Planning your wedding may feel like an enormous task but breaking it down into simple steps will help stop it from feeling quite so daunting.
To help make your wedding planning more manageable, take a look at our simple step by step wedding planning guide - designed to make your organising as stress-free as possible.
Step 1: Plan Your Budget
One of the first things to think about when planning a wedding is how much you can afford to spend. Sit down together and have an open discussion about your finances, how much you can both afford and how much you will be able to save over the coming months. If you think that your parents may help pay for the wedding then it’s also helpful to talk to them early in your planning stages so you know exactly what you will be able to afford.
READ MORE: Parents Paying for the Wedding: Etiquette and Advice
The hitched Budget Planner will be a helpful tool to help you estimate and record your spending. We also have plenty of money saving tips, free wedding ideas and DIY wedding ideas to help you make the most of your wedding budget.
Step 2: Find Your Perfect Wedding Venue
Image credit: Northbrook Park
Once you have a budget set, you can start to think about choosing your wedding venue. Your venue will determine your wedding date, location and your maximum guest numbers, so make choosing your venue one of the first things on your to-do list.
Before you start the hunt for your venue, sit down together and talk about what you both want from your wedding. If one of you is picturing a fairytale castle and the other is dreaming of a rustic barn then you may need to compromise. Also think about other important factors such as whether you want to have accommodation on site, whether you want to use your own caterers and what your evening guest number is likely to be. All these factors will play a part in determining which wedding venue you choose.
You can use the hitched wedding venues section to browse beautiful wedding venues throughout the UK and beyond. You might want to search by the county you want to get married in or by the type of venue you would like - or both!
Step 3: Buy Wedding Insurance
According to our latest 21st Century Bride Survey, the average UK wedding costs £27,000. It may seem like a lot but when you consider the cost your venue, catering, alcohol, the dress and the many other wedding essentials, you will soon see how much they add up to.
While it is not very romantic to think about what might go wrong with your wedding, it is best to be prepared. Purchasing wedding insurance from the moment you start spending money on your wedding could really help with peace of mind for both your wedding and honeymoon spend.
Step 4: Choose Your Bridal Party
Image credit: Silent Valley Photography
You may instantly know who your maid of honour, bridesmaids, ushers, best man, flower girls and page boys will be, or you might need a little bit of time to think about it.
If you’re not sure then don’t feel rushed into your decision and think carefully about who will be the best people to support you on this special day. You may also want to consider the cost as your bridal party will need outfits, bouquets and buttonholes, so the more people you have, the more this could impact your budget.
Step 5: Plan Your Wedding Guest List
Where do you start with planning your guest list? The truth is you have probably already thought about it and you know the key people you want to invite. However, you might need to a bit of time to decide who to invite to the day versus the evening and what to do about the tricker guest problems such as plus ones and colleagues.
With your wedding venue booked, you will have a rough idea of how much budget you are now able to spend on catering and your guest list may need to be determined by how much you want to spend per head. Use the hitched Guest Manager tool to start creating your guest list - we would suggest adding everyone you would like to invite and then work as a couple to cut this list down if you have gone over your expected numbers.
Step 6: Choose Your Wedding Suppliers
Your wedding venue may already have a list of recommended suppliers and it’s a great place to get started, but you might also want something a little bit different so widen your search and make sure you know all the options you have before book your suppliers and pay your deposits.
Visit the hitched supplier section to find everything from traditional wedding suppliers such as photographers, florists, cake companies and stationery-makers, right through to more unusual things like food trucks, prosecco vans and photobooths. Contact the wedding suppliers you think suit your wedding style and then sit down with your partner and spend some time comparing prices and services to find what suits your style and your budget.
Step 7: Order Your Dress
Choosing your wedding dress will be one of the most exciting and emotional parts of your wedding planning. A lot of designer wedding gowns can take up to six months to make so give yourself plenty of time to find the dress of your dreams. Visit the hitched bridalwear section and browse our list of local bridal shops to find inspiration.
Once you have chosen your wedding dress, you can think think about bridesmaid dresses that will compliment your wedding gown and groomswear that will suit the style of your big day.
READ MORE: How to Choose Your Bridesmaid Dresses
Step 8: Create Your Wedding Gift List
Image credit: Prezola
Before you send your wedding invitations, you might want to think about starting a wedding gift list. Although it may feel strange telling guests what you want as a gift, it will actually make the whole process easier for them. Your guests are going to want to buy you a wedding gift so save them the stress of trying to decide what to buy and create a wedding gift list.
Whether you are looking to set up a honeymoon fund, an online gift list or a traditional department store list, take a look at our guide to the best wedding gift lists and see which one suits your needs.
Step 9: Send Your Wedding Stationery
Image credit: Studio Sophie
Whilst you’ve probably already told everyone you know about your up and coming marriage, now is the time to make it official. Your wedding invitations should be sent out approximately 3-6 months in advance of your big day, but it’s never too early to choose a design or style of stationery that you love. In order to give your guests as much notice as possible, why not send out ‘save the date’ cards to announce your wedding and ensure that your guests keep that date free, with an ‘official invitation to follow’ in the near future.
Step 10: Book Your Honeymoon
Image credit: Kuramathi, Maldives
Booking your honeymoon will be one of the most fun parts of your wedding planning - you are basically planning your dream holiday!
If you have planned your honeymoon costs and budgeted for them then you can book something straight away, or you may have chosen to use your gift list to subsidise some of your honeymoon. If you are still feeling budget conscious then you could always plan a minimoon for straight after the wedding - giving you a few days to escape, relax and enjoy your newlywed status. Then spend some time after the wedding saving towards a bigger trip later in the year that will be your official honeymoon.
Step 11: Collect RSVPS and Create a Table Plan
Image credit: Wedding in a Teacup
You have sent your wedding invites and now you are awaiting your RSVP’s. Although you will have given your guests a deadline, be prepared that there may be a few guests that you need to chase up! Once you have your final numbers, you will be able to to start working on your table plan.
The table plan may seem a daunting prospect but the hitched Table Planner will help make it feel more manageable. Put your wedding guests into family and friend groups and then play around with your tables to see who will fit where. It may also be worth considering whether you have any guests that will need easier access into and out of the room, such as those that have young children or the elderly, as you might want to seat those guests nearer the doors.
Once your table plan is complete then it’s time for the fun bit where you can get creative and think about what table names you are going to use and how you are going to display your table plan.
Step 12: Arrange Stag and Hen Nights
Hopefully your awesome bridesmaids and amazing best man will have this covered but make sure you know if there's anything you need to prepare for, pack or pay for so you can factor this into your planning and your budget.
If you think your bridal party may need a little bit of a helping hand then we have some fantastic step by step guides for how to plan the perfect hen party and how to organise an unforgettable stag do.
Step 13: The Finishing Touches
So you have all the main things covered and it’s time to think about those little details. Decide on your wedding songs and readings for the ceremony, think about who is going to do speeches at the wedding breakfast and order any thank you gifts that you want to give to those who have really helped during the planning process.
If you have additional budget leftover then you might also want to buy some last minute additional decor items - we have compiled a great list of wedding decor items that cost £10 or less!
It may seem difficult but also find some time to relax and have some headspace for something other than the wedding - whether that’s going on a long walk, reading a book or throwing yourself into work.
We hope our 13 step guide has given you a great outline of what you need to do to plan your special day. For a more detailed outlook, sign up to hitched and use the to-do list to create your full list of tasks and set yourself deadlines, it will be much easier to plan your day by doing lots of small steps and don’t be afraid to delegate jobs to other people.
For more advice on what to do as you plan your wedding then read our article - You’re Engaged! 15 Things Every Bride to Be Needs to Do.