quirky tail-feathered wiggle and clap).

• Schedule a hair/make-up trial.

• Start looking for rehearsal lunch/dinner locations

• Begin arranging transportation needs. (You’re going to want to leave the party in style).

2 to 3 Months before:

• Send out invitations at the 3-month mark.

• Finish purchasing decor items for your ceremony or reception that you are planning on providing.

• Finalize the design of all your paper goods and order them–menus, place cards, programs, table numbers, etc.

• Send out your current timeline and room diagrams to all your vendors to give them enough time for possible feedback/questions.

• Discuss all the details with your vendors.

• Photographers–provide a shot list so they know where and who you would like photos with, it’s a lot to remember on the day-of, and it will help your photographer be better prepared. (You and your brother, you and grandma; you, grandma, great-grandma and great-grandma’s pomeranian…you know, the basics.)

• Videographer–confirm certain footage that you want to be sure they get or certain spots you want them to capture that day (ex: first look or shot of the entire reception room before guests enter).

• DJ or Band–confirm music choices with them and discuss the style of music you are doing for that event.

• Finalize your ceremony.

• Purchase Wedding Bands (resist urge to immediately start wearing them).

• Book your rehearsal lunch/dinner location.

1 Month before:

• Get your marriage license. Schedule an appointment ahead of time so you don’t have to wait!

• Begin keeping track of RSVP’s on your guest list and keep it noted all in one place.

• Go for your last dress fitting. Console your mother when she tears up because you look so beautiful.

• Send out as many final payments as you can to your vendors.

• Begin doing seating arrangements–Don’t panic on your 100th revision.

2-3 Weeks before

• Call guests who have not RSVP’d. “Oh heeeeyy! It’s me again. Are you coming to the wedding? Still not sure yet? Okay, no rush or anything. I’ll just sit here by the phone and wait…”

• Finalize your seating arrangements (Draft #2,462).

• Confirm vendor arrival times.

• Have your final meeting at Seven-Degrees with your coordinator

  • Finalize your guaranteed guest count-total, minors, (under 21) kids meals, (under 10), vendor meals, vegetarian/vegan meals, if you have a choice of meal counts per type of meal (ex: how many chicken or beef meals). Since you can’t go below the guest count given at the 2-week mark, you’re going to want to have this number pretty solid.
  • Finalize your rehearsal date/time.
  • Finalize your menu choices.
  • Finalize your timeline.
  • Finalize your room diagram.
  • Finalize your ceremony. Go through who is standing in what order at the altar, who will be walking down the aisle, etc.
  • Give your coordinator any vendor information that they may not already have

• Confirm the floral proposal with your florist. If your guest count went up or down you may need more or less centerpieces or arrangements.

• Put together an emergency “day of” kit. We like this one: Small sewing kit, band-aids, small tissue pack, Advil, floss, eye drops, extra earring backs, bobby pins, hair ties, safety pins, scotch tape, scissors, straws, tweezers, mints, comb/brush, hair spray, perfume, nail file, Krazy glue (you never know!), cotton swabs, nail file, lotion, extra make-up for touch ups, and a pair of comfy flip-flops.

• Delegate small wedding day tasks. Designate someone responsible for the gifts Seven-Degrees to load up or anything that needs to go home with you.

• Bustle your dress.

• Take care of any final payments/tips (this could also be your Seven-Degrees coordinator who does this)

• Delgate small tasks to your bridal party/family members for the rehearsal and wedding day. Include contact information for point people, dates/times/directions for where they are supposed to be.

1 Week before

• Reconfirm with your vendors that they have everything they need from you as well as their arrival times.

• Start to put all your wedding decor/supplies together that you are going to drop off at Seven-Degrees to set-up (refer to the checklist that was discussed in your final meeting).

• Get your Wedding Dress pressed and looking its best.

• Set aside checks for any vendors that require payment on the day of (this will help keep everything easy to delegate).

• E-mail your final guest list to your coordinator (alphabetical by last name, how many  guests per table, & meal counts per table if you have a choice of plated meal)


• Drop off all your wedding decor/supplies to Seven-Degrees.

• Give your bridal party/family members any last minute information that they may need.

• Keep those cold feet warm, we recommend warm baths, scented candles, and deep breaths. You’re ready for this!

Your Wedding Day!

• Take periodical moments to soak it all up–your dress, your dreams, and the new chapter in your adventurous story that ends Happily Ever After.


About Seven Degrees Wedding Venue in Laguna Beach:

Seven-Degrees is an award-winning Orange County event venue offering full-service event coordination and design. A blank canvas framed by the sweeping canyons and coastline of Laguna Beach, our distinctive space is just the beginning of your experience. Weddings, art shows, and events of all types are imagined and shaped here.From in-house, Yelp-lauded catering to truly unique decor and design, Seven-Degrees will turn your dream event into an unforgettable reality. Contact us for a quote on your destination or local wedding.