Wedding Planning Checklist Month By Month
Planning your wedding is one of the biggest, most stressful and time-consuming things you’ll ever do in your life. It takes well over a year to organise a typical wedding, and with so much to do and think about, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
So to help you out, we’ve put together a wedding planning checklist in the form of a countdown. We’ll break down your wedding planning essentials into manageable, month-by-month chunks, so you’ll always know what you’re supposed to be doing and when.
Every wedding is different, so take this only as a basic guideline or jumping-off point. Feel free to plan certain things earlier or later if it would suit you better to do so. And don’t forget to take advantage of others’ generosity if they offer to help you out!
Wedding Planning: 12 Month Countdown
Ideally, you should start planning twelve months out from your wedding. But if you want to plan certain things early, like picking your dream date or destination for a wedding abroad then you’re free to start earlier. Let’s dive in to see what you should do first.
This is the brainstorming stage. Here are the most important things to organise a year away from your wedding:
• Your budget. Figure out how much you can set aside for everything from attire to rings, cakes, venues, catering, decorations, florists, stationery, entertainment, food and drinks… Everything!
• Talk to your fiancé(e) about what kind of wedding you’d both like to have. Start establishing things like the overall style, how formal the wedding should be, and how many guests you’d like
• Decide on a wedding date (be prepared to be flexible, depending on venue availability)
• Draft your guest list. This will give you an idea of what size venue you’ll need. Don’t forget to account for plus ones
• Start looking at venues and make viewing appointments. When you find one you love, book it as soon as possible to avoid disappointment
• Choose your wedding party (best man, bridesmaids, etc) and designate some people to help you with wedding planning
This is also the time to have an engagement party and engagement photoshoot, if you’d like them.
9 to 12 months before your wedding, begin to formally organise and book things. Brainstorming and daydreaming sessions are over: now the real planning begins.
• Book your venue now, if you haven’t already. If you wait any longer, your preferred date may be unavailable
• Book a reception venue, if you aren’t having the reception at the ceremony venue
• Find out from your venue exactly what is and isn’t included with the wedding package. Will you have to provide your own tablecloths and chair covers, for example? Do you have to book the officiant, or will the venue organise this for you? Make a list of everything you have to do
• Make a wedding website. Add information to this as and when you organise it
• Register for gifts
• Purchase a wedding insurance policy. This is optional, but recommended
• Decide on your wedding colour scheme, and whether you’re having a theme (e.g. rustic).
• Finalise your guest list. Decide whether you’ll be inviting plus-ones and kids
• Start shopping for wedding dresses
• Decide what kind of catering and entertainment you want
• Start meeting with potential vendors and suppliers, including florists, caterers, wedding cake bakers, DJs/bands, photographers/videographers, hairstylists and makeup artists
If you need to book hotel rooms for yourselves and your wedding party, do this now. You can also reserve blocks of hotel rooms for wedding guests that will need to travel.
At 8 months out, you’re nearing the halfway point in wedding planning. Here’s what you should be doing over the next couple of months:
• Send out ‘save the dates’. Everyone who receives a save the date MUST receive a formal invitation, so be 100% sure on your guest list before sending them out
• Order your wedding dress now if you haven’t already (you’ll need time for alterations)
• Book all your vendors now if you haven’t already – otherwise you may find they’ll be booked up on your wedding date
• Go bridesmaid dress shopping, and order the dresses
• Plan and book your honeymoon. Don’t forget to renew your passports if necessary
• Check up with your maid of honour and best man to make sure they’re organising your hen and stag parties (if you’re having them)
• Order your wedding invitations from a reputable stationer such as Bride & Groom Direct
If you haven’t done so already, this is also the time to make an appointment with your local council to give your Notice of Marriage. This must be completed at least 1 month before the ceremony, and no more than 12 months in advance.
By now, you should have booked or ordered all of the most important things, such as the venue, vendors and your dress. Now is when you should start finalising the smaller details, and start inviting guests.
• Send out wedding invitations. Set a deadline for your guests to RSVP – this should be at least 1-2 months before the wedding
• Keep updating your wedding website with information for your guests (dress code, directions to the venue, etc)
• Have your first wedding dress fitting. If it needs any work done, now’s the time to organise it. From this point onwards, try not to gain or lose any weight, as you won’t enjoy scrambling for last-minute alterations
• Rent or purchase the groom’s and groomsmen’s suits, shoes, and accessories such as ties and pocket squares
• Buy accessories for your outfit and your bridesmaids e.g. undergarments, veil/hairpieces, jewellery and shoes
• Go shopping for wedding rings and order them in plenty of time
• Start buying, making or borrowing your decorations e.g. table centrepieces, tablecloths, chair bows, wall décor.
• Order your wedding favours and any other miscellaneous wedding accessories, such as the guest book
• Meet up with your vendors and suppliers and finalise your orders (choose your wedding flowers, wedding cake, band/DJ set list, etc)
• Finalise the catering for your wedding, and have menus designed and printed. If you’re offering your guests a choice of food, this should be done earlier (so that you can include food options with your wedding invitations)
At this point, choose someone in your wedding party to be the point of contact for your vendors and suppliers. Make sure all the vendors have their phone number.
2-3 months before the wedding, almost everything should be booked, bought and organised. Now you can start to relax a little, as we get into the finer points of wedding planning.
• Organise dress fittings for your bridesmaids, and suit fittings for your groom and groomsmen. Arrange alterations if necessary
• Buy thank-you presents for your wedding party
• Finalise all your plans with your venue so they know exactly what’s happening and when
• Confirm the ceremony details with your officiant, such as wording preferences
• Decide the order of service and have it printed (you can do this yourself or order from a wedding stationer)
• Choose your music (for walking down the aisle, first dance, etc). Liaise with your venue and your DJ or musicians
If you want to have any beauty treatments before your big day – such as a spray tan, haircut, wax, or manicure – decide on these now. Book them for the week leading up to your wedding.
There’s not long left to go now! You should have received your guests’ RSVPs by now. You can start to focus on the seating plan and double-checking that everything else is organised.
• Chase up RSVPs from guests that haven’t yet sent them
• Design your seating plan
• Have your seating plans and place cards printed, and send them to your venue so that they know how to set the tables
• Have your final wedding dress fitting, and bring the dress home
• Make sure your wedding party have all picked up their dresses/suits from alterations, and ensure everyone has their accessories (jewellery, ties, etc)
• Contact all of your suppliers and vendors, including wedding transportation, for a final check to make sure everything is organised
• Make any final payments to your vendors, suppliers, and venue
One month before the wedding is the perfect time to have your hen and stag parties. Remember that you will need time to recover, especially if there’s alcohol involved!
By now, everything should be organised and ready to go. It may be worth giving your venue a quick call, to ensure there’s nothing else they need to know from you. All that’s left to do now is:
• Pack for your honeymoon (don’t forget to exchange money if you’re going abroad)
• Pick someone to be your trouble-shooter on the wedding day (usually the maid of honour)
• Organise for someone to collect buttonholes and bouquets from the florist, and the wedding cake on the morning of the wedding (if they’re not being delivered)
• Have all your beauty treatments
• Make sure your wedding party are all happy with what they’re doing and when – make sure everyone has prepared their speeches, etc
• Give wedding rings to your best man (or whoever is keeping them for you)
• Have your engagement ring professionally cleaned
• Steam your wedding dress (do this the night before the wedding)
You may also wish to pack a wedding day emergency kit. This includes things like sewing materials, snacks, hair pins, tissues, painkillers, deodorant, lipstick, anti-chafing cream, and anything else you might need at short notice. Give this to someone in your wedding party hold onto on your big day, in case you need it.
The Day of the Wedding
It’s too late now to change anything, so try your best to relax and enjoy yourself! Try to remember that very few weddings go 100% according to plan- it’s still bound to be the best day of your life. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Make sure you eat something in the morning. You may not feel very hungry, but you shouldn’t start the day on an empty stomach
• Get ready in plenty of time (aim to have enough time for a quick drink before your transport arrives!)
• Don’t stress yourself out – leave everything in the hands of your wedding party and coordinator(s)
After your wedding is over, make sure to bring home everything that you’d like to keep, including your decorations, gifts and cards, and your guest book. Don’t forget to leave a tip for the venue and catering staff!
After the Wedding
After you’ve enjoyed your wedding and honeymoon, there are only two things left to do. Firstly, send out your thank you cards as soon as possible. Secondly, if you’re changing your name, alert all the relevant authorities (DVLA, banks, HMRC, mortgage provider, etc).
Congratulations, you’re married!