Essential Wedding Planning Checklist

Updated: Mar 29

There are lots of Wedding Planning Checklists out there, but they usually only focus on a year to eighteen months

Bride and groom standing at the altar together at wedding
© Photographed by John Knight

in the lead-up to the wedding. Bridebook’s The UK Wedding Report 2020 stated that couples are now spending on average 23.5 months planning their wedding, so I decided to create this Essential Wedding Planning Checklist with a two year lead time; this is only a guide, and should just gently remind you when you should start thinking about each task.


So, here we go…


2 YEARS

  • I highly recommend attending a wedding fair; they are fantastic places to gain inspiration and ideas, and meet some fabulous local suppliers.

  • Start a Pinterest board with all your ideas; this will help you collate all the different things you like and might be interested in using for your own wedding.

  • Choose a venue; I would recommend viewing several venues, before making your final decision.

  • Once you have your venue, you can then decide on your date; bear in mind that weekday weddings are often cheaper than weekends, and consider the different seasons and the type of wedding you want (outdoors in November may not be a good idea!), as well as public and school holidays.

  • At the same time as choosing your venue, you need to decide on your budget - and you need to try to stick to it!

  • Now may also be the time to decide if you want to hire a wedding planner; if the thought of planning everything yourself fills you with dread, or you don’t have the time to manage it all, then I would recommend hiring a professional to give you a hand.

18 MONTHS

  • Choose your Bridal Party, including the Maid/Matron of Honour, the Best Man, the Bridesmaids and the Groomsmen.

  • Decide on the theme or style you want to have; it could be something simple like a set colour, or you could decide to have a full theme for the day. Whatever you choose, embrace it and have it running continually throughout, from the invitations to the decor.

  • Write your guest-list; you’ve probably already got an idea of who you want to invite, but make a definitive list, splitting them into ‘ceremony and reception’ and ‘reception only’ guests.

  • Choose your wedding stationery; this includes the save-the-dates, the invitations, the place cards and even the ‘thank you’ cards you’ll send to your guests after the wedding. Deciding on them now means they will be consistent and tie everything together nicely.

  • Send out the save-the-dates; this will give your guests enough time to make any travel arrangements, particularly for overseas guests.

  • Book your photographer; photographers usually get booked well in advance of weddings, so if you find one you like, book them before you miss out.

1 YEAR

  • Book your cake; cakes are steadily becoming focal points at wedding and are usually works of art, and the cake makers can get booked well in advance, especially in the popular summer months.

  • Book your celebrant/registrar/minister; whatever type of ceremony you are having, meet with and book the person that you want to conduct your ceremony.

  • Book your florist and any decor or hire items that you want; be it centrepieces, chair sashes or a post box.

  • Book your Toastmaster or On-the-day Coordinator; this will depend on the type of wedding you have, but they can both provide a useful service.

  • Book your band or DJ; again, in the popular months, they may have limited availability, so get in there early so you’re not disappointed.

  • Book your videographer; I highly recommend hiring a videographer, especially being able to sit and watch your day over and over again.

  • Start wedding dress shopping; ideally you will actually purchase your dress about nine months before the big day, but you need to try on sooo many dresses before you make your final decision! And I recommend trying on lots of different styles of dresses; you’ll be surprised by what suits you and the dresses always look a lot better on you than on the hangers!

6 MONTHS

  • Purchase your bridemaids outfits; make a day of it for them and get them to try on different styles.

  • Order the groom’s and groomsmen’s suits.

  • Book your hair and make-up; don’t worry if you’re not sure exactly how you want your hair or make-up, just have a chat with the stylists and you’ll come up with something perfect together.

  • Book any transport; be that a car for the bride in the morning, or a coach to transport the guests to/from the venue.

  • Book any accommodation; your venue may have onsite accommodation, but if not, you may need to book a nearby hotel. Sometimes you can reserve groups of rooms, if you know that some of your guests will require accommodation.

  • Book your entertainment; this could be a magician, a string quartet, a photo-booth or a chocolate fountain, to name but a few…

  • Book your honeymoon or minimoon; you may not be able to afford a big honeymoon after the wedding, but I would recommend having at least a weekend away after the wedding for you to enjoy the first few days of wedded bliss.

3 MONTHS

  • Send out the invitations; don’t forget to include any important information, such as a map or a request for dietary requirements. And if you number each invitation, RSVP, etc. against a corresponding list of guests, if they forgot to write their name on the RSVP, you will know who it came from.

  • Purchase your wedding rings.

  • Have a hair and make-up trial; this is the time for you and the stylist(s) to discuss and experiment with how you would like to look.

  • Have a tasting with the caterer; you can then finalise your menu choices.

  • Choose your ceremony music and readings; depending on the type of ceremony you have, you may not be allowed to have to certain types of readings, so it is a good idea to do your research.

  • Purchase gifts for the Bridal Party; it just needs to be a little something to say ‘thank you’ for being involved in your wedding.

  • Have a wedding dress fitting; and fall in love with your dress all over again!

  • Start practicing and making any DIY items (centrepieces, place-cards, etc.) if you’re doing them yourself.

  • Start working on the seating plan; even before the RSVPs begin to come through, you will have some idea of who will be coming, so you can start to decide where it is best to sit everyone.

  • Get vaccinated; if you are going away for a honeymoon or minimoon after the wedding, depending on where you are going, you may need some vaccinations.

1 MONTH

  • Have the final dress fitting; make sure you have someone with you, and take photos or a video so that you can remember how to do it up on the day!

  • Have your hen-stag dos; doing this a month in advance give you plenty of time to recover!

  • Write the wedding speeches; this may take several attempts, so give yourself plenty of time, and practice saying it out loud.

  • Have a final meeting with the venue; this is your opportunity to check the final details and make sure you are happy with how everything will run on the day.

  • Chase final guests who have not RSVP’d; maybe their invitation/RSVP got lost in the post, but definitely check if they are coming or not - you don’t want them to turn up on the day and not be catered for.

  • Finalise your table plan.

  • Reconfirm all the details with your suppliers; don’t forget to tell your band/DJ the song for your first dance!

  • Make all final payments to suppliers.

  • Make sure you have got your ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’.

  • Start to wear-in your wedding shoes.

1 WEEK

  • Pack an Emergency Wedding Kit; include things to have nearby on the morning of the wedding, such as plasters, face wipes, mints, spare tights, paracetamol, etc.

  • Order any foreign currency you might need for your honeymoon/minimoon.

  • Pack for your honeymoon/minimoon.

  • Arrange for the suits to be collected.

  • Give a list of all the supplier details to your Maid/Matron of Honour, your mum or the Coordinator.

  • Prep yourself by having beauty treatments (e.g.: waxing, eyebrows, etc.); maybe treat yourself to a massage too!

1 DAY

  • Delivery all items to the venue, if possible.

  • Eat healthily.

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Get an early night.

  • Relax!


IN THE MORNING

  • Eat a good breakfast.

  • Make sure you get everything that you want to be photographed out ready for the photographer, such as the invitations, shoes, rings, etc.

MY TOP TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR WEDDING

  • Try to be realistic with what you want and can afford.

  • It is your day, so make sure you do/have what you both want, not something a relative says or something you think you ‘should’ do/have.

  • Make sure you meet all suppliers in person, and only choose the ones you like and trust.

  • Try to have some time on the day when it’s just you and your new spouse, away from the crowd; take it all in and enjoy a moment of calm together.

Remember that no matter how much you plan or how organised you are, things will go wrong. And that’s ok! Just try to focus on the most important thing… today you are marrying your soul mate. A downloadable copy of the basic Essential Wedding Planning Checklist is available here.


Essential Wedding Planning Checklist
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