Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist
Let the Kentucky Derby Museum help you plan your perfect day! We’ve made it easy. Follow this ultimate wedding checklist to turn your wedding dream into reality.
Sixteen to Nine Months Before
- Create Pinterest boards to pin your favorite ideas. Create boards for different aspects of your day such as fashion, food or flowers. Visit www.Pinterest.com/derbymuseum for inspiration!
- Create a Budget. Determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own.
- Select your wedding party! Make it fun with a creative way to ask your bridesmaids or groomsmen to join in your special day.
- Start your guest list - Make sure the number of guests you plan to invite align with your budget!
- Consider hiring a wedding planner - A planner can help you make decisions and recommend top vendors to hire. Check with the Museum for preferred vendors.
- Reserve your date at the Kentucky Derby Museum - The Museum can host up to 1800 people! Consider the unique venue for all your wedding occasions--from the rehearsal, rehearsal-dinner, ceremony and the reception or “next day” brunch!
- Book your officiant.
- Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers – Take notes and gather contact information.
Eight Months Before
- Hire the photographer and the videographer – Make sure you discuss the shots you are looking for and the style of photography/videography you have in mind.
- Book the entertainment – Go watch potential acts perform at other functions. It’ll give you a sense of how they’ll act on your big day. Don’t wait to book your favorite, bands/DJs book quickly!
- Meet the Museum’s exclusive caterer – The Museum offers its own catering service to perfect your menu and bar selection.
- Purchase a dress - You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings.
- Reserve a block of hotel rooms at a hotel for out-of-town guests.
- Launch a wedding website – Keep guests up-to-date with date and time of your wedding and related events. Share your love story! Add travel information, hotel accommodations, attractions like the Kentucky Derby Museum and more.
Seven to Six Months Before
- Select and purchase invitations - Hire a calligrapher, if desired. Addressing cards is time-consuming, so you need to budget accordingly.
- Start planning a honeymoon – Research potential destinations. If you plan to travel aboard, make sure your passports are up-to-date.
- Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses - Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and fitted by your bridal party.
- Meet with the officiant – Discuss the ceremony and how it will flow. Confirm what official documents you require for your wedding.
- Send save-the-date cards.
- Book a florist - Florists can serve multiple clients on one day, which is why you can wait a little longer to engage one.
- Arrange transportation - Consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars.
- Start composing a day-of timeline - Draw up a schedule for your wedding day and decide how you want it to enfold. Share the final version with anyone in your wedding party and family and friends that have a part in the wedding.
Five to Four Months Before
- Check on the wedding invitations – Make sure to double check the details and ensure dates, addresses and times are correct.
- Select and order the cake – Enjoy sampling several bakers before deciding on what type of cake and what kind of design you want.
- Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings - Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
- Schedule hair and makeup artists - Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out. Snap a photo at each so you can compare results.
- Choose your music - What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played.
Three Months Before
- Finalize the menu—Meet with the Kentucky Derby Museum’s official caterer for a menu tasting. Pick your favorites and set your menu.
- Order favors, if desired – Think of fun favors that represent you and your groom. Consider items from the Museum’s gift shop for unique local gifts you can incorporate. If you’re planning to have welcome baskets for out-of-town guests, plan those now too.
- Make a list of the people giving toasts - Which loved ones would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
- Finalize the readings - Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony—and whom you wish to do the readings.
- Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception.
- Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs - No need to go to a printer, if that’s not in your budget: You can easily create these on your computer.
- Purchase the rings - This will give you time for resizing and engraving.
- Send your event schedule to the vendors - Giving them a first draft now allows ample time for tweaks and feedback.
Two Months Before
- Touch base again with all the vendors - Make sure any questions you or they had on your first draft have been answered.
- Meet with the photographer - Discuss specific shots and locations where you will shoot on the day of your wedding. Consider also scheduling engagement photos.
- Review the playlist with the band or deejay - Though you probably won’t be able to dictate every single song played, you should come prepared with a wish list.
- Send out the invitations - The rule of thumb: Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.
- Enjoy a bachelorette party - Arranging a night out with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honor. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, feel free to ask—for scheduling purposes, of course! The Museum offers a Kentucky favorite – BOURBON – enjoy an exclusive bourbon tasting lead by the Museum’s Bourbon Authority & best-selling author, Fred Minnick.
One Month Before
- Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database – Reach out to people who have not yet responded.
- Get your marriage license - The process can take up to six days, but it’s good to give yourself some leeway. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
- Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations.
- Visit the dressmaker for (with luck!) your last dress fitting - For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly.
- Send out as many final payments as you can.
- Confirm times for hair and makeup and all vendors.
- E-mail and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles - This gives the chauffeurs ample time to navigate a route.
- Assign seating - Draw out table shapes on a layout of the room to help plan place settings. Write the names of female guests on pink sticky notes and the names of male guests on blue sticky notes so you can move people about without resketching the entire setting.
- Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts - You’ll present them at the rehearsal dinner.
- Write vows, if necessary.
Week of the Wedding
- Reconfirm arrival times with vendors.
- Delegate small wedding-day tasks - Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts and someone to be the point person for each vendor.
- Send a timeline to the bridal party - Include every member’s contact information, along with the point people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise.
- Pick up your dress - Or make arrangements for a delivery.
- Check in one last time with the photographer - Supply a list of moments you want captured on film.
- Set aside checks for the vendors - And put tips in envelopes to be handed out at the event.
- Book a spa treatment - Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)
- Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events - Typically, companies close their lists 72 hours in advance.
- Break in your shoes.
- Assemble and distribute the welcome baskets.
- Pack for your honeymoon.