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Help! What Do I Need to Have on My Wedding Checklist?

Help! What Do I Need to Have on My Wedding Checklist?

Dear Salem Convention Center,

My boyfriend and I got engaged in December, but we’re both overwhelmed by all of the decisions we have to make and settling on a date!  We’re not sure what we’re supposed to be doing and when. Can you provide a planning checklist for my wedding?

Overwhelmed in Salem

Dear Overwhelmed,

Congratulations on your recent engagement! This is going to be an exciting journey that you will never forget, and we are happy to help you in any way that we can. We understand that planning your wedding can be one a bit mind-boggling, especially when this is the first time you have taken on such an event of this magnitude. You are smart to begin your planning with a wedding checklist, and we are happy to help you create one that will fit your needs and help you stay on schedule so you can easily handle the unexpected.

Fortunately, you have chosen to host your wedding in our facility and our team will be able to handle a number of items on your checklist. All inclusive venues like ours can help you keep track of the smaller details and logistical challenges that may arise from having events in multiple venues (parking, guest lodging, directions, transportation, traffic, etc). You also won’t need to worry about renting items such as glass centerpieces, tables, chairs, linen, cloth napkins, staging for a head table & ceremony, full place settings and a dance floor. In addition, we have an onsite hotel, a rehearsal dinner venue and an amazing wedding coordinator and a professional service staff to assist with your every need. 

Though a wedding will vary from bride to bride, nearly most lists will have the same basic specifics. In this post, our wedding planners have provided a general template for you to use, feel free to customize this to make it unique to you!  Hope it helps! 

9-16 Months Before the Big Day

  • Set a realistic budget and stick to it. We cannot stress this enough. A budget can help guide many of your decisions regarding your special day.  It’s very important for brides and grooms to determine a realistic amount they are prepared to spend. According to a recent study conducted by The Knot, the average wedding cost was $35,329 in 2016. Do not let this number intimidate you! There are numerous ways brides and grooms can plan a beautiful intimate ceremony for much less.  We are big fans of the site www.planningyourweddingforless.com which contains valuable information on how to plan a wedding on a tight budget.
  • Get organized.  Determine what is the best way for you to track details? Though there are numerous online and digital resources out there, we find that a good old fashioned wedding notebook is a great way to organize every aspect of your wedding. Bring your notebook to each and every meeting so that you have all of your wedding details with you at all times.
  • Book the ceremony and reception venue, then form all of your other details around it. The most common mistake engaged couples make is booking wedding vendors BEFORE setting a budget or deciding on the venue. We’ve seen excited couples immediately book a vendor such as a caterer or DJ, only to find out their desired venue is unavailable on the same day.  
  • Research local wedding vendors: photographers, entertainment companies, florists, and caterers. We have an amazing vendor referral list here at the Salem Convention Center. Only our most trusted partners make this list so you are ensured to be in good hands.
  • Book your officiant.
  • Begin to form your guest list. We recommend making a spreadsheet that tracks your head count (which will have a huge effect on your budget) and create columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information.
  • Choose your wedding party.
  • Announce your engagement in the local paper, social media, and/or wedding website.
  • Order “Save the Dates”.

6-8 Months Before the Big Day

  • Send out “Save the Date” notes.
  • Meet with your event planner if you have one.
  • Book your wedding professionals: photographer, videographer, reception entertainment, transportation, florist, baker, caterer and any other wedding vendors you will need.
  • Schedule a meeting with your caterer.  
  • Purchase a dress. You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be postponed for another two to three months.
  • Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. We recommend The Grand Hotel in Salem of course; a multi award winning in guest satisfaction green hotel adjoined to the Salem Convention Center.
  • Register for wedding gifts (since some engagement parties will be coming up).
  • Order stationery and invitations.

4-6 Months Before the Big Day

  • Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues.  Tip: Bentley’s Grill is the perfect rehearsal dinner venue for weddings in The Salem Convention Center. Click here to read about their private party spaces and services.
  • Select and order the cake.
  • Select wedding party attire.
  • Purchase veil and wedding shoes.
  • Schedule hair and makeup appointments.

2-3 Months Before the Big Day

  • Meet with all wedding vendors to confirm details of their services (select flowers, select music, menu, etc).
  • Order guest favors
  • Select wedding party gifts.
  • Purchase the rings and arrange for engraving (if you’re doing this).
  • Send out wedding invitations.
  • Submit a newspaper wedding announcement.
  • Order your guest book. 

One Month to Go!

  • Get your marriage license.
  • Delegate as many small tasks that you can. 
  • Send out as many final payments as you can.
  • Create and print wedding program (if you have one).

The Week of your Big Day!

  • Final dress fitting
  • Plan and communicate all logistics.
  • Send the final headcount to the caterer and rehearsal dinner venue.

Day Of:

  • Relax.
  • Enjoy this very special day.
  • Call on our team of professionals should you need any assistance.  

Real Simple also offers a great comprehensive wedding checklist, with a timeline based on the 16-month length of the average U.S. engagement. To give you more visual demonstration on the wedding planning process, check out this wonderful flowchart we found on shannonvalenteweddings.com.

The Wedding Planning Process

Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to make your next move! Visit our Weddings & Events page to learn more about weddings at The Salem Convention Center.  Click here to start planning your big day!

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