Organising your wedding is one of the biggest jobs you’ll tackle as a couple. Even with plenty of help, there are many decisions to make if you want your wedding day to be everything you’ve dreamed of.
Here’s a sample twelve-month timeline for planning a wedding so you can see all the most important decisions and jobs that are coming up and approach them confidently.
Your first month is a time for the big decisions that will shape the rest of your preparations. Be honest with each other; it’s the time to share what your dream wedding has always looked like, but also to shape that dream into what’s possible for you now.
Decide whether you want a civil or religious ceremony. This affects the venues you can choose, among other things.
Talk about budget, make sure you have a realistic idea about what you can spend on the wedding and set yourselves some red lines to warn you if costs are getting out of hand.
The first month is also the time to look at venues. Finding a place that feels right for your wedding is the most important job, and the sooner you start, the better.
Month Two is a time to identify some of the people who’ll get booked up most quickly so you can secure their services for your wedding. Once your date is set, it’s time to find DJs or bands, caterers, photographers and videographers.
This is also the time for a more detailed discussion about style and design. You’ll have to make lots of choices about the look of your wedding, and if you’ve thought about it in advance, you can make all those different decisions work together.
For many weddings, the wedding dress is a central part of the experience. By starting ten months out from the wedding, you’ll give yourself the time to find your perfect dress for the big day.
This is also the time to look at invitation designs and a wedding website. Creating a wedding website centralises all the information about the event for your guests. If you’re working with a designer, it’s important to get started on this now. If you’re customising an existing design, this can wait for Month Six.
At this stage, finalise your guest list.
With the wedding venue set, you may also wish to block-book accommodation at a local hotel for the wedding party.
This is the time to make a final decision by saying yes to the dress. While fashion is on your mind, it’s a good time for the groom and the groomsmen to get fitted for their wedding suits and to talk with bridesmaids about fittings for their dresses.
This is also when to send your Save the Date cards. Make sure you know exactly who’s been sent a save-the-date, as everyone needs to receive a wedding invitation.
Whether you’re registering for gifts or coming up with an alternative, like donations for a charity or towards your honeymoon, this is the time to decide.
This is also the latest stage at which you should start meeting with florists and making decisions about flowers for the service and reception.
You’re halfway to your wedding! Look back at what you’ve achieved so far and congratulate yourselves.
This is an important month. If you’re not having a religious service, this is a good point to look into celebrants or officiators. You'll want to confirm musicians, bands and DJs, and any hires necessary for your reception too, like lights, speakers and furniture.
It’s also time to have invitations printed; getting them ready to send is a long process, so begin now.
It’s time to post your invitations! Give your guests a month to RSVP, and either chase up slowcoaches yourselves or delegate that job to someone you trust.
Lots of the most important decisions have been made by now, and it’s a good month to look ahead. If you’re taking a honeymoon directly after the wedding, now is the perfect time to look at your options and make some bookings!
As the wedding gets closer, think about how the wedding party will travel between accommodation and venue. The bride and groom will be travelling separately with their parties.
Work out who needs transport hired for them, who in the party can give lifts, and try to identify one person who can remain free to travel quickly between all locations in case important items are left behind!
This is also an excellent time to look at wedding bands and choose rings that'll remain meaningful to you throughout a long marriage.
This is the time to make final selections about food and wine with your caterer or the venue, talk cheese if you’re ordering a separate cheeseboard and, of course, it’s time to order your cake!
Start thinking about wedding favours. CherryTop Weddings puzzle and game booklets can help your guests break the ice, and you can customise them with questions about your relationship for a perfect personal touch.
Now it’s time to give your notice to marry. You’ll need to give notice at your local registry office at least 29 days, but no more than 12 months, before you marry. This isn’t a job to forget!
You should also compose your vows. This requires real thought if you want to communicate everything you feel in a few short lines. Similarly, think about readings. Your chosen readers need the time to choose passages that really reflect your values, your relationship and the day itself. Start now rather than leaving it for the last minute.
There’s a lot to handle in the last month before your wedding.
Make sure you’ve paid everyone, or you know when payment is due. Having to scramble to find a DJ at short notice because your original choice got their payment lost in the mix is a last-minute job no one wants!
Now is also the time to draw up a seating plan for the reception and start making up bags or boxes of wedding favours. Some wedding favours you’ll want to place at your guests’ table setting - like our activity booklets - so pairing this preparation with your seating plan is a good idea.
You should now have everything in place to relax and enjoy your wedding, so the final and most important item on the checklist – enjoy your special day!