Planning your wedding
There's so much to think about when you're planning a wedding - it can be a little bit overwhelming. To help make the task less daunting our suppliers have put together a timeline for planning each element of your wedding. Obviously every wedding is unique so this is just a guide and if there's something that's really important to you to have for your wedding availability of that must, of course, be the number one priority and the first thing booked.
If you've already planned a wedding and have some advice that you think would benefit other couples we'd love to hear what you think. Please contact us so that we can help other couples in a similar position.
As soon as you have set a date...
- Decide on the approximate number of guests and wedding location. It's worth talking to family members whose opinion you really value about who you should include on your guest list. Be prepared for a barrage of opinion and plan a strategy for dealing with it at an early stage. The traditions of weddings have changed dramatically over the last few years and gone are the days where the bride's parents could set the guest list. Now weddings range from intimate family affairs with only a very few weddings to huge community affairs. If you have a venue in mind make sure it can cater appropriately for your chosen guest list.
- Set a budget that is manageable and break that down in to the elements that you would like included.
- Choose a venue for the ceremony and reception. Consider the impact of the time of year - some venues, especially those where people predominantly gather outside, may only be available at certain times of year and for weddings that take place in Britain weather is always a consideration. Even if you are planning an outdoor summer wedding it's always worthwhile to have a plan B. When booking your venue discuss whether your plans and dreams are feasible. Some venues, for example, do not allow fireworks or if you have a circus theme you need to ensure that there is enough space and ceiling height for any acts or props that you wish to have.
- Sort necessary licences and paperwork if marrying abroad and schedule application dates (including passports).
- Arrange wedding insurance.
- Send out 'Save the Date' cards to those people that you will definitely invite. It's probably worth agreeing your guest list as early as possible to allow time to reach agreement between you, your partner and anyone who is contributing financially to your wedding. The save the date cards should be sent out all at once if possible to avoid anybody feeling left out or like an afterthought. If you have a theme, style or colour scheme in mind you may want to tie these in to give people a taster of what's in store.
- Book your photographer and videographer. If you aren't sure who you'd like to photograph your wedding or the style of photography that you'd like for our wedding you might find our guide to booking a wedding photographer helpful.
12 months before...
- Order wedding stationery - there are some incredible suppliers out there - companies like Etsy host a huge variety of talented independent businesses who make fabulous bespoke and off the shelf stationery to match anything you might be able to dream up. Check the reviews of your chosen supplier if you are ordering online and ensure that they are aware and have agreed your timescales including postage. Consider the wording of your invitations carefully. We have put together a guide on wedding etiquette which includes suggested wording here.
- book food for your guests. Check with your venue what their requirements are and find a caterer that matches what you and they require. Alongside more traditional wedding options there are now a range of fabulous street food chefs who could cater for your wedding. You could have anything from a full sit down five course meal to wood fired pizzas to fresh made waffles and beyond. Check outside caterers requirements - you don't want to find out on the day that the electricity or water that your caterer needs to operate isn't available on site.
- Book your wedding cake supplier.
- Book your flowers. Find someone who complements the style that you are creating. Check out reviews on TripAdvisor and local ad listings and speak to friends and family who live in their area to get all the information you can. Consider bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids, buttonholes, for the men in the main wedding party and mothers, flowers for the table and flowers to decorate the ceremony venue.
- Choose your wedding dress. On your first visit to a bridal shop it might be helpful to go in and try on a number of dresses in different styles to choose the shape that suits you best, even if you are buying online. Your dress will probably significantly affect how you feel on your wedding day and will be recorded in your photos for years to come. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to wedding dresses - fashions change with the years and I didn't want to look back in years to come and think how outmoded my dress looked. That said you don't want to feel like a dinosaur either - try on different options and take advice from the experts - they'll know what would work best for your figure and should be willing to spend time with you to help you find a dress that you love.
- Clothes for the rest of your party - bridesmaid's dresses, outfits for the groom and ushers, flower girls and page boys. You will need to think about the style of your wedding - is full morning dress appropriate for a traditional ceremony, will your guests be encouraged to wear hats etc. You will also need to consider any theme or colours to be sure that your clothing and style runs through your wedding day.
- Set your timetable for your wedding day and agree it with the ceremony venue, reception venue, main participants in the wedding and photographer. We've put together a potential list of things that you might like to consider when putting a schedule of timings together for your wedding day here.
- Book a professional toastmaster or master of ceremonies to coordinate your speeches etc.
- Book a trial appointment with your preferred wedding cake supplier. You may not need to confirm the final details of your cake just yet but many wedding cake makers are booked up months in advance.
- Book your wedding cars for the journey to your ceremony venue, between your ceremony and reception venue and from your reception venue to the place where you will spend your wedding night. Consider who will be travelling in each vehicle and consider speaking to those of your guests who will and won't be offered lifts to make it clear what they are expected to organise for themselves.
3 months before
- Send out wedding invitations
- Consider helping the two mothers to buy / make outfits that will match with the theme and style of your wedding. This is a great excuse for a girly day out if the mothers would welcome the assistance.
- Agree hymns and or music with your venue and arrange Orders of Service to be printed. If you were pleased with the stationer who supplied your invitations perhaps revert back to the same supplier to ensure that your stationery ties together.
- Book your hair and make-up artists to ensure availability. Speak to your stylists about timing on the day, trial sessions and allergy testing if needed.
- Confirm the details for your wedding cake with your supplier and pay your deposit when requested.
- Book music for all aspects of the day. You may wish to consider music for before, during and after your ceremony, on arrival at your reception, through the meal, your first dance and evening entertainment.
- Choose your wedding favours. We've put together a list of things to consider when booking your wedding favours here.
- Buy wedding rings.
6 weeks before...
- Consider presents for your guests. Wedding favours are for each guest, a thank you for the bridesmaids and something for the Mums are all traditional wedding gifts but there may be other people who have helped you with your wedding. Consider adding a personal touch to your gifts with a note or message or even something that you have made yourself but remember to give something that can be made well in advance unless you want to be rushing to finish something the day before your wedding when your guests are arriving.
- Consider booking a sweet cart or similar for your guests.
4 weeks before...
- Confirm venue booking and numbers attending the reception and finalise any payments still due
- Confirm final details and timings with the photographer
-Confirm your bookings for the cars and ensure that your guests know who has transport provided for them.
- Confirm details with the florist and final numbers for bouquets and buttonholes and make arrangements for your flowers for the people and the venue(s) to get to where they are needed.
- Confirm travel and hotel bookings for your honeymoon.
- Arrange seating plan.
- Write your vows.
- Have your engagement ring cleaned.
7-10 days before...
- Attend your wedding rehearsal
- Practice your make up
-Take your head dress to the hairdresser
-Give the order of service sheet to the vicar / celebrant
- Start packing for your honeymoon
- Collect your wedding dress in time to allow for any last minute alterations.
One day to go...
- Attend any beauty treatment
- Finish packing for your honeymoon
- Lay out your outfits ready for your wedding
- Enjoy welcoming your friends and family.