Staying cool, calm and in control during the build up to your big day can be a tricky business. Three of the UK’s premier wedding planners tell us how to get organised ahead of that momentous walk down the aisle.
9-12 months to go
“Start by celebrating,” says Jennifer Wadsworth from Event Wishes. “You’re about to head into a whirlwind of emotions and decisions, so start with an engagement party. It’s a great way to let everyone share your joy - and a fun test of your creative side ahead of the wedding.
“Next, appoint your attendants. A good bridesmaid should know when to appear at your door with wine and chocolates for a girly bonding session - and when to tell you to chill out.”
Nicola Jones from Weddings of Distinction says that deciding on the budget is next. “This will affect how organised you are during the rest of your planning, so sit down with everyone involved and really think about what you can and can’t afford.”
Hazel Walshaw from Love to Marry says you should start sketching a schedule too. “Work out which elements of the wedding are most important to you – dress, venue, decor etc - and start researching them. Set dates of when things need to be done, or booked, so you’re focused on the right suppliers at the right time. Not everything has to be done at once.”
With this in place, Nicola suggests starting a rough guest list, so you know your numbers, when picking a venue. “This is the hardest part of the whole process and you need to see as many potential venues as possible. You don’t want to jump at the first place you look at, put a deposit down and then come across a better venue months later,” says Nicola. “If you’re having a civil ceremony, you also need to book a registrar, making sure they’re available at the time and date of your wedding.”
6-8 months to go
This, says Nicola, is where things can start to get stressful. “Make sure you spend time as a couple and leave the wedding plans at home, otherwise your relationship may feel the strain. Try not to forget all the reasons behind your big day.”
This is also the time to hit the shops and order your dress in good time. “Some dresses take six months from ordering to delivery and then you’ll need additional time for fittings,” says Hazel.
Jennifer also advises booking the majority of your suppliers now. She suggests contacting three companies for each service, so you can compare prices, but only keeping information from the supplier you decide on, so you don’t drown in a sea of brochures, emails and random pieces of paper.
2-5 months to go
“Invitations should usually go out two to three months before the wedding. So order your stationery at least one or two months before that,” says Hazel. “Collect your guests’ addresses well in advance and set aside enough time to get them written and posted.
“Next, confirm your floral requirements,” she says. “And ask the florist to add a little lavender to your bouquet as the scent is very calming.”
Jennifer advises brides to take time out now to go to menu tastings. “Don't worry about trends; try the dishes you'd normally go for at your favourite restaurant. It's your day, and you want your guests to come away saying how much it reflected your personalities and tastes.”
1 month to go
“With just four weeks to go there’s probably more excitement than butterflies,” says Nicola. “Now’s the time to enjoy the run-up to your wedding day. Just make sure you’ve organised the rings and that anything else you’re ordering via the internet is done early. This gives suppliers time to deliver them and you’ll have the chance to return them if necessary.”
“A hastily written speech on the morning of the wedding - or not writing one at all - only adds to the anxiety of public speaking,” says Hazel. “Prepare and practice in advance.
“Confirm with all your suppliers one week before the wedding and make sure someone in the wedding party has the mobile numbers of every guest and supplier. That way guests can be contacted if there are any last minute requests or timing changes - and if a supplier doesn’t turn up, someone is on hand to chase them up.”
Finally, says Jennifer, apply for new documents affected by your name change (passport, etc) and have a hair and make-up trial. “Then you’ll arrive on the day de-stressed and ready to calmly say, 'I do'.”