As we enter a new year and after the chaos and expense of Christmas, I find that the beginning of a new year is the most popular time for couples to start thinking about booking up wedding suppliers. I always find the start of the year to be a very busy time for taking new bookings. Couples begin to panic that they have a venue booked, often for the coming summer, and still need to source photographers, caterers, musicians etc. I have the unfortunate task (usually at least a couple of times a day) of having to say that a date is already booked, and needing to suggest alternative suppliers.
Added to this there is lots of talk within the wedding industry that 2011 is going to be one of the busiest years in recent history, as a result of the recent economic climate many couples postponed or cancelled their 2009/2010 celebrations. The trend in my bookings certainly supports this with 2011 looking much busier than 2010 did this time last year.
So, with this in mind it is even more important to get yourselves organised and make sure you are getting everything booked up with plenty of time to spare so you can make sure you secure that particular supplier on which you have your hearts set.
Obviously, you will all be at different planning stages and some of the following steps you will already have covered, but here is a rough guideline of when you should start thinking about all the things that need doing before your big day.
As soon as possible, ideally 18 to 24 months in advance:
Decide upon a wedding date.
Decide on your budget.
If you are getting married in church you will need to agree on the arrangements with your local minister.
If you are getting married in a register office, you will need to give notice to the Registrar
Book the wedding reception
Book musicians, wedding singers, band or DJ for the wedding reception
Book the caterers
Book the photographer and videographer
Book the wedding transport
Book the florist
Book the toastmaster if you intend on having one.
Book the honeymoon and apply for a new passport (i.e. The bride may wish to travel under her married name, but be prepared to be unable to travel until your wedding date, as your old passport will be invalid).
Order the cake.
Book an over night stay in a hotel room/bridal suit.
Start looking for your wedding dress. Decide whether you want it handmade, a designer or ‘off the peg’ dress.
Decide on your bridesmaids and ushers.
Decide on your ‘Best Man’.
Confirm all bookings in writing.
6 months before:
Attend initial fitting for the wedding dress
Choose the bride's wedding shoes and accessories
Choose the wedding attire for the groom, best man, bridesmaids, fathers, mothers and ushers
Choose the brides and grooms wedding rings
Order your wedding favours.
Notify your bank, Building Society and relevant authorities that you intend on changing your name and as of what date it will take affect.
Order the wedding invitations and other stationery.
Take out wedding insurance, if required.
Arrange to see your hairdresser or barber about what hairstyle you want on your big day. Brides should take along a picture of the dress and veil or headdress and other accessories to help the hairdresser create a hairstyle that will compliment and finish off the look.
Book a beautician for your wedding day, if required
3 months before:
Buy your Marriage licence from the registrar
Send out the wedding invitations
Decide upon your wedding list, and make it available to all your wedding guests
Advise your guests to book any overnight accommodation now while there is still availability
Confirm your ceremony details with either the registrar or the minister
Decide upon your chosen wedding music or hymns
Arrange for the ‘Order of Service’ sheets to be printed
Buy gifts for the best man, ushers and bridesmaids
Discuss the seating plan with the caterer
Arrange to have any vaccinations done, if required
Start to plan your hen and stag party
If you have a Will get it updated to ensure it remains active after your marriage.
1 month before:
Arrange for a final fitting of your wedding dress.
Reconfirm the wedding arrangements with the reception venue.
Reconfirm the wedding arrangements with the caterer.
Reconfirm the wedding arrangements with the florist.
Reconfirm the wedding arrangements with the photographer and videographer
Reconfirm the wedding arrangements with the company supplying the wedding transport.
Reconfirm the honeymoon arrangements.
Reconfirm all your entertainment.
Have the hen and stag night.
Finalise the seating plan with the caterer.
Arrange a date for a wedding rehearsal, if required.
Send out thank you cards to all guests who have responded to your invitation.
Telephone any guests who have not yet responded to your invitation.
Organise a date when you can pick up you’re wedding party outfits.
Write the wedding speeches ( groom, best man, father of the bride).
Clearly these are just guidelines and nothing is set in stone. The basic rule, as with most things in life, is to be as organised as you possibly can. It is beneficial to get as much of your planning out of the way at the earliest opportunities.
Above all try to enjoy your planning. Don't forget that your suppliers have done this 100's or 1000's of times before and they will be more than happy to help you along the way.
Compiled by James Barlow - 'The Wedding Singer'
in association with weddingchaos.co.uk