Congratulations, You’re Engaged!

Now what? Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially if you’re in the early preparation stages. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin: Pick out a venue? Look for a dress? Panic? Relax, we’ve compiled a checklist of the most important steps to take in the first 12-6 months before the big day. This helpful guide breaks down the essentials and will take some pressure off of the first few months of the planning process. We’ve also included some of our favorite local wedding vendors so breathe a sigh of relief, Orlando brides, and start planning!

“Relax, we’ve compiled a checklist of the most important steps to take in the first 12-6 months before the big day.”

12-10 months in advance

Select the date. Choose a few backup dates as well, in case your first choice is already booked.

Start a wedding folder or spreadsheet to keep yourself organized, and decide whether or not you want to hire a wedding planner.

Figure out the budget. Setting your budget in the early stages is essential because you won’t be able to move forward with booking the vendors until you’ve determined how much you want to spend.

Begin a rough draft of the guest list and start to compile current addresses.

Pick your wedding party. Decide who you’d most like to have by your side at the altar including the maid of honor and the best man.

Select the venue and reserve the date! Choose whether or not you want to have separate locations for the ceremony and reception, factoring in travel time for the two locations. Here are some Orlando area venues to consider that’ll take your breath away:

• The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

• Bella Collina

• Leu Gardens (perfect for those desiring a scenic outdoor wedding, with nearly 50 acres of landscaped grounds and lakes)

The moment you’ve been waiting for: time to start shopping for your wedding gown! Once you find the dress of your dreams, you should schedule several fittings in advance for when it gets closer to the big day. Check out these bridal shops and boutiques as you begin your search:

• Calvet Couture Bridal Boutique

• Minerva’s Bridal Salon (also has an outlet location in Orlando for the bride on a budget)

• Solutions Bridal (lovers of Marchesa and Kenneth Pool gowns, look no further!)

9-6 months in advance

Now is the time to focus on selecting your vendors. It would be wise to begin your search sooner rather than later to make sure your first choices are available on your big day.

Meet with the caterer to do a tasting. If your wedding venue doesn’t offer its own catering service, look for your own and hire the service as soon as possible. These are some of our favorite local caterers:

• Puff ‘n Stuff

• Arthur’s Catering and Events (has an extensive seafood menu for fish fanatics)

• Dubsdread Catering

Book the entertainment, whether it’s a band or a DJ, and find an officiant who will perform your ceremony. Map out the ceremony with the officiant and confirm all important documents you’ll need for the wedding (these vary by religion and county.)

Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests and book your own suite for the wedding night.

Take your bridal party shopping for their bridesmaid and flower girl dresses! Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.

Send out save-the-date cards. Select and order invitations, envelopes and thank-you cards. Hire a calligrapher if desired.

Begin looking for a photographer/videographer and make sure the people you hire are open to doing the type of shots you want.

Book the florist. Florists can serve multiple clients on the same day, which is why you can wait a little longer to select one. Plus, by this point you’ll know exactly what you want your color palette to be.

Take a deep breath, use this page as your guide and get ready to start planning the happiest day of your life!