To help you get a better understanding of how to plan a wedding and when you should be making certain key decisions, here’s a timeframe you can follow that should ensure that your wedding goes off as smoothly as possible.

• 10 to 12 months before

If you haven’t done it already, this is a good time to announce your engagement and introduce your respective families. Since most reception halls and churches have busy wedding schedules, it is also important to book both as early as possible, preferably at least a year in advance.

It’s also a good idea to start putting together a guest list around this time and ask your parents whom they’d like to invite as well. Also, since your budget will determine just about every aspect of your wedding, sit down and determine exactly what you can spend and then develop a savings plan.

• 6 to 9 months before

This is the time when you want to start booking services, such as a florist, caterer, entertainment and a photographer.

Also, this is a good time to inform any guests who will be traveling significant distances of the date of your wedding. The earlier your guests can book a flight, the less expensive that flight will be.

This is also a good time to order gowns for both the bride and bridesmaids because some manufacturers require a few months to ship to bridal shops.

This is also the time you should ask someone, such as your priest or rabbi, to officiate at your wedding. You may also save significant money if you book your honeymoon around this time.

• 4 to 5 months before

This is a good time to decide on wedding invitations. Also, now is the ideal time to start hunting for that perfect wedding cake by sampling a number of different bakeries.

Just to be sure, also confirm that all of the bridesmaids have ordered their gowns and start looking for a tuxedo for the groom as well as the groomsmen. If you haven’t done so already, purchase your wedding rings and let any other people you’d like to participate in your wedding, such as ushers and readers, know of your intentions.

• 2 to 3 months before

Finalize your guest list and mail out your invitations. If your guest list includes a considerable amount of people who are spread out geographically, mail the invitations as close to 12 weeks in advance as possible.

This is also a good time to finalize your menu choices for the reception and find all your wedding day accessories such as the ring pillow, candles, etc.

Also, since it is tradition to provide gifts for those in the wedding party as well as the parents of the bride and groom, this is a good time to decide on and purchase those gifts. Just to be safe, confirm that all groomsmen have ordered their tuxedos and finalize all transportation, both to and from the wedding and to the airport for your honeymoon.

• 1 to 2 months before

Schedule the first bridal-gown fitting. Also finalize the readings you’d prefer during the ceremony and mail them out to anyone who has agreed to do a reading.

If you prefer to host a small gathering for close family and friends after the wedding rehearsal or the night before the wedding, this is a good time to order any food or drinks you might want to serve or make a restaurant reservation.

• 3 to 4 weeks before

Confirm your honeymoon arrangements and see if your wedding rings are ready. This is also when you should get your marriage license and check the guest list to see who has and hasn’t replied. For those who have yet to say whether they’re coming or not, you might want to contact them so you can get a better idea of what the head count will be. You should also prepare and order your wedding program around this time.

• 1 to 2 weeks before

Get a final attendance count and submit it to the caterer as soon as you know it. Also prepare the final seating chart. Pick up the wedding gown and tuxedo.

Make sure the wedding party picks up their attire. Also, finalize your vows and confirm all wedding-day details such as transportation, photo schedules and addresses. And don’t forget to pack for your honeymoon.

• The day before

This is mainly when you rehearse for the ceremony and make any final confirmations you might have to make. Also, make sure to get some sleep so you’ll look good in all of your wedding photos.

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