Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I believe you will want your family and friends to remember how beautiful you looked, how wonderful the ceremony was, the amazing food and entertainment at the reception and how smoothly the day ran. On your wedding day you will want the best of everything. Wedding suppliers will help you find exactly what you are looking for so don't be afraid to ask them for their help and advice - after all they are the experts. Above all to avoid disappointment don't underestimate how long it will take you to organise your wedding day and how quickly the most popular venues and suppliers will become fully booked. In some cases, venues can be fully booked 2-3 years in advance. To help you get started I've put together a wedding to-do-list.
18 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Talk about the kind of day you would like to have and choose the type of ceremony you would like to have.
•Choose your wedding theme e.g. traditional, modern, vintage, garden party, fairy tale, beach etc. and colour scheme.
•Choose your wedding style e.g. formal, semi-formal, informal.
•Set your budget and open a wedding savings account and start saving (set-up a direct debit to ensure you keep on track).
•Start a wedding mood board or scrapbook for pictures of a your favourite wedding must haves.
•Look at venue ideas (if you find your dream venue BOOK IT), ask each venue wedding planner to confirm what is included and not included in their standard package and what you will need to pay extra for (not all room, menu and wine choices will be standard and this may affect the price quite a bit). Ask for this to be confirmed in writing and don't be afraid to ask for a discount. Hire a wedding planner and take out wedding insurance (if required).
•Pick your wedding party - best man, ushers, chief bridesmaid, bridesmaids, flower girls and pageboys (your family and friends will start wondering who's in).
•Read through your checklist and if there are any "must haves" don't wait - book or buy them ASAP.
•It is very popular for wedding celebrations to carry on the following day in the way of an open house or BBQ. This is a great opportunity for you to delegate a big part of your now wedding weekend to family and/or friends that would like a bigger involvement in the organisation of your wedding.
12 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Set your wedding date. You will need to think about your wedding day and your honeymoon and work out which date works best for both.
•Find your wedding officiant (the person who will marry you), book your church or approved venue for your ceremony and apply for the necessary licences.
•If you have chosen a church ceremony check with your minister if you need to book the choir and/or bell ringers separately. You will find some churches charge extra for these. Book if required. It is also a good idea to check with your wedding officiant to see if there is another wedding booked before or after yours as this may affect when your florist will be able to decorate the church and it may also limit the colours you will be able to use.
•Book your reception venue (if separate from ceremony and/or not already done so).
•Book your first night's accommodation. If you are going to stay at your wedding venue you should be able to negotiate the bridal suite within your package.
•Compile your day and evening guest lists and order your wedding save the date cards.
•Book your honeymoon, check your passports are valid and confirm holiday leave with work. Arrange travel insurance, vaccinations and visas (if required).
•Check out accommodation for your out of town guests.
•Start looking for your wedding dress. Try lots on, the perfect dress maybe one you have never considered.
•Research suppliers for your wedding stationery, flowers, photos, cake, entertainment and cars etc., the list is endless. Remember visit suppliers, ask questions and get quotes. Look at some of the many wedding web directories online, wedding magazines and attend wedding fairs for inspiration. To avoid disappointment book popular suppliers ASAP, ask suppliers how many months in advance they recommend you book. It is also important to ask your supplier to confirm their fee should you wish/need to cancel.
9 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Order your dress and book your dress fittings. Choose and order your bridesmaid dresses. Allow plenty of time so that you can all arrange to be available for fittings.
•Order your wedding invitations.
•Book your florist, wedding cars, photographer, venue decorator, toastmaster (if required).
•Order your wedding cake. Ask your supplier to confirm if the cake stand, knife, delivery and set-up are included within the price quoted.
•Book your reception entertainment e.g. magician, children's entertainer, photo/video booth, sweet cart, chocolate fountain, band, DJ, fireworks etc. Check with your venue wedding planner to see if your entertainers need to provide evidence of their public liability cover.
•Book your hair and beauty stylists. If you are planning on doing your own hair and make-up it's worth having a practice now. This way you have plenty of time to change your mind if you don't like it.
•Reserve accommodation for your guests (your guests will pay when they confirm their booking). If reserving rooms at your wedding venue remember to ask for a group discount.
•Set up your wedding website for your family and friends to find your wedding details and information (if required).
6 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Buy/hire formal suits for the Groom and wedding party and purchase your wedding jewellery, lingerie and accessories.
•Think about what you might like to have for your "something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue".
•Think about your on the day stationery requirements such as your order of service/day, wedding table plan, table decorations, name cards, favours, guest book and post box.
•Compile a wedding gift list or write a gift poem.
• Think about which hymns you would like to have sung at your ceremony and the music you would like played.
• Select readings for your ceremony and choose who you would like to do the reading.
• Choose a favourite song that you would like to have sung by the church choir or maybe a friend or relative or played while you sign the register.
• Organise and book hen night/weekend (generally this is the chief bridesmaids responsibility). Organise and book stag night/weekend (generally this is the best man's responsibility).
3 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Arrange suit fittings for the Groom and wedding party.
•Buy your wedding rings (and send them for resizing and/or engraving if required).
•Buy your wedding shoes - remember you will be on your feet for most of the day so they definitely will want to be comfortable (maybe buy a pair of comfortable shoes for dancing in) and veil and tiara.
•Purchase your bridal lingerie ready for your first dress fitting. We recommend your bridesmaids do the same.
•Send out your invitations and finalise your wedding order of service and/or write your vows.
•Choose your ceremony music.
•Book your hair and make-up trials.
•Agree and finalise all wedding flowers including your church and venue flowers. Book your wedding breakfast menu and wine tasting.
•Think about your first dance (and if you would like dance lessons).
2 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Confirm ceremony details with your minister/registrar (your minister is likely to want to read through your order of service before it goes to print).
•Touch base with your suppliers to ensure all is going to plan and ask any questions you may have.
•Meet with your photographer to discuss specific shots and walk through the locations to point out spots that appeal to you. Have a list ready of the must have shots.
•Review your playlist with your band and/or DJ and confirm your first dance. If you get chance try to see/hear them play live.
•Organise your seating plan for your wedding breakfast (this will take longer than you think!).
•Confirm your on the day stationery requirement (order of service, table plan, table numbers, favours, name cards, guest book, post box etc.) with your stationery supplier.
1 MONTH BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Decide who to have as your two witnesses.
•Arrange a date for your wedding rehearsal (church wedding).
•Arrange your final wedding dress fittings (time how long it takes to put your dress on - this will help you when you plan your wedding day morning schedule)
•Arrange final fittings for bridesmaids, flower girls and pageboys.
•Choose your wedding day perfume.
•Decide and find your something old, new, borrowed and blue items and keep them together somewhere safe.
•Go honeymoon shopping.
•Check all your guests have confirmed if they will be attending or not.
•Delegate small wedding tasks to responsible family and friends who would like to help you, e.g. someone to be contactable for directions should one of your guests get lost or unable to find the venue on the day, someone to collect your gifts, cards and flowers from your venue, someone to return your hired suits and someone to send out wedding cake to guests that were unable to attend.
•Agree and confirm any reception formalities and timings with your venue wedding planner - to include wedding breakfast, speeches, cake cutting, evening buffet, entertainment, carriages and anything you would like saved at the end of the evening such as your table plan, table names and flowers etc.
•Start to break in your wedding shoes by wearing them around the house.
•Your hen do. His stag do.
2 WEEKS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Practice your hair and make-up if you haven't booked a stylist.
•Start packing for your honeymoon. You won't want to be packing the day before your wedding - you won't have time.
•Arrange to make any outstanding payments to be paid and buy thank you gifts for your wedding party.
•Provide your caterers with final numbers for your wedding breakfast, evening buffet and details of any special dietary requirements.
•Check your Groom has at least though about his speech and booked a haircut (if not book it for him).
•Plan your wedding day morning schedule.
•Have a spray tan (if you want/need one) and finalise arrangements with your hair and beauty stylists.
•Arrange who will be taking/collecting you to/from your hair and beauty salon on the day.
•Arrange for your wedding cake to be delivered to your venue and confirm with your supplier where you would like it to be set up.
•Make final honeymoon checks, passports, tickets, cash, camera, sun cream, finish packing suitcases and buy any last-minute items for honeymoon.
•Hold a wedding rehearsal (church). Run through responsibilities with bridesmaids and ushers.
•Final check for all outfits - everyone to try on complete outfit with shoes to make sure everything is perfect.
•Wrap thank you gifts.
DAY BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Drop off decorations, table plan, table decorations at your reception venue.
•Take out cash for any payments to be made on the day and buy a bottle of champagne.
•Have a manicure and pedicure... if you did your honeymoon packing last week you'll even have time for a spa treatment or relaxing stress relieving massage too.
•Give your order of service to your best man/ushers to give to your guests on arrival.
•Check best man has rings, copies of speeches, readings, and any messages to be read out during the speeches.
•Speak to your bridal party - check everyone knows what they need to do, when and where.
•Layout your wedding dress, lingerie, shoes, accessories, make-up, perfume so everything is ready for the morning or to be packed if you are getting ready somewhere else.
•Hang your veil in a warm room (preferably a bath or shower room) and any creases will naturally fall out.
•Do not try and iron or steam your veil.
•Relax and have an early night. You probably won't need it but don't forget to set your alarm.
FINALLY, YOUR BIG DAY HAS ARRIVED
•Eat breakfast (even if you don't fancy it - it's going to be a long day).
•Enjoy your morning being pampered.... with a glass of chilled champagne (which you bought yesterday).
•Put on your beautiful dress, bridal jewellery, favourite perfume, veil and tiara... don't forget something old... new... borrowed and blue.
•Slip into your shoes (which are so comfortable because you have been wearing them around the house for the past month).
•Pick up your bouquet, take a deep breath and smile. Everything is going to be perfect.
•You are ready - wow you look amazing! Your car has arrived, but you still have time for some pre-wedding photos and a glass of bubbly before you leave.
THE DAYS AFTER YOUR WEDDING DAY
•Return your hired suits and collect cards, gifts and flowers from your venue.
•Send your wedding flowers to be preserved.
•Send wedding cake to anyone who couldn't make your wedding.
•Send personalised wedding thank you cards to your family and friends.
•Send testimonials/thank you's to your wedding suppliers.
•Dry clean your wedding dress.
•Order your wedding photos.