So you are engaged……Congratulations!!! Now the question is where to start??
Whether your wedding is in 3 or 36 months, planning it can be quite daunting. So, we have put together a priority list according to urgency to make this whole process easier.
We have also included handy links to relevant articles and guides that will assist your planning process.
Keep in mind that this list is only a guide; some of you will need to do everything and some won't. So just print it out, cross off what's not relevant to you and prioritise what's left so that you can enjoy your engagement and look forward to a fuss-free, fabulous wedding day.
Check out our planning checklist for you to print out.
- Announce your engagement (if you like with an engagement celebration).
- Put together a wedding binder where you can have all the information from ideas to supplier info in one place (detail checklist).
- Decide on a wedding budget (based on your families’ contributions as well as your own), and sit down with you partner to establish your top priorities - where to save and where to splurge (budget checklist).
- You may already have a good idea of what type of wedding you want but we recommend you still have a browse around on, Pinterest, bridal blogs and magazines as well as going to one or two bridal expo’s. This will help you to narrow down your wedding style and colour palette and give you a good idea of options and variety of suppliers available.
- Decide on whether you are having a wedding close to home or a destination wedding; as well as the season, date and time you would like to hold your wedding.
- Once you have this information you can then compile a preliminary guest list (flow chart). This is important because the cost of a venue is dependent on the number of guests; so this will allow you to only focus on the venues that not only fall into your budget but do so while allowing for all your guests.
- Now you can book a venue for your ceremony and reception, and reserve a date. From here you can send out Save-the-Date cards either via post or email. You also have the option to create your own wedding website, and let your invitees know about it.
- Reserve accommodation for out-of-town guests (or in the case of a destination wedding for all guests). Most venues have the option of accommodation but it’s usually best to give the guests at least 3 options at different price ranges close to the reception venue.
- If the venue does not offer a complimentary honeymoon suite you will have to book this as well.
- You may also have to look at transport (if required) at this point.
- Something to also look at at this stage is insurance. Check with your venue about liability Insurance and consider other options, like cancellation insurance.
- Some of you might prefer to use a wedding planner however you need to keep in mind that this will be an extra expense that you will need to work into your budget; however, a planner will also take a lot of stress of your shoulders and make sure your wedding is flawless – they may even save you money on certain aspects.
- It is also always best to start your health and beauty regime at this point
Once the date is set...
- Choose your wedding party. You will need people who will support you and be willing to help at the drop of a hat so choose carefully (roles and responsibilities).
- You can also decide who you want as an MC, it can be the best-man, a good friend, family member or even a hired professional.
- Start browsing for wedding and bridesmaid dress ideas.
- Consider wedding suppliers - keeping in mind that some suppliers only book one wedding a day and will need to be booked early enough to be sure they are available for your day. Be sure to keep the contact information of any suppliers you book in your binder
- Have a look at the preliminary guest list you made and start to set up a more permanent version. You will need to keep working on this list - with time you will think of people you would like to add and some you might decide to take off.
- A good way to relax a bit at this stage is to think about a holiday……your honeymoon to be more precise. You need to look at this fairly early so you have time to save up for it and if you are looking at a destination honeymoon you will have time to make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need. Also keep in mind that you may need to make alterations on any documents if you are changing your surname.
Now that that is sorted...
- Start shopping for a wedding dress, whether you are having it made or buying of the shelf you will need to schedule time for at least 3 fittings. Also don’t forget about the undergarments and shoes as you will have to take these with for the fittings. P.S. Remember to break in those shoes.
- You should schedule a fitting for about 7 weeks before the wedding and then another 4 weeks before. If you prefer you can schedule another one a week before and then just cancel it if the dress fits fine.
- You also need to look at bridesmaid dresses and all accessories.
- And if you want - mother of the bride/groom dresses.
- Create your gift registry.
- Get all the documents in order; obtain complete name-change documents (if applicable) as well as any contracts. This should be done between 6 and 1 month before the wedding.
- Consider your wedding invitations and other stationary; you can either do this yourself (which can be very time consuming but cheaper) or select a supplier to do them for you (which is more expensive but saves you time and stress).
- Whichever way you decide to go you need to make sure the invites are ready to send 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
- Other stationary may include menus, place cards, seating arrangements, favour tags, etc. Most of these can only be done at a later stage when the guest list and menu has been finalized.
- Secure the suits for the groom and groomsmen as well as any accessories.
Next in line…
- Start finalizing your supplier list and discuss details and deposits:
- Florist - select your bridal bouquets, button holes, ceremony and reception flowers and arrangement styles.
- Hair and Make-up - Make a booking for a trial appointment (about 2 months before the wedding).
- Photographer - discuss your shot list with them and supply them with a list of moments you want captured on film.
- Tip - Book your engagement photo shoot on the same day you did your hair and make-up trial. This way you will look good for the shoot as well as give you the opportunity to work with the photographer to ensure he/she is right for you.
- Music - decide on the music you want and select your wedding songs list for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception with your DJ and/or Band/Musicians.
- This includes the first dance, mother/son and father/daughter songs, couples entrance song and the brides entrance into the chapel.
- Décor - check what is included with the venue hire and get the rest from a supplier
- Cakes - go for tastings and order your wedding cake.
- Caterers - the venue usually includes catering in the price but you still need to decide on a menu and select the wines and champagnes.
- Officiant - discuss the type of ceremony you want.
- If you enjoy dancing you might want to look at taking some dance classes to make the first dance a hit.
- Organise your wedding rings (allow the jeweller at least 4 weeks to supply them leaving time for resizing if necessary and any engraving).
- Buy (or make yourself) the guest favours
- Have a mid-wedding planning break with the bachelor party and bridal shower (this is usually arranged by the maid of honour or best man)
Final bits and pieces...
- Put together the day-of schedule:
- Timeline of the ceremony and reception formalities (speeches, cake-cutting, first dance, etc).
- Make a list of the loved ones who you would like to have give a toast/speech at the reception and ask them beforehand so they have time to prepare (roles & responsibilities).
- Assign someone to pack up your gifts/belongings after the reception and to return any rental items (tux, dresses, etc) the day after the wedding.
- Arrange with the bridesmaids/groomsmen to take care of any small wedding-day tasks (after all they are there to help) which will allow you to relax and enjoy your day instead of running around doing it yourself.
- Finalise the floor plan for your wedding reception; where the bridal table is, how the guest tables will be arranged, where the DJ will be, where the band will sit, where you will cut the cake, where the dance floor will be, where the MC and speech makers will stand, etc.
- Follow up on any guests that have not RSVP’d so you can finalize your guest list. With the final list you can arrange the seating plan; including the organisation of the bridal table and tables for the parents of the bride and groom; and can also create the seating chart and/or place cards.
- Get your wedding day extras such as your guest book, toasting flutes, cake servers, unity candle, confetti, wedding bubbles, rose petals (be sure to check with the venue what type of confetti they allow), disposable cameras, etc.
- Buy your gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen - if you want the parents and of course for each other.
- Give the final guest count to your venue/caterer. Remember to include the bridal couple as well as the photographer, marriage officer and any other suppliers that may be present on the day in you guest count.
- Do a final confirmation with all the suppliers on the date, time, details and any final payments.
One week before…
- Book an appointment at a beauty salon for some tanning as well as to take care of any waxing.
- Pick up your gown and other attire
- Put together your own Bridal Emergency Kit.
- Make sure everything is in order for the honeymoon (tickets, spending money, itinerary, etc) and start packing.
- The rehearsal dinner (if you’re having one) - just remember to book a venue and send invites ahead of time.
- Get something old, new, borrowed and blue.
- Write your vows.
The day before…
- Make sure all the wedding-day items are packed/laid out and ready to go.
- Then you focus on just relaxing….book a spa day for you and; if you want; your bridesmaids and have a massage or facials maybe a mani-pedi or even all 3. You have worked hard to get everything organized and deserve some time to wind down.
- Take a long bath, burn some essential oils and listen to some relaxing music.
- And very importantly…get a good night’s sleep.
On the day…
- Make sure you have a healthy breakfast and lunch, you will need all the energy you can get. You can make breakfast an opportunity to spend some time with your wedding party (mother and bridesmaids) before the hustle and bustle of getting ready begins.
- Allow plenty of time to get ready. This needs to be a big part of the day, have some snacks out and a glass or 2 of bubbly (for the nerves) and just enjoy the process.
- Take a deep breath!!! Now is your time to shine, so don’t worry about things that have not been done or the weather or the smudge on you veil. Just have fun with your friends and family in celebrating the first day of you new life with the one you love.