Congratulations on your engagement! There’s so much to do before the big day that it’s nice to have it all condensed into one neat checklist. I’ve laid out the biggest tasks that need to be taken care of in chronological order, and I’ve used a 12 month timeline as that’s the length of the average UK engagement. It’s just a guide obviously – I myself only had 6 months to plan my wedding and others will have a lot longer.
Dates to avoid for a Jewish wedding in 2017 + 2018
At the end of the post you can also see all the dates that should be avoided for your Jewish wedding in 2017 and 2018, according to the Jewish calendar.
9-12 months before the wedding
- Create a wedding folder and a Pinterest board and start collating ideas for the style of your wedding that appeals to you.
- Determine your budget and work out how expenses will be divided.
- Reserve a date (see Jewish wedding dates to avoid at the bottom of the post) and send out a save the date. This could be beautifully designed card or e-card and set the tone for your event, or it could be a simple beautifully worded email.
- Start to envision your ceremony. Do you want it to be long and symbolic or short and sweet? Do you want to include all the traditions or just a select few?
- If you have a particular rabbi in mind, book him or her once you’ve decided on a date. If you haven’t got one in mind, find a rabbi or officiant who suits your style and spirit.
- Start a guest list and work out an idea of the number of guests you’ll have as this will generate the most accurate cost estimates.
- Brainstorm ceremony and reception ideas and book a venue.
- Decide on whether you want a wedding planner, and if you do, hire one.
- Research photographers, videographers and entertainment. The really good ones can get booked up early so be sure to commit when you find a supplier you love.
- Ensure that any band or DJ you book plays Jewish wedding music.
- Research caterers and decide if it’s important for you to have a kosher menu or a non-meat ‘Jewish friendly’ ‘inoffensive’ menu.
- Start thinking about your wedding dress and enjoy the experience of shopping and finding your dress!
6-9 months before the wedding
- Meet with your caterers and set up tastings (one of the best parts of wedding planning!)
- Choose your bridesmaids’ dresses if you’re having them.
- Pick a gift list registry if you’re having one.
- Research and pick a florist, and determine whether they will work with you on your chuppah idea.
- Start planning your honeymoon.
- Make preparations with your synagogue if you plan to have an Auf Ruf.
- Familiarise yourself with the Jewish wedding ceremony and customs.
- Look for a ketubah, and begin looking for a ketubah artist if you plan on having one custom-made. Choose your text or ask your rabbi to help you write your own.
- Pick a groom’s outfit out together with your fiancé, or let him decide himself and surprise you like Mr STG did at my wedding (yes, I trusted him!)
- Shop for wedding bands and contemplate engraving options.
- If necessary, reserve any event rentals needed for your reception, like a marquee, chairs, crockery, linens, glassware etc.
4-6 months before the wedding
- Finalise your guest list.
- Design your wedding invitations, and think about using a wedding monogram to brand your big day. Also think about simultaneously having correspondence / thank you cards printed to save on costs.
- Launch a wedding website if you’re having one.
- Meet with your rabbi to discuss your ceremony structure. Discuss the different elements of Jewish weddings and decide what you want to include.
- Think about your veil, shoes, jewellery and other accessories.
- Order your wedding cake if you’re having one.
- Reserve hotel rooms for guests coming from abroad if necessary.
- Confirm your honeymoon!
- Book a hotel for your wedding night if desired, and arrange your sleeping arrangements for the night before too. Are you going traditional and spending the night before your wedding away from your groom?
3-4 months before the wedding
- Talk to friends and family who you’d like to involve on your wedding day. Who should sign the ketubah? Who is holding the chuppah? Who will make the blessing over the challah? Who will read the sheva brachot?
- Consider what type of chuppah you want. Does your synagogue have one you can use, or do you prefer to DIY your own? And can your florist help?
- Source any ceremony objects that are needed, like your kippot (sometimes known as yamulkes), kiddush cups, a glass for breaking, and smash pouch. For a personal touch, have your kippot printed with your names, wedding date, and a personal message.
- Obtain or make invitation inserts – hotel information, directions, etc.
- Make appointments with your hair stylist and makeup artist for trials and the wedding day.
- Confirm your wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses’ delivery dates and set up your fittings. Invite any special friends or family to join you at your different fitting dates.
- Make sure your necessary travel documents for your honeymoon are up-to-date eg. a valid passport, visas, etc.
- Discuss final menu options and costs with caterers.
- Arrange transportation.
- Shop for bridal party gifts.
- Check on the wedding invitations – make sure you have plenty of time for stuffing envelopes and sourcing all your guests’ postal addresses.
- Ask your girlfriends to organise your Hen party if you want one.
- Arrange where you and the bridal party are going to get ready before the wedding
2 months before the wedding
- Go to the post office and weigh your invitation suite (ie. everything inside the envelope including your RSVP card and all inserts) and buy the appropriate stamps
- Address and post your invitations.
- Print your wedding programs, ceremony programs and benchers (prayer booklets) if you are having them. It can be helpful to have programs so that your non-Jewish guests fully understand the ceremony and symbolism of a Jewish wedding. More info on how to put one together is here.
- Buy or make your guestbooks, cake stands, favours, and centrepieces.
- Touch base again with all your suppliers.
- Have your make up and hair trials. Bring your veil and accessories with, and wear a colour similar to your dress colour.
- Discuss your musical selections with your ceremony and reception musicians/DJ/band, and be sure to point out any “do-not-play and “must-play” tunes.
- Ask friends to help at the wedding(taking care of gifts, organising the guest book, handing out kippot etc.) and delegate tasks.
- Start composing a ‘day-of timeline’ wedding day schedule, slot in each component (speeches, first dance etc.), and once finalised, send it to your suppliers.
- Make a list of the people giving toasts and speeches.
- Purchase your wedding lingerie and honeymoon outfits.
- Meet or call your photographer and discuss specific shots.
- Finalise your flowers.
1 month before the wedding
- Enjoy your hen party!
- Finalise your wedding day schedule and confirm timings with all your suppliers.
- Visit the dress designer for (with luck!) your last dress fitting.
- Send out as many final payments as you can.
- Have a final meeting with your rabbi to finalise the ceremony details.
- Assign seating and create table plans.
- Buy your bridal party gifts.
- If necessary, review your ketubah text and confirm that there are no errors.
- Call or email any guests who haven’t yet RSVP’ed.
- Book your manicure and pedicure for the day before the wedding.
- Review the playlist with the band or DJ.
- Finalised your speech if you’re giving one!
- Meet or call all your suppliers to discuss any final details.
1 week before the wedding
- Enjoy your Auf Ruf if you are having one.
- Expect lots of last minute things to come up so try your hardest not to save anything that could have been finished sooner.
- Make sure everyone taking part in the ceremony understands what is involved (especially if you are not having a ceremony rehearsal).
- Confirm all final payments with your suppliers.
- Confirm arrival times with your suppliers and bridal party
- Go through your to-do list and make sure everything is bring actioned.
- Make any last minute seating plan arrangements or adjustments.
- Set aside tips to distribute to suppliers.
- Have a spa treatment!
- Send your final guest list to the caterer (1 or 2 guests often drop out in week before due to unforeseen circumstances).
- Break in to your shoes.
- Get your groom to have a haircut if necessary.
1 day before the wedding
- Get a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow shape.
- Take a steamy, relaxing bath.
- Put your wedding dress and accessories all in one place ready for tomorrow.
- Try and get a good nights’ sleep and keep a bottle of bubbly on hand – tell your bridesmaids to pour you a glass just in case you have any kind of stress-y moment!
After the wedding
- Send me a submission. I want to hear ALL about it!
Jewish Wedding dates to avoid in 2017
Avoid Purim: 11th March 2017 (from sunset) – 12th March 2017
Avoid from Passover: (10th April 2017 [from sunset] to 18th April 2017) to Shavuot: (30th May 2017 [from sunset] to 1st June 2017). Traditionally, no Jewish weddings take place between Passover and Shavuot except on Lag B’ Omer (that’s the date I chose for my wedding in 2013!) which in 2017 falls on 13th May (from sunset) to 14th May 2017.
Avoid the 3 weeks leading up to and including Tisha B’av: 10th July 2017 (from sunset) to 1st August 2017. Jewish marriages are not allowed during the period of three weeks leading up and including to the Fast of Tisha B’av.
Avoid Rosh Hashana: 20th September (from sunset) to 22nd September 2017
Avoid Yom Kippur: 29th September (from sunset) to 30th September 2017
Avoid Succot: 4th October (from sunset) to 11th October 2017
Avoid Simchat Torah: 12th October (from sunset) to 13th October 2017
Jewish Wedding dates to avoid in 2018
Avoid Purim: 28th February 2018 (from sunset) – 1st March 2018
Avoid from Passover: (30th March 2018 [from sunset] to 7th April 2018) to Shavuot: (19th May 2018 [from sunset] to 21st May 2018). Traditionally, no Jewish weddings take place between Passover and Shavuot except on Lag B’ Omer (that’s the date I chose for my wedding in 2013!) which in 2018 falls on 2nd May (from sunset) to 3rd May 2018.
Avoid the 3 weeks leading up to and including Tisha B’av: 29th June 2018 (from sunset) to 22nd July 2018. Jewish marriages are not allowed during the period of three weeks leading up and including to the Fast of Tisha B’av.
Avoid Rosh Hashana: 9th September (from sunset) to 11th September 2018
Avoid Yom Kippur: 18th September (from sunset) to 19th September 2018
Avoid Succot: 23rd September (from sunset) to 30th September 2018
Avoid Simchat Torah: 1st October (from sunset) to 2nd October 2018