The most exciting thing just happened and you are now officially engaged. Congratulations! You’ve announced the happy news to your friends and family, now where do you start with the wedding planning?
As exciting as this period is, the planning process can sometimes feel daunting if you are not sure where to start. I often speak with couples who are at the very early stages of their wedding planning and the same question always pops up; “When is the best time to start…” be it shopping for your bridal wear, booking a venue or sending out Save the Date cards. Wouldn’t it be good if there was a manual for these things?
Well, this is not a manual, but I thought that putting together a little timeline guide might be useful to some of you starting out. Do keep in mind that every couple’s timeline will be different, some of you may have 2 years to leisurely plan, others might need to get the basics arranged for a wedding in 4 months’ time. Whatever your own schedule looks like, you can use this simple guide to help you adapt it to suit you.
The average length of an engagement period is around 12 to 18 months nowadays. If your wedding date is scheduled in 6 months or less, then use the first month of your planning to complete all the tasks listed from 18 to 6 months in the guide below. This will help you stay on track.
The most important thing is to remember to enjoy this phase in your relationship, since you are planning a celebration of your future together and the choices you make for your wedding represent this relationship that combines you both. I would always advise that you stay true to who you are, paying less attention to external influences which may detract from what you really want on your wedding day.
18 to 13 Months to Your Wedding Day
Budget: This may be one of the least fun tasks to start with, but it’s an important one! It will determine what kind of wedding you can have and help you stay focused on what is truly important to you on your wedding day.
At the very early stages, the budget does not have to be so perfect right to the last penny, but having a rough idea of your cut off point is advisable and utilising a method to keep track of these expenditures can help; be it the good old trusty spreadsheet or a wedding app that keeps record for you.
Guest List: Another one that you need to know a rough idea of, but will not need to be 100% pinned down just yet, is your guest list count. This estimate is important for your venue search as you will need to find a suitable location that will hold the number you estimate will be invited. Also, keep in mind your budget and how many it will allow you to host.
Venue: Usually your venue will take the biggest chunk out of your budget, but it will also help you set the theme, along side many other wedding planning aspects that follow, so this task has to be early on in your wedding planning.
Some couples will have a particular venue in mind and will choose their wedding date around that venue’s availability. Others will have a special date decided on and will source a suitable venue that is available on their date.
Optional extras: Wedding insurance, hiring a wedding planner, booking a registrar for civil ceremonies or booking a celebrant to officiate the ceremony.
12 to 9 Months to Your Wedding Day
Theme: Factoring in the venue’s setting and your own styles and interests, what would your theme be? Will it be a grand and formal affair or a will you choose a simpler family & friends focused garden party. There are so many other options in between, so doing your research on what you both enjoy and want to have on your day creates that vibe on the day that allows all your guests to truly celebrate you and your union.
Photographer/ Videographer: The ones that will record your lasting memories of the day. Speak to your venue and ask if they have a list of recommended suppliers. Or you can simply start researching a photographer whose style speaks to you, then contact them to find out if they are available on your day. These professionals can get booked up very quickly which is why I have listed them in the upper part of this guide.
Bridal Wear: Ooh, I may be biased here but this has to be the most fun part of wedding planning (sorry Grooms). Give yourself time to shop for your bridal look, whether you are looking for a traditional style, an alternative one or anything in between, the shopping experience should make you giddy with joy inside.
Surround yourself with an entourage whose opinions truly matter to you because they know you and what style represents you. Enjoy the experience of having your own personal stylist who will gently guide you through all the options and help you find your dream look for your day.
Once you find your style that you say “yes” to, that dress may then take up to 6 months to arrive (every store and every brand is different, some may be ready in as little as 3 months so it is always worth checking with the boutique about their order timelines) then you will need to book a seamstress to ensure alterations are taken care of once the dress arrives. Alterations are sometimes handled in-house; every bridal boutique will have their own services. However, if a boutique does not offer an alteration service, they may be able to recommend a seamstress that they have previously worked with.
Entertainment: There are so many options available for wedding entertainment, be it a musical number for both ceremony and reception (a band, a musician or a DJ), a fun photobooth or outdoor games or magician, making sure your preferred supplier is available on your date early on is essential.
Caterers: Your venue might have that covered already, but if they don’t offer in-house caterers or you prefer not to use them, then now would be a good time to source a suitable caterer. You may want a full sit-down menu or a burger truck, either way, you can find many options available to suit you.
Optional Extras: Will you choose to have an engagement photoshoot? Will you want to create a wedding website or social media page?
9 to 7 Months to Your Wedding Day
Save the Date: At this point you will have had your invitee list confirmed between you both, so sending out save the date cards to all who will eventually receive an invitation is a good task to complete around this time.
Wedding Registry: If you choose to receive wedding gifts, then finding a suitable registry is a good option to do around this stage. Others may create a honeymoon fund account where guests can gift money to go towards the couple’s honeymoon. Again there are a myriad of options available, it’s just a matter of finding out what suits you.
Florist: Meet with florists and see what they can do for you on the day.
Venue Décor: This again may well be taken care of by the venue you book, but if it isn’t sourcing a decorator to arrange the styling for you, or doing it yourself if that is your choice, around now would be the right time to start these tasks.
Optional Extras: Will you need to book guest accommodations? Or arrange special discount with a nearby hotel for your guest who may be travelling from afar?
7 to 5 Months to Your Wedding Day
Groom’s Look: Whether hiring or buying, this is the right time to start shopping.
Bridal Party Outfits: Your Bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls’ outfits etc, more shopping to be arranged.
Bridal Accessories: When collecting your wedding dress, you would usually shop for your bridal accessories at this time, (if you hadn’t already done so) as well as your wedding shoes - you will need these for your alteration fittings
Hair & Make-up: Speak to professionals and arrange trials.
Wedding Cake: Go for tasting and order your cake.
Wedding Rings: Order your bands.
Transport: Book transport for the couple, bridal party and guests as needed.
Honeymoon: Book your honeymoon
5 to 2 Months to Your Wedding Day
Invitations: Send out the Invitations
Presents: Buy gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen. It is also traditional to buy flower bouquets for the mothers of the Bride & Groom.
Wedding Favours: you can either order these or start creating special handmade gifts for your guests.
Wedding Itinerary: Finalise table plans and order of service and have them printed if needed.
Wedding dress Alterations: Now is a good time to get you fitting nicely in your chosen bridal wear.
Hen/Stag Dos: Plan something to do to help you celebrate pre-marriage.
1 Month to the Day Before Your Wedding Day
Checklist: Go through your planner’s checklist or spreadsheet, confirm all details with vendors and ensure all payments have been finalised. Do Musicians have your playlists ready?
Collect RSVPs: it helps to know who will be in attendance.
Party: Go wild at your Hen Party/ Stag Do.
Pack: For your honeymoon if you are leaving soon after the wedding.
The Day Before Your Wedding Day
Relax and treat yourselves to something special.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many other factors that I have not listed here, such as catering for children or pets, vow writing or planning for that first dance, but I hope you find this basic guide helpful and flexible enough to allow you to add/ remove elements that are personal to you.
Remember to enjoy your wedding day and celebrate each other amongst your loved ones.
Much Love, Rasha xx
Rasha Kashou Studio
07460 120 957