Hey there! My name is Andres! I’m a wedding photographer who’s been in the industry for over 5 years.
Wedding planning doesn’t have to be hard. That’s why I’ve created a completely FREE guide to planning a wedding in Atlanta. Consider this as a checklist of things to do leading up to your wedding day! I’ve also added tons of links and recommendations to help you plan your big day!
This guide will split up your wedding planning month to month so you have breathing room in-between.
You can also download my wedding planning guide and timeline HERE! Just fill out the quick form!
12 months before the wedding
- Pick a Date – CONGRATS!
You just got engaged! The very first step is to find a date that means a lot to your and your partner. You also want to keep in mind what kind of weather and season you want to get married in. Fall has tons of orange colors without being too hot. Winter can be cold and cozy but sometimes lacks greenery. Spring begins to warm up and blossom, and summer tends to be hot but full of greenery and sunny weather.
- Create a budget! – How much are you looking to spend? The average wedding is $28,000. It will mostly depend on your venue and the quality/experience of each of your vendors. The great thing is that you decide in which areas you want to invest in! As a guide, I’ve included how much of your budget you should allocate to each vendor. I’ve set these as percentages so they apply to any budget:
It’s also a good idea to look for “all-inclusive” venues to take away the hassle of creating a budget.
- Make a guest list
- Choose your bridal party!
- Hire a wedding planner if your budget allows for it – This will take an INCREDIBLE amount of pressure off your shoulders!
- Decide what kind of theme you’re going for. BoHo? Classic? Bright and airy?
This part is EXTREMELY important because it will determine what kind of vendors and venue you book. Some venues are more rustic, bright, etc..
Likewise different photographers have different styles and certain florists only work with certain pallets!
- Tour Different venues – make a list of 3-5 venues. Try to book these tours all in the same week or even day if possible. Trust me, you’ll just know your venue when you walk into it!
- Find your photographer and or videographer – It’s always best if you can find someone who does both! This way you’re working with a team that gets along and that has one cohesive style. This will also make it easier because you’re dealing with a single vendor instead of 2 different ones.
- Schedule your engagement session shortly after booking. This way you have your photos to create your save the dates. Remember there is a turnaround time from after your engagement session to your delivery of your gallery so plan accordingly!
- Try to book a photographer who includes an engagement session in their packages. Some videographers also include a “save the date” video in their package
- Most photographers will have locations that they recommend for your engagement sessions.
- You can click here for a list of Atlanta’s Best Engagement Photo Spots!
- Begin looking for a DJ or band
- Talk to your DJ to find one that fits you well….have a song list….what song will you walk down the isle to…
- Choose music for DJ
- Save the dates!
- By this time your photographer should have your engagement photos delivered. You can begin working on your save the dates!
You can order custom Save the Dates on Etsy! They have such a huge variety of designs that can follow a theme you may have! If you are nifty with graphics I would try Canva! You can customize every little detail and can now get your Save the Dates sent straight to the printer from Canva!
- Begin finding dress inspiration! What kind of dress do you want to wear? Will you wear a traditional veil? Are you going for a long train? Start preparing your Pinterest boards!
- Now you can try on different dresses at different shops. Please be aware, dresses from Bridal Boutiques typically can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks for your dress to be available at the store if you don’t buy it right off the rack. So the earlier you order the better!
- Reach out to florists: your florist should present you with different color palettes that match your theme!
- Begin dress shipping for bridesmaids!
Start deciding on the colors you want them to wear. Will they all match the same dress or will each dress have a different design while being the same color?
- GET A CUTE DRESS HANGER FOR YOUR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS. YOU DON’T WANT A CHEAP PLASTIC ONE IN YOUR PHOTOS! You can find some cute custom ones on Etsy and even Amazon!
- Floor plans for space – now is a good time for your venue/coordinator to reach out to your vendors to coordinate where your vendors will be placed. For example, where will the DJ be stationed, where will the cake be placed, how will tables be set up, etc.
- Order decorations or DIY, or rent party decor!
- Find and book your wedding officiant – you want to find someone that connects with your and your fiance. What kind of message will this person leave with you? Ask if they have videos of any previous weddings that they have done previously.
- Book premarital counseling – some officiant services will offer counseling. This is a great way to prepare you for your wedding AND your marriage. What kind of things do you and your partner need to prepare for the real world?
- Plan your bachelorette parties with your Maid of Honor! Now you and your girls can plan where you’d like to travel and get drunk at!
- Figure out transportation (limo, party, bus, etc.)
How will you and the wedding party move between the AirBnb, to the venue, and how will you and your fiance make your grand exit?
- Finalize a caterer
- Book a bartender/mobile bar
- Plan Honeymoon
- Rent or Buy Tuxedos and Suits
- Look for Cake Bakers
- Book Cake taste testings
- Find your Hair and Makeup Artists
- Book Hair and Makeup trials
- Begin writing your vows – MAKE SURE THAT YOU write them down in something cute. It’ll look amazing in your flat lay photos. This is much better than reading them on your phone during the ceremony. Your ceremony should feel disconnected.
- Book Airbnbs and Hotels (where to get ready the night before) – you want to find somewhere close to your venue. It should be no more than 10 minutes from the venue to prevent any traffic.
- Get your dress fitted and altered
- Marriage license
- ORDER GIFTS: wedding party, in-laws, etc.
- Finalize or draft your Day of Timeline – make sure you send a timeline to each of your vendors as to what time they will arrive and set up. Your photographer should look over the timeline to ensure there is enough time for photos THROUGHOUT the entire day. Ask for their feedback!
- Break into your wedding shoes
- Pay vendors in full
- FINALIZE SEATING CHART
- Nail and toes(mani/pedi) – your photographer will most likely want to capture small details like the rings/jewelry on your hands
- Clean your engagement ring – you want your ring to be polished and POP in your photos
- Order thank you cards
- Finalize your ceremony music and first dance song with DJ – I’m surprised by the number of brides who don’t know what song their walking down the aisle to until the DAY OF their wedding!
- Rehearsal dinner – order a cute white dress to go with the occasion
- Stock up on Liquid IV’S- these are a LIFE saver. If you’re drinking before the wedding, make sure you drink one prior to drinking, and one before going to bed.
- Good night sleep (Take melatonin)
- Drink tons water
- Breathe – CONGRATULATIONS, you’ve followed this guide and have done EVERYTHING in your power to make this the best day of your life. It’s time to enjoy it. Disconnect and remember that you’ll have all your wonderful photos and videos to look at afterwards!