When planning your wedding there is so much to consider and arrange, but stay focused and well organised and it will all fall into place in time for your wedding day. Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once and by spreading the organising over several months you will be able to cope admirably with all of the arrangements – and never be afraid to delegate some tasks to trusted family and friends where you feel you need to. It is hard work planning and arranging your wedding day, but with the right planning and organisation you will be a guest at your own wedding, knowing that the time and effort you have invested has created the perfect wedding day for you. Here’s our suggested timetable for planning and arranging your wedding day.
Agree how much the total wedding budget will be between the couple and both families (the days when the bride’s father was expected to pick up the tab for the whole of the wedding costs are long past!). If a relative or friend is offering to pay for a particular wedding item, then this is the time to firm up that commitment. This is one of the most important decisions that must be made before planning the wedding and making bookings with various suppliers.
If you are planning to have a church wedding, then your booking will include the minister to carry out the formal marriage service. If your wedding is to be held at a wedding venue, then you will need to make a provisional booking with the Registrar for the area (this will need to be confirmed three months prior to your wedding date).
Wedding transport comes in several different modes, from a car to a horse – and then some! Many wedding car suppliers have confirmed bookings over twelve months ahead of the wedding date, so make your choices early and make the booking as soon as you have decided on the mode of transport for your wedding day.
Just like the venue and wedding cars, a good wedding photographer will have bookings in their diary for over a year ahead of the wedding dates that they will be attending. Having made your choice of wedding photographer, make your firm booking as early as possible. If you have selected a separate supplier to provide a video of your wedding day, remember to make that separate booking too.
Choose the best man, groomsmen, chief bridesmaid (Maid Of Honour), bridesmaids, flowergirl, pageboy and approach them to ensure they are available for your wedding date – and willing to perform the honour of the duties required.
Most weddings actually have two guest lists. The primary guest list will contain all of those people (mainly immediate family and close friends) you wish to invite to the wedding ceremony and formal reception immediately afterwards. The second guest list will comprise of those who you have invited to the wedding ceremony plus other friends, work colleagues and family acquaintances who you will invite to the evening reception.
It is important to consult both the bride and groom's families when compiling your guest list, to avoid any errors of omission, conflicts or ill-feeling later.
If your wedding ceremony is to be held in church or at a different location from the wedding reception, then you need to book the reception venue as early as possible to ensure your use of it on the wedding day. If you need to book separate wedding caterers for the wedding reception, you should book these as soon as you have a confirmed booking for the wedding reception venue.
Most weddings have at least a DJ for the evening reception. As early as possible, you should decide what entertainment you will have during the evening reception and make a firm booking as early as possible. Many entertainers have commitments and bookings months, sometimes years, ahead and so an early reservation of your choice of entertainer is recommended.
Getting the right location for your honeymoon is as important as getting the right location for your wedding and reception. The honeymoon is as much a part of your wedding celebration as the wedding and reception, so don't leave anything to chance. Decide on your ideal location and make the booking as early as you can to avoid any potential disappointment later – especially if your wedding date falls in the holiday peak season.
If you are considering wedding insurance (and you certainly should) then arrange it as early as possible. The financial outlay for a wedding is enormous, you can cover most eventualities for a modest insurance fee that will cover disruption to your wedding plans right up to your wedding day.
Surf the 'net, get the catalogues and hits the shops! Start to form your opinions of the ideal wedding gown for you. Decide on the best colour, style, size, shape, accessories, etc. This once-in-a-lifetime unique dress is the centrepiece of your wedding day, so the earlier you get started, the better opportunity you have for considering all of the options. If you choose to have a designer dress then you will need a minimum of four months to get the creation of choice.
If the groom and his entourage are to be dressed in formal wear, then this needs to be arranged and booked in good time before the wedding date. It can be difficult to get all of the people who need to be measured and supplied together in one place at the same time - so arrange a mutually convenient date, time and place and gently ‘insist’ that they make the effort! This will include the groom, best man, ushers (possibly also the page boy), and both the father of the groom and the father of the bride.
Choose and order your wedding stationery. The invitations should be printed and ready to send by three months before your wedding date. You may want to consider ordering reply cards, order of service, place cards, etc at the same time – most wedding stationery suppliers will have themed ranges for you to choose from, or will be able to produce bespoke items designed to fit your choice of wedding theme.
One of the memorable and loving tasks in planning your wedding is going along to choose your wedding rings together. The ranges, types, styles and materials for wedding rings are infinite, so it will save you time if you have at least a general idea of your preferences before you go into the jeweller's stores.
If it is appropriate for your wedding (and if you haven’t already done so in your initial discussions with the Registrar) book the register office for the time and date of your wedding.
If your wedding is to be held in a church meet with the minister to discuss the arrangements for your wedding service. This should include the order of service, any readings that will take place and your choice of hymns or music.
Decide on your choice of supplier for your wedding cake and place a firm order (this may be the same supplier as your wedding catering, but still go through this separate process for the cake itself). Check if the reception venue will supply the cake stand and knife for cutting the cake, or if this will be supplied by your caterer, or if the wedding cake supplier will be expected to include these items. You should also ensure that arrangements are made for delivery of the wedding cake to the reception venue.
Contact your chosen florist and make arrangements for your wedding flowers. If you are having a church wedding and there are other wedding planned for the same day, it may be worth speaking to the other couples who are getting married there to arrange to share the costs of a mutually acceptable floral arrangements at the church.
You can assemble your own list of preferred wedding gifts or many couples choose to select items from the range offered by many department stores. These are available on line or can be produced with some assistance in the stores that offer this service. The gift list should be completed ready to include when you send out your invitations.
Select the hotel where you wish to spend your wedding night and make a reservation, ensuring that you tell them that is your wedding night, so they reserve a bridal/honeymoon suite for you.
Check and confirm all of the details for your honeymoon. Ensure that you have (or have applied for) any necessary travel visas for the country you will be visiting. If you need to arrange for vaccinations for your trip, make arrangements for them now, as many vaccinations need to be given a period of time prior to travel. If the bride is intending to change her name, then you should ensure that you have travel documents in the correct married name for your honeymoon, including your passport. A passport application form is available from the Post Office.
As your wedding date approaches, your time will be dedicated to ensuring all the arrangements are in place, leaving little opportunity to organise the requirements for your honeymoon away. So take the opportunity months ahead of your wedding date to shop for clothes and other requirements for your honeymoon.
The invitations for your wedding should be sent out at least six weeks prior to the date, however you will need details of how many guests will be attending the wedding, formal reception and evening reception as soon as possible so that you can arrange seating plans and catering requirements. Three months before the wedding date is a perfectly acceptable time for the invitations to be sent and will give you more time to calculate the numbers attending so that you can make all the arrangements for your guests. It is a good idea to include the gift list with the invitation, location maps of the wedding venue and the reception venue and details of local accommodation.
Choose and order the gifts that the bride and groom will give to their wedding party. These may be a simple ‘thank you’ gift for each, is something chosen especially for each individual or even a gift that has been personalized to commemorate the bride and groom’s wedding. There are many specialist suppliers in the field of wedding ‘thank you’ gifts and a search of the internet is always a good place to start for ideas.
Check that the bride’s wedding dress, shoes and other attire will be ready on time. Check that any formal wear for the groom’s party will be ready for collection from the outfitters on time. (You should arrange for clothes to be ready/delivered a week before the wedding day, so that everything can be checked and rectified if necessary.)
The bride will probably have already arranged for the hairstylist and discussed the chosen hairstyle by this stage. However, it is good to begin the styling process in advance of the wedding day to allow for hair growth and initial styling to prepare the hair ready for the final styling on the wedding day. If the bride is wearing a head-dress, then this should be taken along with her at this stage.
Check that all the transport arrangements are in place. Check and confirm the start times and locations for each journey being undertaken, and don’t forget to calculate the time likely to be taken for each journey. Where vehicles are being used for more than one journey to the wedding venue, ensure that you make allowance for the vehicle to locate from the wedding venue to it’s next collection point. Don’t forget to include your transport from the reception to the hotel at the end of the evening.
Chase up any outstanding invitation replies and total up the number of guests for the wedding and the evening reception. Work out your table plan and advise the caterers. Write out (or have prepared) the place cards for all of your guests.
One of the responsibilities that falls to someone else! The stag night and the hen night should be organised by the best man and the chief bridesmaid …but it will be worth the effort to check with them that they have everything organised!
Check that you have the traveller's cheques and currency that you need for your honeymoon. This is a good time to check that the tickets are on their way, if you haven’t received them already.
Hold the rehearsal for your wedding ceremony with everyone present who will take part in the service. Check that the Order of Service cards are arranged to be at the wedding venue on the wedding day – this is a duty that the best man or one of the ushers should undertake.
Make sure that the wedding dress and formal wear have been delivered and that everyone has tried on their outfit to ensure a good fit and that there are no items missing. Wear in any shoes that are new for the wedding day – this particularly applies to the bride, who will be standing and walking in her new shoes for some considerable time on the day.
The bride should go through a full makeover and hairstyling (including the head-dress if being worn) and check that she is pleased with the results. Remember to have anything that is uncomfortable changed, as this will be recorded and reflected in your wedding pictures.
Make final checks of the honeymoon arrangements. Check tickets, currency, traveller’s cheques, passports. Put all of these in a safe place and make sure they will be at your hotel following the wedding. This is a good time to check and confirm flight times and make sure you have transport from your wedding night hotel to the airport. Pack all the clothes that you will be taking on your honeymoon and arrange for the suitcases to be taken to your hotel on the wedding day.
Your only responsibility on your wedding day is to get married, and enjoy your very special day! Ask friends and family to assist with anything that needs to be done on the wedding day while you concentrate on being a guest at your own wedding.
The wedding presents need to be carefully packed and stored. These may be safely stored at a friend or relative’s house until you return from honeymoon. Arrange for that person to take charge of the transport and storage of your presents after the wedding reception. Wedding cake needs to be sent out to those who have been unable to attend the wedding (mum is a great candidate for this job). The cases for both the bride and groom need to be delivered to your wedding night hotel - and you need to ensure that your passports, tickets and travel currency are there ready for when you leave the following day. After you have changed into your going away clothes, your wedding outfits will need to be collected from the hotel (dad is a great candidate for this job). Any hired items need to be returned to the hirers as soon as possible after the wedding. This duty can be delegated to a willing parent or the best man!
What we have given here is a summary of the different tasks that you will need to do to organise your wedding. This does not reflect the huge amount of time, energy, planning and hard work that will go into making it all happen, in the right order, at the right time, in the right place. If you enjoy organising and you have a logical mind when it comes to planning, then it is worth the effort and, sometimes, frustration. If you're unsure, unwilling or simply don't have the time, then turn to a professional Wedding Organiser and let them take care of the hard work, while you advise them of your wishes.