Organizing a wedding is exciting – but stressful. There are a million things to think about and plan for, and it may seem as if your to-do list is never-ending. One of the best things you can do to ensure everything goes without a hitch is to have a comprehensive plan in place – and stick to it!
Here’s the checklist you need, from devising the guest list to arranging a wedding party before the big day.
Put Together the Guest List
One of your very first tasks is to put together your guest list; without it, you will struggle to budget effectively or choose a suitable venue. You may wish to chat with your parents when it comes to drawing up this list, who are likely to be able to offer advice on more distant relations.
Start with the people you want to be at your big day, no matter what, and then add other vital guests and those who could, if necessary, be crossed off.
Determine a Budget
It’s not the most fun part of the planning proceedings, but vital. Sit down with your partner and work out exactly how much you have to spend on your nuptials and, just as importantly, how much you want to spend. Consider, for example, whether you’re currently saving for a home and how much of your income, if any, you’re willing to divert from this goal.
To give you a rough idea, it’s generally a good idea to earmark around.
- 50% of your budget on the venue, ceremony, and catering
- 10% on the honeymoon
- 10% on the couple’s wedding outfits
- 10% on photography and videography
- 5% on music and entertainment
- 4% on wedding flowers and decor
- 3% on the rings
- 2.5% on the wedding cake
- 2.5% on the wedding transport
- 1% on wedding favours
- 1% on hair and makeup
- 1% on wedding stationery
Hopefully, this will help you organize your expenses and budget accordingly – and realistically!
Create Your Wedding Theme
Now for one of the most fun parts of the process – picking out a theme for your nuptials! This could be as simple as an overall colour scheme or an all-out theme such as the 1930s, rustic, or seaside; only the sky and your imagination are the limits!
Choose Your Date and Book a Venue
Now it’s time to think about the date of your ceremony and start looking at venues to decide where your big day will take place. You may already have somewhere in mind – otherwise, ask family and friends for recommendations, check out local venues that could potentially work, and consult plenty of top ten lists of best products and services online to get a true reflection on the kind of service you can expect relating to each option.
Wedding venues can get booked a significant time in advance, so, if possible, aim to have yours selected and booked at least eighteen months before the date of the ceremony. If you’re considering using a wedding planner’s services, now’s the time to bring them on board, as they can provide invaluable assistance and advice when sorting out the venue.
Pick Your Wedding Party
Another enjoyable task is picking those who will fill the roles of bridesmaids, maid of honour, best man, and ushers! When making your decision, make the choices based on what’s in your heart and who, for example, is likely to be the most reliable and will feel comfortable in their duties on the day. Resist asking someone to be a bridesmaid for you purely because you were previously a bridesmaid for them.
Why not ask them whether they’ll do you the honour of joining the wedding party by presenting them with a card and a little gift to make for a memorable special occasion?
Take Out Wedding Insurance
This is one of those things that can easily get overlooked on a to-do list, but wedding insurance equals peace of mind – and a safety net in case the worst happens. The cost of this insurance will vary depending on the amount of coverage you’d like. Typically, you’ll be covered for scenarios such as damage to your wedding dress suffering damage and the venue going out of business.
Getting insurance on your engagement and wedding ring is also advisable – you can either take out a dedicated policy or, in most cases, they can be added to your home content insurance policy.
Send Out Your Save the Dates
Ready for the next stage? It’s sending out those all-important save-the-dates! While about six to twelve months before the big day is the typical time to post these messages if your wedding falls within the summer holiday or on other dates that people are likely to have plans, getting them out sooner rather than later is highly recommended. Want to be more sustainable? Send out your save the dates electronically, and direct your guests to your wedding website for more information.
Book the Photographer, Wedding Band, Catering, and Florist
About six to twelve months before your wedding day, it’s time to book your photographer (plus videographer, if you’d like one), florist, and any live wedding entertainment you’re planning on incorporating, such as a band or a DJ. If the venue isn’t providing the catering, you’ll also need to book outside caterers, whether to provide a fine dining experience for your guests or a fun food wagon!
As with the venue, these vendors are all likely to book up quickly, especially over the spring and summer months, so booking as early as possible to avoid disappointment is highly recommended.
All About the Dress
Around the twelve-month-to-go mark, think about shopping for the all-important wedding dress. You may already have a clear idea of what you’d like, but if not, you’ll likely find it helpful to book an appointment at a local wedding dress boutique to spend time trying on lots of differently styled dresses to find the one you love best.
If you’d like to keep costs down in terms of the dress, then consider vintage versions or off-the-peg gowns that can look just as gorgeous as a costly designer option without the price tag.
Curate a Gift List
Six to twelve months before the big day, consider whether you’d like to create a gift registry so guests can select items from it. These details can be sent out with your invitations.
Alternatively, many couples now opt to ask for donations to a chosen charity in their name, which can be a significant way to mark the celebration.
Create a Wedding Website
A wedding website is a great idea – and one which has become increasingly popular – as it allows you to give your guests all the information they need in one place. Guests can also upload the photos they capture during the big day for everyone to enjoy!
Have a look online, as there are plenty of free options to create a wedding website – once it’s done, your guests can log on to get the details required.
Order the Cake
There are now virtually endless options when it comes to wedding cakes. You may wish to opt for a giant, fairytale confection, something more minimalist, or even a cupcake tower! Go with your personal preferences and one that supports the overall wedding theme. Ideally, aim to have your cake design finalized and the order in by the four-month-to-go mark. As part of this process, don’t forget to check with the cake-maker whether you’ll need to collect the finished masterpiece yourself or whether their service includes delivery to the venue.
Send the Invites
In general, if you’ve already sent your guests a save-the-date, the official invites don’t need to go out until around six to eight weeks before the big day. If you’ve opted to set up a wedding website with all the information that guests need – from what’s happening with parking to the wedding theme – your invites can direct people there. Otherwise, ensure your invites give your guests key details. As well as the date and timings (of course!), this should include nearby accommodation recommendations and the suggested dress code for the day.
The Final Countdown
As the big date approaches, ensure that you’ve ordered all the decor items you need and finalize details regarding the wedding transport, accommodation required for guests, and your honeymoon booking. This is also the perfect time to do a final hair and makeup run-through to ensure you’re happy.
And last but not least, it’s a great idea to arrange a wedding party get-together reasonably near to the big day, which is especially important if members of the bridal party don’t know each other well, or at all. With all the wedding planning on your plate, there’s no need to arrange anything complicated or costly – why not set up a simple cocktail evening or invite everyone to brunch – and enjoy relaxing together?