1. I think it prudent to first gather a tentative guest list so that you know the general amount of people who could be in attendance. Kids or no kids? This will matter later.
2. With that number in mind (yes, it will no doubt change), select some venues that will hold that many people but won’t hold SOOOO many more people that you’ll be paying for that extra space for no reason.
3. Then tailor your venue selections: Do they offer both ceremony and reception options? (This depends on whether or not you want those events to be separated at different locations. If separated, begin researchin TWO kinds of venues.) Do they provide catering, or do you need an outside caterer? What other services do they provide that won’t have to hire elsewhere?
4. This may be optional, but it’s probably helpful: Create a wedding website. (zola, theknot, etc.) You can provide your guests with registry info, RSVP options, places to stay or where you’re planning on booking suits, itinerary, etc. You need only BEGIN the website now; provide new information to your guests as you know about it.
5. Save-the-dates (if needed) and invitations. Once you have a general list of those invited, begin searching for invitations and such. Order them, fill them out, send them. (This sometimes takes a while if you don’t already have everyone’s addresses.)
6. In the interim, begin thinking about wedding theme (if at all), decor, theme color, and table settings. Start looking around for what you might like.
Most things after this require that you’ve gotten your RSVPs.
7. Caterer. Once you know how many people will attend, you’ve got to research and book a caterer. You can’t possibly know what to order until you know approximately how many people will be in attendance.
8. Consider ordering place settings and table decor and such once you know how many people (and, as a result, how many tables) will be there.
9. Booze. Will you need it? How much? What kinds (wine, beer, mixed drinks, or a combo)? Open bar? Cash bar? Open bar until a certain time and then charging? Does the caterer do this, do you need to buy kegs and such from the local liquor store? Dry wedding?
The rest can occur as you’re doing the others:
– if children are allowed, then setting up activities or areas for them is to be considered
– choose a wedding party, get confirmation, and plan the researsal and rehearsal meal (is necessary)
– wedding dress, tuxedo, bridal party clothing: fittings, ordering, etc.
– find a DJ, wedding band, etc. Discuss the type of music, special songs, etc. As it gets closer to the date, begin to discuss timelines of songs (first dance, father-daughter dance, etc.)
– book a local suite of rooms for out-of-town guests
There are no doubt MANY things to be added to this list, but I feel like the order in which I placed the numbered events is at least reasonable. Good luck!