The Ultimate 12 Month Wedding Planning Timeline
Proposal season has almost come to an end for another year. If you’re one of the lucky couples who has recently got engaged, congratulations! It’s now time for the most exciting, romantic and rewarding years of your life. But before that, you need to actually plan your wedding...
If your search history is full of questions like “How to plan a wedding” or “How much will my wedding cost”, you’re certainly not alone. It’s understandably daunting when everything from the wedding venue and vendors to the transportation and guest accommodation needs to be organised, sooner rather than later! Many couples hire a wedding planner to alleviate some of the stress that comes with planning a wedding; if you have a tight budget this may not be an option.
In this blog post, we share the ultimate 12 month wedding planning timeline to make sure you have all bases covered ahead of the big day.
12 Months Away
The first, and arguably most important, step of planning your wedding is choosing your budget. In 2021, the average wedding can cost anywhere between £18,000 to £32,000. However, there are always ways to cut wedding costs without compromising on quality.
Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to start planning a draft guest list. Make sure to include everyone that you would consider inviting, and then gradually slim down the list to fit your budget.
From here, it’s time to choose a wedding theme. Do you want a traditional Catholic wedding? A snowy winter wedding? Or maybe even something more abstract like a foodie-heaven wedding? The opportunities are simply endless, and you can even tie it into the theme of your honeymoon.
Finally, it’s time to put some proper thought into your wedding venue — having a theme in mind can help to make this a bit easier. To begin, we recommend creating a shortlist of three different venues and then plan to visit them all in-person. When you visit, it can help to prepare a list of questions to ask. This will help you to discover useful information such as exactly what is included in the wedding package, whether you have exclusive use of the venue, or whether you can choose the cocktail menu.
11 Months Away
With 11 months to go, it’s time to secure your wedding venue. Once this has been booked and a date has been set for the big day, it’s the perfect time to start looking for your vendors. Make a list of every vendor that you’ll need to hire; this includes photographers, videographers, DJs, live bands, florists and more. From here, create a shortlist of three potential vendors for each, just in case your favourite is unavailable on your chosen day.
This is also a good time to do a post-engagement photoshoot, which is perfect for announcing your engagement on social media. Some photographers even include this as part of their wedding package, which makes it all the more easy. This can also be a good opportunity to see how your photographer works in action, which can be useful in ensuring they’re prepared to capture any in-the-moment photos that you want at your wedding.
10 Months Away
With just ten months to go, now marks the time to start shopping for your wedding dress. It’s likely that you already have an idea of what you want, but we always recommend looking for wedding dress inspiration on Pinterest first. Once you have a style in mind, be it a traditional lace design or a modern co-ord two-piece dress, visit a wedding dress boutique and try some in-person.
You may have already agreed to rent a set number of bedrooms at your wedding venue for guests to stay overnight. If not, now is the perfect time to start booking hotel rooms for your guests. Make sure that any accommodation is fairly close to the venue so that guests don’t need to travel far on the big day.
Finally, why not start planning your formal wedding invitations? Again, Pinterest can be a great source for inspiration. It’s also a good time to send out your Save The Dates to ensure that guests make a note of your big day in their calendar. If you’re looking to cut costs, you can find some beautiful printable wedding invitations on Etsy — simply download, personalise and print.
9 Months Away
With 9 months to go, we recommend buying your wedding dress. That’s right, it’s time to say yes to the dress! To make your big decision, revisit the boutique and try on your favourite dresses again. If you’re still unsure about which dress to buy, it’s time to think like a bridal consultant.
How do you feel in the dress? It may look stunning but if it doesn’t feel like you and reflect your personality, you may feel uncomfortable on your big day. Also, while the opinion of your family, friends and bridesmaids are important, when it comes to the final decision, it’s your opinion that matters the most!
8 Months Away
Now that your wedding dress is sorted, it’s time to start choosing the dresses for your bridesmaids. Pinterest can be another really useful source of inspiration here; however, it could also be worth calling the boutique that you bought your wedding dress from to see if they have any offers on bridesmaid gowns. Don’t forget to book fittings to ensure the dresses fit properly!
Next, it’s a good opportunity to set up your wedding registry. This acts as a wishlist of gifts that guests can buy to help get your marriage off to a smooth start. For example, if you and your partner will be moving in together after the wedding, it could be useful to ask for essential household goods such as a washing machine or an oven. Alternatively, if you already live together, you could consider a honeymoon gift list. This could be contributing to your honeymoon fund itself or items like luxury baggage and pamper sets for when you arrive.
7 Months Away
Almost at the halfway mark, now is the perfect time to book a venue for your rehearsal dinner. Not all couples choose to do this, but it’s a great way to help everyone involved feel more comfortable and less anxious about the big day.
It’s also a good time to start ordering your rental items for the wedding, such as furniture, table linen, a stage/dance floor, red carpet, and so on. Many venues will include some, if not all, of these items — at an additional cost — so it’s always worth confirming this with your venue first.
If you’re not getting married in a church, then you’ll need the ceremony to be conducted by someone authorised to register marriages, usually referred to as an “officiant”. With seven months to go, this is the perfect opportunity to start checking the availability of potential officiants.
6 Months Away
With six months to go until the big day, it’s natural to feel slightly overwhelmed by everything that’s still left to do. But if you’ve made it this far, then you’re well on track to having your dream wedding!
In order to brighten the mood a bit, this can be a great opportunity to start planning your honeymoon. Will you just be visiting one destination or going on a mini world-tour? Will you be jetting off for a few days or weeks on-end? Will there be a theme to your honeymoon? The options are simply endless!
Next, it’s time to start booking transportation for your wedding day — for you, your partner, and guests. This is even more important if your ceremony and reception are at different venues, or if there will be a lot of travel on your big day.
5 Months Away
Now is the ideal time to start shopping for the groom’s tuxedo or suit. Firstly, decide whether you’ll be hiring or buying and then once again, we recommend using Pinterest as a source of inspiration. Once you have an idea of the style you’re after, whether a suave tuxedo or a more laid back three-piece suit, it’s time to visit a suit specialist. As the biggest day of your life, it’s also important to decide whether you’ll have a personal tailor service to ensure that your suit fits perfectly.
Next, it’s time to choose your wedding cake. Gone are the days where all wedding cakes feature multiple layers, white icing and figurines of the lucky couple. Popular ideas in recent years include naked wedding cakes, marble wedding cakes and even floral-style cakes, with flavours from carrot cake and red velvet to salted caramel and lemon.
Finally, why not use the rest of the month to finalise your honeymoon plans? When booking, make sure to use your credit card where possible. This will allow you to take full advantage of any rewards points that you may receive and provide you with additional protections.
4 Months Away
The big day is getting close now! With four months to go, this is a great time to have a hair and make-up trial. Not only will you look amazing all day, but this is often the moment when everything starts to feel very real, so it’s a good idea to have a trial run. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid posting your hair and make-up on social media as it will ruin the surprise on the big day!
Next, we’d recommend buying your wedding bands, if you haven’t already. This is also a good opportunity to buy any other jewellery and accessories that you and your partner may need for the big day, such as bracelets, necklaces and watches. To make this day even more special, why not even make a day out of it with a trip to Hatton Garden? You can shop in one of the world’s most renowned jewellery districts and enjoy some time exploring London.
3 Months Away
With three months left until the big day, it’s the perfect moment to start writing your vows. This will ensure that you’re fully prepared and have plenty of time to tweak the final wording.
Next, you’ll need to select a final menu with your caterer. Menu options are usually included in wedding invitations, so it’s crucial to get this agreed before you send out your RSVPs.
Finally, this is a good time to start planning the gift bags for your guests. This could include anything from essentials for the big day — such as mist spray, bottled water and deodorant for summer weddings; or hand warmers, hats and sparklers for winter weddings — to personalised keepsakes. This can also be a good opportunity to buy gifts for your bridesmaids. Again, this could be something they can use on your wedding day, such as a beautiful pair of earrings.
2 Months Away
With just two months to go, it’s time to send out your invitations if you haven’t already. Wedding invites are traditionally sent six weeks before your wedding, but depending on how much notice you want to provide, you can do this up to six months before your big day. When sending your invite, make sure to include details of anything that needs to be included in their RSVP, such as menu options, accommodation options, allergy information and so on.
If you haven’t already, you should also start preparing your wedding playlist. Make sure to pay special attention to the songs that are played at key moments such as walking down the aisle, the father-and-daughter dance and the first dance of the newly-married couple!
Around the 6-8 weeks mark, we’d also recommend having another dress fitting, to give the boutique enough time to make any necessary alterations. This could also be a good time to declare your marriage to the Register Office, which legally needs to be done at least 28 days before the date of your wedding.
1 Month Away
With just one month to go, now’s the time for the final preparations! With most, if not all, RSVPs received, it’s a good time to start planning the seating arrangements for your ceremony and wedding breakfast. If you still have anyone yet to RSVP, now is also the ideal time to chase them for a reply!
Next, make sure that all necessary vendors have been paid in full. The last thing you want is an unhappy vendor asking to be paid on your wedding day.
With a few weeks left, it’s time to organise the final wedding preparations. This includes another dress fitting to ensure that any necessary adjustments can be made before the big day, practising your vows, getting a manicure/pedicure, refreshing your hair, and having another make-up practice run.
Finally, we recommend assigning your bridesmaids, best man and parents a to-do-list for the big day to make sure everything runs smoothly. This will take all of the stress off you and your partner, ensuring that you can celebrate the most important day of your lives properly!
For more articles like this, why not check out the Hatton Jewellers blog?