Planning a wedding can feel like a daunting task but it doesn’t need to be. Get organised up front and by the time your day rolls around you’ll be relaxed and ready to go.
Congratulations, it’s time to plan your wedding! A wedding is such an exciting adventure but many couples find it difficult to know where to start. The last thing you need is for the month before your wedding to be chaotic and stressful, so why not get organised and learn how to plan a wedding from start to finish.
Most weddings can happen 12- 14 months after a proposal, so we’ve pulled together this handy guide for those with just a year to make their perfect day happen. If you want to give yourself more time, then that’s even better still!
12 months to go
Budget, Theme and Guest List
With the engagement fresh in your mind, now’s the perfect time to start planning your wedding. First thing’s first, get your budget down on paper or a spreadsheet. Agree with your partner what you’d like to spend and then also agree to an emergency fund. Wedding budgets rarely go to plan and it’s prudent to have some extra in reserve in case you find something that’s absolutely perfect, but out of your price range. Separate your budget into everything you’ll need to spend money on, venue, dress, food, transport etc and then allocate how much you plan on spending next to each thing. You might not stick to this, but it’s a useful thing to do up front as you won’t waste time looking at venues you can’t afford or dresses that are out of your price range.
After the hard work is done, have some fun with a little visualisation. Picture your perfect day; who are you with, what are you wearing, what music is playing in the background. Got it? Then you might have an idea of what kind of wedding you’d like. Will it be a big party with everyone you know? Or a small group of the most special people in an intimate restaurant setting. This will help you to set a number of guests and then start planning your guest list.
Likewise, understanding what kind of atmosphere you’d like, might help you to decide on a theme. Whether it’s black tie or vintage chic, this is likely to help you make key decisions on your dress and venue going forward.
11 months to go
The Venue and Your Wedding Party
We all know that venues book up fast, so try and book yours at least a year in advance. You may not need to do this if you’re not picky about dates, but if there’s a particular weekend you have your heart set on, we’d advise booking even further back, particularly in a popular Summer month.
When booking your venue, take into consideration your current lifestyle and what type of person you are. If you’re craftsy and have some time to spare, then a DIY wedding could be a lovely option, allowing you to hand select everything from the lighting to the caterers. However, for most brides and grooms, a less demanding option is to go for an all inclusive venue, like our own charming Manor House wedding venue in Cheshire. This way everything from food, bar staff, tables and chairs and your very own wedding planner will be included and you’ll have extra time to spend on the little touches.
The eleven month mark is also a great moment to pop the question to your wedding party. Your bridesmaids, best man and groomsmen will all need to know your date well in advance so that they can get planning your stag and hen do’s and make sure they have the time off work.
10 months to go
Book Your Vendors
Hopefully at this point you’ll have found the venue of your dreams, so it’s the perfect time to lock in your venue and book any other vendors with busy schedules. This will include your photographer and if you have someone particularly popular in mind, then we suggest trying to get this organised even sooner. Your videographer, band and DJ are all important elements to book at this stage too, which is why it’s so important to decide on your theme right away. You might not even need a DJ, if the plan is to have a quiet sit-down meal followed by a few refined drinks. And likewise, a videographer might not be your thing. If you’re struggling to find recommendations then we’re always happy to give suggestions for the South Cheshire and Stoke-On-Trent area.
9 months to go
Plan your perfect wedding look
An exciting month indeed! Get those appointments booked at your favourite bridal shop because it’s time to choose your dress. Your budget is so important here and your dress doesn’t need to be expensive to be gorgeous. You can find independent retailers who are able to offer great discounts because they are limited on the sizes they offer. Or if you’ve got the budget put aside, there are many lovely wedding dress boutiques in Cheshire and the surrounding area.
Once you have an idea of what your dress will look like, then you can search for a great hair and make-up artist and a florist, to bring your vision to life. Like your photographer, a well established hairdresser or make-up artist has the potential to book up fast, so 9 months is the latest you’d want to leave this. Your florist will likely have a little more flexibility, so if you’re struggling to find time to do it all, don’t worry.
8 months to go
Let your guests know the good news
Whilst it’s early to send out invites at this stage, you will want to send out save the dates, so that your guests can book time off work, arrange transport and make sure it’s in their diary. It’s also a brilliant time to get in touch with accommodation in the area and try to arrange a special room rate for your guests.
Here at the Manor House Hotel, we offer discounted room rates for all our wedding guests and even if you’re not having your wedding with us, if you’re looking for a comfortable and stylish hotel in the Cheshire area for your guests, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do for you.
7 months to go
Assemble your tribe and go shopping
Whether you want your bridesmaids to wear matching outfits, or you are happy to pick a colour scheme and let them go wild, seven months is a good time to let them know. If you have a theme in mind and you’d like your bridesmaids to look co-ordinated, then plan your shopping trip early as it will allow time for any alterations. Even if you’re leaving your bridesmaids to do their own shopping, then setting them a budget and a general theme at the seven month mark, will give them enough time to find something they feel amazing in.
And whilst they’re busy doing that, make sure you book your officiant! There will be paperwork to fill in and an associated cost, so allow yourself plenty of time to do that, and to meet your officiant for the first time, if you’d like to.
6 months to go
Book your honeymoon
For some, this is just as important as the wedding day itself and whilst you may have been giving it some thought already, it’s important at this stage to sit down as a couple and decide where you’re going to go and get it booked. Holidays of any kind will go up in cost, the closer you get to the date, so unless you’re planning a last minute flit, we’d advise not to leave it much later than this. So whether it’s a spa hotel in a charming countryside location or you’re jetting off to sunnier climes, make sure you let the venue know you’re newly weds, you might get a little special treatment!
5 months to go
Transport and the Tux
If you need a car to take you from a church, to the venue, or even from your home to the venue, you may wish to think about it now. Likewise, you may need transport for your guests, if the venue is far out of town with no accomodation nearby or you plan on having your ceremony in a separate place to your wedding breakfast.
Whilst you need a little longer to plan your dress to take into account alterations, now is time to start shopping for the groom. And why not make a day of it and take along your best man and groomsmen for their fittings too!
Whether you go for a rented tux, buy a suit or organise something that’s more personal to your heritage will depend on whether five months is enough, so if you’re unsure, it’s always best to check well in advance.
4 months to go
Start thinking about all your delicious food
If you’re having a tasting, it’s wise not to leave it much later than this, because you may wish to include your menu on your invites. So organise your tasting with your caterers or venue for around the four month mark. At The Manor House Hotel, we try to cater to most palettes and love it when our couples come to do their tasting in our charming Stables restaurant. It can be a really fun and special occasion!
If you’re not having many guests, or you know they’re good at RSVPing, then you could send your invites out a little later, but around this time is sensible. Make sure you include your menu and how to get to your venue, along with the running times of the day.
Now would also be a great time to get your cake on order. This should be one decision, that’s easier than most. Pick your favourite flavour or if you can’t decide, then have different flavoured tiers, or opt for something a little more unusual, like cupcakes or a cake made from cheese wheels.
3 months to go
Organise the finishing touches
With your wedding day now in sight, you should have a clear vision in your head of how your day might shape up. Pick hair and make-up to compliment your dress and book your hair and make-up trial. With 3 months to go, you’ve left plenty of time, should you need a second trial.
Other fun things to think about at this stage are your favours and finishing touches to the room like a photobooth, table decorations, maybe even a candy trolley for those with a sweet tooth. Get creative and think about the sorts of things you’d love to see at someone else’s wedding and then book those things for yourself.
2 months to go
A little bit of admin
Unless you have a guest list of super organised loved ones, it’s likely that not everyone will have replied to your invite at this stage. That’s absolutely okay, but you do want them to have replied by the time there’s only one month to go, so that you can let your caterer or wedding venue know numbers for each menu option plus any dietary requirements.
At the two month mark, you may need to pick up your marriage licence or call the officiant to make sure everything is in order. Likewise, check in with your vendors to see whether there’s anything they need from you. Your florist may want to know more about the venue and your photographer may want a list of people you want for your group photographs.
Finally, you may wish to buy gifts for those who are playing a special part in your day and if you haven’t already, do it now because the month before your wedding can be a bit of a whirlwind.
1 month to go
Wedding bells are getting closer
With one month to go, you may have a lot of little things to wrap up, but because you’ve been so organised, there’s really nothing to be worried about.
Take an evening to yourselves to write your vows, pick your music and do the all important seating plan. The seating plan can sometimes be difficult, but just remember that everyone is there to see you. No matter where they’re seated, they’ll have a brilliant time because weddings are always a joyful occasion, with most people in great spirits.
With one month to go, you may also want to do your final dress fitting. Don’t do it sooner, in case your weight changes and likewise, don’t leave it too late in case there’s something you need changing. Any time between 2 weeks and 1 month is perfect.
1 week to go
It’s time for a little ‘you’ time
With one week to go, it’s time to spoil yourself. Book an appointment at the hairdresser, get your nails done and perhaps even get a couples massage. It’s time to eat well, sleep lots and make sure you’re well rested for your big day. It’s likely that friends and family will have questions for you, so give yourself as little as possible to do this week so you have time to pamper yourself and answer their questions.
Finally, if you have a traditional engagement ring, make sure you get it cleaned. All your guests will want to take a look, so do it proud and make it sparkle.
The Manor House Hotel is a charming all-inclusive wedding hotel in the Cheshire countryside, perfectly situated for those from Cheshire, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire and beyond. We offer all our couples a wedding planning service, so that whilst you take care of the finer details, everything on the day will run perfectly to plan. We take care of the running of your big day, so you can simply enjoy the excitement, surrounded by those you love. Get in touch to hear more about our rates and wedding packages.