Getting married is sort of like blasting off into outer space. A journey beyond the limits of anything you’ve known before. Crossing into uncharted territory. Braving new worlds. And the preparations can be pretty harrowing. But if there’s one way to keep your feet on the ground and your head from spinning into orbit, it’s to plan ahead and be aware of your time line. So here it is: DailyCandy’s first installment in our countdown to your big day. T Minus 12 Months The Informal Thank-You: Good news travels fast. Before you know it, the calls and gifts start pouring in. Order informal thank-you cards, monogrammed with the happy couple’s (that’s you, FYI) first names. For a quick, no-fuss approach, design your own letterpress flat cards at iomoi.com. The Planner: Don’t try to do this alone. Let an expert shoulder the burden. Event planner Elysia Heller will handle it all. Another sure bet (especially if you’re planning a destination wedding) is Jocelyn Arelt, a true perfectionist blessed with an insane sense of style. The Registry: Okay, for the gifts, the no-brainers — weddingchannel.com and theknot.com — are stocked with everything from china to the priciest fork. But what good will all that kitchenware do you if you can’t use it? Register for Cooking in Heels’ in-home private classes. Also, check out Distinctive Honeymoons, where you can set up a honeymoon fund. And most important, if you’d rather give something back (other than a toaster), justgive.org allows you to pledge to the charity of your choice on behalf of your wedding. T Minus 10 Months The Photographer: An excellent photographer (and an absolute doll to work with), Thayer Allyson Gowdy is totally unobtrusive. Another great shooter is Englishman Nick Brown. But no one inspires as much loyalty as Lauri Levenfeld: Some would go so far as to say that if she isn’t available, you should change your date. The Videographer: With backgrounds in music videos, art, and fashion, Frances Byrne and Katreece Montgomery of R. Byrne Productions will make you a keepsake worth having. You choose the music, they do their thing (artistic vignettes, creative flair, impressive cinematography). The outcome is amazing. T Minus 9 Months The Entertainment: If you want people to boogie (and you’re willing to spend the money), Notorious is sure to get the dance floor packed. They play songs from any era and are a guaranteed good time. Want the focus to be Motown hits? Pride & Joy is your band. For lovely instrumentals, hire students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. They’re inexpensive (relatively speaking) and truly talented. Contact Marcia Ehrlich (415-759-3458; firstname.lastname@example.org). T Minus 8 Months The Caterer: For exquisite food and superb wines, leave the menu in the hands of Italian chef extraordinaire Paula LeDuc, whose client list includes princes, socialites, and even presidents. Melons Catering & Events are best known for their innovative seasonal menus. They cater to both lighter eaters (with tataki ahi on crisp nori, sweet and sour Spanish walu, petite fruit tarts), as well as to meat-and-potato types (with pepper-crusted filet mignon, white cheddar and smoked onion potato gratin, profiteroles), so you really can’t go wrong. T Minus 7 Months The Decor: An insider fave, Nicole Sillapere is known for her unusual style of derriere-garde, pairing modern and retro influences. The result is stunning. For a more classic look, Simply Blooms does a wonderful job of keeping things simple and elegant. For some added panache, have the guys at Chisel It carve an ice sculpture. It may sound cheesy, but these guys craft meticulous, unique pieces that are great for raw bars or out-of-the-ordinary decorations. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. (You haven’t got time for that.) Take a deep breath. Meditate. Medicate. This is only the beginning. We’ll tell you all about the final steps next week.