So, you’ve recently got engaged (congratulations!), and attentions have now turned to actually planning the big day. Planning a wedding is notoriously stressful, but with this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to get it done in a single year.
We’ll cover everything you need to consider in an easy-to-follow timeline, which should help minimise your stress levels. Of course, there’s no exact timeline to planning a wedding, and you could successfully do so in the space of a few months if you wanted. Our guide simply gives you a comprehensive overview of the major wedding planning to-dos for brides-to-be.
Right, without further ado, let’s get started!
One year to go
Before you begin planning every minute detail of your big day, you and your partner need to sit down, think about the bigger picture, and discuss what your ideal wedding would be like. At this point, you need to:
- Consider the wedding style and theme – Do you want a vintage or formal-style wedding, or whimsical or bohemian-style nuptials? The style and theme of your big day will massively impact your choice of venue, decor, dress code and various other considerations, so it should be one of the first things you think about.
- Decide on your budget
- Choose a date
- Plan the guest list – This will help to inform your choice of venue. There are various wedding guest list manager apps out there that can simplify this process significantly.
- Research venues – Do you want a classic church wedding or do you want to tie the knot in a five-star hotel? You may want to choose somewhere with catering and bar services included to give you one less thing to worry about. Here in the UK, you’re spoilt for choice for such venues, from Sandon Hall, a popular wedding venue in Staffordshire, to the renowned Syon Park in London, or even Riverdale Barn in Hampshire.
- Assemble a planning team – Do you want friends and family members to help you plan the big day, or would you rather rely on professional wedding planners instead? As luxury wedding planners Snapdragon note, wedding planners will “listen to what you want, share [their] ideas with you and so help you refine your requirements.”This professional insight can take a lot of the planning pressure off you.
- Think about honeymoon destinations – Picking a honeymoon destination takes a lot of careful consideration and organisation, so is worth thinking about right away.
Ten to eight months to go
Once you’ve ironed out the major details, it’s now time to think a bit more narrowly.
- Start shopping for dresses – It’s best to start this process early in order to give yourself time for alterations.
- Hire a photographer/videographer
- Decide on your entertainment – Do you want a band, a DJ, or something else entirely?
- Research into wedding insurance policies – MoneySuperMarket.com has a useful wedding insurance comparison page.
- Start thinking about what food you want at the reception – There are so many options you can opt for, from a classic sit down dinner or a buffet-style feast, to food trucks or a cocktail reception.
- Start planning floral bouquets and arrangements – You might be shocked to find out how many flowers you’ll actually need! Visit bride.com for a comprehensive floral checklist to help you navigate your way through this planning stage.
- Make a final decision on the venue (and theme) and book it
- Research and book guest accommodation – It is imperative to plan this well in advance to ensure your guests don’t end up staying in hard-to-reach, awkward locations.
- Look into hairdressers and makeup artists – Book a few local professionals to try them out and see who you prefer.
- Get your hair coloured – If you want to change your hair colour, it’s important to start the process with plenty of time to spare. For instance, changing from brunette to blonde could take 3 or 4 applications, which should ideally be done at least a couple of months apart.
Eight to six months to go
You’re heading towards the halfway stage now. At this point you should:
- Research into transportation – From a limo to a horse and carriage, there are so many options when it comes to wedding transportation.
- Book your honeymoon
- Renew passports if needed
- Order your dress – You’ll need at least three fittings before the big day, so it’s best to buy the dress early on in the planning process.
- Book the entertainment, food and florists
- Start introducing facials into your skincare routine – This enables your skin to get used to the products and prevents breakouts happening around the time of the wedding. Skincare expert Susanne Kaufmann recommends getting facials every six weeks in the run-up to the big day, with the last one two weeks before.
Six to four months to go
Getting even closer! Here’s what you need to do at this stage:
- Organise hair and makeup trials by booking both a hairdresser and a makeup artist
- Research into cakes – Some wedding cakes can take months to bake, so it’s best to start looking at cakes in advance.
- Shop for wedding rings
- Choose and order invitations – This is typically a time-consuming process, and may even require a calligrapher.
- Book the rehearsal venues
- Book transportation
- Start dress fittings
Three months to go
Not long to go now, and with just three months left before the big day, it’s time to:
- Order wedding rings – This gives you time for resizing and engraving.
- Buy shoes and accessories
- Order the cake
- Finalise the menu and flowers
- Decide which readings you want – You should then ask those you wish to do the readings.
- Make a list of people giving toasts – Ask which loved ones you want to speak at the reception.
Two months to go
Your big day is now just right around the corner! At this stage, you should:
- Send invitations – Mail invitations traditionally go out six to eight weeks in advance, giving guests plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements.
- Write your vows
- Buy gifts for attendants – Such as parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen.
- Review the playlist with the band or DJ
- Give a notice of marriage – For most marriages, you need to give at least 28 days notice at your local registry office.
One month to go
With only weeks to go until your wedding, you need to:
- Tell your photographer and videographer what your must-have shots are
- Inform the venue of your final guest list
- Create a seating plan – Toptableplanner.com has a useful guide to arranging your wedding seating.
- Create a wedding program
- Get a haircut – This gives your hair time to adjust to the new length.
The week of the wedding
You’re counting down the days now! With the wedding almost upon you, here are the final things you need to organise.
- Get your hair coloured – We’re not talking about a dramatic recolouring here, but a touch up to ensure your hair is looking at its best. According to Rita Hazan salon senior stylist Carlina Ortega, the optimum time for this is a week before the wedding.
- Finalise vendor details – Ring up all of your vendors to confirm the arrangements.
- Pack for your honeymoon
- Book a manicure and pedicure – Do this the day before to get your nails in tip-top condition for the ceremony.
At this point, you’re all set your for wedding! Good luck, congratulations again, and have the best time on one of the biggest days of your life!