Engaged on September 1, getting married on March 19th. Add law school, my fiance’s Bar Exam in Februrary, the holidays spent with both sides of the family and moving to a new place – yeah, its been a wild ride! But you can totally do it. Here’s my timeline, which I compiled for myself to see if I forgot anything. Hopefully you find it helpful!
September: Booked ceremony, reception site, secured hotel block, transportation. Found a friend willing to be day of coordinator. Met with our church’s pastor to talk about pre-marital counseling. Get insurance and appraisal for the ring. Having the big things squared away made SUCH a huge difference!
October: Designed and mailed save the dates (Vista Print!), started premarital counseling. Started ordering 6-7 pairs of shoes off Zappos.com to see what I liked and felt good. (Thank God for free shipping each way and a 1 year return policy!) Bought Me Too shoes – they have padded soles and so comfy! Started playing around with flowers to see if I could DIY my bouquet. Undecided.
November: Bought my wedding dress off the rack (almost new sample) – took a week to steam, press, clean and check for imperfections. Bought necklaces to mail with a card to ask my BMs to be in my wedding party. Hired our photographer. Did food tasting at the reception venue (P.S. if you don’t like something, tell them to change it – you can totally ask them to customize things for you!) Do a home winetasting of cheap but tasty wines. Bought a few cases of wine at Grocery Outlet during their 20% sale and got delicious $25 wine for $5 a bottle (2 whites, 2 reds). Possibly drank one too many bottles of said wine. Ordered a delicious strawberries and cream cake from a Chinese bakery for $180. Ate turkey. Tried DIY flowers again. Undecided.
December: Took law school finals. First dress fitting. Started painting caketoppers (DIY kit from Goose Grease on etsy) in my spare time and obsessed over invitation design. Picked BM dresses (Adrianna Pappell makes great budget friendly dresses) and ordered them from ideeli.com and then again on Nordstrom.com when they ran out of one of the sizes. (Nordies puts things on major sale on their site, keep an eye out). Went home for Christmas, designed invites with FI’s girlfriend-in-law (BIL’s longterm GF) who is a graphic designer. Started e-mailing possible makeup artists for quotes. Bought FI’s wedding band on BlueNile during their sitewide 20% sale (sign up for emails and keep an eye out! We got a great deal and FI LOVES his ring!) Went to the dentist to get teeth checked and prettied. Thought about ordering centerpieces from Costco (only $20 a piece!) Undecided. Meet with a real florist to get a quote. Undecided. Order supplies for DIY favors.
January: Finished wedding website before invites went out. Started last semester of law school. Get put on FI’s checking account and start joining finances. Buy and start using a Clarisonic religiously for my skincare regimen (SO much cheaper than going in for facials and now even the FI wants one.) Practice making a household budget (marriage counseling homework). Second dress fitting. Met and booked our pastor (no easy feat when you need a fluent Korean-English pastor!) Snap up Groupons for Photobook America. ($30 for $115 worth of photobooks that start at $30 a piece! FI and I both snagged them for easy parent/grandparent gifts and wedding albums). Figured out groom’s attire (I wanted grey suits, but it was impossible to coordinate so we went with gray tuxes at Men’s Wearhouse and got the free suit out of it). Made a registry on Macys and Crate and Barrel (totally done online while sitting in class). Had to keep the wedding drama to a minimum bc FI was deep in Bar Exam study mode. Took over most of wedding planning at this point (it had been a team effort up until this point). Mailed out invites and ordered custom canvas tote bags for OOT bags (again, Vista Print with 25% coupon, totally affordable). Ordered my wedding band and sent my e-ring back for resizing (takes up to 6 weeks if it goes to a big manufacturer like Tacori). Decided I wanted a reception dress and ordered one on ideeli.com for a steal. Started wedding diet with 60 days before wedding (I’m still gonna be a plus sized bride, but you do what you can!) Did our champagne home tasting (winner: Zonin Prosecco from Trader Joes at $6.99 a bottle!) Start assigning wedding day tasks to friends (DJ, MC, usher, church decorations, cake set-up, reception set-up, etc). Also give people heads up about toasts, speeches. Send bridal shower guest list to MOH. Booked makeup/hair trial and engagement photo session (which I originally wasn’t going to have but had to pay $100 for hair/makeup trial, so I thought might as well). At makeup artists request, I order clip-in real human hair extensions (go on Ebay – I got beautiful ones from China for $40 and free shipping, but it took 3 weeks to get them). Assign wedding readings to our siblings. Bought some reception knickknacks at thrift stores. Did some mock ups of possible pew flowers. Like the pew flowers I made myself. Start hoarding plastic platters and trays and doilies and tongs from the dollar store for our welcome reception and bridal shower (we’re bringing in Costco food and reassembling on nice platters). Dollar Tree has really good quality disposable party ware! Start organizing things into boxes to hand off to friends based on their day-of responsibilities, with complete instructions (and photos if needed!) Pick up a guestbook. Mail final payment to the church.
February: This was the MOST work intensive month! Finalize ceremony with the pastor. Check in with all of my vendors with “just to confirm our details…” e-mails and CC my day of coordinator so she is on the same page. Wedding diet goes into panic mode. Went to 3rd and 4th fitting where my seamstress informs me my dress that almost fit perfectly when I brought it in has now been taken in 4 inches. Get measured for a custom bolero with my seamstress, and have her make me a matching hair flower using the leftover fabric, lace and beading from my dress. Diet panic goes away. Confirm everyone got measured for their tuxes. OOT bags come in and I am in love. Meet our hotel coordinator to look at room configurations that might work for our welcome reception (in lieu of a rehearsal dinner). Decide to book 2 king suites – one for the welcome reception/hospitality suite/groom’s getting ready room, and one for bridal shower/bridal getting ready room. We’ll have the hotel pull out the furniture and set up round tables. (That way we can bring in our own food in and save BIG $$) Booked our piano player (found through our pastor). Started hoarding cookies and snacks and chocolate from Grocery Outlet and Target when things were on sale to put in OOT bags. (Um, post-Valentine’s candy was 70-90% off at Target and I definitely got enough candy for everyone for PENNIES. Keep an eye out after Easter!) Ordered some centerpiece related knickknacks online using Beaucoup.com. Got my wedding set back, squealed. FI handles insurance and appraisals again. Obsessed over flowers and centerpieces (an ongoing headache since December). Finally decided to get pro bouquets done by my dream florist (Studio Choo SF!) and DIY everything else (pew flowers, corsages, and bouts by me and the BMs, centerpieces by friend/day of coordinator). Bought adorable milk bottles in crates from Save-On-Crafts.com for centerpieces and started practicing making bouts and corsages. (If you make them and put them in a ziploc bag in your fridge, rose bouts keep fresh for like a WEEK). Ordered wedding announcements and thank you cards (thank you Vista Print again!) Mom flips out bc she thought we were getting a videographer (uh, no). We find a good videographer through our photographer who offers us raw footage for a very reasonable price. So we book them and make mom and our grandparents (who can’t come) very happy. (Make clear to the videographer that the photographer has top priority!) FI took Bar Exam so we had wedding moratoriam for about 10 days (except I made tears of joy packets and assembled favors while watching TV and made a menu card template in Word, while he updated all of our spreadsheets). Ordered a cheap fabric steamer (SO USEFUL!) and a large coffeemaker (think church sized pots for our hospitality suite…hotel wanted to charge $3 a head for coffee. Yeah no, this pot was $30 on Amazon!) We started whitening our teeth for our engagement photos. Went looking at apartments and found a place to live after we’re married. Put a deposit down. Panicked about engagement photo outfits (just wore my reception dress with a cardigan and he wore jeans, button down and a blazer). Did hair and makeup trial and took engagement photos right after. RSVP and hotel block deadline comes and we have our final guest count: 64 people. Schedule final fitting and pick-up date. E-mail our moms to collect family photos for our reception decorations (we’re doing a family picture table). E-mail bridesmaids to check in on how dresses are fitting and final details about attire. Go over playlist with friend who is DJing. Remind family/friends who are toasting to start prepping their speeches.
March: GAH! 3 weeks left! Engagement photos come back and I am in love. Book my makeup and hair girl for me and my mom. Order a 16×20 canvas of our favorite engagement shot for our reception off Costco.com (takes 10 business days but way cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen). Moved all of our wedding gifts into storage bc it was taking up all of my living room space! FI starts packing our stuff and moving it into storage. I start assembling OOT bags (goodie bag of chocolates, granola bars, chips, hand sanitizer, fruit snacks, Korean cup noodle, 2 bottles of water, map of SF with a welcome letter). Prepare copious lists of things to remember to bring to the wedding venue (which is 90 minutes away from us). Give myself an internal deadline to finish EVERYTHING a week before the wedding. Buy baskets for programs and tears of joy packets. Order wraps and flipflops for my BMs (Target and Old Navy). Order wedding clutch, cardigan and flip flops to go with my reception dress (Target and Macy’s clearance). Schedule final walkthrough with reception venue (1 week before the wedding). FI is in charge of wedding license stuff. Mail final payment to the photographer. Buy sparkling apple cider for our non-alcoholic guests (and make sure the reception site doesn’t charge us corkage on those and negotiate with them to give us OJ for mimosas). Figure out FI’s wedding gift. Get FI’s military sword from FMIL for cake cutting. Have last premarital counseling class (awkward sex talk).
With 15 days until my wedding, my current to-do list is:
- Create and print a program (half done with the template)
- Print the menu cards
- Finish tying the favors with twine
- Finish centerpiece knick knacks
- Figure out a table number design
- Seating chart
- Escort cards
- Order an easel to prop our engagement photo on
- Frame family photos for family photo table at reception.
- Type up and frame a bar menu
- Order FI’s wedding gift (its perishable so must be ordered the week of the wedding)
- Buy argyle socks for FI.
- Finalize arrivals for family members
- Type up welcome letter and weekend schedule of events for OOT bags
- Type up a final wedding timeline for all vendors, friends, wedding party, etc.
- Buy a dress for bridal shower/rehearsal/welcome reception (all in one day!)
- Mail my makeup artist my extensions for her to prep ahead of time
- Buy some CZ studs to wear on wedding day and ask mom for her sapphire pendant
- Buy the bubbly for the reception
- Prepare the announcements to be mailed out
- RETURN all the clothes and random stuff I ended up not using/wearing.
- Make sure FI has prepared all the final payments and tips
- Meticulously pack everything in the car
- Pack for honeymoon
- Final fitting
- Final walkthrough at reception site
- Pick up dress
- Check into hotel 3 days before the wedding
- Go to SF Flower Mart for bulk flowers and deliver centerpiece flowers to coordinator
- Get final pedicure/manicure
- Pick up canvas pic from Costco
- Do a major Costco shop once at the wedding venue for all the bridal shower and welcome reception and wedding day breakfast food.
- Deliver OOT bags to the hotel.
- Make sure hotel makes room keys for the hospitality suite so guests have access 24/7
- Buy wine and beer for welcome reception (cheap stuff)
WHEW! I will be so glad when this is all over!