Wedding Planning timeline
This greatly depends on the couple, the circumstances and the location. But again, we have compiled a really rough guide on when you should be looking to get a few things sorted for your day.
Set the date and begin your search for your venue and suppliers
If opting to book over 18 months in advance, firstly sort your venue out. Still look for suppliers as you may not book them yet, but looking for them may take longer than you expect. Don’t book any supplier later than 12 months in advance though as most do get booked up! Meet them too, informally to see if they work for you.
Attend wedding fayres
These are amazing sources of information and suppliers. Venues do them to promote themselves, but most will include a selected number of suppliers which they have vetted for quality and reliability. Never pass up an opportunity to attend these even if one isn’t at your venue, as they hold a wealth of suppliers for you to choose from.
Set your Budget
This is very important. You need to make a clear budget that you know is both realistic and also provides you with what you want. Look at suppliers who run promotions and see what things you can do yourself to help. Your budget may be determined by your venue, so do make sure your venue is your top priority.
Draw up a guest list
This may seem like a fruitless task at this stage, as a lot can happen in 12-18 months but by doing this now you save a lot of hassle later down the road. A lot of suppliers will need to know rough numbers, and stationers are no exception. Don’t leave this until last minute, numbers can always be changed later down the line.
Book your Honeymoon
If you are planning to go away right after your wedding, then now is the time to find a destination and book it ready. A lot of places will do deals for newly so be sure to ask your tour guide about any offers or promotions they have.
Book your suppliers
Do not leave booking suppliers any later than 12 months ahead. Most will take booking anything up to 18 months in advance so if you find a supplier who does this, then certain make use of that option. However, if not, book them at least 12 months in advance. Suppliers that this may related to are:
- Save the dates, Invites and Stationery
- Marriage officiant (if not included with venue)
- Caterers (if not included with venue)
- Cake maker
- Venue Decorator (if not included with venue)
- Wedding Insurance
- Make-up artist and Hairdresser
Once these are booked begin the task of talking to them, even having consultations with them to discuss your requirements and colours schemes etc.
Appointment of your Wedding Party
Ask close family or friends to be your Bridesmaids, ushers, best man etc. If you are opting to have flowers girls and page boys or a ring bearer, then now is the time to ask them as well.
Decide upon your theme/colour scheme
Take a look at trends and also what colours you both like. Choosing a theme and/or colour theme isn’t just about what the Jones’ have had, but also what you like too. Is there a colour that means something to the both of you (for instance are you both made football fans and like Arsenal, so would like red and white as your colour scheme?)
Start the search for “the Dress” and other bridal party attire
It begins – probably the biggest decision any bride to be will have to make. Get on that high-street and get searching, use the internet, attend fairs, look on social media and Pinterest for anything that might help you. Once you have found it, talking to your seamstress will be much easier as they can then work with you to get the dress and point you in the right direction in terms of style that will suit you etc. And of course, don’t forget the boys and their suits, your flower girls and page boys, as well as your bridesmaids and best man.
Order your Save the Dates
As mentioned above, it is best to find your stationer around 12-18 months before your wedding IF you are sending out save the dates. If not, finding them a year in advance is fine but remember, they get booked up solidly anything up to 12 months beforehand so look in earnest if you leave it until now to find one. Once found, get that save the date or in ASAP. If not sending them, still meet them, get to know them, discuss your requirements and get booked in for invites. Now would also be a good time to get samples for your invitations.
Order wedding shoes and accessories
Once you have chosen your jewellery and accessories now would be the time to actually buy them. Keeping so many wedding items before this can be a little impractical as space may be an issue so try to spread this out a bit by buying this a little later down the road.
Have hair and makeup trials
You would have had many conversations with your hairdresser and MUA by now and may have already started the process of having trials. If not however, this would be a good time to start getting trials booked for you and the bridal party.
Order bridesmaid, flowers girls’ dresses and usher, best man, and grooms’ suits
If you are getting your bridal party gowns from one place, then you may have already had the conversation about the bridesmaid dresses. However, a lot of brides prefer to search for their bridesmaid dresses outside of wedding shops to save costs, so now would be a good time to buy them in preparation for your day.
After initial discussions, your cake maker should invite you over for a tasting session so that you can determine what flavours and type of cake you would like. If opting for cupcakes, decide on the designs and colouring of these.
Venue menu tasting
If you are having a wedding breakfast and then an evening buffet later, be sure to have a tasting session with your venue so you can choose what items you would like to include on the menu. Make sure to ask about any dietary requirements and arrangement they can make for people with intolerances or dietary choices such as vegetarian.
Send out invitations and order day stationery
6-8 months before the big day send out your invitations and make sure to book in with your stationer for any day stationery you might require. At this stage numbers with be estimates, but when your RSVP deadline comes around, make sure you update the stationer with the exact quantities of each so that they can book you in plenty of time. Normally, stationers will book you in for day stationery when you first enquire with them to make sure they save a slot for you. If they don’t however, be sure to do this as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Buy weddings rings
Now is the best time to go for fitting of wedding rings. If you can, see if you can pick them up in spring or mid-season sales to make them a little bit cheaper. If they need resizing at all do allow for this as some rings can take several weeks to come back so order them in plenty of time.
Have fittings for your wedding dress for alterations
By now you would have had some fittings for your wedding dress, but it will be only now that they will start to adjust it to measure. Of course, if you have lost weight since your initial fitting then this will also need to be considered. Don’t keep losing weight too close to your wedding date as dresses can only be altered so far, and there is only a finite amount of time that you have for alterations to be made should you lose more than planned.
Decide on wedding music and readings
This will need to be discussed with the marriage officiant, but if you are writing your own vows or need help then now is the time to ask. They will most likely want to go through the ceremony with you anyway so there is no better time to also speak about readings and music.
Buy thank-you gifts for best man, ushers, bridesmaids etc
Most weddings have a period where the best man and groom make speeches. It is during this time that Thank you gifts for the wedding party are given out. Buy these in advance so you have them ready on the day.
Get any vaccinations for your honeymoon sorted
If you are going on holiday right after your wedding, you will need to consider any vaccinations you may require. You don’t want to have these too close to your wedding in case of any reactions, so get them booked in with your GP around 3 months before your big day to discuss what you need and when.
Plan hen/stag do’s or at least make sure your designated planners have started
Most people have their hen or stag organised by the bridesmaids and best man. If this is the case with your wedding, make sure they are aware of what you would like to do. Throw some ideas their way or spend an afternoon going through suggestions. Then, your designated planner can get to work on the details whilst you can sit back, relax and concentrate on the other areas of planning.
Chase any people who haven’t responded to your RSVP’s
Make sure you chase any outstanding RSVP’s before confirming number to any supplier. Give people enough time to contact you regarding their attendance and don’t be frightened to get strict with them. If some don’t respond, you are well within your right to assume they will not be coming and therefore will not be included on any table lists or final count.
Arrange final fitting of your dress
The final fitting of your dress should over anywhere from 2-4 weeks before your wedding day. This is the final fitting you will have that has included all your alterations. Any minor adjustments can still be made, but don’t leave it until now for all alterations to be done, as you will be cutting it fine!
Contact all suppliers and double check everything with them, and pay off remaining balances
Over the course of the last 18 months you should have built up very good relationships with your suppliers. Don’t be afraid to give them a little wave to check that everything is still in place and that any remaining balances are paid. Whilst it is the supplier’s responsibility to make sure they provide for you on your day, it is your responsibility to pay them in good time!
Give final details to stationer regarding day stationery
If you have had your RSVP’s back by now, now is a good time to get these details to your stationer. Most stationers will leave creating your day stationery until the last possible moment (we leave around 3-4 weeks before). This is to allow for last minute cancellations and changes to number etc. If opting for a table plan to be made in its entirety, please be aware that once this is made, there is no turning back. So if people cancel and others are added in, it is very unlikely these can be changed. Do make sure you are as sure as you can be on attendees before commissioning work to being.
Sort speeches out
Anyone doing a speech should have had at least a rough draft completed by now. However, if that isn’t the case then now would be a good time for them to start writing it. Unless of course they are brave enough to just wing it on the day!
Speak to the marriage officiant about the ceremony rehearsal
If you haven’t already had a rehearsal, this is when the final one should take place. Make sure you and your wedding party are there, so that everyone included in the day are aware of what is happening and when. Be sure all people know what readings they are doing, where they need to be and when.
1+ week before
Have any last-minute beauty regimes completed (haircut, facials, etc)
A week before the wedding things should calm quite considerably. Most, if not all things should be in place and it is now a case of waiting for the day to arrive. What better time to then pamper yourself with that facial you wanted, or haircut and colour you’ve been waiting to get done.
Pack for your honeymoon
Nobody likes packing but doing it now prior to your wedding will be a life saver. There will be no better feeling then waking up that first morning as husband and wife knowing that all you need to do is get on that plane and jet off somewhere hot!
Sort out any foreign currency if going to honeymoon right after the wedding
Aside from packing, you also need to make sure all your other affairs are in order; make sure you book your honeymoon in your maiden name or whatever name is on your passport. Collect foreign currency and if possible do this way before now and keep an eye on exchange rates so you get the best deals. Double check your holiday insurance and what they have included in your stay; a lot of hotels upgrade you to the bridal suite if honeymooning with them so double check this in the details given. If not, a cheeky email to the hotel directly could land you some bonus freebies!
Give a list of all your suppliers to the venue
Finally, give you venue a list of every supplier you are using, what they are proving and when they are meant to be arriving. Any hotel coordinator can then double check on the day everyone has arrived and has provided what they needed to and if in the unlikely scenario a supplier hasn’t arrived, can chase them on your behalf to iron out any issues.