You can plan a wedding in a few weeks, but do you really want that much stress when planning the event of a lifetime.
As soon as you set the date, the countdown begins.
Due to the amount of stuff covered in this feature, I have decided to split this blog post into two parts so as not to overwhelm you, today’s post will cover from now until around 3 months before your Wedding Day, then next week’s post will cover right up to your Wedding Day and beyond.
I have put together an easy to use checklist to make things go that little bit smoother. If you would like a FREE printable copy of my Wedding Planning Checklist please drop me an email.
Take a Breath, here we go!
12 Months in Advance
- Set the date
Aim to start your wedding planning as soon as possible to ensure you get to book the venues and suppliers of your choice at the very best prices.
- Are you Planning your own Wedding?
Will you plan your own wedding; or look to hire a professional wedding planner.
- Send out your Save-the-Date Cards
This is key, if you want to make sure your guests will be able to come and do not miss your special day.
- What type of Ceremony will you have?
Will you be having a religious wedding ceremony or getting married in a civil wedding ceremony? This can shape your choice of venue – you could go for a wedding venue with a church nearby, a venue with a chapel onsite or a venue that is licensed to hold a civil ceremony.
- Wedding Theme and Colour Scheme
You need to agree on a wedding theme, whether it be related to something you both have in common or a favourite hobby, the colour scheme may come from your favourite colours.
- Agree your Wedding Budget
Be sensible when it comes to your Wedding budget. Make your budget realistic and only spend what you can afford, so that you will not go into debt, also ensure that you add in a contingency as well. Decide who is going to pay for what, so you know where the money for the wedding is coming from.
- Set-up a Dedicated Bank Account
So that you do not spend your wedding budget on other things, open a wedding bank account that you can then put all your money into and pay suppliers through, this way you do not get caught out when you have already spent the money elsewhere.
- Research Venues
The sooner you book your venues, the easier the rest of the planning will be. You’ll need to book a venue for your ceremony (either a church, registry office or other licensed civil wedding venue) and a venue for your reception (if different to your wedding venue). Make sure you consider the seating capacity, room hire costs, catering options, both indoor and outdoor settings for photographs.
- Wedding Insurance
It’s not that costly but don’t scrimp on it, and it could save you thousands of pounds, if a supplier suddenly lets you down. It’s worth it just for peace of mind when wedding planning! It helps to have peace of mind that your money and wedding are protected.
- Book the Reception Venue
Once you have decided on your wedding venue, make sure you book the date and pay your deposit, to ensure that you have it reserved.
- Meet with the Minister/Registrar
They’ll be able to answer all your questions about the ceremony, and help you find suitable readings and music
- Book Church and Registrar
If you’ve decided on a church wedding, you’ll need to book the church, and if you’re having a civil ceremony, you’ll need to book the registrar. Make sure they’re available on the same day you have your venue booked for!
- Give Notice at Registrar Office
Notice for all marriages must be given in the 12-month period before the date of the marriage. You must send your notice early enough to allow the registrar to make sure both parties are free to marry one another. Normally, notices should be with the registrar about eight weeks before the marriage. But if either of you have been married before, the notices should be with the registrar 10 weeks before. The minimum period is 28 days before the date of the proposed marriage, but if you leave things as late as this you could be faced with the need to postpone your marriage.
- Start a Wedding Scrapbook
Put together a scrapbook or mood board, which can contain all of the ideas you both have for your wedding, you can also start to gather photos up of things you want at your wedding, along with ideas for how you want your hair and make-up to look, the type of dress, style of photography you like.
- Prepare a Draft Guest List
Planning your guest list can be a bit stressful. Aim to make your guest list equal so you keep both families happy. Aim to break up your guest list into two categories – people you absolutely must have there, and people who you’d like to have but are not essential. Have a separate evening reception guest list if you want to invite additional work colleagues or friends of the family to come but you don’t know them well enough to invite them to the ceremony and the wedding reception.
- Decide on Bridesmaids, Best Man etc.
Make sure you have your very best friends or close family, who will be able to help you plan – no one wants to deal with a bad bridesmaid who they asked in haste.
- Look for your Wedding Suppliers
Start to look for your wedding suppliers, you should do as much research as you can on each one, including looking at testimonials from previous clients. There are going to be quite a few suppliers, so you might want to put together a spread sheet with all the details on for quick reference.
- Start Wedding Dress Shopping
Let the fun begin! If you’re having a custom wedding dress made, then you’ll need to start this process now. If you’re ordering a designer dress then you should allow up to 6 months, and if you’re buying an off-the-peg or a second-hand dress, you can get away with up to 6 weeks before. Assemble your closest friends and family and head to the bridal boutiques and start trying on gowns. Give yourself plenty of time when it comes to dress shopping – this will allow you to take your time making the decision and allow for any alterations that might be needed.
- Start Bridesmaid Dress Shopping
When you know what style of wedding dress you’re having, you can start shopping for bridesmaid dresses to complement it.
- Book your Photographer
Popular Wedding Photographers book up quickly. Find a Wedding Photographer who offers the style of photos you are looking for (traditional, contemporary, reportage style or a combination), meet them personally, ask to see their portfolio.
- Book your Videographer
Find a Wedding Videographer who offers the style of video you are looking for, again meet them personally, and ask to see examples of their work.
- Book your Wedding Entertainment
You might want to book a DJ to dance the night away, you may also look to hire a live band for the evening party, as well as classical musicians for your reception. Some couples like to book magicians for their wedding just to add a sense of fun! The best bands and DJs will be booked up a year or two in advance so make sure your party doesn’t suffer by getting in there early to book them up.
- Book your Wedding Caterers
If the reception venue you have booked is not doing your catering then you’ll need to consider hiring outside caterers or, if your budget is tight, you may ask a family member or friend to sort out the catering for you
- Book your Wedding Transport
If you’re not hosting your wedding day all in one place, you’ll need to book one bridal car for you and your father, you may also want to book further cars for your mother and bridesmaids. You may want to consider making it fun by booking a Wedding Bus to take your family and friends to the venues.
- Book your Florist
Decide what flowers you would like and where. Make sure you have a good discussion with your florist and take their advice especially on what flowers will be in season at the time of your wedding.
- Book your Toastmaster
You might think you don’t need a Toastmaster (also known as a Master of Ceremonies). They’re worth their weight in gold for ensuring everything goes to plan at the right time, in the right place and with the right people.
- Book time off work (Honeymoon)
Make sure that you book time of work for your honeymoon. Don’t leave it too late, and then you have your holiday request declined.
- Healthy Eating and Exercise Programme
Whether you want to lose weight or simply tone up for your wedding day, why not start NOW! Going to the gym together as a couple will help you spur each other on and help you with your wedding day goals.
- Finalise your Guest List
Re-look at your draft guest list, now you know how many guests you can have to the ceremony, reception and evening party, you now need to whittle the numbers down. Try to avoid getting caught up in family politics…
- Research Guest Accommodation
You might have guests coming from afar, so consider whether they can stay close to the wedding venue, or if there are hotels within a short taxi ride.
- Book your Hair Stylist/Make-Up Artist
Start researching hair stylists and make-up artists to make sure the one you like the most is free for you to book for your big day. When you book them for your wedding, check that a trial is included so you can test the look you want before the big day to make sure it suits you. Then book a hair and make-up trial complete with your tiara and veil if possible.
9-12 Months Before
- Order your Wedding Cake
Picking your wedding cake is a fun part of planning a wedding. You may only decide to include cupcakes or other cake ideas you may have. Make sure you taste some examples of the cake bakers work, to ensure that you like the taste of their cake.
- Order your Wedding Dress
Make sure that wedding dress is officially ordered now – it’s decision time! This will leave you plenty of time for any tweaks and alterations that might need doing.
- Book Honeymoon
Whether you’re planning just a honeymoon or whole wedding abroad, book it in your maiden name and use your existing passport, then change all your documents to your married name when you return. Ensure that you also get your travel insurance sorted if you are not using the travel agents.
- Book additional Wedding Entertainment
You might want to look at Magicians, comedians, or just centre pieces like Chocolate Fountains, Ice Sculptures amongst other ideas.
- Check your Passports
If you are either having your wedding abroad or going oversees for your honeymoon, ensure that your passports are valid.
6-9 Months Before
- Arrange Suit Fittings
Once you’ve got the dresses sorted for the bride and bridesmaids, it’s time to start thinking about the grooms wear. Will you buy off-the-peg, commission a tailored suit or hire an outfit?
- Order/Make Wedding Invitations
Don’t forget all the other wedding stationery that will include orders of service, place cards, table layouts and thank you cards.
- Purchase your Wedding Shoes and Accessories
Once the dress is officially yours, it’s time to accessorise. Get your shoes in good time for your first dress fitting, and your tiara and veil in time for your make-up and hair trials. Also look to choose what jewellery and any other accessories and underwear you might wear.
- Purchase your Wedding Rings
Make sure they are both the right size and that your wedding ring will sit comfortably alongside your engagement ring if you plan to wear them together.
- Plan your Stag and Hen Parties
With the help of your best man and chief bridesmaid respectively.
- Finalise and Set-Up your Wedding Gift List
Choose what kind of wedding gift list you want and where you will host it (make it available on your wedding invitations), and then start setting it up. Put in a range of products so there’s something for all budgets if you’re going for a traditional store based one.
- Discuss the Order of Service
Start thinking about what’s going to happen in the ceremony based on what time it will start, by knowing your order of service, it will help everything run smoothly on the day. Discuss this with your vicar or registrar.
- Book the First Night Accommodation
Lots of wedding venues will have accommodation for you and potentially for your guests too, but if you’re marrying at a venue without accommodation, make sure you’ve sorted out somewhere to stay on the night.
That’s it for part one, don’t forget to email me for your FREE Wedding Planning Checklist.
If you are a wedding vendor or you know of any vendors who would like to contribute a post, please get in touch with me through my contact page.
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