Over the last few weeks we've seen several brides ask where they start with planning their wedding, and with venues and suppliers like ourselves getting booked-up for the peak season months even several years in advance, it's becoming even more important to ensure you plan ahead.
So after looking at several websites, and from our own personal experience this is our wedding planning guide, with approximate timescales.
As we say this is only a guide and we hope you find it of use.
Anything up to 2 or 3 years in advance
Start your wedding planning twelve months or as often the case more in advance to ensure you get to book the venues and suppliers of your choice, and at the best prices. You could save money by booking a mid-week, Friday, or Sunday wedding instead of a Saturday. And never be frightened to ask what deals they will do.
Most people are more than capable to organise their own wedding, However some choose to use a wedding planner because of their expertise. It's also worth remembers some venues will provide a wedding planner as part of their package.
Make it realistic without going into debt, and add in a contingency just in case.
Remember you need approximate numbers to boo your venue. Try to make it equal where possible, attempting to keep both families happy. Have a separate evening reception guest list if you want some work colleagues or friends, or friends of the family to celebrate with you, however you don't know them well enough to invite them to the ceremony, and the wedding breakfast, or you are limited on space.
The sooner you book your venues, the easier everything else will be to plan. You'll need to book a venue for your ceremony (either a church, registry office or other licensed civil wedding venue) and a venue for your reception, i.e. wedding breakfast, evening reception, disco etc. This of course may be the same as the ceremony venue. Remember to take in to account capacity for both, catering, bar and and any hidden costs. Also think about your wedding photographs as well, do you have locations where they can be taken and do you have bad weather options.
We really advise everyone takes out insurance as soon as you start booking venues and suppliers, it's not costly and will give you extra peace of mind.
You know you you will ask, however do ask yourself will they be there to support you through the whole process, and are they thoroughly trustworthy. This is also a good time to think about ushers, flower girls, and page boys if needed or wanted.
Find a photographer who offers the style of photos you are looking for within your budget, meet them in person or via video chat if not local to yourselves or you are getting married in a different location, we now advise you read our previous blogs on choosing the right photographer "The Trust Factor", and of course we would be more than delighted to speak to you regarding your photography. Please take a look at the website or give myself (Roger) a call on 07734 567961.
They'll be able to answer all your questions about the ceremony, and help you find suitable readings and music.
This will really be personal preference most people have at least a DJ, however the options are endless for bands, solo artist, plus music for your ceremony or wedding breakfast. You may also want a table magician to entertain your guests, or face painter for the kids.
If the reception venue you have booked is not doing your catering, then you'll need to consider hiring outside caterers, the option are endless from sit down meals, to hog roasts to fish and chips. or, if your budget is tight, catering the wedding with a buffet created by friends and family.
You'll need to book one bridal car for the bride and her father (or person giving her away), you may also wish to book additional cars for the Maid of Honour, Brides Mother, Bridesmaids. There are other option as well from fire engines, horse and carriages, to a vintage double decker bus.
Decide your colour scheme, decide what flowers you want and where, you now also have many other options with silk and foam flowers.
Some venues will provide someone to ensure people are in the right place at the right time, however some people still choose to have a formal toastmaster to ensure everything goes to plan and speeches are performed in the right order etc.
12+ Months Before
If your're having a couture bridal gown made for you, then you will need to start this process now. If you're ordering a designer dress then you may need to allow 4-6 months, however if you are buying a dress of the peg or a preloved dress then 6 to 8 weeks should be fine, allowing for alterations if required.
This totally up to you, nothing more said
Book it in your maiden name, and use your existing passport, then change all your documents to your married name on your return.
This ensures the guests you really want there don't book their holidays at the same time and miss your special day.
A quick note about DIY.
If your're planning to make your own invitations, table decorations, cake or favours, then remember to allow some additional practice time, as well as production time in to your schedule, so start earlier rather than later.
Don't forget all the other wedding stationery including orders of service (if required), place cards, and thank you cards.
Or Cakes, cupcakes, or make/plan your own.
It's a good idea to get your shoes in time for your first dress fitting, and and head-wear/veil for your your make-up and hair trials. It's also a good time to think about the jewellery you wish to wear on the day.
Speak to several to find the one that;s right for you, then book hair and makeup trials complete with any head wear if possible.
Remembering to ask for some special touches.
And then don't lose any more weight!
To ensure your skin is healthy and glowing on your wedding day. Thunk of all those wedding photos.
Make sure they are both the right size, and that your wedding ring will sit comfortably alongside your engagement ring, if you plan to wear both together. You may have to allow more time if you are having custom rings made.
Traditionally they are sent out 6-12 weeks before the wedding, however these can be sent out earlier if you prefer. Include information for your guests on overnight accommodation, transport, parking, and any dress code if appropriate. Include reply cards to ensure they all RSVP, and ask your guests if they have any specific dietary requirements.
Including wedding favours and table centrepieces.
Make it available to all your wedding guests (normally through your invitations) and your wedding website if you have one.
Your minister/registrar will be able to advise further
If required for your honeymoon.
With the help of your best man and maid of honour.
Ask your mother or grandmother for something old, the rest is easy
1+ Month Before
And take along your mum, sisters, or best friends too.
Speak to them personally and make sure you have confirmation of dates, places and times in writing from them.
And don't do anything you wouldn't want him/her to do....
And make your table planner
A few days before is ideal and you could make an evening of it by inviting the bridal party along to dinner afterwards too. It's a good opportunity for them to all get together just before the big day.
The venue and the caterers will need to know final numbers at least 1-2 weeks before.
And make a note of when they need to be returned - give that honour to your best man.
Write them from the heart, and practice, practice, practice.....
Have a facial to ensure your skin is glowing
And stay calm and unstressed knowing everything is in order. Stress-free = spot-free.
1+ Week Before
Then you'll know it's looking it's best for your 'up do' or curls on the big day, but only do as planned in your hair trials - this is not the time to experiment with a new colour or drastic style changes!
This will help you know where to stand and when to speak and will prepare you so you don't feel nervous on the day.
You're going on the holiday of a lifetime!
Don't wear them outside, but do wear them around the house to make sure they're comfy on the day.
Include make up, a compact mirror and powder, lipstick, tissues etc. - anything you think you might need on the day. Ask your Maid of honour to carry this for you.
And make any other last minutes arrangements.
Go for a pre-wedding and honeymoon waxing or fake tanning in good time before the big day. Get eyebrows shaped and anything else that needs attention done the week before, not the day before.
Give the list of all the wedding suppliers involved in your wedding day, with their contract details and times they are meant to arrive, in case they need to be contacted to your best man and or maid of honour and then do not give it all another thought!
The Day Before
Don't go to work, spend the day wit friends or family and don't do anything exhausting.
Book it for the afternoon to avoid chips and breaks
You're getting married in the morning!
Enjoy your day no matter what happens. After all the years/months of planning the day will pass in a blink of an eye!