This is it – you’re getting married! But, after that last bottle of champagne has been polished off and you’ve received the inevitable truckload of well-wishing cards, when should you start planning your wedding? As you’re about to find out – 12 months before the intended date is the answer.
Which means you’d better get cracking! So, stop asking yourself how long after getting engaged should you start planning your wedding, and get that to-do list created!
Let’s get straight to the point – planning your wedding, not matter how big or small you intend it to be, can be a stressful affair. You’ll worry about every tiny detail, toil over the guest list, fall out aplenty with your soon to be wife or husband and, on at least one occasion, wonder whether it’s all really worth it.
Well, of course it is. In this blog post, we’re going to provide the definitive guide to planning your wedding. So, if you’ve ever wondered how long after getting engaged should you start planning the wedding, or have asked yourself “where do I start when planning a wedding?” – we’ve got the answers!
12 months before the wedding
When should you start planning your wedding? After all, it seems like a long time before you’ll be walking down that isle, doesn’t it? Only, it’ll be here before you know it, and with that in mind, there’s one thing you’ll need to nail pretty quickly – the venue.
How far in advance do you have to book a wedding venue? The answer to that question is as far out as possible. Thousands of people get married every year, and wedding venues remain in high demand. You may have one in mind already, or are yet to scout them out, but it really is time to get on the phone and make a reservation if you’re to avoid a last minute panic.
Don’t bog yourself down with too many choices for the venue; shortlist two or three and start talking dates as soon as possible.
It’s at this early stage that you also need to start thinking about bridesmaids, ushers and the best man. The earlier you can confirm their role in your big day, the less worry you’ll have about telling people further down the line.
How long before the wedding should you buy your dress? Well, you can start your wedding dress research at this time, too. With twelve months ahead, you’ve got loads of time to pick the perfect one and start saving a little bit extra if you happen to find ‘the one’ which is slightly out of your budget.
When should you book your wedding photographer? Now. Just like the venue, the best wedding photographers will be in very high demand, and these are some of the most important photos you’ll ever have taken. The last thing you want to do is draft in your mates at the last minute because you forgot to organise a professional in time.
You can spend these early months of wedding planning deciding the type of entertainment you want for the big day, too. Providing you have the wedding venue booked, you’ll have a good idea of the type of entertainment you can bring in – be it a band, DJ or some other form of evening festivities.
Lastly, this is the time to start sending out Save the Date cards. The earlier you can get them out, the more chance you have of ensuring the people who are the most important in your lives get to come; you want to grab that date in their diary before their summer holiday or their own wedding gets booked, after all!
10 months before the wedding
You’ve got your venue sorted and the big stuff is well underway in terms of planning and preparation. Now, you can look to refine some of the details and make some more bookings.
When thinking about how far in advance should I book my wedding, you’ll soon realise that certain elements need fairly quick attention. The DJ or/and band are classic examples. If you’re set on the type of entertainment you want, now is the time to get those bookings made. Ten months out should do it, but the sooner the better if you want to guarantee the perfect soundtrack to your reception.
When should you buy wedding rings? Now is as good a time as any. Although it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait for a significant period of time for them to be sized, the sooner you find the perfect wedding bands for the two of you, the sooner you can tick that particularly important box.
It’s important to remember this wedding is for the two of you, and a big part of it is the honeymoon. Depending on what you plan on doing for your honeymoon, ten months out is about right when it comes to ensuring you guarantee the booking you want. If you’re heading abroad, it’s best to treat the booking like a holiday, which most people would probably do this far in advance, anyway!
Back to the day itself, and at this stage of your wedding planning process, it’s sensible to get the cake booked and begin contacting decor hire companies who will be tasked with kitting out the place in which the ceremony will be taking place and the reception venue.
6 months before the wedding
Wow – those first six months of wedding planning literally flew by, didn’t they? This is what tends to happen; time moves at an ungodly pace when you’re planning the biggest day of your life. Thankfully, though, you’ve already nailed a lot of the most crucial details.
Remember when you were asking yourself when should you start planning your wedding? Well, with just half a year to go, you can start tying down some of the key elements that you’ve simply been researching up until now.
If you’re yet to do it, get that wedding dress ordered now; six months really is about the limit for a lot of bridal shops, who often view orders after that time as ‘rush orders’, and an additional fee may apply.
Check those passports! If you’re heading abroad for your honeymoon (or the wedding itself), the last thing you want is a last minute panic when you realise one or both of your passports has run out. You could also use this time to begin planning some excursions and activities while you’re there – that’ll be yet another box ticked that you may have otherwise forgotten.
It’s time to have some fun, too, therefore if you haven’t started yet, now is the time to begin planning the stag and hen parties. Or, more accurately, time to ask your best man and bride of honour to start planning them for you! Just make sure the dates for the dos are sufficiently far from the wedding day itself to aid recovery!
4 months before the wedding
When should you start planning your wedding? Gosh – it already seems like an age ago since you asked yourself that question, doesn’t it?
Gulp. It really is getting near now. But don’t fear – you’ve still got plenty of time to sort out the last few items on that great, big to-do list!
Bridesmaids dresses are a little easier to source than wedding dresses, thankfully, which means you can leave it until about now to get them sorted. And, regardless, it’s an excuse for a day out with the girls and some much needed retail therapy.
The men should get onto their attire at this stage, too. Whether you’ve decided on morning suits, three pieces, two pieces or even casual attire (hey, why not?!), four months out from the big day should ensure that you get the pick of the bunch at the hire shop.
Florists will happily talk to you at this stage, too – it shouldn’t be any trouble for them to have four months to prepare for your wedding; any sooner than now and there will probably have been a more urgent task that was forgotten, after all.
The wedding party needs to get to the venue, obviously, and with just a few months to go, it’s a good idea to start organising the transport. You should find plenty of options for car hire if that’s the route you’re going down, but if you’d rather use the services of a family member who has a nice motor, tap them up now to ensure they know how much time they need to set aside on the day to get you to the venue on time.
A trial trip to the hairdressers is a good idea at this stage of your wedding planning. This will give the bridal party the chance to ensure they’re happy with the style and the stylist the opportunity to try out some different options well in advance.
Lastly, now really is the time to sort out any legalities surrounding the wedding. This might be the boring stuff, but it’s vital, because you’ll need to give at least three months notice to the registrar, and the church will have similar requirements for reading your weddings banns, if that’s the route you’re going down.
2 months before the wedding
Thankfully, you’ll already have guaranteed the attendances of the most important people, but with two months to go, you can start sending out invitations to the evening do. Your wedding will have a limit on the number of people who can attend, so make sure you pay attention to whatever that is, and ready yourself to be let down by a portion of those who say “yes, we’ll come”.
If you didn’t order your wedding rings when we suggested, don’t worry – there’s still time. Get yourself to a jewellers, and explain the need for a quick order. Most will happily oblige, and it shouldn’t take long for you to find the perfect wedding bands for you both.
It’s time to buy the smaller, more easily attainable pieces of clothing, too. So, get shoe shopping and start hunting down those important accessories, bow ties and hair pieces. Just remember to allow a little longer for delivery if you’re ordering online.
Two months out is also about the time most people will head to the venue to try out the menu. There’s still room for manoeuvre if you’re not happy with it, and this is yet another excuse to get yourselves out of the house and enjoy a night of being spoilt by a great chef.
2-3 weeks before the wedding
Time to cap off some of the finer details!
Get your first dance request (plus any others) sent off to the DJ, and make a list of must-have photographs for the photographer. Both will really value being given these in advance, rather than on the day.
You can also make some last-minute adjustments to table layouts and room decor at this stage if you need to, while also reviewing the final RSVP list to get a feel for exact numbers on the day.
A wedding rehearsal will also usually take place at around this time. If you’re in church, this is vital, but most venues will also suggest that a dry run-through of the ceremony is also required. Just keep those tissues at the ready!
1 day before the wedding
Here we are; one day to go. This is it. You’ve nailed your planning and preparation and nothing – bar the weather – has been left to chance.
Today, you’ll need to drop off the table place cards, favours, table plan and any other smaller details at the reception venue, while sorting out payment for anything that is outstanding and ensuring the cake is ready to be delivered.
The last task? Relax! Use your last evening as an unmarried couple to enjoy a drink or two separately with friends and get a good, solid night’s rest.
When should you start planning your wedding? As you’ll have noted, twelve months out is ample time – providing you follow our advice above. The trick lies in keeping yourselves organised and working from a solid to-do list.
Most importantly, enjoy your wedding planning. This is the biggest day of your life and it will be over in a heartbeat. Plan it strategically, however, and it really will be a day whose memory will never leave your side.