You can’t wait for that big day to be perfect and to share your happiness with your family and friends. But, wedding planning is always a big challenge. So many ideas and a limited budget! You are excited but you don’t know where to start?
Don’t worry, all you need is this detailed wedding planning checklist! Use these wedding planning tips to create a timeline for the year ahead.
Top Tip: Consider your guest list now, it will affect all the other wedding decisions you make.
The first step is simple, enjoy the fact that you’re engaged and get to start planning your wedding! Have an engagement party and make sure everyone you know is aware that you’re going to get married.
It may seem early to your partner but it will make the planning easier and the whole process simple, if you discuss potential dates and guests before the engagement party.
It doesn’t mean your wedding is next week, you can be engaged for as long as you like. But, there are two essential factors in planning your wedding:
- Guest Numbers
In fact, these two factors are entwined. You need to know the number of people you wish to invite in order to decide the venue. Knowing your budget means you’ll be looking at places that you can afford; for the number of people you’re inviting!
The Wedding Folder
The next step is to create your wedding folder. This is going to be your go-to guide, having a folder helps to keep the process simple as all the information you need during the planning process will be in one place.
There are also two parts to the wedding folder:
Before you start wedding planning you can scribble your ideas down and even add pictures of things that appeal. This is a great way to bring all your ideas together and work out what really works for you and your partner.
At the start fill this section of your wedding planning book with ideas, you can quickly whittle them down to what really works.
The average UK wedding costs £18,000, the average US wedding $33,000. That’s a lot of money. There are several approaches here:
- Pick A Figure
Knowing the cost of an average wedding will allow you to set your own figure. If money is not a huge concern then you may simply want to choose a figure near the average cost. For example, the average US wedding is $33,000 so your wedding budget is $35,000.
That’s a nice approach if you can afford it! If you don’t have this much available then you may want to choose a different figure that you already have put aside, this will give you your total budget.
- Calculate Estimated Costs
A different way of approaching your wedding planning is to create a list of all the things you’re likely to spend on and create an approximate cost. This will give you how much your wedding is likely to cost.
If this figure is affordable then this becomes your budget, you just have to keep your wedding planning checklist handy when booking the different parts of your wedding. You’ll want to ensure that each part stays within your wedding planning checklist guidelines.
- Estimate Savings
The third approach is to look at the funds you have available and how much you can realistically save between now and the wedding date. This will give you a maximum budget to work with. Providing you stick to your savings plan this s a very simple and effective planning method.
If your wedding is over a year away you don’t actually need to do much more planning at this stage, just keep going over your ideas. This will ensure you get the wedding you really want.
One Year Before Your Wedding Date
The first step of wedding planning is actually considering the theme, everything else actually stems from this.
You’ll need to think about whether you want a traditional wedding or a civil ceremony. The number of options is virtually limitless, you can even have a movie-themed wedding if you want!
It’s time to book your venue. You’ve probably already considered which one you want so you simply need to visit them and take a look.
Top Tip: The most popular venues can be booked up months or even years in advance, book as early as you can!
When looking at a potential wedding venue you need to confirm the number of guests it can accommodate and what is included in your package.
Although civil wedding ceremonies are becoming more popular, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional church. However, if you’re planning 2 venues you’ll need to consider transport between the venues for you and your guests, that’s another thing for the wedding planning checklist.
It is possible to say your wedding vows virtually anywhere, here are some great options to consider if you’re still undecided:
- Local Hotel
- Your Garden
- Local Barn
Don’t forget you’ll need a registrar if you’re having a civil ceremony, it’s a good idea to find one that is available for your chosen date before you visit the venue. Some venues won’t let you book your wedding until this is confirmed.
You’ll need to pay a deposit to secure your wedding venue and it’s a good idea to take out wedding insurance.
This is also a good time to find a wedding planner, they can help to ensure you’ve picked the right venue, got the best price, and can inspire you with ideas. Of course, they can also help with much of the wedding planning logistics.
More tips on choosing the right wedding venue here.
11 Months Before Your Wedding
If you’ve got a venue and a date then you have two things to do this month, that’s all!
1. Find a Photographer
Wedding photographers can get booked up as far ahead as the venue, you need to start planning which photographer suits your needs and get them booked.
It’s a good idea to take a look at photos from previous weddings and meet the photographer to ensure you get along with them.
In fact, getting some engagement photos done can really help you to confirm you’ve made the right decision. The photos will make a nice addition to your planning memoirs.
2. Save The Day
You know your wedding date and the venue which means you can tell your family and friends to save the day. It may be too early to send out official wedding invitations but telling people to save the date will help to ensure all your guests come on your special day.
It’s best to do this via the post, you can even help to keep the planning simple by asking people to confirm if they are able to save the date, but stress is doesn’t mean they are committed to coming to your wedding.
By doing this you’re effectively finalizing your wedding guest list.
10 Months Before Your Wedding
Your wedding day may seem like a long way off but now is the time to pick your wedding dress!
You’ll need to check out the wedding shops in your area and look at as many dresses as possible. It’s a good idea to take your head bridesmaid/maid of honour with you to help give you honest opinions.
This is also the time when you need to consider dresses for bridesmaids and what the groom/best man will be wearing. It’s important to get this part of the wedding planning right and get it ticked off your wedding planning checklist.
You also need to start thinking about the other services you’ll need on your wedding day. Just like the venue and the photographer, caterers, DJ’s, and any other entertainment you’re planning can get booked up quickly.
Catering is perhaps one of the most important planning elements. Some venues will provide their own catering service, others will need you to find your own caterers. You’ll need food and drink to cover all the different parts of your wedding day, it also needs to fit with your theme and be food that you’ll enjoy.
Take your time with these decisions. You may want to get them off your wedding planning checklist but they will all want deposits. Once they’re booked you can’t change your mind!
Talk to friends, evaluate your preferred options, and get them booked now. It will ensure you have what you want on your wedding day!
This is also a good time to book hotel rooms for your family and friends that need them. Not only will this ensure they have somewhere to stay for your wedding, but it will also help you to secure a discounted rate. That will help your wedding budget or their funds.
Finally, every modern wedding needs a wedding website. This is the website that allows people to see your planning stages and even check out your wedding gift list; assuming you’re doing one. This is a great way of getting people involved with your wedding before the big day.
9 Months Before The Wedding
If you haven’t selected your wedding dress then you need to do it this month. You should also look at the wedding invitations. Although they won’t be sent out yet, if they need to be made or ordered then you or the wedding company need plenty of time to get them ready.
Don’t forget, wedding invites are the first thing that many people will see. They need to set the tone, provide the venue and date, and have space for an RSVP, without looking cluttered.
It can take some time to get the wedding invitations looking just right, especially if you have an unusual theme!
8 Months Before The Wedding
It’s time to start looking at the table plans. This is a complicated job for which you may want to do with a friend or your wedding planner.
The most common approach is to ensure everyone knows roughly half the people at the table where they’re sitting. This will help people to integrate and talk throughout your wedding day.
Of course, there are some guests that you won’t want near other wedding guests and not everyone will know many others. It can be surprisingly difficult to get the table plan sorted, that’s why you want to start it now. Your wedding venue may already want to know about the table arrangements.
As well as starting to organize the table plan you need to think about the following items:
- Table Decorations
Every table needs to have a centerpiece that matches your theme for the day. It can be difficult to find the right item and you’ll need to decide if the decorations are going to be purchased or made.
You can choose from simple vases, candles, or flowers, or you can opt for something more ornate and personal.
- Name Cards
Alongside the wedding table plan, you need to have name cards for every person. These confirm the seats and ensure people sit where you would like them to.
Name cards are also a great opportunity to add a personal message for your individual wedding guests.
The traditional wedding favor is sugared almonds in a small bag or box. However, you can choose virtually anything as a favor, from soaps to candles, magnets, or even key chains. Just make sure you add these to your wedding planning checklist today, you don’t want to forget them on the day. More wedding favor ideas – here.
You need flowers for your bouquet, to line the venue for your wedding ceremony, and probably for the reception venue.
It is a good idea to choose seasonal flowers as this will be easier to get hold off and help your budget, especially useful if you have a last minute wedding issue!
- The Cake
You can opt for the traditional 3-tier wedding cake, but you don’t have too. Brides are increasingly choosing simple alternatives, such as a tower of fairy cakes, or a one-level sponge. Consider what you really like and speak to a wedding cake specialist before planning or deciding your perfect wedding cake.
- Gift List
If you’re asking for funds towards your wedding or honeymoon then you can make this clear in your invitations. However, if you’re opting for the more traditional wedding gift list you need to start planning this now.
Speak to your partner before deciding what to put on your wedding gift list, they will be making a life and a home with you! Once you have the list created you can add it and a link to your wedding website, helping people to decide what to get you sooner rather than later.
7 Months Before The Wedding
By this stage, you’ve actually tackled most of the big wedding planning decisions. You have to do it this early in order to ensure you get all the things you want for your perfect wedding day. But, you haven’t finished your wedding planning checklist yet!
7 months is a good time to think about entertainment. If you want magicians mingling with your crowds, a bouncy castle, or even a full-on fair; you need to find the right supplier and get it booked now.
This is also the time to start planning a video or digital media options. Alongside the professional wedding photographer, you may want a videographer or you may prefer to create another wedding website where everyone can collect and share wedding pictures. These types of facilities help you to capture every moment of your wedding day.
6 Months Before The Wedding
With just 6 months to go, you’ll note that most things have been ticked off your wedding planning checklist. However, you do need to decide the format of your day. This is the order that things will happen in. Your registrar, venue controllers, DJ, and even your caterers will need to know these details as they’ll have to plan their time accordingly.
If you’re having a religious wedding ceremony, or even if you’re not, you can have marital counselling. This has been used by many couples who have gone the distance and makes sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
Marital counseling also helps you to start your married life together and make the most of every minute. It is a useful part of your planning.
5 Months Before The Wedding
The clock is starting to tick but you have no reason to panic, your simple planning steps should result in very low-stress levels and a focus on the actual wedding.
At this stage you can take a step back and focus on some of the smaller, but equally as important details:
If you’re planning on taking your first married holiday together straight after your wedding you’re going to need to decide where you’re going and what accommodation you want.
You can review your options online or speak to a travel agent, with a little patience you’ll get a good deal and be able to look forward to relaxing after the wedding day has been a success.
If you haven’t already chosen your rings then now is the time. You need a wedding ring that will compliment your engagement ring but it has to be one that you love, you’ll be wearing it for the rest of your life!
The groom and his party need to have suits for the wedding. Traditionally these are hired but you can choose to purchase them instead.
Although you can leave the decision up to your other half you may prefer to get involved with this aspect of the planning process. This will ensure that the groom chooses a suit that compliments your dress and the theme of your wedding day.
It’s a good idea to use your existing hairdresser as they already know you and your look. If you mention you’ll need a special do for your wedding they’ll come up with something that you like.
Don’t forget to have a test run. Be honest, your opinion that counts!
4 Months Before The Wedding
You now need to speak to your wedding caterers to confirm your menu options. If you’re offering menu choices then you’ll need to speak to your wedding guests and get their requirements. This is especially relevant if you’re catering for vegetarians or people with allergies.
Alongside this, now is a good time to finalize the rehearsal dinner with all the caterers, guests, and even the registrar. It is normal to have this the night before your wedding although you can have it earlier if you wish.
With just a few months to go, you should also be planning your wedding transport. You’ll want to turn up at the venue in something stunning, choose your preferred vehicle and get it booked.
As well as getting to the wedding, you may need a vehicle from the wedding to the reception, (if you’re having it in two separate places). You may also need to think about how your guests are going to get between the two venues.
3 Months Before The Wedding
Three months is a good time to get the wedding invitations sent out. It’s long enough for people to keep the date free, even if they’ve forgotten the save a date. But, it’s also close enough to your wedding that they won’t forget about it.
As well as wedding invitations you should make sure you have found the right wedding shoes for your big day and have a second dress fitting; this gives you time to adjust the dress if you have gained or lost weight.
The other critical part of your wedding checklist which needs sorting now is the extras. These are things which are essential to your wedding but often considered the small extras, such as chairs, tablecloths, or even carpet if you’re getting married outdoors.
With just 2 months to go, you need to start wearing your wedding shoes, this will ensure they are comfortable on the big day.
2 Months Before The Wedding
You should also consider what format you want the wedding guest book to be in. There is a huge range of options available, from traditional wedding book to instant photos, signing crockery, or even a suggestions box.
You’ll also need to start planning your wedding vows. These are potentially the most important part of your day and your chance to shine! The idea is to speak from the heart, even if your words aren’t eloquent, they’ll be true.
1 Month Before The Wedding
When you’re down to 4 weeks you need to start rechecking all the details. This means contacting all your wedding suppliers and confirming they have the right arrangement on file. If you don’t do this you never know what may happen on your wedding day.
At this point you should also appoint a contact you trust to stay in contact with the suppliers, they will remove the stress from you.
The wedding playlist, photo list, and even the programs should all be printed and distributed to the relevant suppliers, ensuring that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing. Don’t forget to keep spares in case anyone loses theirs.
2 Weeks Before the Big Day
If you’re still waiting for a response from any of your guests then they’re probably not coming but it’s a good idea to verify with anyone that hasn’t replied. This will ensure you know exact numbers regarding who is attending your wedding.
1 Week Before The Big Day
When you’re down to just one week you can afford to take a breather from your planning and pamper yourself. This is important as you’ll want to look your best for your wedding day.
You should also get your overnight bag ready for the hotel and check when you’re heading out; it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding!
Finally, your big day is nearly here and it’s time to celebrate! The day before your wedding you should drop off any relevant supplies to each of your suppliers. It’s a good idea to enrol helpers with this part of the wedding ceremony. They can make sure every item is in the right place, ready for your big day.
All that’s left to do is enjoy your wedding day, chat to as many people as possible and simply do what makes you happy. After all, it only happens once in a lifetime!
You may find it interesting…