Your Complete Month by Month Guide.
Couples in the UK spend an average of 13 months planning their wedding, but as my couples tend to book me up to 2 years in advance, I’m gonna do an 18 month timeline to meet in the middle. Ish. You can obviously adapt this to suit your needs.
18 Months to Go
Write Your Guestlist
This can be one of the hardest parts of the process for some people! How do you envision your wedding? Is it a small, intimate affair with just your closest friends and family? Or do you want a grande celebration and a HUGE party. Hopefully you’re on the same page about this!
My advice? Personally, I was pretty cut-throat when it came to planning my wedding! The last thing I wanted was to invite people because I felt I ‘had to’. This is the most expensive party I’ve ever hosted and to be frank, I don’t wanna be paying for someone I’ve never met or have no relationship with. (No meet – no seat!) That’s just me! You may prefer to just keep the peace and invite people to save on the drama. I don’t blame ya! Family politics are real.
Ultimately, the amount of guests you have is gonna have an effect on the cost of your wedding. So decide who is worth 100+ quid a head to you – haha.
Determine Your Budget
Budget – what a dirty word! Seriously though. How much are you comfortable spending? Have absolutely no idea what’s realistic? Time to do some research! Check out some vendors that you love and see if they have prices listed on their website. If not, send them an email and see what they charge. You’ll start to get an idea as to how much your wedding is going to cost.
If it’s more than you wanted to spend, think about where you can save money. Do you really want to invite your cousin’s relatively new boyfriend that you’ve never met? Are you happy to sacrifice the look and quality that you want from certain vendors to go for cheaper options? Is there anyone in your family who may be wanting to contribute?
Set A Date and Book Your Venue
Do you have a date that’s special to you both? If not, you may want to set your date based on when your favourite venue is available.
I recommend having a really good look online, then booking viewings at your top 3. Can you visualise your day there? Is it going to be aesthetically pleasing in the photos? Were the staff helpful, friendly and professional? Did it have good reviews?
Appoint Your Wedding Party
Make ya besties and the cute kids in your family feel special, by asking them to be your bridesmaid/best man/usher/flower girl/ring bearer etc. You could even be a bit extra and ‘propose’ to them or get them a gift.
Let them know from the outset what you’d like them to help you with from the outset, if anything. Choose these people wisely as they’ll be in your photos forever more!
Get Your Wedding Insurance
If shit hits the fan, you’ll be glad I reminded you about wedding insurance! Coronavirus was a great reminder of that! Wedding insurance will cover things like loss or damage (due to accident, fire or theft) to the main wedding outfits; presents, rings; the cake and flowers; failure of wedding cars; and personal liability and legal expenses and lots more. Plus, from memory, it only costs about £30.
Hire Your Wedding Photographer
That’s easy – hire me! In all seriousness, choosing a wedding photographer can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of us! But we all have very different styles. Take a look at their portfolio, ask to see full galleries rather than just the highlights. Do they have good reviews? Do you like them?! That part is surprisingly important – your photographer is around you and your guests all day long. You need to feel comfortable and relaxed with them in order to get the best photos.
Consider a Videographer
Another expense, but totally worth it in my opinion. It’s amazing to have gorgeous photos of you and your friends laughing and smiling, but it’s also great to have a video to see what you were laughing about!
16 Months to Go
Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner and/or Stylist
A wedding planner can take away all the hassle of organising a wedding and is worth his/her weight in gold! Give them an ideal budget and tell them what you envision and they’ll get to work on making your wedding dreams come true and plan you a chic wedding.
You can be as involved in the process as you like. I strongly recommend doing some of your own research on suppliers too though, as the planner typically has their go-to suppliers and may not have other amazing suppliers on their radar.
When you book me as your wedding photographer, I can assist you with the planning and give you recommendations on the perfect suppliers, for a super chic wedding.
Choose Your Colour Scheme/Theme
Time to put all those years of planning your dream imaginary wedding on Pinterest, to good use! Just me?
I have lots of inspiration over on my Instagram story highlights, plus a ‘Little Black Book’ of wedding suppliers who will help you plan a chic, modern and gorgeous wedding.
Decide on the Dress Code
Do you want people in black-tie? Cocktail attire? Or smart casual. Don’t forget to state in on your invite.
Book DJ, Band and Entertainment
All 3 aren’t essential. It’s a case of personal choice and depends on a few factors. Are you having a small, intimate wedding? Entertainment probably isn’t as important. Is there a large amount of time in your schedule where guests will be standing around and socialising? Then entertainment may be a good idea.
Book Caterers if Needed
If your venue doesn’t include their own catering, consider what you’d like. Do you want a formal sit-down meal – how many courses? Do you want people to choose from a buffet selection? Or do you want sharing platters on the table? Don’t forget about the about canapés and food for later in the evening too. Also decide if you want an open bar or not. Book in a food tasting to ensure that you’re happy with your chosen menu.
Book Your Florist
Now you’ve chose your venue and know the look and style you’re going for, it’s time to book your florist. Give them an idea of what you would like and they’ll often send you a mood board and an estimated quote.
12 Months to Go
Choose Registrar and Register Intention to Marry
Registrars are so important! They set the tone for your whole ceremony. Do you want a humanist registrar who will share personal stories about you both and crack a couple of jokes? Do you want a religious ceremony? I’d recommend having a Skype call with possible registrars, before choosing one.
Book and attend a meeting with your registrar. These can be booked for any time between one year and three months before your wedding date, but it’s best to get it out the way.
On the day, you’ll register your intention to marry, pay for your marriage certificate (some parishes will only accept cash payments) and be given a form (or it’ll be sent in the post shortly afterwards) which asks for all of your wedding ceremony details.
You will then have up until six weeks before the wedding to return your ceremony details, so don’t stress if you haven’t sorted it already.
Book Hair and Makeup Artists
Also book in a trial so you can be sure you’ll be happy on the day. Try and book your make-up trial in for the same day as your pre-wedding photo shoot if possible, so you can look and feel your best and see how it looks on camera.
Send Save the Dates
Only send these to those invited for the whole day. Your save the dates should outline your wedding date, location and whether guests can expect a wedding invitation or wedding website to follow.
Go Wedding Dress Shopping
The moment you’ve been waiting for! You’ve probably been thinking about the style for a while now. Book appointments with your favourite stores who sell the kind of dresses you like. Think about who you want there. Having a lot of people can be overwhelming and too many opinions! Go with what you love and feel amazing in. Take one or two people, whose opinions you trust and value.
Do your hair and makeup beforehand to give you a better idea on how you’d look on the day. Wear nude, seamless and strapless underwear.
Don’t get a dress 2 sizes too small for ‘motivation’! You will regret it. Plus you can get your dress taken in nearer the time if you did happen to lose weight. I discourage diets, but I’m just putting this out there for those that I know will do it anyway!
Sit down, dance and walk in your favourite dresses and make sure they’re comfortable. Take a video of you in your favourite dresses if you can’t decide on the spot.
Think about the final touches – do you want a veil? (I personally LOVE a veil, especially for photos). Think about what jewellery and accessories you might want to wear. Bring them to your appointment if you already have some picked out.
Go Bridesmaid Dress Shopping
One year in advance might sound like a lot, but with a (sometimes) large group of girls to organise, finding something which everyone loves can be a little tricky. Even if you don’t actually purchase anything until six months before the wedding, an initial shopping trip well in advance can do no harm.
Gone are the days where you have to find one dress that suits 6 very different women. Consider having the same colour or similar tones, or colours that match your theme, but all in different styles to compliment each girl’s shape. It’ll still be obvious they’re your bridesmaids – especially if they each have bouquets. Click here for an example.
At the same time as purchasing bridesmaid dresses, consider your flower girl outfits too.
10 Months to Go
Does your venue include accommodation for you and your guests? If not –
Book an Airbnb or a hotel suite for you and your girls to get ready in if your home doesn’t have enough space, or is too far away from the venue. Think about your wedding photos – you’ll need somewhere with plenty of space, gorgeous decor and lots of natural light. You may want to do the same for your fiancé and his groomsmen. This house or suite can also be used for your room to go back to as husband and wife!
Think about accommodation for your guests that are coming out of town. You may want to reserve rooms for them too.
Find a Cake Maker
Pinterest and Instagram are probably gonna be your friend for this. Share ideas with your baker and arrange a cake tasting. Here’s some ideas
Decide on Ceremony Details
Think about the music that will play as you walk down the aisle and walk out. Who will give you away? Where do you want people to sit? Decide if you want to use your own personal, vowels.
Eight Months to Go
Start Ordering Decor Items
If you’ve not booked a wedding stylist or planner to do all of this for you, it’s time to purchase or hire your decorative items.
For a timeless and truly unique wedding, try and think outside of the box rather than following the latest trends. Or stick to chic, classic pieces that never go out of style.
Book Your Transport
If you’re having your whole wedding at one venue, then transport may not be necessary. But, if your wedding is at 2 different locations, you may want to arrange transport for you and your guests. As bride and groom, you may want to go in a separate vehicle to your guests, as it gives you some time alone together (something you’ll want to allocate time for on the day). Plus, your wedding photographer may want to take some portraits of the two of you without all your guests watching and waiting!
Create a Wedding Website
Wedding websites are great way to keep your guests up to date with all the plans for your big day, and there are plenty of free options out there. Most also offer a personalised email address which is perfect for keeping your wedmin away from your regular inbox.
If you choose to have a wedding website, you can keep your wedding invitations simple. All you’ll need to provide is the date and location, plus the URL to your unique wedding website. Guests will be able to log on, get details of the day and RSVP paper-free! For this reason, you need to start curating your wedding website a couple of months before the invitations are sent.
Order Wedding Stationary and Invitations
The options are endless! Your wedding stylist can organise these if you hired one. Or there are looooads of amazing companies out there who will create your stationary for you.
There’s also and endless amount of templates you can purchase online if you fancy a bit more control, then use a company to get them professionally printed. You could even design and create them yourself if you’re a creative.
Book Your Honeymoon
Wedding planning got you stressed out? Book that holiday you’ve always dreamt about. Enjoy some quality time and relaxation to ease those post-wedding blues. Click here for some inspo.
My advice is to make the booking in your old name, so you don’t need to stress about renewing your passport. The Government website advises on all of this.
Six Months to Go
Send Your Invitations
They will have already had your save the dates, now they can know more information about your wedding and know how to RSVP.
If you didn’t do a website, include the following on your invites – The names of those invited and if they can bring their children or invite a plus one, timings of the day, nearby accommodation recommendations, dress code, date and location. You should also provide an address for RSVPs to be sent to, and you should ask for any dietary requirements to be submitted with their response.
Book Your Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot
A pre-wedding shoot helps you feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera and with your wedding photographer, ahead of the big day. It really can make all the difference to the final product. See it as a little practice run. It may seem daunting, but if you’re camera shy, it’s even more important! I promise you won’t regret it. I include 20 + digital images. Contact me to get yourself booked in.
Buy Your Wedding Rings
Take your time to make the decision, because you’ll be wearing it every day forever! Also, make sure you choose something which complements your engagement ring.
Purchase Your Bridal Accessories
Since you now know exactly what wedding dress you’ll be wearing, you should head out on a shopping trip to purchase your shoes, hair accessories, garter, bridal lingerie and anything else you might want to wear.
Buy or Hire the Groomswear
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. At the same time as shopping for your groomswear, consider your page boy outfits too.
Four Months to Go
Take a look here for help with your wedding timeline. Share your timings with your vendors that are involved with the day and perhaps your maid-of-honour and best man too.
Two Months to Go
Contact those annoying people that haven’t RSVP’d to see if they can make it.
Host/Attend Your Hen and Stag Parties
After a year or so of planning, you’re gonna be ready to let your hair down and chill at a spa, or party on a night out! It’ll get everyone else even more excited for your big day and gives everyone a chance to get to know each other if they haven’t already met.
Sort the Finer Details
Make to- do lists as you go along to remind yourself of all the things that crop up along the way that you need to do. These could include – organising the seating plan (more stressful than you’d think!), thinking of table names, buying gifts for your wedding party and parents, deciding which rooms people will be staying in etc. etc.
One Month to Go
Pay Suppliers in Full and Confirm the Running Order
With everything set in stone, it’s a good idea to send your final wedding day schedule to your suppliers. Florists and cake makers will need to know what time to arrive and drop things off, and entertainers will need to know when they can set up. With the schedule which you send to the DJ, include your final wedding playlist with details of your first dance and the song you want to end your wedding to.
Break in Your Wedding Shoes
The last thing you want on your wedding day is to be thinking about how much your feet hurt! Spend a week or so walking around in the at home to break them in.
Book in Your Final Beauty Appointments
Things like getting your roots done, nails, pedicure, tan, eyelashes and eyebrows. It’s tough being a woman.
Final Wedding Dress Fitting
Have your final dress fitting two-three weeks before your wedding, because your body shape is unlikely to change very much in those final weeks. There’s still time for small alterations to be made, but this is not the time to ask for anything drastic! 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.
One Week to Go
Try and chill out if you can! Hopefully you have most things in order. I’ll check in with you on this day just to see if anything has changed with the timings or anything.
The Big Day
Don’t sweat the small stuff and party your arse off!
Looking for a wedding photographer? Talk to me!