A Chicago Wedding Planner's Wedding Checklist to Keep in Mind for Your Big Day!

Monday, January 2, 2023

You’re engaged! You’ve answered the big question, put on the ring, and told your loved ones the happy news. But now what do you do? If you feel a bit in over your head at the thought of wedding planning, you’re not alone! 

From our years in the Chicago wedding planner industry, we’ve developed a checklist, broken down into pieces so that you can tackle individual steps, rather than seeing wedding planning as one huge task. Read on to learn how to stress less and have fun while checking tasks off your list! 

Keep in mind - weddings are often incredibly personal, so some of these items may apply to you, while others may not. Also, since engagement periods vary, if you’re working on a tighter timeline, we recommend getting the first tasks done early in an effort to stay on track. 

12 Months

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Settle on a wedding budget

Make sure to break down your budget into priority items and allocate funds into those priority items first. After you begin talking to vendors later in the process, you may realize that there are extra funds in certain categories that you can move to cover other expenses. 

This may happen because you opted to work with a planner who has existing relationships in the industry and can help you score better wedding planning packages and prices. Or maybe you changed your mind about some of the things you thought were priorities but have decided against. Either way, having a budget to start with is critical. 

Discuss the type of wedding you envision

As you can imagine, an elopement or micro wedding package chicago on Navy Pier with a few of your closest friends and family members will look and feel very different than a black-tie affair in the ballroom of The Langham. Couples today are hosting events that are more out-of-the-box than ever, as they allow for personalization and meaningful moments, so don’t be afraid to consider renting an event space in a loft with an outdoor garden and art gallery, on a yacht or cruise, at Adler Planetarium, or in a garden or park

During this discussion, ask yourself and your partner about what is important to you about your event - do you want it to be more informal, perhaps feeling like a BBQ or celebratory gathering, or more formal, with high-end vendors and a breathtaking atmosphere? 

Hire a Chicago Wedding Planner

If you’re working with a tighter budget, you might think that working with a wedding planner is a luxury you can’t afford. It might surprise you to realize that wedding planners can actually save couples a lot of money! Many wedding planners in Chicago have established vendor networks that offer better rates or packages, and taking advantage of these perks is also a great way to ensure you get top-notch service!  

Working with a Chicago wedding planner means you’ll have an invested professional to support you as you hire vendors, sign contracts, visit venues, and make important decisions as part of your wedding planner package. You’ll have someone to bounce ideas off, assist with logistics, offer an insider’s perspective, and so much more. You can google “wedding planner cost chicago” or reach out to planners directly to get a sense of what they can offer. 

6-11 Months 

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Select venue, hire vendors

As soon as reasonably possible, we recommend booking a venue. Many venues book up a year in advance, so sooner is better. The same is true for vendors - it’s always in your best interest to meet with potential vendors and do your site visits early in the planning process. 

If a certain photographer, officiant, band, hairdresser, caterer, or florist is a priority for you, make sure they’re available on your selected wedding date and put down your deposits. Make sure to carefully read through your vendor contracts and make sure you have a clear understanding of the expectations for each vendor.  

Decide on your wedding party and make a guest list

Depending on your venue and vision, you may have a sense already for your guest count, but you’ll need to actually get that list together, along with their mail or email addresses for invites. This is also a good time to decide who you want standing at your sides when you say “I do.” If you’re opting to have your wedding party wear specific formalwear, work with them to schedule fittings.  

Create your wedding website, create gift registry

Many free or low-cost wedding website hosting platforms like The Knot, WithJoy, and Zola allow for great customization, enabling your guests to read sections about your story, see details about the big day, or visit linked gift registries. 

Send your Save-the-Dates

We guarantee the first thing many people will do when they get your save-the-date is visit your website to check out your venue, and if they need to travel to get to your celebration, they’ll start booking flights and travel plans. It’s a good idea to talk to your day of wedding coordinator chicago and share a basic timeline of the wedding week and include links to sightseeing options (like Navy Pier, Millenium Park, and Shedd Aquarium) to make it easy for your guests to enjoy themselves. 

2 Months

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Send your invites

We recommend sending your invites two months out, and requesting guests RSVP by one month from your wedding date. Don’t forget to include any invites to the rehearsal dinner!

Make a Marriage License Plan

Make sure to include learning about the most up-to-date laws and requirements for your marriage license on your list of questions to ask your wedding planner. Make sure you account for how much your license costs and how long it takes to file and receive, or if you need to pick it up or if it is part of your wedding coordinator package

1 Month - The Big Day

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Final Venue Walk-Through

Did you remember to pick out a guest book and include a place for it in your reception layout? You and your day of coordinator chicago should try to do a final walk-through at your venue and meet to smooth over your timeline for your wedding day and chat through any last-minute logistics like this. Make sure you’re clear on how your wedding party is getting to and from your venue. 

Prioritize self-care

In the days leading up to your wedding, try to minimize alcohol consumption, get lots of sleep, eat healthy, and drink lots of water. Take walks or exercise to help with stress, and plan a special relaxing date with your partner. 

Conclusion: After the Wedding

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After the big day is over, there are a few items to check off too. Don’t forget to work with your wedding planner chicago if you will be on your honeymoon, so they can help coordinate and oversee these tasks. They include returning any rentals to event planning companies chicago, taking your dress or suit to be cleaned, and collecting your marriage certificate. 

We know - when you look at this list at first, it probably feels pretty overwhelming. Trust us, though, as wedding planners in chicago - from our years working with couples of all kinds to plan meaningful events, having a plan is the best approach when thinking about an event as important as your wedding. On your big day, you’ll be able to relax, enjoy time with your loved ones, and celebrate one of the biggest days of your life.

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