Key West Key West Key West Key West Key West

Wedding Checklist

From the February 15, 2002 issue of the Key West Citizen

There are lot of details to planning a wedding. Following is a month-by-month, and week-by-week organizer for brides-to-be to help them keep track of all the tasks associated with getting married.

12 Months

  • Tell friends and family about engagement and begin thinking about what type of wedding you want — formal or casual.
  • Decide on a budget. According to experts, most weddings cost on average $20,000.It's a huge sum to wrap your mind around, so a place to start is to figure out how much cash you have to devote to wedding costs a month. Then add up the months to your wedding day. Finish by determining whether family members will be making contributions.
  • Pick your preferences for wedding date and time and finalize after OKing with important guests, location and officiant.
  • Begin interviewing wedding consultants, asking friends for wedding vendor recommendations and interviewing caterers.

9 to 11 Months

  • Scout out reception sites and put down a deposit on your choice. Beware, there are very few "free" places to get married in the Keys.
  • In the Keys, brides and grooms can get married by religious officials, captains or a notary of the public. Fees vary. A priest may collect a nominal fee for the church and captains can roll the price of the ceremony into the boat's rental.
  • Start a file for all your wedding-planning paperwork. Make individual folders for the guest list, honeymoon and vows.
  • Sit down with your fiancée and discuss whom to invite. Ask your parents whom they would like to invite. Finalize the guest list.
  • Choose your attendants/groomsmen and ask them to do you the honor. (It's nice to have this detail worked out beforehand, so when the engagement is announced, friends or family can be asked on the spot.)
  • Put engagement announcement in the Citizen.
  • Choose the colors of the wedding. These will influence flowers, decorations and bridesmaid and groomsmen attire.
  • Decide on a caterer and a budget. Give them a deposit.
  • Begin shopping for the bride's gown.
  • Start auditioning reception bands or DJs.
  • Consider what will need to be rented. Keys party rental stores offer everything from plates to table linen to chairs and tents.
  • Choose a florist.
  • Decide on and meet with your officiant to discuss ceremony structure, content and any religious requirements (counseling, etc.).
  • Interview and get price lists from several photographers and videographers.

6 to 8 Months

  • Start looking into registering for gifts. In the Keys, there are a few boutiques where brides can register. Get recommendations from friends. Also, Keys brides should look for on-line registries for set-type gifts like glassware and dishware.
  • Begin looking for a baker. Consider the site of the reception when choosing the cake — some will melt in the summer sun. Choose one and give them a deposit.
  • Reserve photographer and / or videographer. Explain what kinds of photos are needed whether it be formal, casual or a combination of the two. Think about assigning a wedding guest who knows your family well to help the photographer gather up everyone for group shots.
  • Start shopping for bridesmaid dresses.
  • Choose your florist and send a deposit.
  • Set aside blocks of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. If possible, come up with accommodations in more than one price range and contact out-of-towners with the final wedding date so they can attend.
  • Tell bridesmaids where to get dresses.
  • Choose musicians and send deposit.
  • Order your gown.
  • Start planning the rehearsal dinner.
  • Start working on your invitation wording and design. Order the invitations. Ask for extra envelopes — many end up in the wastebasket trying to achieve perfect penmanship.

4 to 5 Months

  • Grooms and groomsmen should pick the formalwear style four to five months in advance. Consider the season, too. Even if you opt for full dress, remember that the groom or groomsmen might remove the coats due to the heat. Choose a full-back vest if you think that might be the case. Grooms should also consider what type of gift to give the groomsmen.
  • Book rehearsal-dinner site.
  • Send out-of-town guests information about the hotel and city where they will be staying. Include tourist pamphlets bookmarked with fun things to do.
  • Book hotel room for your wedding night. If you are getting married or holding the reception at a hotel or guesthouse, try to negotiate for a free room.
  • Book your honeymoon and make travel reservations.

2 to 3 Months

  • Brides should choose attendants' accessories (shoes, gloves, etc.) and either hand off information or coordinate with them. Consider buying one of the accessories, like earrings or necklace, to give to the attendants as gifts.
  • Buy the wedding rings.
  • Make or buy favors.
  • Collect items needed for international honeymoon like passports, visas or vaccinations.
  • Pick up your invitations. Hand them off to a calligrapher to address. Send invitations out two months before the wedding date.
  • Brides should receive their gown two months before the wedding date. Schedule alterations with a seamstress. Make sure you have the veil and shoes to take to the final fitting.
  • Figure out wedding-day transportation.

6 Weeks

  • Discuss vows with the officiant. Many brides and grooms choose to write their own these days. If that is the case, do some research online. Many happy couples post the complete ceremony on personal Web sites. Finalize the vows at least six weeks before the ceremony and give the officiant a copy of the proceedings so they can become familiar with it.
  • Set aside some time to write thank-you notes for gifts received at the bridal shower.
  • Buy a guest book and pen.
  • Make an appointment with your hairstylist. Take the veil with you and discuss hairstyles. If you are going to have your hair colored, time to do it is soon so that brides have plenty of time to un-do any mistakes.

3 to 4 Weeks

  • Send rehearsal-dinner invitations.
  • Get marriage license.
  • Pick up wedding rings.
  • Wrap all gifts for the wedding party and write each attendant a nice note. At this point, designate a box in your home to hold all of the wedding day essentials. One might have all the bridal accessories and gifts — anything the bride needs personally for her big day. Another box might contain the guest book and pen and wedding-cake topper — anything that needs to be at the reception site the day of the party.
  • Draw up a schedule for the wedding day. Give written errand assignments to family members and friends and designate someone to handle each vendor i.e., a sister overseas the flowers while mom meets the caterer. Put someone in charge of putting out the guestbook and pen, and someone to collect all the gifts and envelopes.
  • If you're going to "the something old, new, borrowed, and blue" route, make sure you have all of it.
  • Call guests who haven't RSVP'd for the wedding and rehearsal dinner. You will need a final head count to give to the caterer.

1 to 2 Weeks

  • Start putting together the seating plan if there's a seated reception meal. Even if it will be a buffet, consider making some "reserved" cards to place at the tables where members of the bridal party sit.
  • Grooms should pick up the tux and try it on. Brides should ensure the fit of the gown.
  • Pack for honeymoon.
  • Put together an overnight bag for your wedding night. Put in it the "personal need" box to make sure it goes with you. Put tips and payments in marked envelopes in the "site" box.

Day Before

  • Rehearse the ceremony with officiant and wedding party.
  • Have fun and relax at your rehearsal dinner.


  • Assign someone to return tuxedos, get the cake into the freezer and temporarily preserve wedding flowers.
  • Write and send thank you notes within two months.
  • Meet with photographer and videographer to receive final prints and video. Make final payment if necessary.
  • Make two photo albums, one for each set of parents, to celebrate the festivities. Make a photo album for yourself.
  • Pay all the bills.
  • Place wedding announcement in the Citizen.