Many hopeless romantics have dreamed of their wedding day since they were little girls—or boys. At the tender age of six, I spent many afternoons playing dress-up in my mother’s veil and vowing eternal love to my five-year-old neighbor, Tyler, the reluctant Romeo to my impatient Juliette.

Like most women, I often find myself fantasizing about my wedding, although I’ve foregone the practice of bribing my neighbors with Goldfish to join me in holy matrimony. (Tyler, in the meantime, is currently engaged to his high school sweetheart.)

At friends’ weddings, I take note of what I like and what I would change; on Pinterest, I save the occasional dress or bouquet to a board quietly labeled “One Day.” And although I have exactly none of the details worked out, I’ve always been sure I want my wedding to come down to this: simplicity.

Even as a six-year-old, I was not a fussy bride. My parents’ backyard served as the venue, my hair accessories came from the garden, and our vows were short and sweet. Looking back, my “something blue” could have been the Ring Pop Tyler clumsily slid onto my finger—blue raspberry is still my favorite flavor.

We all fantasize about flower arrangements and the perfect dress, but many of us do not anticipate the months of planning that come before the big day. The more extravagant the wedding, the more planning—not to mention capital—that precedes it, and the easier it is to lose sight of the little girl who loved to play pretend.

Personally, I’m ever a proponent of the affordable at-home wedding. Thoughtful preparation, like contracting a mosquito control company for a bite-free summer wedding or a housecleaning service to tidy up after the festivities, will help ensure your wedding day runs smoothly at a fraction of the cost of leasing a venue.

Regardless of where you choose to say “I do,” if you keep it simple, there’s never a need to hire a wedding planner. In the spirit of simplicity, we’ve put together a free, printable checklist to help streamline the planning process and ensure your wedding day is everything you dreamed it would be.

Wedding Checklist Infographic

Ten to Twelve Months Out

  • Select a date
  • Establish your budget
  • Choose a theme/color scheme
  • Assemble a guest list
  • Select your wedding party
  • Choose your venue
  • Find a dress, accessories, underwear, and shoes
  • Begin assembling vendors:
    • Caterer
    • Officiant
    • Photographer

Six to Nine Months Out

  • Choose floral arrangements
  • Schedule a tasting with a cake designer
  • Compile your guests’ mailing addresses
  • Book a suite for the wedding night
  • Shop for bridesmaid and flower girl dresses
  • Review details of the bridal shower and bachelorette party with your hostesses

Three to Five Months Out

  • Hire a band or DJ
  • Reserve men’s formal wear
  • Purchase the rings
  • Finalize the food and drink menus
  • Prepare the vows and ceremony readings
  • Finalize your honeymoon plans
  • Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner

Two Months Out

  • Schedule your first dress fitting
  • Book hair and makeup for the morning of the wedding day
  • Touch base with your vendors to confirm the date and details
  • Review the playlist with the band or DJ
  • Meet with the photographer to discuss specific shots
  • Mail the wedding invitations
  • Order favors, if desired
  • Have your bachelorette party

One Month Out

  • Obtain your marriage license
  • Have your final dress fitting
  • Send rehearsal dinner invitations
  • Log RSVPs and call those who have not responded
  • Decide seating arrangements
  • Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts
  • Attend dance lessons with your spouse-to-be

One Week Out

  • Confirm arrival times with all your vendors
  • Pick up your dress
  • Write checks and prepare tips for the vendors
  • Send a timeline to the wedding party
  • Give final headcounts to your venue/s and caterer
  • Book a mani-pedi for the day before the wedding
  • Break in your shoes
  • Pack for your honeymoon