custom, part one

Bill Hulseman
8 min readJul 8, 2022

As a Virgo, I appreciate a good checklist. When it comes to organizing and preparing an event, I love a color-coded spreadsheet even more, but there’s magic in any pithy roster that breaks a complex idea (like a multipronged, emotionally laden, and culturally significant event…for example, a wedding) down into actionable tasks. By collating all the little details that can clutter and collapse a mind, it brings the temperature down and keeps stressors at bay, permitting everyone involved a little more bandwidth for being present or maybe even enjoying and delighting in the event. As a ritualist whose personal and intellectual passions meet in designing, officiating, or just being invited to weddings, a checklist for planning a wedding is also an artifact, a primary source for understanding the context, subtext, and impact of an event. It’s so much more than a tool for efficiency — a checklist also reveals the assumptions and values that, whether obvious or implicit, shape it.

One such planning checklist includes 115 tasks spread out over the course of 12 months, but, similar to other resources available online and used by event planners for shaping American weddings, only 17 items (below) pertain directly to the thing at the center of it all: the wedding itself.

12 months before the ceremony…

  • Discover your wedding style. Take our quiz.
  • Choose your wedding party: maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man, groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer.
  • Start assembling a team of wedding pros: planner, photographer, videographer, caterer, florist, and musicians.
  • Browse wedding dress and veil styles.

10–11 months…

  • Choose bridal party attire and accessories.
  • Reserve ceremony and reception venues.

6–7 months…

  • Meet with officiant to discuss plans for the ceremony.
  • Hire ceremony musicians.
  • Purchase wedding bands.

3 months…

  • Plan ceremony and reception seating.
  • Finalize readers, readings, and music for the ceremony.

2 months…

  • Begin writing vows.