Weddings can be so complicated that there’s an entire career for planning them. At some point, event organisers may find themselves moving down the aisle toward matrimonial management. But wedding planning is not precisely comparable to general event planning.
This is our handy little guide full of wedding planning tips. Whether we’re talking two lovebirds eloping in a hut in the woods or a wedding/circus combo in a mega stadium, start learning how to plan a wedding here.
Briefly, let’s cover some of the ground-level basics.
This is an obvious consideration for any event, but it’s the cornerstone of a wedding. Budget is where everything begins. If you know your budget, you will quickly home in on size and venue.
Tip: Have a look at our guide to preparing an event budget for some ideas.
How big is this thing going to be? This might be the most influential decision on your plate. Remember these few points about wedding sizes:
A smaller wedding is cheap! Well, cheaper, anyway. Fewer people, a smaller venue, and less to worry about. Of course, on the flip side, you’ll have to restrict the guest list. Explaining restrictions to the people who don’t get invited? Oh boy.
X-treme receptions, cruise ships, and exotic bird releases! You don’t have to go that far, yet big weddings can be pretty exciting. But you know what comes with big weddings, and that’s big bucks. These are expensive, and finding a venue to fit everyone can be tricky.
Once you have an idea of budget and size, you’re ready to think about the venue. You might be surprised to discover just how much goes into this. Big, small, traditional, progressive, accessible, unique…
Put some care into the selection process, and you’ll be moving in the right direction.
Tip: Look over some of these ideas for awesome wedding venues.
The planning process: When to start and what to do
With the basic wedding planning tips out of the way, let’s hit the big stuff. Or rather, the small stuff! There’s a lot to parse through.
No wedding planning process will be the same as the next, but this should give you an idea of what you’re up against. Here’s a general list of what to secure and when.
Get these things in order immediately. No time like the present!
Have a way of keeping plans and documents in one place. A notebook, binder, shared Drive folder, or whatever you’d prefer to use.
Tip: Have a look at this selection of wedding planning sheets to help you out.
For the main ceremony, photo locations, reception, and other events. Get those reservations as soon as possible.
Tip: To help with the selection process, check out a list of questions to ask a wedding venue.
Snag a wedding celebrant
If they are popular, there will be a waiting list.
Tip: Here’s a good place to look for a wedding celebrant.
Research design and entertainment options
Bands, floral artists, interior decorators, photographers, caterers, and so on. Start looking around and doing your research.
8 months in advance
A wedding is a bit like a rocket. Okay, maybe not. But there is definitely a countdown! Time to start solidifying a few things.
Choose your wedding party
Those in the bridesmaid or groomsman group should be notified now. If any decline, there is plenty of time to figure out backups.
Tip: Read up on how to choose your wedding party.
This is a good time to seal the deal with your photographers or videographers. Get them onboard now.
Tip: This site lets you search for a wedding photographer.
Book the entertainment
Bands, speakers, circus clowns. Book these folks around the eight-month mark.
Tip: Here’s a good place to find wedding entertainers for hire.
Meet the caterers
You’ll want to meet the caterers in person or at least video-chat with them. Sneak a peek at their kitchens if possible. Between health issues and picky eaters, the food is not an area where you want to make a mistake.
Tip: Start your search for caterers here.
Make sure you’ve got options ready for visitors. A block of hotel rooms can really tie the experience together for visiting guests.
Tip: Read up on what to look for when choosing accommodation for your wedding guests.
Get a good-looking website up and running. Digital publicity is a must-have in the world of wedding planning.
Tip: Take a look at these tips for making a wedding website.
6 months in advance
At the six-month mark, you’re looking at a little more booking, some logistics, and day-of organisation.
Wedding party outfits
Get the clothing details ironed out. The wedding party should have ample time to get their wedding clothes fitted.
Tip: Here’s a great guide to matching the outfits of your wedding party.
Start looking over logistical stuff like portable toilets for outdoor events, seating and tables, and electrical concerns.
Tip: Take a look at these tips for wedding timing and logistics.
Book a florist
Florists don’t have to be reserved quite as early as some of the other vendors, but you still want this nailed down well before the wedding.
Tip: Here’s a list of wedding florists to choose from.
Arrange local transportation
Whether you’re renting limos or relying on Uber, guest transportation may be necessary for out-of-towners who flew in.
Tip: You can consider hiring a dedicated wedding car for the occasion.
Draw up a timeline
Start figuring out who does what when! You don’t want confusion and downtime on the day of. Dancing, cake cutting, speeches, and so on.
Tip: This sample wedding day timeline is a good place to start.
2 months in advance
Almost there! Time to get detailed.
Secure rehearsal venues
For the rehearsal ceremony and dinner, you’ll need a couple of reservations.
Tip: This article looks at a few ideas for rehearsal dinners.
Order the cake!
Get that cake designed and ordered. Or pie. Most weddings have a cake, and it’s usually a big deal.
Tip: Here’s a list of wedding cake suppliers to pick from.
Who’s going to be toasting/giving speeches? Ask your desired toasters now. You might even want a rough copy of what they plan to say.
Tip: This article talks about the timing of wedding speeches.
Update the vendors
Get your vendors on board with the schedule. The more people in the know, the smoother it’ll go.
Meet the photographer
Walk through the venue and discuss desired shots.
Tip: Here’s a great look at a timeline for wedding photos.
Send the invites
Now you can finally send those invitations. You might set an RSVP cutoff around five or so weeks prior to the big day.
Tip: This look at wedding invitations etiquette offers some good ideas.
1 month in advance
You’ve been trained for this. Go, go, go!
You can easily keep track of your guests using digital tools.
Tip: Ticketing sites like Billetto can help with guest registration.
Lots of weddings rely on guest seating arrangements for optimal celebration.
Tip: Our guide to table plan ideas will help you get started.
Wedding party timeline
Make sure the wedding party has access to their special schedule. Photos and other little events will require their attendance throughout the day.
Tip: This is a solid look at the day-of timeline for your wedding party.
Wedding checklists and other tools
With all of these tasks, it’s critical that you have a way to keep track. Fortunately, there are a number of options, including wedding planning websites and a wedding planning app or two. Here are just a few of our favourites:
WeddingWire offers digital progress tracking, task customisation, and budget syncing.
Zola does it all! Registries, site building, invitation design and more. It’s a complete wedding checklist.
This can help you with wedding budget tracking and bill management.
This is the go-to wedding planning tool for Apple addicts. It’s customisable and full of helpful wedding planning tips.
Tip: Looking for more options? You’ve got your hands full: There are plenty of helpful tools out there!
Ready for the big day?
What are some of the wedding planning tips you plan on using? Share them with us in the comments below!