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Your month by month planning a wedding checklist

Congratulations on your engagement! You’re ready to crack on with planning the big day so what is next?

The average bride takes 12-18 months to plan their wedding but with so much to think about it can be a little overwhelming.  Here are some monthly bitesize chunks to make it all more manageable and enjoyable.

Our wedding checklist starts at twelve months before the wedding and ends after the big day.

12+ months to go

  • Decide on your guestlist

You need to decide on who you want at the wedding before you can set a budget and decide what you are happy to pay per head.  Think about who you couldn’t get married without. If you are struggling with numbers, you might want to consider whether you can invite plus ones and children to keep the guest list manageable.  The final guest list will help you decide the size of venue you will need.

  • Set the budget

Each guest on your list has a cost against them. Setting the budget is not the most glamourous of jobs but an important one. Are there any family members that would like to contribute to the wedding? If so, how much? Prioritise the elements of the wedding that are most important to you and where you want to spend the majority of your budget.  Things change so it’s worth creating a spreadsheet that you can update regularly to stay on top of the finances.

Read more: How to set your wedding budget

  • Book venue

So where are you going to get married?  Choosing your wedding venue is probably one of the most important decisions in the wedding planning process and the biggest cost. Popular venues can get booked up on weekend dates well over a year in advance so although you don’t want to make a knee jerk reaction it is worth acting quickly when you have made a decision.

Think about the type of venues that suit your style and personality and the type of wedding you want, for example rustic barn or country house. Select a handful of venues to arrange viewings. 

  • Book registrar/church

Great news, you’ve found your dream wedding venue. Now you need to check that someone is available to actually marry you.

If you are planning a civil ceremony you will need to book a registrar. To do this you will need to find a registrar within your county council (you can google this). Once booked you can tick that off the list.

If you would like to marry in a church, you will need to check the church you would like is free on your proposed date. There may be certain requirements they would like you to fulfil such attending a certain number of services or living within the parish to be able to marry in the church.

  • Choose and ask your wedding party

Here’s a fun part. Choosing and asking your wedding party. There are a range of roles to consider – best man, groomsmen and bridesmaids to name a few. Think about who will be most helpful and who you would love to have by your side on your big day.

Once you’ve decided you can pop the question to them with a fun gift.

  • Buy wedding insurance

Weddings are an expensive business so you might want to think about taking out some wedding insurance. Prices vary depending on the level of cover you choose, and the policy will often cover scenarios like the venue going bust.

11 months to go

  • Decide theme

This is where Pinterest will become your new best friend. Choosing your theme allows you to be totally creative and really showcase your personality and style. The theme should represent you as a couple and can be anything from festival chic to modern fairy tale. You could create a mood board to collate your ideas and start bringing your vision to life.

  • Book photographer and videographer

Some suppliers like photographers and videographers can get booked up over a year in advance so it would be sensible to book one you like, that represents the style you are looking for, as soon as you have confirmed your wedding date. The video and photographs will capture the special memories so take the time to find the right one.

  • Book band and/or DJ

It is also worth booking your band and/or DJ early to avoid missing out. They will be the life and soul of the party and can only attend one wedding per day so get them booked asap.

  • Book caterers if needed

If your wedding venue does not do catering or you are hiring a marquee, you will need to consider outside caterers. What type of wedding breakfast would you like? Sharing platters, a three-course meal, buffet? Get in touch with local caterers to discuss your ideas.

  • Book florist

Maybe you are a pretty handy florist yourself and you’d like to DIY your wedding flowers but if not it’s a good idea to do some research on local florists. If you’re hiring a venue, they may be able to recommend some they have worked with. You can also have a look on Instagram.

Before speaking to florists its worth having a think about the floral arrangements you’d like. Are you thinking a flower arch at the alter or a floral installation hanging from the ceiling? No problem if you haven’t decided yet as your florist will likely want to visit your venue with you prior to finalising the plans.

  • Go wedding dress shopping

Now this is VERY exciting. Time to find your dream dress. Prior to hitting the bridal boutiques have a think about the style of wedding dress you might like to wear on your big day. Take inspiration from bridal magazines, Pinterest and Instagram. Research which boutiques sell the designer or styles that you like.

It’s worth thinking about the day itself and if you can enjoy it when choosing your dress. For example, if you have a very tight fitted dress will you be able to enjoy the evening pizza van and hit up the dance floor comfortably?

10 months to go

  • Send out save the dates

Time to let those chosen names on the guest list know the date so they can get it in their diaries. The save the dates should include the wedding date and whether guests can expect to receive an invite or further information. They can be sent online or through the post and you can be as creative as you’d like.

  • Register your intention to marry

Somewhere between one year and three months before your wedding date you will want to meet with your registrar. You will register your intention to marry, pay for your wedding certificate and be asked to complete form with your ceremony details.

  • Go bridesmaid dress shopping

You’ve found your dream dress and now it’s time to get your bridesmaids kitted out.  If you can it’s worth looking in the season you will be getting married in as you are more likely to be able to get the colours to match your theme. It can also take some time to find something that everyone likes and feels comfortable in.

  • Book bridal accommodation

It may be that you have an exclusive hire venue that includes accommodation but if not now is the time to book a bridal suite at a local hotel. At the same time, you could block book some rooms for your bridal party and family.

  • Book cake maker

Cake makers can often work on more than one wedding per day but as with other suppliers’ popular ones can get booked far in advance. It is worth researching cake makers close to your venue (your wedding planner or co-ordinator may be able to recommend a few).

Think about how your cake can tie in with your theme. For example, if you are having a rustic wedding you might like a naked cake. Collect photos of cakes you like to show your cake maker.

9 months to go

  • Meet with the florist

Around this time, it’s a good idea to arrange a venue visit with your florist so you can do a walk through together and identify anything that has been missed. They also might see something that inspires a change in direction of your floral design.

  • Decide on ceremony details

You may have already met with the vicar or registrar to discuss the ceremony detail but if not this can be done now. You will need to tell them the songs you are walking down the aisle to, any readings and who is reading them, the names of the bridal party, who is giving you away and if you are writing your own vows.

  • Discuss menu choices

Your venue may have in house caterers who will go through the different menu choices with you. It’s worth bearing in mind the dietary requirements your guest may have.  If you have sourced your own caterers, you might have the opportunity to have a bit more input into the menu. Maybe you’d like to tie into your theme or include all your favourite foods or cuisines.

  • Book transport

If you are not getting ready at the venue you will need to book transport for the bridal party and groomsmen.

If your wedding reception is at a different venue to your ceremony you may want to arrange transport for your guests from one venue to another.

8 months to go

  • Start working on wedding website if using one

Wedding websites are a popular option with couples to keep guests up to date with wedding plans. Many give you options to collate RSVPs and dietary requirements, create seating plans and send updates. Having a personalised email address also ensures wedmin stays in one place.

  • Compile gift list

If you have decided that you would like a gift list now is the time to create it so the information can be included in the invitations.

Having a gift list allows you to choose things that you actually need and want and takes the pressure off guests in terms of trying to decide what to buy you. There are a range of online gift lifts including Prezola and The Wedding Shop.

Many couples choose not to have a gift list and instead set up a honeymoon fund, ask for money instead of gifts or suggest a donation to charity.

  • Gather list of guest accommodation information

Before you send your invitations create a list of recommended hotels (of a range of budgets) which are close to your wedding venue. You might want to speak to the hotels and ask if you can arrange a discount.

  • Pull together ideas for wedding décor

Are you going to be decorating the venue yourself or if you want to hire a wedding stylist? If you are going down the DIY route spend some time on Pinterest to collate ideas.  Think about fairy lights, photographs, favours, table centrepieces, signs, tablecloths, napkins, favours, seating plans and anything else that will make your wedding look amazing.

7 months to go

  • Book hair and make-up artist

Find a local hair and makeup artist that suits the style you like. You can have a trial before the big day to refine the look you are going for. Look for inspiration through Instagram and Pinterest to take to the trial.

  • Research and book honeymoon

Honeymoon research can be a welcome distraction from the wedding planning. Your honeymoon may be the opportunity to go on that once in a lifetime trip.  When booking it’s worth checking what visas and vaccinations you may need. You will also need at least 6 months left on your passport at the time of travelling.  If you’re booking the honeymoon under your new name, then your passport will need to reflect this name. You can find more information on the Government website.

  • Order wedding invitations and stationery

Time to order your wedding stationary. This includes invitations, order of service, place cards, signs and menus. There are a range of designs online or you can go down the DIY route.

6 months to go

  • Send invitations

Wedding invitations should be sent six months before your wedding day.  If you are not using a wedding website you will need to include the following information: timings of the day, nearby accommodation, dress code, date and location.  Don’t forget to add an address and deadline for RSVPS and dietary requirements.

  • Purchase wedding rings

You will be wearing your wedding ring every day for the rest of your life so take time to find something you really love that compliments your engagement ring.

  • Buy bridal accessories

You’ve chosen the dress and now you need the perfect accessories to compliment it. Think about veils, jewellery, shows, garters and underwear. Make sure you choose items you will feel comfortable in.

5 months to go

  • Start on DIY décor

If you are making your own wedding decorations it is worth starting early so you don’t feel stressed in the lead up to the big day. DIY décor can be very time consuming. Why not invite your bridesmaids around to help.

  • Buy or rent grooms wear

If the groom and his groomsmen are buying their groomswear then it can be purchased at any point before the big day.  If they’re hiring it, most groomswear suppliers often won’t let you rent it any further in advance than three months before the wedding.  Think about what elements of the groomswear can tie into the theme of the wedding. Can the ties match the bridesmaid dresses?

4 months to go

  • Order cake

Confirm your cake order and whether you’ll need to collect it yourself or whether the cake maker will deliver it to your venue, and at what point you need to pay.

  • Have final menu tasting

It is a good idea to have a menu tasting with your caterer to ensure you are happy with the menu. Some caterers are more flexible than others in terms of letting you tweak menus. It’s always worth an ask though.

  • Confirm timings for the day

How do you want your day to go? From when to start getting ready to the time of your ceremony, reception drinks, wedding breakfast and cutting of the cake, everything needs to be laid out ready to inform your suppliers and create orders of service.

3 months to go

  • Hair and makeup trial

Time to head to your hair and makeup trial armed with ideas of what you would like.

  • Pre wedding shoot with photographer

A month before the wedding you can meet with your photographer for a pre-wedding shoot and to discuss any particular shots you’d like capturing. If you want group shots, you should let them know which ones, where and who will be involved.

  • First wedding dress fitting

It feels like an age ago that you first set eyes on it and now the day has arrived you are reunited with your dream dress.  Have a clear conversation with the seamstress about any major alterations you would like. Your final fitting will be the time to make smaller changes to the size.

2 months to go

  • Contact any guests that have not RSVP’d yet

You need to confirm the guest list, table plan and dietary requirements with your venue or wedding planner so follow up with any guests that have not RSVP’d yet.

  • Buy wedding party gifts

What gifts might you want to give to your wedding party as a thank you for being by your side? If you’re super organised you can always look in the sales.

  • Attend hen and stag parties

Time to let your hair down and for once it’s not you doing the planning. One to two months before the big day is an ideal time to host your hen and stag parties.

  • Iron out finer details

Two months before your wedding you should plan the finer details. Think about the following:

  • Decide on your table names.
  • Purchase/design welcome signs and wedding signs for your present table and DIY photobooth.
  • Do you need any final décor items? Wedding cake knives, cake topper and the guest book can be easily forgotten.
  • Source and buy your wedding favours if you’re going to have them.
  • Print your menu cards, your programmes and your place names. This may involve another order to your stationery designer if you want everything to be the same.

1 month to go

  • Pay final supplier invoices and confirm running order

Along with paying the final supplier invoices you need to share the running order with them so they can arrange when to deliver the cake, flowers, set up the AV etc.

  • Break in wedding shoes

Wear your wedding shoes around the house to break them in and ensure they’re comfortable.

  • Book beauty appointments

With one month to go, there will be lots of beauty appointments to attend to ensure you look and feel your best on your wedding day.  From eyebrow shaping to your trial fake tan and your final haircut, there’s a lot to consider.

  • Design and order seating plan and other stationery

You know who is attending so now you can write and order your seating plan. This is best left to the very last minute in case of any cancellations. If being printed, your printer will let you know a deadline.  Once you’ve created your seating plan, give your caterer a copy along with the final headcount and details of any dietary requirements (and where those with the dietary requirements will be sitting) the week before the wedding.

  • Final dress fitting

Your final dress fitting will take place around 2 weeks before the wedding. This is the time time for small alterations to be made.  If there are no alterations to be made to the dress, you’ll usually take it home with you at this fitting. If there are, you’ll go back to collect it a week before.

1 week to go!

  • Take care of last-minute tasks

There are lots of last minute tasks to do the week before your wedding which shouldn’t be forgotten about. Don’t worry – everything major will be done by now – it’s just a case of sorting the finer details. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Buy the perfume you’d like to wear on the day
  • Plan a wedding day surprise for your fiancé.
  • Pack a bridal emergency kit.
  • Collect your wedding dress if you didn’t take it away with you at the final fitting.
  • Brief your wedding party on their roles for the day.
  • Relax!

On your wedding day

  • Get ready

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for! It’s time to get ready. Create a schedule so that you can get your hair and makeup (hair first, makeup after) done with plenty of time to spare. You’ll also need to account for touch ups and for your bridesmaids to get their hair and makeup done.

  • Relax and enjoy with your bridal party

Pop the bubbles and enjoy the excitement of getting ready with your bridesmaids.

  • Take 5 minutes

Your wedding day will fly by in an instant, so take five minutes with your husband or wife to gather your thoughts and take in the fact that you’re finally a married couple! It will be a really special moment.

  • Where is the important stuff?

One thing couples often forget is that they’ll be handed their wedding certificate after their ceremony. Give someone the job of keeping it safe for the entirety of the day.

  • Give your gifts

The giving of gifts to the bridal party and parents is usually left until the groom’s thank you speech.  That said, if your gifts are something you’d like the recipient to wear or carry with them on the big day, these might be best given first thing in the morning.  They’ll be so thankful and will love using or wearing what you’ve bought them on the big day!

After the day

  • Change your name

Once all the fun of the wedding is over, you might want to consider changing your name to match that of your partner.

  • Write thank you cards

Thank you cards are just as important as your wedding invitations. After guests have taken the time and effort (and spent money) to attend your wedding, it’s only polite to say thank you. You can also thank them for any wedding gift they might have treated you to at the same time.  Handwrite the notes, ensure the message is personal and put as much effort into the cards as you did with planning your wedding.

  • Go on honeymoon

When the wedding buzz is over it’s time to pack your bags and go on honeymoon. Enjoy!

Would you like a Printable PDF of the Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist?  Send me a message with “Checklist Please” and I’ll happily send you over a copy 🙂


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