Wedding Planning Timeline: The Ultimate Guide | Hearth House
Hearth House Wedding & Events Venue

Wedding Planning Timeline: The Ultimate Guide

Sep 19 2022

Wedding Planning Timeline: The Ultimate Guide

Planning a wedding can be so fun and actually, stress free, if you take a little time to research the do’s and don’ts of planning a wedding and have a solid plan in place. This includes a Wedding Planning Timeline that you or your Coordinator/Planner stick to. The below timeline is a perfect scenario, but not the only way to plan a wedding. Hearth House Venue has Pop Up Traditional Weddings and SIMPLY WED Pop Up Micro Weddings all the time, some within 30-60 days. Don’t fret, we can make it happen fast if need be. If you are on a tighter timeline, we call it Fast Track and have systems in place to make it happen! Fast Track or Slow and Steady, either way, following a timeline is critical.

First Step: Budget and Guest List

Before you do anything, you should set your budget. But, what does a Colorado Wedding Cost? Industry experts tell us that the average Colorado wedding is about 105 guests, (down from last year). The average cost for a Colorado Wedding for 100 guests is about $30,000. We think that is a lot and built Hearth House Venue to provide a space equally as beautiful as other Colorado Springs Wedding Venues, at half of the cost, especially if you choose the Hearth House Venue All-Inclusive Package, or Micro Wedding Package. You can find line-item DIY Budgets Estimates on our website. It is important to remember that wedding costs fall into two categories. Per-Person costs based on the number of guests, and Static costs that don’t change based on the guest count. Once you know your budget, you can start on your guest list. If you choose a venue like Hearth House Venue, the optional All-Inclusive Package is added to the booking fee based so determining how many guests you can afford is easy.

A challenge can be deciding who to cut from the guest list, if you have to. It is one of the more difficult things you’ll have to do, but here is a method that might help you. PLANNING TIP: Read off the first draft guest list one by one and ask and answer these questions; Were they important to us personally in the past? Are they important to us in the present? Do we see them being important to us in the future? Guests with a yes to all three questions, go on the list. If you have room for more, add those with 2-yeses, and finally 1-yes guests, if there is space. It’s not fun, but this tactic may bring you some clarity and peace with your decisions.

12-18 Months Out: Venue Shopping 101

It is possible to find available dates at Colorado Wedding Venues, even a few months out. But love is in the air and finding your preferred date at your perfect Venue may be tough if you wait too long. One year out used to be the safe bet, but these days, the more popular Wedding Venues in Colorado Springs, should be booked sooner, if your date is not flexible. Different from most Wedding Venues, you can view Hearth House Venue’s Availability Calendar online! Don’t be discouraged if a specific date is not available at your preferred Venue as most Venues will have open dates for almost any time of year, if your day of the week is flexible. PLANNING TIP: Don’t get stuck on a weekend date. We like to say, Thursdays and Mondays are the new Fridays in the wedding world. And a bonus, it’s usually less expensive! At Hearth House Venue you can save 30% by booking Monday – Thursday and guests love it because the wedding does not conflict with weekend plans so we actually see higher RSVPs on weekday weddings at Hearth House Venue. Because most weddings conclude by 10PM, a weekday wedding is a perfect solution if a weekend date is not available.

Because it is so easy to schedule a tour right from Hearth House Venue’s website, we are most often the very first Venue couples tour so we share a lot about what to look for and what questions to ask of a Venue. We call it Venue Shopping 101. At Hearth House Venue, all of our furnishings are included, this not the case at many Wedding Venues in Colorado Springs, so be sure to ask not only what is included, but specifically, which tables, and more importantly, which chairs are included in the Venue Booking Fee. It’s one of those things that can literally bite you in the butt (you know those plastic chairs are so uncomfortable). Venue Flexibility is something else to ask about, and request the Venue Policies before you sign a Contract. While we have Policies in place, we are not a hard no Venue and we will jump through hoops to make your day perfect. We like to say, “Your Day, Your Way”. Finally, be sure to ask about Service fees. For example, Hearth House Venue offers an All-Inclusive Package and the Taxes and Service fees are included. (We don’t know of another venue that does that.) Most Venues add them on at the end, so it can cause a 20% – 30% sticker shock if you aren’t ready for it. Whether you’re looking for an intimate 25-45 guest SIMPLY WED Micro Wedding or a 250 full capacity traditional wedding, a beautiful Colorado mountain view or treed courtyard, an All-Inclusive Package or a Do-It-Yourself option, Hearth House Venue in Colorado Springs just might be perfect for you.

12 Months: What’s Your Vision?

It’s all about the details and it’s time to dial in your vision board. It all starts to feel very real once you book your Venue. If you select a Venue like Hearth House Venue, with An All-Inclusive Package option, you have plenty of stress-free time to focus on the fun details that make your day unique to you. Are you a classic bride, or is a mountain-chic wedding more your vibe? What colors captivate you? Do you want to stick to a theme? Where would you like to say I DO, inside or outside with Colorado mountain views? What details are you in love with regarding what everyone will wear? PLANNING TIP: Search for images you love and add them to your vision board so you know what you are looking for before you go shopping. We recommend that your Vision Board includes a color palate and images of the details you love for florals, attire, signs, desserts, cake, and decor.

There are so many fun ways that allow you to imbue your personality into your big day. We’ve created this Pinterest board to help you envision your wedding at Hearth House Venue and jumpstart your vision board.

9-11 Months: Vendor Selection

By now, you should have selected a date and secured your venue. If you selected a Colorado Wedding Venue like Hearth House Venue with traditional wedding All-Inclusive options or Micro Wedding All Inclusive Options, the only Vendors you should need to line up are photographers, videographers and hair and makeup as the rest are included in the All-Inclusive Package. Your Wedding Coordinator and key Vendors are already contracted and secured so you can sit back and wait for them to reach out for your personal consultations or tastings. If you opt for the, Do It Yourself (DIY) approach, it’s time to get your Key Vendors lined up.

The Wedding Coordinator/Planner should be your first task after securing the venue, even before buying a dress as they’ll have valuable insight for you on when and where to shop. Most Colorado Wedding Venues require a professional day of coordinator and it will be the best money you spend. Hire a day of coordinator who jumps in 30-60 days out, or for a bit more of an investment, hire an extended service Wedding Planner who can recommend and secure your vendors. (You’ll thank us later for that tip.) Hearth House Venue’s Wedding Coordinator reaches out to you as soon as you book the All-Inclusive Package and is there for you if you need anything. It’s like pushing the Easy Button for Wedding Planning.

A great caterer in Colorado Springs will book up fast so make it a top priority to find one sooner than later. We recommend that you narrow down what kind of food you want, before you reach out to caterers for quotes and tastings. If you book the All-Inclusive Package at Hearth House Venue, we have selected one of the best caterers in Colorado Springs and they are committed to making your wedding a priority on their schedule. PLANNING TIP: Check with your Venue before you hire a caterer as some venues require that you use one of their preferred Vendors. (yes, preferred typically means that you have to use them) At Hearth House Venue, you can introduce us to new vendors or work smarter, not harder and choose from our list of vetted and approved Family Favorite Vendors.

A seasoned DJ or Wedding Band is critical and the key to a fun and memorable celebration. They manage the timeline and flow of the event and set the tone and vibe for the entire celebration. Don’t skimp on the DJ and make sure that they have a convenient way of building a personal song choice playlist for you. If you randomly pick a DJ based on price point, make sure you get a reference. There are some DJs we don’t allow back at Hearth House Venue so it’s best to always ask the venue for a reference for your DJ. The All-Inclusive Package at Hearth House Venue includes a premier DJ Company with professional equipment and lighting and who makes magic for our couples.

Florists, photographers, videographers, hair and makeup, pastry/desserts, and the officiant, come next, as they too can book out well in advance. There are a lot of weddings and events going on, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find some vendors are booked even a year in advance.

Rentals like linens, centerpieces, signage, arbors and other decor, rentals, and the officiant can wait until later, but start thinking about what you might need so you are ready when the time comes.

10 Months: Wedding Party & Attire Shopping

Select your wedding party attendants well in advance! Even though the wedding date may seem far off, you need a rough idea of who and how many people will be in your wedding party. This gives you enough time to notify them and allow them to prepare in advance. PLANNING TIP: The bigger your bridal party, the more expensive it will be for florals, attire, and bridal party gifts. At Hearth House Venue we have seen up to fourteen attendants on each side, but the average is five. Don’t forget the flower girl and ring bearer!

Say Yes to The Dress

Now that you know who your attendants are, it’s time to go shopping! The outfit you choose for your big day will be something you look back on forever. Allow yourself enough time to shop around for the perfect look. Starting early will give you plenty of time to visit nearby bridal salons and suit stores and give you enough time to make changes and alterations. If a wedding gown is on the shopping list, here are a few tips:

  1. If at all possible, schedule your personal shopping appointment at least 9-10 months out to allow time for a 5-6 months delivery window (unless you find one off the rack.), and a month or so for alterations. PLANNING TIP: Schedule the alteration fitting when you purchase the dress.
  2. If you don’t have 10 months to find a dress, no worries. Most bridal shops have Off the Rack options and designers who can deliver faster. It might mean your options are fewer, but you can make it happen.
  3. Take your Vision Board with you and share it with everyone.
  4. Ask the shop to bring you items in styles similar to those on your Vision Board, and at least one or two that are completely different. You may just surprise yourself or validate what you don’t want.
  5. If you are a cost-conscious shopper, do some research to find out when they are having closeout or trunk sales.
  6. Set your budget before you go shopping and share it with the shop. If you are serious about sticking to your budget, ask them not to bring you anything with a price tag outside of your budget.
  7. Make sure it’s comfortable and that you can sit, spin, bend, and bounce without mishap. You will be in it all day so be comfortable.
  8. Now that you have your dress, ask to see jewelry and accessories while you are wearing the dress.

The Rings

By now you likely have your rings, but if not, you’ll want to jump on it in the next month or so.

7-9 Months: Guest Accommodation and Wedding Stationary

Guest Accommodation

If you have out of town guests coming in for your wedding, it is customary to provide them with a list of nearby hotels that you have visited and vetted. If you want everyone to stay at the same hotel, you may want to invest in a room block, but ask about the Hotel’s Attrition Clause, so you know when and how many rooms you can drop without being responsible for them if your guests don’t stay there. The safer way is to check with the hotel on the lead time your guests should follow for booking at a particular time of year and share it with your guests in a timely manner. For example, if your wedding is over the Air Force Academy Graduation week in Northern Colorado Springs, or on a holiday weekend, your guest will have to book well in advance and you might want to take this time to discuss a room block with the hotel.

Wedding Stationary

Once you have your plan for accommodations and transportation nailed down, you should start planning your invitation suite. This involves designing or choosing your wedding stationery, including save-the-dates, invitation cards, and event program cards. (Which is why you need a planner early to help with your timeline.)
6-7 Months: Vendor Consultations, Honeymoon, Save The Date

By this time, you should have signed contracts and paid deposits for nearly all of your key vendors.

Key Vendor Consultation

If you are planning your own wedding, you should already have signed contracts and paid your deposits to key Vendors. Now is the time to schedule in person or phone consultations and tastings to detail the service and confirm that they are on your calendar and deposits have been paid. If you choose the All-Inclusive Package option from Hearth House Venue, sit back and relax as you will hear from your coordinator, caterer, pastry chef, florist, and linen supplier to schedule your tastings and personal consultations.

Honeymoon

It’s time to plan your honeymoon! What are your plans? Do you want to leave soon after your wedding, or do you want to take some time to unwind and enjoy your newlywed bliss before continuing the celebration? Whatever you decide, we think you deserve a honeymoon, even if it is a local get away. There are many great resorts in Colorado so if you don’t have the time or resources to get on a plane, take a few days to just be together.

Save The Date

Save-the-Date announcements should be sent out during this time so your guests can make travel plans and you can determine if you can invite other guests based on the Save-the-Date RSVPs. This can get tricky and the expert advice is to stick with your original list and lower your guest count rather than adding to your guest list.

4-6 Months: Vendor Consultation Details

Vendor Consultation and Tastings

It’s safe to say that checking this item off our wedding to-do list is always a pleasure. When it comes to a successful party, good food and good drink is one of the most important components. Now the fun begins, but it can be frustrating waiting for vendors to return calls, if you don’t understand the vendor’s timeline. It’s not uncommon for couples to begin working with their caterer, pastry chef, and florist just around six months before the big day. Other Vendors typically meet with you 2-4 months out. Keep in mind that your vendors have a lot of weddings before yours and they are busy. If they don’t offer it, ask them for their timeline so you know what to expect and can avoid contacting them with lots of questions. Write down all of your questions in preparation for the meeting and have your menu wish list ready to discuss. Don’t forget to show them your Vision Board!

Typical Vendor Timeline

4-6 Months: Caterer, Pastry, Florist
1-3 Months: Bar Service, DJ, Linens, Rentals

2-4 Months: Wedding Invitations, Vows, Shower, Rehearsal

Mail Invitations

Formal wedding invitations are normally mailed two to three months before the wedding day. We recommend three months out is best and a guarantee that your invitation reaches your guests on time to allow for any postal delivery delays and returned RSVPs.

Wedding Shower

With four months left on the calendar, it’s time to send out wedding shower invitations. This task
is, however, often left to the people or person planning the function.

Rehearsal Dinner

While your rehearsal is several months away, you’ll want to discuss your preferred day and time with your coordinator and see what the venue availability is. Most venues don’t schedule the rehearsal until the 30-Day Final Walkthrough, but they will be able to give you some advice, based on what is already on the calendar at the venue. This is also a perfect time to detail the rehearsal brunch or dinner.

Miscellaneous Details

Since the big day is fast approaching, you’ll also need to double down on the nitty gritty. They
include menus, signs, mugs, napkins, and even food packaging, among others. It’s a great time to revisit your checklist, while you still have time to make adjustments. Your Coordinator should be paying close attention right now too and it’s a good idea to meet during this time frame.

Vows

With the end in sight, you should start thinking about your vows. Do you want the officiant to read the vows for you to repeat, or do you want to say them on your own? Are you both comfortable writing personal vows or do you want the Officiate to come up with standard verbiage? Are you reading your vows to each other before the ceremony at a first look or during the ceremony? The key here is to do what is comfortable for both of you as everything that happens that day should be easy and stress free.

1-2 Months: The Final Details

Marriage License

Once you determine which municipality your wedding will take place in, locate the office that can grant you a license. This can be at city hall, the city clerk’s office, or the marriage license bureau. Most marriage licenses are valid between 10 days and one year, within which you’ll be required to hold the wedding ceremony, sign the license, and apply for a certified license and marriage certificate. To avoid any mishaps, ensure you start this process early.

Event Liability Insurance

Most Venues require you to purchase Event Liability Insurance. If they don’t, we recommend you get it anyway. It is affordable and critical protection for you if you are serving alcohol. If you choose Hearth House Venue’s All-Inclusive Package, Event Insurance is included.

Final Coordinator Meeting

Prior to the Venue’s onsite final walkthrough, you should have a detailed planning session with your coordinator to review all planning details, including the timeline and floorplan.

Finals Onsite Venue Walkthrough

It’s time to schedule your 30-day Final Walkthrough. For Hearth House Venue All-Inclusive Package Clients, the Coordinator takes care of this, invites the caterer, and makes sure everything is in order, prior to the Walkthrough. During the Walkthrough, Venue Staff will cover all the little details to insure everything good to go. The caterer will review the serving plan and final menu, and the Planner will confirm all of the vendor’s status and finalize the floor plan, timeline, and décor plan. Be prepared to make your final payments to the Venue at this time and have a firm, final guest count.

Final Guest Count and Vendor Payments

Most Vendors require final payment around this time, so be prepared to share your final guest count with your vendors and request a final invoice. If you opted for the DIY options, this burden will fall on you. If you selected the All-Inclusive Package at Hearth House Venue, we make all the payments to the AIP Vendors for you.
The Rehearsal

Most venues allow one hour for an onsite rehearsal. The day and time is typically determined at the 30-Day Final Walkthrough and is based on the venue’s availability. Trending are morning rehearsals followed by a brunch. It’s a great way to get the hospitality fun out of the way so you can relax the rest of the day. If you are set on an evening rehearsal, followed by a dinner, you may have to hold the rehearsal offsite if the venue is not available. This happens often and your planner will go to your offsite destination.

Gifts and Gratuity

It is customary to gift your wedding party and parents with a token of thanks and appreciation for their part in the wedding. It’s a pretty personal thing and you know your people well, so have fun with this and think of something that will be around in years to come.

Now is also the time to think about the gratuity you want to share with your venue staff and vendors. This too is a personal choice and the amount is totally up to you, but don’t forget to discuss it ahead of time so you don’t forget. There is a ton of information out there on wedding etiquette and gratuities. You’ll find your comfort zone.

Final Steps

It’s a great time to go over your checklist to make sure everything is set and ready and to ask any last-minute questions of your coordinator. Look at your outstanding TO-DO List and delegate. Now, sit back and relax! If you opted for a venue with an All-Inclusive Package, they are busy checking and double checking the vendor details. At Hearth House Venue, our All-Inclusive Package Coordinators are the last to confirm that everything is complete and ready to go.

Wedding Day

Get some sleep the night before! We’ve seen too many couples leave the reception early because they were exhausted from the parties the night before. Whether you booked Hearth House Venue, or selected another beautiful wedding venue in Colorado, if you gave attention to detail along the way, selected reputable vendors, have a professional coordinator, or opted for the All-Inclusive Package at Hearth House Venue, your day will be perfect!

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