Welcome to my wedding checklist blog post part 1 of 3! Planning a wedding checklist is an important part of preparing for your big day, so I’ve broken it down into monthly to-dos so you know exactly what needs to be done when. Firstly, don’t panic! If you’re finding this post 6 months from your wedding date and haven’t started yet, you can use this as a guide to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
This first blog will focus on the 9-12 months leading up to your wedding day.
12 months to go
Determine your wedding budget
If you haven’t already, now is the time to confirm how much money you have and want to spend on your wedding. You can also include how much you’ll save within the next year too but be honest with yourself, will any family contribute towards anything such as flowers, cars or catering too?
Once you have your total, you’ll need to allocate amounts to different parts of your wedding to calculate a true idea of what you’re spending where. I love a spreadsheet and strongly recommend creating one to start managing your budget.
Decide who you want to invite
Your budget and wedding guest list go hand in hand, and if you’re looking at a bigger wedding that’ll need space for more people, it will typically cost more. When it comes to your guests, remember you’ll be paying for their arrival drinks, wedding breakfast, toast and food for the evening, along with any other treats or wedding favours you might add throughout the day. And remember this is your day, choose who you want to invite, not who you feel you have to.
Think about your wedding theme
Would you love a winter wonderland or maybe a bohemian dream? Is a stylish city location essential or a romantic, natural setting more your style? (I love both by the way!). Make a list of your top priorities, whether it’s good food, incredible music or an abundance of flowers to ensure you create a look and feel that reflects you.
If you’re not sure what you want, start by creating a Pinterest board to find some inspiration and create some mood boards.
Why not hire a wedding planner?
You may or may not want a wedding planner but if you do...Hi! I recommend getting us involved early as we can advise on venues, suppliers and best prices. You’ll save yourself endless amounts of time and stress over the next 12 months – just think of us as your wedding bestie, we’ll always have your back.
Find your wedding venue
A quick and easy way to organise your prospective wedding destinations is to (yup, you guessed it) create a spreadsheet. Not only can you use this to log costs, you can record what each venue includes and tick off which ones meet your needs.
If you can, arrange to visit the venue and meet the manager or wedding coordinator to get all your questions answered. My blog on what to ask your wedding venue will help you here. Make sure you visit a few locations too for comparison and well, just for fun – how often do you get to do this?
If you are wanting a Church ceremony then do look into these at the same time, you want to be sure the available dates and locations all coincide!
Book in your wedding caterer
If they don’t come automatically with your venue, start looking at catering early on. It’s such a large portion of your budget that it needs to be locked in sooner rather than later. Once this is secure, you’ll have a better idea of your remaining budget. You can decide the actual menu closer to the day.
Choose your bridal party
Time to call your tribe — maid of honour, bridesmaids, best men, ushers, flower girls and page boys assemble! Pick whoever and however many you want (within your budget) and choose wisely; your tribe can help you with wedding planning, prepping and support in the build up to the big day. Choosing them now will also give them plenty of time to organise epic hen or stag parties for you.
11 months to go
Snap up your wedding photographer
Most wedding photographers and videographers work alone or in small teams and get booked up quickly. In order to get your first choice, I’d look into this as soon as possible. Look at photographers’ websites and Instagram to get a feel for their work and make a list of your favourites. Reach out to them to check they fit within your budget and available for your date, then book them in. Once it’s done, it’s done and you won’t need to think about it again until nearer the time.
Fill the dance floor
You can have a lot of fun choosing your evening entertainment — discovering new bands, revisiting favourite songs or creating wedding playlists. Whatever you choose, finalise your decision over the next month. Popular bands, especially local ones, get snapped up quick and peak summer wedding dates are like gold dust! Whether it’s a band, singer or DJ ask if they have set up times too; if dinner rolls straight into dancing, they may need to set up and do sound checks before your guests arrive.
10 months to go
Send your save the dates
You’ve already picked your overall theme, so you have a starting point when it comes to your wedding stationery. It’s traditional for your save the dates and invites to coincide with your style, colour theme and set the tone for the day! You won’t have all the final details for your full wedding invitation yet, but sending save the dates is a great way to let people know they’re invited and for them to get the date secure in their diaries.
Start shopping for your wedding dress
Don’t worry if you haven’t already but now is definitely the time to start looking. Book in with a couple of boutiques and don’t be afraid to try on different styles, you never know what you might fall in love with. Bring your trusted advisors too – mum, sister, friends, anyone who will be honest with you and make the day extra special. Once you say “yes to the dress”, check with the boutique timelines for fittings and next steps.
Stop and smell the (florist’s) roses
Wedding flowers come down to your budget, the time of year you’re getting married and your wedding theme as each of these will influence what kind of florals you can have. For example, roses stand out against a frosty winter setting, whereas tulips really pop in spring. Start by looking for florists that match your style and set up a few calls or visits. Remember to consider bouquets and button holes too, as well as flowers for your venue and table decorations.
Book in your beauty sleep
Not all venues come with accommodation so make sure you secure local hotels, Airbnbs or bed and breakfasts nearby. Book yourself and the bridal party in for the night before and night of the wedding (it’ll be easier and more enjoyable if you’re all together), but you could also reserve rooms for your guests. Share details and let them make the final arrangements.
9 months to go
Let’s talk wedding hair and makeup
It might be easier to choose your wedding hairstyle once you’ve found your dress as its style and neckline will influence what hairstyle you go for. But you can still take the time to research local wedding hairdressers and wedding makeup artists. If you’re lucky, you might find someone who can do both. Make a few calls to get an idea of costs, including potential travel costs, and their availability, then book in your trial – any excuse for a bit of pampering!
Time for bridesmaid dress shopping
You may have done this whilst looking for your own dress but if not, now is the time to start. Similarly with your hair and makeup, once you’ve chosen your own dress you’ll have a better idea of what style of bridesmaid dress will complement yours. There are so many options when it comes to bridesmaid dresses – colour, length, style, neckline – and your tribe don’t have to wear exactly the same. Take another look at Pinterest for some ideas and shop around. My fav suggestions are Ghost, Pretty Lavish Bridal and Two Birds.
Have you thought about extra hire items?
If you have a particular look in mind you might want to include additional features such as stylish sofas, decorative tableware, lawn games and other fun accessories that’ll really make the day uniquely yours. If there’s something quite specific that you want, I would recommend getting this booked in early, especially if you’re having a summer wedding in peak season.
That's enough to get you started! Check back soon for wedding checklist number 2, which will guide you through 8- 5 months of the planning process. If you are keen to hire a planner I would love to hear from you.
Photo credits: Ellie Mac Photography and Ferri Photography