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Wedding Planning

How to Plan a Wedding

September 21, 2017

A step by step guide to organised wedding planning

Having been in the wedding industry for years, we have seen first hand the huge variety of emotions displayed by couples when the words “wedding planning” were mentioned. From eager anticipation, nervous excitement, to I-can’t-wait-till-this-is-over straight out stress, it is safe to say that the ups of downs of planning a wedding very closely resembles that of a roller coaster ride. However, after dealing with numerous brides and grooms throughout their planning process, we realise that one very important characteristic stood out amongst couples who managed to stay relatively calm throughout the journey: organisation.

Many brides and grooms think that starting the planning process early will help reduce stress later. While this is mostly true, if you don’t approach the event in an orderly manner, there is still a risk of you falling victim to hair-pulling carb-bingeing stress during certain periods in the process. It is not easy having to juggle between vendors, details and appointments, all the while trying to stay on top of your job AND have a life at the same time. We understand how this can be hard on you, and therefore, in the hopes of making this journey a smoother one for you, we have compiled a step by step guide on how to plan your wedding in an organised and methodical fashion.

This guide is structured on a month-to-month basis, starting from a year before your big day. The reason for the time frame is because one year before seems to be the most popular starting point for couples nowadays. If you are working with a shorter time period, you can still follow the steps below, just adjust the task divisions according to your schedule.

wedding planning checklist items

11 to 12 months to the wedding:

This is what we call the ‘planning honeymoon period’. It is when you are still basking in the joy of your engagement, and have the luxury to dream about your ideal wedding. In these two months, the main thing that you need to do is draft up the big picture of your wedding. Think about how it is going to be like, who will be there, when it will be held etc. Below is a list of tasks that you’ll need to do in your first couple months of planning for your big day:

  • Visualise your wedding

Start off by thinking about how you want your wedding to be like. Consider the time (season and weather), setting, and size. There is no need to come up with actual details right now, but a good idea of the setting and size will help in planning out your budget and narrowing down vendor choices later.

  • Map out your budget

To avoid unnecessary headaches down the road, we recommend planning out your budget at the very start. First, have a talk with each other, and then hold a discussion with your respective families (separately). Once you figure out how much each party will contribute to the wedding, you can draft up a spreadsheet that includes different segments of your wedding expenses, and allocate funds to each of them. While the numbers may need to be tweaked here and there after you do more research, the main goal is to ensure that the grand total at the bottom never strays too far from the original amount.

  • Set a date

Your date is the vital next step, as you will need this information before inquiring with different vendors. When picking your date, it is a good idea to prepare a couple of back ups, just in case your desired vendors (especially the venue) are not available on the one that you chose.

  • Pick out your wedding party

We know this sounds early, but, to be honest, once you announce your engagement, you know that everyone close to you will start wondering who will be in your wedding party anyway. Well, don’t let them wait! Besides, you can definitely use their help and support throughout the journey. After you announce the good news to your selected family and friends, we recommend having a sit down with each member of the party to discuss about how involved they can be in your planning process. Setting expectations clear in the very beginning can help avoid conflict further down the road.

 

10 months to the wedding:

wood wedding sign

Now that you have the big picture set, it’s time to start booking vendors. The first few vendors that you should secure are:

  • Wedding planner

Hiring a planner is optional, there are many couples who are confident that they can handle the process by themselves, with help from family and friends. If you are one of them, go for it! On the other hand, if you feel like you can benefit from some professional help, don’t hesitate to enlist the services of a wedding planner. A seasoned coordinator will be able to lighten your load considerably, by providing you with useful advise, doing research on your behalf, and keeping things organised along the way.

  • Reception venue

  • Ceremony venue

  • Officiant

 

9 months to the wedding:

 

  • Book your photographer

black and white wedding photo

Photography styles vary greatly among artists, so this area will require some research. Since your photos are one of the few things that will last long after the wedding, be sure to find someone whose work you really like, as they will be responsible for capturing some very important memories in your life.

  • Book your videographer

While photography is still a more prominent option for brides and grooms when it comes to documenting their big day, videography is becoming more and more popular as well. Many couples are starting to realise the value of having their vows, speeches and celebration filmed. There is no better way to relive the beauty of your wedding day than a well-made video that showcases all the happy emotions that you and your loved ones have experienced throughout the event.

  • Book your entertainment crew

This includes people responsible for your music (live band, deejay, musicians etc.), and any additional entertainment that you might want, such as a photobooth, live performers, caricature artist and so on.

  • Book your florist

rustic wedding bouquet

Similar to photographers and videographers, florists’ styles differ greatly amongst each other as well. Some florists specialise in producing full, lush arrangements; while others are better at creating organic, rustic pieces. When researching florists, instead of looking for specific arrangements that you want for your wedding, take note of their designing style, and how knowledgeable they are when it comes to practicality and seasonal availability of blooms. Find someone who can understand your vision, and can provide you with ideas and advise to help you achieve the look that you want within your budget.

 

8 months to the wedding:

 

  • Book your caterer

  • Buy your wedding dress

buy wedding dress

When going dress shopping, besides style and fashion, don’t forget to also consider:

  • The potential weather during your wedding day
  • Cultural and religious rules
  • Your wedding theme

Remember that the dress may not fit perfectly for the first time, but that is what fittings are for. If you are short on time, or do not want to go through multiple alterations, you can consider buying a corset-style dress, which offers more room for adjustment.

  • Book your hair and makeup artist(s)

  • Write out your guest list

 

7 months to the wedding:

 

  • Book accommodation for out-of-town guests

  • Plan for your wedding day transportation

  • Order save-the-date cards and wedding invitations

  • Order your wedding cake

  • Register

When building your registry, try to include items in different price ranges, so that your guests can choose gifts that fit into their budget.

 

6 months to the wedding:

save the date wedding

  • Send out save-the-date cards

  • Plan for your honeymoon

Besides booking flights and accommodation, remember to also check if your passports are up to date, if you need to apply for visas, and if any immunisation shots are required for your desired destination(s).

  • Purchase your wedding shoes, undergarments, jewellery and accessories

  • Purchase groom’s attire

This includes the suit, shirt, pants, suspenders or belt, tie or bow tie, shoes, socks, cuff links, watch and pocket square (if desired).

  • Purchase your wedding party’s attire

 

5 months to the wedding:

 

  • Book the venue for your rehearsal dinner

  • Order rental equipment that you’ll need for the day-of

Examples of this are tables, chairs, linens, cutlery, structural necessities etc. Your venue coordinator or event designer will be able to help you out with this.

  • Order day-of wedding stationery

wood wedding signs

This includes signage, guestbook, seating chart, place cards, table numbers, menus and programs.

  • Schedule a hair and makeup trial

On the day of your trial, you may want to book an engagement session as well. This will give you a chance to work with your photographer before the wedding, and also allows you to see how your bridal look will turn out in professional photos.

 

4 months to the wedding:

 

  • Schedule a meeting with your officiant

You can work out your ceremony program with them, and confirm the documents needed for your wedding ceremony. Take this chance to also discuss about rules and regulations that they may have when conducting the ceremony, and don’t forget to pass on the information to your vendors and guests.

  • Select and inform guests who will be reciting readings and giving speeches during your wedding

  • Finalise your menu

  • Finalise floral arrangements and decorations with your florist and/or designer

  • Order wedding favours and gifts

diy wedding favours

 

3 months to the wedding:

 

  • Schedule your first dress fitting

  • Purchase your wedding rings

  • Touch base with your vendors, and draft out a day-of timeline which you can send to them for review

  • Choose the music you want for your wedding, and meet with your deejay and/or musicians to discuss about playlists

 

2 months to the wedding:

 

  • Send out your invitations

The general rule is to mail the invites six to eight weeks before the big day, and set the RSVP cutoff to three weeks after the date that they are sent out. To keep guest management organised, we recommend having an Excel sheet prepared, with all of your guests’ names, addresses and a column for RSVP replies in it.

  • Meet with your photographer and videographer

You can go over your wedding itinerary with them, and discuss about expectations for your wedding photos and videos.

  • Obtain your marriage license

  • Write your vows and speeches

romantic wedding details

We know that many couples write these much closer to the wedding date, and some (ahem, most) even write them on the morning of the day itself. But why put yourself through the stress of having to come up with something beautiful and meaningful at the last minute, when there are already so many other things that you need to take care of? If you can have at least a draft done, it will save you a lot of unnecessary worry on the day-of.

  • Update your wedding schedule

By now, you should have heard back from your vendors regarding the first draft of your itinerary. So now you can adjust the times according to the feedback that you have received thus far.

 

2 to 4 weeks to the wedding:

 

  • Enter RSVPs and finalise your wedding headcount

  • Send the final headcount to your caterer

  • Assign seating for your guests, and order your seating chart and place cards

  • Send out invitations for your rehearsal dinner

  • Attend your last dress fitting, and schedule a time to pick up your dress

For peace of mind, you might want to schedule a final fitting on the day that you collect your dress. You can always cancel it if the dress fits perfectly.

  • Send out payments to your vendors

  • Cut and colour your hair, if desired

 

1 week to the wedding:

 

  • Send out the final timeline to your vendors, bridal party, and all people who will be helping you out on the day-of

  • Collect your wedding dress

  • Break in your shoes

elegant wedding shoes

The day of your wedding should not be the first day that you wear your shoes. We all know how uncomfortable new shoes can get, and having blisters after prolonged standing and walking throughout the day might not add much to the fun.

  • Set aside cheques or cash for vendors who will be getting paid on the day-of
  • Assemble your favours and gifts

  • Send out welcome baskets to hotels for them to distribute to your out-of-town guests

  • Pack for your honeymoon

 

The Day Before!

 

  • Get a manicure and pedicure, if desired

  • Attend your rehearsal dinner

You can give the rings to your best man and hand out gifts to your wedding party during the dinner, or leave it till the morning of your wedding day if you have time for it.

  • Organise your attires for the next day

It is best to lay everything out in a corner, or make a list to avoid missing anything.

  • Pack a bag with your day-of necessities, and assign someone to be in charge of it at all times on the wedding day

 

And finally, try to have a good rest, you deserve it! You have come this far, now get ready to dazzle on your beautiful day. Happy wedding day!

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