Your Complete Wedding Checklist

If you’ve clicked on this blog, you’re planning your wedding – how exciting! You’ve possibly planned much of your wedding already, but here is a useful checklist I’ve put together for you, just to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything. Most of the list applies whether yours is a straight or same sex wedding. Either way, I hope it helps. The main thing is not to waste time, when you could be doing bits to prepare ahead of time, because time just evaporates so quickly. Enjoy!

12+ Months Ahead

Who is paying – what’s the Budget?

Set Date / Book Venue / Wedding Night Accommodation

Compile Guest List

Appoint Bridesmaid(s) & Best Man

Post ‘Save the Date’ Cards

Book Vicar / Registrar

Book Photographer / Videographer

Book Caterers

Think about The Dress

Book Entertainment

9+ Months Ahead

Decide on The Dress..

Decide on Your Theme

Book Florist

Book Wedding Car(s)

Need Wedding Insurance?

Book time off work

6+ Months Ahead

Book Honeymoon

Plan Groom / Groomsmen’s suit hire

Order Wedding Cake

Decide on The Menu

Decide on Favours For Tables

Finalise Hen / Stag parties

Send Invites

Publish Gift List

Buy shoes and any additional accessories (underwear / garter / tiara)

3+ Months Ahead

Book Hair & Makeup

Print Order Of Service

Order / Purchase Wedding Rings

6+ Weeks Ahead

Buy Bridal Gifts

Gift for Best Man

Last Dress Fitting

Purchase Guest Book

Make a start on Speeches

Work on Seating Plan

4+ Weeks Ahead

Finalise Speeches

Prepare Seating Plan

Wear the Shoes In..

1 Week Ahead

Collect Suits / Dresses

Confirm Numbers

On The Day..

Pick Up Cake

Pick Up Flowers

Hair & Makeup

Take a deep breath..

Have a Glass of Bubbly & Relax, You’re All Set..

The Budget

Is there a cap on your budget? Who is paying? More and more often the parents of both the bride & groom contribute towards the cost of the wedding, rather than the older tradition of it being solely the responsibility of the bride’s parents. It may be that one or even both, the bride & groom have been married before, in which case their parents will possibly be a little less inclined to put their hands in their pockets for a second time.

You may decide on a weekday wedding to cut costs. Venue hire will definitely be cheaper, so this might be a good option, but consider the effect on guests who might find it difficult to get the time off work, especially if they have quite a distance to travel and therefore would perhaps need to take 2 days off.

Set Date, Book Venue & Accommodation

Don’t do these in isolation. If you have a favoured venue, ensure it’s available on the date you are thinking about and vice versa. Have a few possible dates and ideally a few venue alternatives on your shortlist. Work out the pro’s and con’s of each. Also consider maximum numbers the venue caters for against your rough guest numbers. If you want anyone in particular to conduct the ceremony, make sure they are available on the date you are planning.

Consider value for money and the charges for the meals per head, which is usually one of the most expensive aspects of the venue booking. What’s the venue like for outlook in terms of photographs? Are they licensed for the ceremony, so that the whole day can happen there? Some would prefer that rather than having a convoy between the church / registry office and the reception venue, where Uncle and Aunty might get lost…

Are you planning on staying at the wedding venue for the wedding night? This has become a more common option in recent years, so that you get the most from the evening reception and also perhaps join select guests for breakfast the following morning, listening to all of the exploits from the night before..

Compile Guest List

Not always the easiest of tasks. Often dictated by the budget. Are you having +1’s, even if they are a relatively new boyfriend of a niece? How about children? Who is getting invited just to the evening reception, but will they bother if they have quite a way to travel? These issues can all bring on the pains. Just talk it through and don’t let them cause arguments.

Appoint Bridesmaid(s) Best Man

This should be pretty straightforward, but if you’re planning on having several bridesmaids or best men, just think back to your budget – have you factored in all their dresses, suits & gifts? Ensure the best man knows his responsibilities like his speech. In my experience, there is nothing worse than a best man, (who may actually be a very funny person normally) ad-libbing. They should give lots of thought to their speech well in advance.

Save The Date

Important to secure all the guests you want to be at your special day. Don’t worry about adding too many details, you just want to get into their diary before they commit to anything else.

Book Vicar / Registrar

Again, if you want a particular vicar or registrar to conduct the ceremony, get it in their diary as soon as you have set the date.

Book Photographer / Videographer

Well I would say that wouldn’t I, but you’d be surprised at how late people leave it. Quality professionals regularly get booked up a year or more in advance. Let the photographer know if you’re also planning on a videographer, so that they can deconflict with regards to lighting and positioning etc.

Book Caterer

If you have booked a venue where this is all part of the package, then this is not an issue for you. If you have a marquee or similar, then you’ll probably be booking this separately. Again, quality caterers get booked up well in advance, so it’s worth shortlisting early.

Think About The Dress

Perhaps not easy to decide on your chosen dress, so it’s worth checking out what’s on offer as soon as possible. It’s also one of the best bits for the bride and bride’s mother or bridesmaids to be chatting about. Budget obviously tends to feature here and it’s easy to get a bit carried away. I’ve known brides who have bought their dresses on the internet from China very very cheaply, so cheaply in fact that one bride bought 3 dresses, because she couldn’t decide which one! She actually wore a different wedding dress at the ceremony to the one at the reception..

You’ll know when it’s the right dress for you.

Book Entertainment

Wedding entertainment, especially live bands can get fully booked up well in advance, so do this as soon as the date and venue are set. What about a secondary source of entertainment like a wedding pianist or cellist?  See one of my previous blogs on this. Some like to split up the day, so you might for example choose classic wedding entrance music, lighter music by a pianist during the drinks reception, followed by a disco and/or a live band later. What about a magician, especially if there are quite a few children to keep entertained.

Decide On Your Theme

Not an absolute necessity, but a theme is very common these days. Lots of options here, but generally the couple tend to go for something that they identify with. I’ve seen some very tasteful low key themes and some amazing ones such as a ‘Star Wars’ wedding, where everyone wore fancy dress and a Christmas wedding with a Game of Thrones theme, where the reception venue was subtly dressed with extra trees and each table had a ‘House’ name. Don’t over think it, it will come to you.

Book Florist

Your chosen flowers help to set the scene, so spend time on deciding the type and colour of the flowers, to perfectly complement the other aspects of your wedding celebrations. Flowers done well can make all the difference.

Book Wedding Cars / Carriage?

Have a friend or relative with a posh car? Need a vintage car to complement your vintage themed wedding? There are lots of specialists out there, so take a little time to research and book well in advance.

Order Wedding Cake

Is your cake going to form part of your chosen theme? Do you have a friend or relative who has a flare for this kind of thing? Just be sure that whoever you choose, knows what they’re doing and are fully confident. You don’t want to be let down at the last minute, something which I have seen happen, because that relative didn’t want to admit that she didn’t really have the skills necessary to make that cake look and taste as a professionally baked one should. It will no doubt, at some point in the day, become the centrepiece. It doesn’t need to be complicated or extravagant, it just needs to look the part.

Decide On The Menu

Normally with a vegetarian option (rapidly becoming more common to have a vegan option), a menu that is likely to please most tastes. However – it’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t sweat!

Book Hair & Makeup

The chances are, the people you’re going to use to do hair and makeup, you’ve used before. If not, the advice is to make sure you have a dry run well beforehand, so that you can be sure that this is the right person to give you the look you want on the big day.

If the makeup isn’t a product you’ve tried before, again, try it well before the wedding, just in case of any skin reactions. The last thing you want is swollen eyes & lips for those wedding shots!

Order / Purchase Wedding Rings

Fairly obvious, but some jewellers have pretty long lead times, especially if the pieces are bespoke, made especially for you. Even if not, you still need to size them and to see them on your finger to be sure they are exactly what you want, so don’t leave it until the last minute.

Buy A Guest Book

A simple thing, but you’d be surprised at the number of weddings with no guest book. Not essential of course, but great to go through the pages years later, reading those special thoughts from close friends and loved ones on your special day. I have in the past provided a Jeff Woodall Photography photobook comprising of images of the engagement shoot, with blank pages opposite the images, for guests to sign and write messages.

Write Speeches

This takes a little time. So whether it’s the father of the bride’s speech, Groom’s or best man’s speech, they need to be worked on with care and plenty of thought. You can either have little prompt cards as reminders or now there are various apps available, so that you can stand there with a pad on the table and the speech moves along at a pace you are comfortable with. However you do it, they always sound better once they have been rehearsed a few times.

Is a Toastmaster included in your reception package? If not, you can organise one directly. Not to everyone’s taste, but if done well, it can add a little extra gravitas to the formalities.

Prepare Seating Plan

Once the plan has been finalised (not always easy I know – depending on family dynamics..) you need to present it, so that guests can easily find their seating places at the reception. A well designed plan, easy to read and perhaps following your chosen theme, can be really pleasing to the eye and adds to the overall professional feel of a wedding.

Wear The Shoes In!

Sounds silly, but the bride if wearing heels, will be on her feet all day. It’s worth wearing those shoes around the house on and off for a few weeks before the wedding if at all possible.

I hope this has been useful. Please feel free to add any comments you have below, or suggestions on anything that I may have missed out. All the very best with your wedding planning.






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