If you’re planning a wedding, you probably have a long checklist covering everything from booking your venue and buying your dress down to the nitty gritty like choosing napkins and favor tags. It can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you see how many things can’t be done until close to the big day.
But what if there was a way to alleviate future stress by getting a head start on key items? Here are 10 wedding to dos that you can (and should!) tackle way early. These are things that you can often figure out soon in the process, and ultimately free up your time (and stress capacity!) for other items.
#1. Choose the songs for key dances.
Songs like your first dance and father/daughter dance are not likely to change based on the venue or any other details. So you can safely start thinking about them early. Plus, you’ll likely only need to get input from a few people in order to finalize your choices.
You can also start brainstorming music choices for other key moments like the processional, recessional, and the first song of the party. Most DJs will provide direction around what songs you can choose.
#2. Buy your bridal party thank you gifts.
In most cases, you’ll be able to buy your thank you gifts for your bridal party far in advance. Once you know how many people you’re including, you can start brainstorming ideas and making a short list.
You can also buy any parent gifts and gifts for bridal shower hosts once you’ve taken stock of what you need.
As I mentioned in my post How to Plan an Affordable Wedding: 10 Insanely Smart Ideas, I was strategic in buying these gifts. I bought almost all of them online and on key sale days to save time and make my budget go further. And I used cash back sites to save extra on my purchases.
#3. Buy gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper, and thank you cards.
These may seem like small things, but the last thing you want is to be running around at the last minute scrambling to find cute gift wrap. Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be gifting, grab what you need in terms of wrap.
Like my thank you gifts, I ordered most of my wrap online and using cash back sites to save extra.
#4. Choose your cake design (or dessert strategy!)
Choosing a cake baker or dessert supplier can get pushed down the list since it’s generally less time-sensitive. But it can also be one more thing that stays on the list unnecessarily.
Once you have a rough guest count and know your theme and venue, you can start planning. Decide what you need, and find bakers or suppliers to shortlist. As I mentioned in How to Plan an Affordable Wedding: 10 Insanely Smart Ideas, we’re going with mini cupcakes and paid the deposit months in advance so that we could guarantee our ideal delivery window and make sure the vendor had us booked.
#5. Make a preliminary guest list.
While your numbers will be impacted by your vision for the day and venue choice, you can put together a first draft early. This will dictate so many other decisions, so it’s worth prioritizing. While it may seem like something you can roughly guess at off the top of your head, once you actually put pen to paper and start writing down names, you may be surprised at how big your numbers get.
We actually started making our guest list the weekend we got engaged, and it gave us immediate direction for looking at venues.
#6. Buy your wedding bands.
The design of your band is driven by your personal style and your engagement ring, so you could start the process of shopping for bands pretty much right away.
Same thing for your partner: in most cases, their band won’t hinge on any other plans or themes, so you can start shopping right away. My band ended up taking way longer than planned, so it was doubly good that we got a head start!
#7. Create a gift registry (or two!)
Since excited friends and family may wish you get you an engagement gift, it’s a good idea to set up bridal registries at one or two major retailers early in the process. This helps guests who are looking to buy a physical gift, and ensures you get things you’ll need and use.
You may also be surprised that you’ll receive gifts at other key moments, outside of the engagement and wedding. For example, we received a few engagement gifts after guests received the Save the Date. And we got a few wedding gifts when people received their invitations. For those occasions, it’s good to be prepared with a registry that contains at least a few gifts at different price points.
Looking to register for something more unique or experiential? My post 5 of the Most Special Wedding Gifts You Can Find Online has some ideas.
#8. Figure out your tanning plan.
If you’re planning on tanning or getting a spray tan before the big day, try it out well in advance. You’ll be busy enough with more important things leading up to the big day, and you want to make sure you’re happy with the amount of colour you’re getting.
#9. Book your honeymoon flights and hotels.
Once you’ve booked a wedding date and have decided on a honeymoon destination, book your flight and hotel. These things typically book up and get more expensive over time, and for a big (and costly!) trip, it’s helpful to get ahead of things.
My post Honeymoon Hacks: How to Save Money On Your Trip has tips on planning your honeymoon.
#10. Start Breaking in Your Shoes
To make sure you don’t have to deal with blisters and painful feet the night of, start breaking in your shoes weeks or months in advance. To keep them in good shape, wear them around the house!
Do you have any tips for wedding to dos that you can start early? If you’re a bride, what do you wish you had begun sooner? Sound off in the comments and let me know!
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