How to organize the best timeline for your destination wedding? Part 1

Did you recently say yes to a lifetime together recently? Congratulations! Now you can start organizing your wedding. It can sound overwhelming, but with the right timeline, it isn’t! In this post, I want to give you the best wedding timeline to keep your mental sanity in place and to assure that the organization will proceed smoothly. 

I usually separate the preparation for the wedding day into several phases. Consider that the timeline depends on the items you want to include in your wedding ceremony. If you really want to get married in the most famous church in the city, or if you want a specific location, we might have to book it even 1.5 years in advance. But normally it takes about a year to successfully organize a wedding.

Ready? Let’s discover the best timeline!


Phase 1

12-9 months before the wedding

1. Choose the wedding date. This is usually the first thing to do. Sometimes, when you like a venue very much, the date might depend on their availability. Check in advance if the most important people you really want to see at your wedding are free that week. Hire a wedding planner. If you do so and if you choose well, the whole organization process will become a piece of cake! Read the story of Shawn and Frank who told me at times they felt like they should be doing more because of how effortless it all seemed.

2. Research and confirm the wedding venue. This is the foundation of your wedding. Many things will depend on it, so choose carefully, especially for destination weddings. Don’t make these 7 mistakes when choosing a wedding location!

3. Discuss religious requirements and choose a church if you want a Catholic wedding. I wrote an extensive guide about Catholic weddings in Italy to help you understand how it works.

4. Review and confirm photographers, videographers, officiant, and beauty services. These are the most important vendors for your special day and the best ones tend to book out quickly, this is why you must assure them first. 

5. Start thinking about the guests’ list. Who do you want to have nearby on the day you tie the knot? Destination weddings during Covid times can require more creative solutions to get all your beloved people together.

6. Start planning the honeymoon vacation. Do you want to stay in Italy for your honeymoon or to go to an exotic location? Italy offers so many amazing locations to explore, fun activities, and relaxation from North to South. If you decide to spend your honeymoon here, you will certainly enjoy it a lot.


Phase 2

9-7 months before the wedding

1. Figure out the wedding design. Having a wedding designer will certainly help to make your palette represent you and your tastes and to ensure attention to details.

2. Choose stationery as soon as possible to be able to send a “save the date” that is consistent with the rest of the decor. From the wedding invitations to the menu and the ceremony booklet, everything has to communicate the theme of your wedding, your interests, or something you love. Remember, this is all about you!

3. Book entertainment and music. Do you want a band, a performer, or a DJ? Are there songs you must have and others you don’t want to hear during your special day? Now is the time to think about it. 

4. Get your yummy catering booked. It can be external or internal to the location and both have their pros and cons. Focus on the most delicious part of the wedding planning, it is very important.

5. Inform your bridesmaids. They will have to support you throughout the whole process, be empathetic and kind. Your best friends probably already know about your big event, right? Asking someone to be your bridesmaid is a wonderful way to make your friendship even stronger. Let them know if you want them to have dresses of a specific color, if there is a palette or if they can dress as they like.

6. Start looking for the perfect wedding dress and purchase it. You may want to look at the Italian designers’ collections, they are usually the quintessence of charm and quality.

7. Send “save the date” to the guests at least 8 months before the wedding, so they can organize their schedules accordingly.

8. Confirm your travel itinerary & book airline tickets to Italy.

9. Research passport and visa requirements for your destination wedding and for your honeymoon location, if it won’t be in Italy. US and UK citizens don’t need visas to enter Italy but you still need your passport to be valid for 6 months after the wedding date.

10. Create your wedding website, if you wish to have one. It will be fun for you and helpful for your guests. You can keep it updated with organizational details, photos and it will remind you about your wedding even in 5 or 10 years! 

Phase 3

6-5 months before the wedding

1. Complete wedding design: choose your florists and inform them about the style you envision. The professional ones will be happy to assist you and to provide ideas perfect for your wedding design.

2. Choose the right lights! Lightning tends to be underrated, yet it is very important for the atmosphere of the day, as it can make your guests feel pampered and safe.

3. Choose the table layout. The table shape, size, linen, and even cutlery depend on the location and the catering. External caterings usually have more options, but internal ones are usually consistent with the venue style.

4. Buy the groom’s tux or suit. It is easier to choose than the bride’s wedding dress, but it still needs some time.

5. Send the invitations with RSVP within 6 months before the wedding. You will need to know who will attend as soon as possible to be able to plan further.


Phase 4

4-3 months before the wedding

1. Ask for guests’ confirmation if they didn’t send one yet. From now on, many organizational things depend on their response. 

2. Book accommodation for your guests. Will they stay at the wedding venue or somewhere else? How many people can the venue accommodate and who would you like to have nearby on your wedding day?

3. Book transportation for your guest, if required.

4. Now you can start planning welcome gifts and favors. I have a post about wedding gifts if you need some inspiration.

5. Create the sitting chart. Take some time for this. It might require remembering some complex family dynamics on both sides. Ask for your parents’ help if needed.

6. Purchase shoes and accessories. Don’t forget the jewelry, the lingerie, and the gown to use on your wedding morning, for the bridal preparation photos. Remember, the shoes must be comfortable if you want to remember your wedding day as a pleasant one!

7. Choose your wedding cake. The sweetest part of your wedding reception must get proper attention! There are also some outrageously delicious Italian desserts that you can choose from for your wedding.

8. Buy your unique wedding rings. Take some time to choose the ones you really like, you will be wearing them for quite some time!


Phase 5

2-1 month before your wedding day

1. Finalize the payments to the vendors, so you won’t have to think about them again.

2. Confirm the final itinerary, the welcome dinner, and the brunch of the day after the wedding ceremony.

3. Write your vows. They are very personal, but it is great if they could reflect the uniqueness of your story and how in love you are. 

4. At this point, all you have to do is to arrive in Italy and relax! Everything has been taken care of and you can enjoy your amazing destination wedding under the Tuscan sun. 


If you have less than 1 year to plan a destination wedding, don’t worry, it is still possible. Book the location and the main vendors as soon as you can, you will probably have to condensate the whole process in fewer months, but you can still avoid the stress and have fun in the process!

Read the story of Stephanie and Emeka who planned their destination wedding in just 6 months.


Was this post useful to you? Let me know in the comments.

Very soon I will be posting also the wedding day timeline, don’t miss it!


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