The Ultimate Wedding Checklist – What Should You Be Doing When
Keep on track with your wedding planning
I’m Gemma, co-founder of The Wedding of my Dreams and Passion for Flowers and have recently got married myself. Although I have worked in the wedding industry for over 7 years I couldn’t believe quite how much goes into planning a wedding of your own and found it quite stressful and times so I want to make it was easy as possible for all of you and have written some guides which I think might help.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, you will no doubt want everything to be just perfect but if something turns out not quite as you have planned odds are your guests will never even notice as they did not know the original plan.
So here is my ultimate wedding checklist – what you should be doing when, especially helpful if you are wondering where to start.
There is an excel version too so you can tick things off as you go.
Soon After Engagement
- Sit down together and talk about your ideal wedding, do you imagine having it at home or abroad, number of guests, type of venue, desired season etc, this is a good start and makes sure you are both on the same page.
- Draw up a budget
- Start writing down your guest list to get an idea of numbers – some venues will only cater for certain number of guests, so it is good to have an idea from the start before looking at venues
- Start researching potential wedding venues and ceremony locations online and draw up a short list
- Pop the question to your bridesmaids and groomsmen
12 – 18 Months Before The Wedding
- As early as possible try to make a decision about the style of your day, this will impact on the suppliers and venue you choose so it is good to have a clear vision from the start. Are you thinking rustic, elegant, timeless, quirky, industrial.
- Visit and book your reception venue and ceremony location
- Research potential wedding suppliers:
- Photographer / Videographer – book early as good ones get booked up well in advance and they can only do one wedding per day
- Florist – again book early as good ones get booked up well in advance and they will limit the number of bookings that can take per day. If you are doing your own flowers why not book yourself on a course, we would always suggest leaving your bouquet and button holes to an expert as these have to be made last minute
- Stationery – if you want matching Save The Dates to the rest of your stationery you will need to make a decision on this early on, you can choose to go completely bespoke there are some very talented stationery companys who also have lovely designs to choose from, you could use a printable stationery suite which you add your details to and print yourself, or perhaps you are talented in this area and want to make these yourself.
- Wedding cake – what sort of design do you want, choose a cake maker whose style reflects your ideas rather than taking them someone else designs to copy
- Hair and make up
- Music – decide what type of entertainment you want for ceremony, drinks reception and dancing
- Research and consider options for your venue and ceremony decor – are you buying bits yourself and asking bridesmaids and family to help set them out at the venue, will you get a company involved to style and set out everything. Often florists have a large number of props so it is with checking with your florist before getting another supplier involved.
- Caterers – if required
- Start your wedding dress research, what style do you like, book yourself into bridal shops to start trying some on. Some dresses can take over 6 months to arrive in store and then need to be altered so it is good to get this sorted early on during the planning.
- If you need to rent anything for ceremony/reception, such as chairs, tables, and tent, contact suppliers.
- Gathering addresses for guest list – create a spreadsheet for RSVPs, menu choices etc
- Send Save the Date cards – very important if you’re getting married abroad, or during a very busy time of year
- Consider and review wedding insurance options
8/12 months before
- Book your music for ceremony and reception
- Research and reserve accommodation for guests
- Book Honeymoon
- Order wedding cake
- Book Groomsmen’s Suits
- Book registrar or priest/religious celebrant
- Book wedding car if you are having one
- Decide on your wedding décor and where you will be ordering from:
- (confetti, pew ends / aisle decorations, ring cushion, ceremony signs, ceremony backdrop / arch, centrepieces, candle holders for tables, table runners / linen, name cards, name card holders, table numbers, napkin decoration, chair decorations, table games/ice breakers, wedding favours, children’s activity packs, table plan, guest book, cards table décor, cake table décor, signage for around the venue, candle holders / lanterns for around the venue, hanging decorations or string lighting for around the venue, outdoor decorations, outdoor games (summer weddings), selfie station decoration / props)
6/8 months before
- Ensure passports are in date for honeymoon – order new ones if necessary
- Start planning honeymoon
- Choose your wedding rings
4-6 months before
- Choose bridesmaids’ dresses and think about shoe options for them
- Choose and order wedding invitations
- Attend pre-marriage counselling, if required (for catholic ceremonies)
- Meet with florist to discuss options
- Shop for groom’s suit
- Organise the legalities — give at least 3 months notice to registrar or priest/religious celebrant
- Decide on prayers, readings and music for order of service — check with your priest / registrar
- Arrange travel vaccinations if necessary
- Organise transport for bridal party and guests if necessary
2-3 months before
- Send invitations to guests
- Rent / buy groomsmen outfits
- Attend dress fittings
- Organise gifts for parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen and each other
- Organise hair trial
- Organise makeup trial
4 weeks before
- Final wedding dress fitting
- Make any last-minute adjustments with suppliers
- Organise welcome baskets for out of town guests, leave these in their rooms
2 weeks before
- Review final RSVP list and call any guests who have not yet responded
- Pass on numbers to suppliers who need to know – venue / caterers / does florist know correct number of tables for centrepieces etc
- Have final discussion with photographer / videographer about when are where you will do your photos and which family members are to be in family photos
- Create your table plan
- Print placecards
1 week before
- Supply wedding coordinator with a list of supplier requests such as a table for DJ or setup space needed by florist.
- Call all wedding suppliers to confirm arrangements, create timetable for day
- Give ceremony and reception site managers a schedule of vendor delivery and setup times, plus contact numbers.
- Get manicure, massage, waxing & all your preening and prep
- Do full wedding dress rehearsal from underwear to veil
- Pack an overnight bag for the reception
- Pack for the honeymoon
- Organise money to be paid to suppliers on the day
2-3 days before
- Groom: Go for final fitting and pick up your formalwear.
- Groom: Ask the best man to make sure all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits.
- Confirm pick-up times with wedding car company
- Reconfirm final details with all vendors. Discuss any necessary last-minute substitutions.
- Drop off reception and ceremony décor at the venue if possible. If someone else is setting these out for you give them detailed instructions: place cards, table numbers, menus, favours, table plan, centrepieces, signage etc
- Provide all wedding professionals with an emergency phone number to call on the day of the wedding. Parents / Best Man.
- Ensure the cake is on track to be delivered to reception venue
- Rehearse ceremony with full wedding party ceremony readers your officiant at the ceremony site to rehearse and iron out details.
- Get a good night’s rest
The Wedding Day!
- Ensure the gifts to be given out during the speeches are in the reception room.
- Give wedding bands to the best man to hold during the ceremony
- Give best man the officiant’s fee envelope, to be given after the ceremony
- Introduce your reception coordinator to your wedding planner (if you’re having one), or bridesmaid/bestman for questions or problems during the reception.
After the Wedding
- Prearrange for someone to return any rentals if necessary.
- Pre plan for attendants to take the bride’s gown for cleaning and return the groom’s tux to the rental shop.
- Write and send thank-you notes to gift-bearing guests and vendors who were especially helpful.