You’re engaged! Congratulations! Once you’ve had time to show your ring off to just about everyone (yes, everyone at your local Tesco needs to see it too) and you’ve spread the word about your upcoming nuptials, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of wedding planning.
You’re likely feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness as you embark on planning the biggest day of your life, and we totally get it. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably spent years dreaming of your perfect day and maybe even taken a sneaky peek at a wedding dress or flower arrangement or two in preparation for this moment. Now it’s finally time to plan your big day, it may feel like the pressure is on.
But don’t panic! We’ve put together the ultimate wedding planning checklist, so you’re totally clued up on where to start and who to contact. We’ll also point you in the direction of the articles and resources that will help you on your way to a brilliant big day.
From agreeing a budget and setting a date to choosing bridesmaids, booking a florist and picking up your gown, we’ll take you through each step and make sure you’re ahead of the game and don’t miss a thing.
We’ve also put together a two-page wedding planning checklist that you can print off and keep on hand to make sure you’re on track – you’re very welcome!
For now, grab a cuppa and sit down to read our essential planning guide and get ready to start your journey to the perfect wedding day!
Don’t let planning a wedding stress you out – download our wedding planning checklist and tick it off as you go, we promise you’ll find wedding planning way more easy than you imagined. Why not even trying planning an engagement party as a practise run?
Print our wedding planning checklist
Print our wedding planning checklist
18 Months to Go
Agree on a budget
Be sensible when it comes to your wedding budget – only spend what you can afford. You can have an amazing wedding whatever your budget – trust us. We have a guide on how to have a wedding for £3k, how to have a wedding for £5k and how to have a wedding for £10k to help you out.
Draft a rough guest list
Planning your guest list can be a bit stressful, but you can keep drama to a minimum and figure out what size venue you need and how much money you can allocate per head by doing a rough draft of your guest list before searching for venues.
A handy tip is to break your guest list down into two categories – people you absolutely have to have there and people who you’d like to have but they aren’t essential (as harsh as it sounds). Just make sure you destroy the draft when you’re done with it…
Decide whether you want a civil or religious wedding ceremony
Will you be having a religious wedding ceremony or getting married in a civil wedding ceremony? This can shape your choice of venue – you could go for a wedding venue with a church nearby, a venue with a chapel onsite or a venue that is licensed to hold a civil ceremony.
View and book your venue
Start looking for your wedding venue when you have an idea of how much you have to spend, how many guests you want and what kind of ceremony you’ll be having. Make sure you have a list of important questions to ask your wedding venue so there are no surprises later on.
Book your church and registrar
If you’ve decided on a church wedding you’ll need to book the church, and if you’re having a civil ceremony you’ll need to book the registrar. Make sure they’re available on the same day you have your venue booked for!
Check out our list of questions to ask your registrar so that you’re absolutely clear on everything.
Finalise your guest list
This is the tricky bit – find out how many guests you can have at your wedding and officially make your guest list. Try to avoid getting caught up in family politics…
Invest in wedding insurance
Don’t scrimp on wedding insurance – if something goes wrong in the run up to your big day, it helps to have peace of mind that your money and wedding are protected.
Book your wedding photographer and videographer
Popular wedding photographers and videographers book up quickly. Make sure you book the wedding photographer you love as soon as you know your wedding date so you’re not disappointed.
12 Months to Go
Choose your bridesmaids, best man and ushers
It’s really tempting to jump in and pick your best man and bridesmaids as soon as the ring is on your finger, but wait until you have an idea of budget before you ask ‘will you be my bridesmaid’ – it can be costly and you want to make sure you have your very best friends who will actually be able to help you plan – no one wants to deal with a bad bridesmaid who they asked in haste.
Read our guide on how to pick your bridal party for a helping hand along the way.
Send out your save the dates
Make sure your guests keep your wedding day free so no one misses out and you can have all your nearest and dearest with you on the day. Browse our edit of the best save the date magnets for some cool ideas.
Book wedding transport if you need it
If you’re not hosting your day all in one place, or you have been dreaming of rocking up in an amazing wedding car, now’s the time to book it.
Book your wedding entertainment
The best bands and DJs will be booked up a year or two in advance so make sure your party doesn’t suffer by getting in there early to book your wedding entertainment.
Book your wedding caterers
Most venues have in-house catering, but some require you to source your own. This is also an option if you want a specific type of food at your wedding – just make sure your venue is okay with you doing that. Discuss the menu options with the caterers before you book to make sure they’ll serve up food you like.
Start wedding dress shopping
Let the fun begin! Assemble your closest friends and family members and head to the bridal boutiques and start trying on gowns. Be open minded to lots of different styles and research lots of wedding dresses online and in magazines beforehand – you never know what you might fall for. Give yourself plenty of time when it comes to dress shopping – this will allow you to take your time making the decision and allow for any alterations that might be needed.
Start bridesmaid dress shopping
When you know what style of wedding dress you’re having, you can start shopping for bridesmaid dresses to complement it. Will you adopt the mismatched bridesmaid dress trend or go for coordinating gowns in one colour?
Our guide to choosing your bridesmaid dresses is about to come in very handy!
Book your hair and makeup artist
Start browsing hair and makeup artists to make sure the one you like the most is free for you to book for your big day. When booking your hair and makeup artist for your wedding, find out if a trial is included so you can test-drive the look you want before the big day to make sure it suits you.
Nine Months to Go
Book your wedding florist
It’s time to start thinking about your wedding florist! Make sure you ask your wedding florist all the important questions, such as who will set up on the day and what flowers are in season for your wedding – otherwise you may end up paying extra for out-of-season blooms.
Book your wedding cake maker
Picking your wedding cake is a really fun part of planning a wedding. Book your wedding cake maker about nine months in advance so you have time to share ideas and go on an all-important cake flavour tasting.
Order your wedding dress, if you haven’t already
Make sure that wedding dress is officially ordered now – it’s decision time! This will leave you plenty of time for any tweaks and alterations that might need doing.
Buy your accessories, such as shoes, veil and underwear
Once the dress is officially yours, it’s time to accessorise it! When you know what style of bridal gown you’re going for you can browse accessories to suit it and buy the right kind of underwear to go underneath it – your bridalwear shop should be able to help you with this.
Sort out your wedding favours
Whether you’re looking for cheap and cheerful wedding favours for under £1 or you want to get creative with DIY wedding favours, now’s the time to start thinking about them. Unless you plan on baking biscuits – do that a bit nearer the time, thanks.
Six Months to Go
Start shopping for groomswear
Once you’ve got the dresses sorted for the bride and bridesmaids, it’s time to start thinking about the groomswear. Will you buy off-the-peg, commission a tailored suit or hire an outfit? And will the groom be trusted to go it alone or will you need to accompany him?
Book your honeymoon
Exciting! Whether you want a romantic mini-moon in the UK or a luxury stay taking in one of the world’s best honeymoon suites, now’s the time to book it. Will you follow tradition and leave it all in the groom’s hands?
Buy your wedding rings
Choosing your wedding rings is a fun and romantic shopping trip to undertake together. You’ll need to make sure you love them as you’ll be wearing them forever. Browse our edit of the best classic wedding rings to get you started.
Sort out your wedding night accommodation if you need to
Lots of wedding venues will have accommodation for you and potentially for your guests too, but if you’re marrying at a venue without accommodation, make sure you’ve sorted out somewhere to stay on the night – browse our selection of the best bridal suites to inspire you.
Discuss the order of service with the vicar or registrar
Start thinking about what’s going to happen in the ceremony and what time it will start – knowing your order of service will help everything to run smoothly on the day.
Choose the readings, hymns, songs or poems you want at your ceremony
Personalise your wedding ceremony by choosing some poems and readings to be performed. If you’re having a religious ceremony, you’ll need to choose your hymns, and if it’s a civil ceremony bear in mind your music and reading choices can have no religious references. We’ve got some lovely wedding readings from literature to inspire you.
If you’re writing your own vows, start now
It might feel like ages away but time will fly and writing your own wedding vows might be more challenging than you think, so leave yourself plenty of time so it’s not a rush job.
Set up your wedding gift list
Choose what kind of wedding gift list you want and where you want to host it, and then start setting it up. Put in a range of products so there’s something for all budgets if you’re going for a traditional store based one.
Three Months to Go
Send out your wedding invitations
Follow up your save the dates with your wedding invitations – three months away from your wedding is a good time to send them as people will have the date fresh in their minds.
We’ve got a guide on how to send your wedding invites to guide you through the process.
Have wedding dress fittings
With three months to go, it’s time to make sure your dress fits perfectly!
Have a hair and makeup trial
Explore options and discover what suits you by going for a trial with your hair and makeup artist – if you can, arrange it so it coincides with a night out or your hen do so you’re suitably glammed up and you can really put your makeup to the test.
Go on your hen and stag dos
There was a point when the stag and hen dos took place just before the wedding. Now it’s wise to get your celebrating in a few months before – this allows more time to focus on the last minute details ahead of the big day and gives any bruises/shaved off eyebrows/embarrassing anecdotes time to disappear.
Break in your wedding shoes
Your heart might say ‘save the shoes for the big day’ but you know your head says break them in. Wear them around the house as much as you can, or under your desk so they’ll be comfy for the big day.
Start writing the speeches
If you’re giving a speech or know someone who is, now’s the time to nudge them. Speeches take time to perfect and the more you can practise them the better they’ll be.
Buy thank you gifts for key members of the bridal party
Show your bridal party how much you value their support and help by treating them to a gorgeously thoughtful gift. Doing it a couple of months in advance means it won’t get forgotten in a last minute panic.
Have a menu tasting with your caterers
Narrow down your wedding breakfast and canapé choices to a few options and then attend a tasting to see which ones you like the most.
Start the table plan
The joys of the table plan – when creating your table plan, figure out who can sit next to who, and who can absolutely not sit together and try and make it all make sense. Just don’t have a singles table, we beg you.
One Week to Go
Confirm the guest numbers and any dietary requirements with your venue and caterers
By now, you should definitely know who’s coming and who isn’t. Confirm the numbers will all suppliers that need to know and make sure they’re aware of any dietary issues.
Have a wedding rehearsal (if required)
This is more common for a religious wedding ceremony, where you get the key members of your wedding party together to run through the ceremony to make sure everyone knows what they need to be doing and when.
Confirm bookings and timings with all suppliers
Give yourself peace of mind by checking in with all your suppliers ahead of the big day just to double check timings and to make sure your requirements are fresh in their mind.
Go through the day plan and duties with the bridal party
Make sure all of your bridal party know where they need to be and when they need to be there – including any hair and makeup times for bridesmaids and confirming last minute duties with the ushers.
Settle all final balances
This is crucial if you want all of your suppliers to turn up as expected! And it’s also a pretty satisfying feeling to have totally paid off your wedding.
Collect any hired items such as groomswear and décor
Do not leave this until the morning of your wedding – especially the groomswear. Make sure you check each item to ensure it’s what you’re expecting too.
Pick up your wedding dress
If you haven’t already, it’s finally time to bring your wedding dress home as soon you get to wear it!
Have a manicure
Make sure your hands are wedding ring ready by getting a manicure ahead of the big day – will you go for wedding nail art or something simple?
Then…you get married! And you’ll need another checklist to help you with all the admin that comes with changing your name after marriage. Luckily we have you covered!