Countdown to the big day – your wedding planning checklist

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Everyone knows that a lot of planning goes into a wedding – but just how much can come as a shock when you embark on this exciting journey yourself.  If you are the kind of person who makes endless mental lists, or is constantly jotting random notes on scraps of paper, then this post is provided specially for you. 

It’s a simple step-by-step timeline and plan to prevent any major memory lapses or last minute panics.  We’ve based it on a twelve month schedule but your timescale may be different – having said that, whether you have two years to go or only a few months, we’re sure you’ll find it useful!

As soon as you get engaged

  • Celebrate with an engagement party

  • Share your thought with your partner about the ideal wedding you have in mind.  They may have completely different ideas so you need to get this clear right from the start.

  • Work out a budget that you can realistically afford

  • Start writing a guest list so you have a rough sense of numbers

  • Pick a few possible wedding dates and check with the must-attend guests to avoid any problems

  • Start researching potential ceremony and wedding reception venues – draw up a shortlist

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12 months before the big day

·         Visit the shortlisted ceremony and reception venues and make a booking

·         Start researching potential services and suppliers – dress, photographer, cake, florist, invitations, decor, music, hair, makeup…

·         Send Save the Date cards – especially important if you're getting hitched abroad or at a very busy time of year

·         Decide if you need wedding insurance and review options

·         Choose what entertainment you want for ceremony, drinks reception and dancing

·         Book photographer, videographer, or both

·         Work out the style of décor you’d like for the ceremony and reception venues

·         Consider whether you need to hire a wedding planner or venue stylist

·         Start your wedding dress research

·         Line up your bridesmaids and groomsmen

·         Get helpers or talented friends of family organised and delegate tasks such as the cake, flowers, dresses…

·         Start thinking about the honeymoon you’d like

8-10 months to go

·         Book your band and/or DJ for reception

·         Order your wedding cake

·         Research accommodation options for your guests and start to make bookings

·         If you need to rent anything for ceremony/reception, such as chairs, tables, or a marquee, bookings should be sorted at this stage

·         Book flights and accommodation for honeymoon

6-8 months – it’s getting nearer

·         Place order for your wedding dress – some boutique suppliers may charge a 'rush order' fee if you don’t do this now

·         Book musicians for ceremony

·         Check passports don’t need renewing for honeymoon

·         Start planning activities and excursions for your honeymoon

·         Check that best man and bridesmaids are progressing planning for hen and stag parties

4-6 months and counting

·         Choose bridesmaids’ dresses, rent men’s suits, shop for groom’s outfit

·         Order wedding invitations & stationery

·         Discuss your ideas with florist

·         Get the legalities sorted – you need at least 3 months’ notice to registrar or religious celebrant

·         Decide on prayers, readings and music for ceremony booklets

·         Check whether you need vaccinations, visas or other travel formalities

·         Organise transport for wedding day

·         Start gathering guest list addresses and create a spreadsheet to track RSVPs

·         Organise a hair trial and book hairdresser.  Do the same for makeup

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2-3 Months – not long now

·         Choose and order wedding rings

·         Send invitations

·         Attend dress fitting sessions

·         Organise gifts for parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen and each other

·         Buy shoes, accessories, hair vines, veil, bow ties etc

·         Sort outfits for flower girls or page boys

·         Attend menu tasting with your venue or caterer

4 Weeks – woohoo!

·         Review your RSVP list and chase up any guests who have not yet responded

·         Final dress fitting

·         Finish order of service details a give printer the go ahead

·         Confirm any last minute details with suppliers

·         Complete any wedding DIY or craft projects


2 Weeks….

·         Provide your photographer and videographer with must-have list of shots required.  Include a lists of who should be in each formal portraits and group shots and determine when portraits will be taken

·         Confirm final guest numbers with your venue and caterer

·         Create your table plan

Photo by  Thomas AE  on  Unsplash

Photo by Thomas AE on Unsplash

1 Week countdown

·         Call all wedding suppliers to make final confirmation of arrangements, including a timetable for day

·         Provide your venue wedding coordinator with a list of supplier requests – for instance, that tables does the DJ require and what space the florist needs for set up. 

·         Print off your place setting cards

·         Give ceremony and reception site managers a schedule of when suppliers, musicians etc will arrive, what set up times they need plus their contact numbers.

·         Go for your final manicure, massage, waxing

·         Do full wedding dress rehearsal, including everything from your underwear to your veil

·         Pack an overnight bag for the reception and pack for the honeymoon (assuming you are taking this straight away)

2-3 days

·         Groom collects his outfit and asks the best man to make sure all groomsmen attend fittings and pick up their outfits

·         Make any last minute table plan changes

·         Contact wedding car company to confirm pick-up times

·         Final check with all suppliers and discuss any last-minute issues

·         Print off the running order for the day, and the main suppliers' contact details, then give copies to your best man and maid of honour

The day before

·         See reception co-ordinator and give them place cards, table cards, menus, favours, table plan and anything else they need

·         Sort out payment (write cheques/organise cash) for any final balances to be paid at the end of the reception.

·         Final check on the cake to make sure it’ll be delivered to reception venue on time (and make sure you delegate responsibility to someone else to be ready for its arrival)

·         Rehearse ceremony with everyone who will be involved in the proceedings to make sure everyone know what is going to happen when

·         Get an early night!

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The wedding day!

·         Give wedding rings to the Best Man (and tell him not to lose them!)

·         If necessary give Best Man the officiant's fee envelope, to be handed over after the ceremony

·         Pass the gifts for your parents to the Best Man/Chief Bridesmaid for presenting after the speeches

·         Make sure flowers are delivered to where the bride is getting ready - buttonholes may need to be brought to the guys

·         Introduce your reception coordinator to your wedding planner (if you're having one), or Chief Bridesmaid/Best Man in case there are any questions or problems during the reception.

·         Assign a family member or attendant to be the photographer's contact so they knows who is who.


·         Prearrange one or two people to take care of returning any rented items – this includes taking the wedding dress and suit for cleaning or return

·         Write and send thank-you notes to – be sure to include all those who gave gifts guests and don’t forget vendors who were especially helpful.

·         Be sure to collect your marriage certificate

·         Live happily ever after!

Photo by  Ben Rosett  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash


Final word

This list is a good reminder of how much is involved in tying the knot.  Choose Clevedon Hall as your venue and our expert team will be here to provide advice, help and support at every stage.

Jim O'ConnorComment