The ultimate wedding planning checklist:

a practical guide of what you need to do and when

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A wedding is a special time in anyone’s life. While the idea of planning one might seem scary, it doesn’t have to be. Creating a checklist is a good way to stay on top of what has – or hasn’t – been done. One of the best ways to group your tasks is according to how far out you are from your big day.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what needs to be done:

When you’re finished, you’ll know how to make sure your day comes off without a hitch. Read on for some practical advice on all aspects of wedding planning.

Chapter 1

UK Wedding statistics

Let’s kick things off by taking a look at the current wedding landscape. How much does the average person spend a year on their wedding? And where are you most likely to live if you’re tying the knot this year?

Wedding statistics for 2022

There are an average of 275,000 weddings every year in the UK. Current figures show that for every 1,000 people in the UK, seven of them will get married this year. That’s a huge step up from the 2021 figures, where just 2.3 people per thousand were tying the knot.

Of those getting married, roughly 100,000 ceremonies were in either London or the South. Research found that the most common regions for couples were:

South East

41,273 (weddings)

South West




North West




Meanwhile, Scotland had 27,458 weddings, Wales had 13,197, and Northern Ireland had just 8,300.

Wedding day

There are an average of 275,000 weddings every year in the UK.

When it comes to the most popular month for weddings, it’s perhaps no surprise that June was top. 10.8% of all ceremonies are held at this time. The total numbers show:

Most popular months for weddings

4.7% (of weddings)
























As much as £14.7 billion is spent per annum on weddings across the UK. The total breakdown of this cost is:


on the day itself


on retail services leading up to the event


on travel and pre-wedding events

Interestingly, the average cost of a UK wedding has skyrocketed of late. Figures show that prices have risen from £14,425 in 2017, to £20,493 by the end of 2021.

In terms of a global outlook, 2022 looks like being one of the busiest in history for ceremonies. The New York Times reports that there could be as many as 2.5 million weddings in 2022. That’s the most on record since 1984.

Wedding day

As much as £14.7 billion is spent per annum on weddings across the UK.

When it comes to global spending, the US leads the way for the average cost per wedding. Research by Zippia found the countries where weddings are most commonly held to have the following budgets:

Country Average spend per wedding
1 The US $29.2k
2 Spain $23.4k
3 Italy $22.5k
4 Canada $21.9k
5 The UK $19.2k
6 France $17.6k
7 Portugal $16.7k
8 Mexico $8.6k
9 Peru $7.7k
10 Chile $7.4k

Other popular destinations and their costs include:

Country Average spend per wedding
Ireland $5k
Belgium $17.4k
The Netherlands $15.3k
Germany $13.3k
Wedding venue

The US leads the way for the average cost per wedding at $29.2k

One factor which could be driving the cost of US weddings up is the amount of destination weddings people from the States host. Recent figures show that as many as 30% of US ceremonies are held overseas. The five most popular locations are:

  1. The Caribbean
  2. Mexico
  3. Hawai
  4. Central/South America
  5. Somewhere in Europe

When it came to the most popular destinations a little closer to home, the following five US states were most popular:

  1. Florida
  2. California
  3. Nevada
  4. North Carolina
  5. South Carolina

Chapter 2

Planning 12-18 months
before the wedding

While it’s still a long way off, it’s advised to begin the planning of your wedding as far as 18 months out from the big day. That might seem a touch excessive, but it will help to make your event as special as you deserve. Here are some practical steps to take in the 12-18 months prior.

Setting your wedding date

Sometimes it’s easy to know exactly what day you want your wedding to be. Whether for sentimental reasons, or practicality, you could already have a period or precise date planned out. If you’re less certain, keep this advice in mind:


The availability

It’s understandable you’d want the people who mean the most to you to attend. As such, make a point of reaching out to those closest to you and asking what dates they can’t do. Make a note of all of these and try to find a week when there’s no overlap.

Season and popularity

Certain times of year will be more expensive, and book up more quickly. This is typically the case in the summer, as well as the beginning of autumn. It’s not that you won’t be able to book for this time, but it might mean you’ll pay a premium price if you want the venue you had in mind.

Weather for outdoor weddings

If an outdoor wedding is something you’re after, you’ll need to keep this in mind. This will rule out winter and even early spring weddings in many locations. Look up seasonal trends and see what time of year is best for your needs.

A personal milestone

Setting a wedding around a personal milestone is also a good idea for those struggling to decide. This could give your special day even more meaning. Good examples include the day you met, first became an official couple, or even got engaged.

Choosing a guest list

One of the trickier parts of planning a wedding is deciding who does or doesn’t make the cut. You might want to share your celebration of love with as many people as possible, but that isn’t always feasible. Here’s some guidance on how to narrow down your attendees:

Split things evenly

Assuming both parties want to, it’s important the bride and groom are given a 50-50 split. Keeping things balanced means both of you are guaranteed to be surrounded by loved ones. Try to do the same with your list of reserves.

Past, present, and future rule

This is a good rule to follow for anyone confused about who to invite. The idea is that all guests should tick off at least two of these categories. That is to say, they have been, or will be, a part of at least two of the past, present, or future of your life.

Don’t feel obligated

Sometimes we can feel pressured into inviting people, just to please others. If you have a distant relative, or old family friend you haven’t seen in years, you may not feel comfortable inviting them. If you wouldn’t miss their presence, they probably shouldn’t be getting an invite. If you fancy forgoing the traditional wedding altogether, you could even think about eloping.

Make a decision about kids

Inviting (or rather, not inviting) kids to a wedding can be an awkward one. Some people will need quite a bit of notice to make sure childcare can be arranged. Letting people know as soon as you can is a good way to avoid tricky conversations down the line.

Choosing a bridal party and groomsmen

Picking just a handful of friends to be a part of your ceremony can be tough. There are probably plenty of worthy candidates, but only a limited number of spots in both the bridal and groomsmen parties. Some handy rules to help you decide are:

Bridesmaids and groomsman

Don’t forget siblings

As long as you’re close with them, it’s a good idea to include your siblings in your wedding parties. You could even ask for your brother or sister to be a part of your partner’s group if they’re comfortable with it. This is a lovely way to include family in your ceremony.

Try to strike an even balance

It might be odd if your party consists of six people, but your partner only has three. Try to cap numbers at the upper limit of whoever has fewer. A conventional number is three-to-four, but it can be as many as you both feel comfortable with.

Pick people who are reliable

Sometimes we can feel pressured into inviting people, just to please others. If you have a distant relative, or old family friend you haven’t seen in years, you may not feel comfortable inviting them. If you wouldn’t miss their presence, they probably shouldn’t be getting an invite. If you fancy forgoing the traditional wedding altogether, you could even think about eloping.

Deciding on a budget

There’s no right or wrong amount to spend on your wedding. What’s most important is that the figure is something both you and your partner are happy with. Make sure to have this chat before you start booking things in earnest, and consider using the following as talking points:

Work out a % of current income

A wedding is rarely cheap. But that doesn’t mean it has to make a serious dent in your finances. A good way to make sure you’re not going to struggle is to set aside a certain percentage of your regular income. If that isn’t enough to cover the kind of wedding you want, reconsider your plan and try to cut costs where possible.

You can lower the overall price by:

  • Refining the guest list
  • Not using live music
  • Use fewer additional vendors

Budget for surprises

While nobody wants to think about it, having a contingency plan is always smart. You can’t predict hidden costs. Fees for things like setup cost, custom drink pouring, or vendor transportation might not be factors you’ve considered. An emergency budget is a good way to absorb these potential hits.

Only spend what you can afford

There’s a lot of pressure to put on a spectacle that will be remembered when it comes to weddings. While it’s hard to ignore this, make sure not to stretch yourself thin when it comes to your finances. Only spend the money you have spare to do so.

Remember, while you won’t want to rely on them, relatives will sometimes be generous with donations. It’s an awkward chat to have, but try to get a rough idea of what you might expect ahead of time.

Finding a venue

Arguably one of the most important parts of any wedding, you’ll want to make sure you find a decent venue well ahead of time. If you’re finding it a challenge to decide on what you want, keep the following in mind:

Chairs at a wedding venue

Consider your total guests

You might want a charming intimate venue. But will it be big enough to house everyone? Similarly, you may find the location you want is too spacious for the number of guests invited. Always ask what the recommended and maximum capacity of a venue is ahead of time.

Doubling down on ceremony and reception

Are you planning on having the ceremony at the same location as the reception dinner? If so, make sure any venues you’re visiting are capable of hosting both. This can be a convenient option, as it reduces the amount of travel needed during the day.

The style of your wedding

If you have a specific style in mind, your venue will need to accommodate it. For example, a rustic theme wouldn’t really work if your venue is at a high-end hotel. The two need to match up in order for your execution to be perfect.

Ask questions

You can never know too much about your wedding venue. The more clued-up you are to how they operate, the better understanding of whether it’s a spot that’ll work or not. Try to come up with a list of questions beforehand to make it easier when you’re there.

Don’t rule out somewhere abroad

Destination weddings are becoming more popular. If you have a specific idea in mind, be sure to take inspiration from others who’ve done it in the past. Just remember it might be a little trickier to plan everything from another country.

Hiring a wedding planner

If you’re comfortable handing your wedding planning over to a third-party, a wedding planner could save you a lot of time and potential stress. For something as personal as your big day you’ll want to make sure your planner is someone you can trust to properly execute your vision. Here are some useful tips to remember when choosing yours:

Get recommendations

We live in the age of reviews. If you have close friends who’ve recently used a planner, reach out to them. It’s also wise to see online what people are saying about someone you’re interested in. You’re giving this person a lot of influence over your wedding. You need to know you can rely on them.

Decide on packages

Some venues will offer you a planner as part of the full package. This works if you’re not fussy about who you want to work with. However, it might be something you’ll look to avoid if you have a certain person in mind, who you know will do a brilliant job.

Have the budget sorted ahead of time

Making sure your budget is already set will also help. This means you can approach planners with a specific amount in mind. Knowing the budget ahead of time will make it easier for them to be able to work out what is or isn’t feasible for them. This can help you to narrow down your choice.

Sending your save-the-dates

While you might not have all your ducks in a row just yet, it’s good to send some of the guests you definitely want to attend a save-the-date. This gives them the chance to book out time for your wedding well ahead of time. Some good save-the-date etiquette would be to:

Save the date invitations in a basket

Keep information brief

Remember, this isn’t an invite. It’s just a note to guests to let them know where and when you’re hosting your event. You don’t need to go overboard with the details (especially as some of them won’t be finalised yet). Date, time, and location are generally enough at this point.

Don’t send them too close to the event

The primary purpose of a save-the-date is to give people advanced notice of when they need to be free. That means sending them shortly before your actual invites makes them irrelevant. They should be sent no less than a year before the big day.

Make it clear who’s invited

Write the names of the people who are invited. This is not the time to add “plus one”. You can decide who gets those later down the line. This gives you a chance to see if newer relationships are going to work out in the long term.

Wait until the venue is booked

In order to give your guests the most clarity on where they need to be, you should ideally wait until your venue has been booked before sending them. This gives you a definitive location, which in turn makes it easier for them to plan how to get to you.

Getting wedding insurance

While it’s definitely not the most enjoyable aspect of wedding planning, having insurance can save you a lot of money down the line. There are two core types of cover:

Wedding liability insurance

This will help you pay for any damage to property or injuries people experience during your wedding. This is usually to subsidise the cost of repairs for the venue. Having liability insurance means you aren’t needing to pay for any damages out of your own pocket.

Wedding cancellation or postponement

As the name suggests, this covers you in the event your wedding is cancelled or the date changes. This kind of policy will only pay out if the change was beyond your control (such as extreme weather), and you can’t get a refund from the venue.

Despite how handy it is, wedding insurance won’t cover every possible eventuality. Some common examples of things that aren’t covered include:

  • Deciding not to get married for personal reasons
  • Bad weather that is not extreme or dangerous
  • Any unexpected costs or expenses

The amount you pay for your insurance will depend on a bunch of factors. Some of the most common are:

  • Where your wedding is being held
  • The size of your wedding
  • The insurer you use

Prices will always vary. That said, a basic policy is likely to cost somewhere between £100-500.

Chapter 3

Planning 9-12 months
before the wedding

As you creep closer to the ceremony, things begin to feel a lot more exciting. This is the time to start hammering out the fine details of your celebration. It’s during these months that you’ll want to tailor the wedding to match the image you have in your mind. Let’s explore some of the most important aspects of that.

Choosing a colour palette or theme

At the core of any beautiful wedding is a strong theme. Whether it’s based around a specific flower, colour, or location, having a theme helps to tie everything together aesthetically. Here’s some guidance on the best way to choose yours:

The season

Colour combinations which work will change according to the time of year. Bright summer colours might not work in autumn. Be sure to do your research and find out what works for when.

Aesthetic of the venue

Your colour palette or theme needs to tie into your venue. If you don’t have a specific image of what you want your event to look like, you could even base it around the venue. A good step here is to ask your hosts what colours or styles they would recommend (which have worked before). Taking inspiration from other weddings is a great place to start if you feel confused or unsure.

What you actually like

If all else fails, pick something you like. This is your big day. You’ll want to deck out your venue in the colours and styles which make you feel happy. This is also something to talk to the venue about, or your wedding planner. They’ll be able to suggest tasteful additions which add the finishing touches to your day.

Shopping for your wedding dress

Seen as one of the most emotional parts of wedding planning, shopping for your dress is important. If you want to ensure you’re doing all that you can to get the most out of the experience, make sure to:

Wedding dresses

Research on social media ahead of time

The internet has made window shopping much easier. You can now find a dress you like without ever needing to leave your home. Just search on platforms like Pinterest or Instagram for ones you like. You can even send these to bridal shops ahead of time to help them find dresses you might like. You can even use guides to help you better understand the styles, shapes, and sizes of dress available to you.

Have a list of questions ready

If you have a very specific image in mind, be sure to come with lots of prep. The more questions you ask, the easier it’ll be for those helping you to understand your bigger picture. Here are some examples of questions you could ask:

  • Do you have a payment plan?
  • Can I do alterations here?
  • What kind of colour range do you have?
  • What are your range of sizes?

Remember the wedding climate

A dress needs to be suited to the conditions you’re getting married in. That means light and airy in the summer, and a little heavier in winter time. If there’s a certain style you love, but it doesn’t work the season, you may need to have alterations done.

Shop around

This is the dress you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t settle on something you’re not wowed by at your first viewing. Don’t be afraid to book multiple shops, or even more than one viewing at the same place (if they plan on getting new stock in).

Booking photographers

It’s normal to want something as special as a wedding to be immortalised in photographs. That’s why finding a photographer is one of the most important parts of planning – even if it doesn’t necessarily seem like it on the surface. When finding the best one for your needs, make sure to:

Have some questions ready

Being as specific as possible is important with a photographer. They may have a set way of doing things that doesn’t match your image of the day. You need to make sure you’re on the same page. After all, these photos are what will immortalise your special day forever.

Good questions to ask include:

  • Do you have a certain style?
  • Is there any part of the wedding you don’t or won’t photograph?
  • Can we see (multiple) examples of past photo sets?
  • How do you handle stressful parts of the day?
  • Are you able to operate at any location or time of day?
  • How long after the wedding will we receive our photos?
  • Do you edit photos at all?

Get reviews first

Just as with any service you’re paying for, make sure to read up on reviews. These will let you know if your prospective photographer can really handle all they claim. Also think about using someone who did a good job for a friend’s wedding.

Have a specific style in mind

Knowing exactly what you want your photos to look like can also help. This makes it easier to pick someone who specialises in that field. Likewise, it gives a photographer who isn’t as confident the chance to tell you they might not be the best fit.

Consider a videographer

Most modern weddings aren’t just captured in photos, but video as well. Make sure your photographer is capable of doing both, or that you specifically hire two different people if this is something you want to pursue.

Booking caterers

Your dinner is one of the most memorable parts of a wedding. In order to leave people with a pleasant taste in their mouths, it’s smart to do some research and find a caterer which really works for your needs. One of the best ways to do that is by asking questions. Here are some of the most useful:

Buffet at a wedding

Try to have a rough menu in mind

Approaching a caterer with a theme, or even a rough sketch of a menu, can be really handy. They’ll quickly be able to say if they can accommodate your needs or not. In any case where they can’t make your dish, they’ll also be able to offer a similar alternative.

Set a specific budget

Setting a price cap can also help. This will allow a caterer to plan, then come back with a rough idea of what a menu could include. Most good caterers don’t use cookie-cutter menus. That is to say, they will base their dishes around your needs and what you can afford. Having that info ahead of time speeds the process up greatly.

Make sure you enjoy the food

Most important of all, it’s crucial you actually like the chef’s cooking. Make sure to have a taster session with them. This will give you the chance to work out if they’re the right fit for your special day.

Think about your wedding cake

While your caterers might not be responsible for your cake, it’s an important aspect of food on your big day. Start planning what type you want, and ask them if it’s possible to be included in your package. If not, this is the time to begin looking for wedding cake specialists. You’ll need to ensure your caterers are happy to accommodate any third parties.

Setting up a wedding website

While something of a recent addition to planning, wedding websites have become part-and-parcel of the experience. They make it easy to track attendance, give information to guests, and generally centralise everything relating to the big day. Here are some top tips for getting yours just right:

Choose a website builder

Creating a website doesn’t have to be complicated. A number of ready-made templates already exist. These provide you with the rough bones of your site. Your job is to go through and fill in the gaps. Some of the more popular website builders out there include:

  • Wix
  • The Knot
  • Wedding Wire
  • Appy Couple
  • Squarespace

All of these templates will give you the chance to choose the name of your URL. This is the link you send to people in order for them to access your site.

Populate it with information

Once you’ve chosen a platform, it’s time to start adding your personal info. Some things you can do are:

  • Add an “about us” section to tell your guests a little more about your story
  • Introduce the bridal party and groomsmen
  • Provide images of the location and venue
  • Add FAQs regarding dress code, children, theme etc
  • Provide clear information about start times and other smaller details

Add an RSVP section

This gives your guests the chance to confirm if they can attend or not. It’ll also be a good place for them to add dietary requirements and confirmation of a plus one. You can even add a text box which gives them the chance to ask questions or make suggestions.

Include a gift registry

Couples often feel awkward about asking for gifts, but most people want to buy something for the newlyweds. Your website is a good place for your gift registry. If you have a financial goal in mind, you can write what you’re saving up for – for example, a honeymoon. Try to use images for all the specific gifts you want, and be sure to give a nice variety when it comes to your price range.

Booking rooms for guests

While most guests can probably take care of themselves, you may need to take matters into your own hands if they’re coming from far away (or even another country). Finding accommodation for everyone can be a challenge, so make sure to remember this advice:

Let your guests know early

If you need to book accommodation for guests, it’s best to let them know way ahead of time. This avoids them booking something which isn’t necessarily going to work. It also makes it easier for them to know where and when they need to be somewhere.

Take notes and names

Make sure to keep track of where everyone is staying. This is particularly useful if you’ve split people across different parts of a city. Keep the contact details for the hotels, apartments, and Airbnbs to hand.

Negotiate where possible

Large bookings tend to give you more wiggle room than normal. Room block bookings are usually a lot more negotiable. This is because you are providing a big sum of income to a hotel at one time. Even if you can’t get any money off, it’s always worth trying.

Chapter 4

Planning 6-9 months
before the wedding

As you enter the home stretch, things start to get very real. And that’s amazing, because it means your big day is nearly here. This period gives you the chance to make some finishing touches to your plans. The sooner you get these done, the longer you’ll have to sit back and look forward to the wedding.

Creating a wedding gift list

This is arguably one of the more enjoyable tasks on this checklist. It’s rare as adults that we get the chance to ask for presents. While you won’t want to go too crazy, make sure to use this opportunity to spoil yourself a little. Here’s how to strike a good balance:

Ask other married couples

Talk to other people who’ve been in your position recently. They’ll be able to give a good description of the kinds of things they asked for at their own wedding. If you don’t have anyone to turn to, you can use online forums or dedicated wedding sites to get inspiration.

  • £25
  • £50
  • £100
  • £250

Have a goal for financial donations

Including a total (which is visible) gives people more incentive to help you with financial gifts. This can be something like the cost of a honeymoon, or even to help pay for the wedding. You can include a total on the page, or keep the total private.

Have someone check it

If you’re worried that your list isn’t appropriate, have a third-party you trust look over it. They’ll be able to spot any glaring issues, or items which seem out of place. A good candidate for this is your maid of honour or best man.

Shopping for bridesmaid dresses

You may already have a rough picture in mind for what you want your bridesmaid dresses to look like. Whether that’s the case or not, there are some important etiquette rules to remember when you’re out with your girls:

Bridesmaids and the bride

Discuss the budget ahead of time

If you’re not paying for the dresses yourself, you’ll need to let your bridesmaids know. This gives you the chance to find out what budget your friends will be working with. It’s useful to know this, as it’ll help inform where you shop.

Factor in alteration costs

Sometimes people will be larger or smaller than they were at the time of fitting. This can lead to having to pay a bit more down the line to fix things. This is another chat that can be had as part of the budget discussion.

Make sure everyone is measured

Wherever you do end up shopping, make sure all bridesmaids are measured in that specific store. Designers size their garments differently. That means the store needs to know exactly what everyone's specifications are in order to match them up properly.

Shopping for groomsmen suits

Making sure the groom and his team look sharp should always be a priority. In order to make the most of the time spent shopping for suits, follow this practical advice:

Deciding between renting and buying

This is always a tough choice when suit shopping. Renting will lower the price of the suits, while also making it easier to match up your three-piece look. Buying on the other hand means your friends will be able to wear the suit again. Weigh up what you place more value in.

Picking your style

It’s worth having a chat about what you think will work best for your needs. Do you want tuxedos or regular suits? Three-piece, or no waistcoat? It’s fine to have these chats with the bride and her party too. It’s only her dress that you’re not supposed to see before the wedding, not the other way around.

Matching your bride’s theme

If the bride has a clear theme in mind, your suit needs to match. Again, this is something which should be discussed ahead of time. If you’re unsure, get her to give you a list of colours and fabrics which will work.

Booking entertainment, flowers, and a hair stylist

With the skeleton of your wedding all wrapped up, it’s time to focus on the things which add those finishing touches of perfection. At this point you’ll have a strong idea of what you want your day to look like. That will make it easier deciding what kind of entertainment, floral patterns, hair, make-up and other cosmetic choices you want:

Wedding party


Be inclusive of everyone

Even if you and your partner have a specific style of music you enjoy, make sure to think about everyone. While it’s ultimately your choice, it’s nice for guests to also enjoy themselves. Pick a mix of genres and eras to make sure there are tunes for everyone. One way to cover this is to ask everyone to contribute one song to your playlist.

Book early

Bands, musicians, and other performers tend to be busy. That means if you want to secure your ideal entertainment, you need to contact them ahead of time. This is especially important if you’ve planned your evening entertainment around something specific.

Understand the venue limits

Make sure to take the time to work out what your venue can and can’t manage. For example, a rustic venue may not have the capabilities to deal with a lot of outdoor electronic equipment. This is something you can ask when planning your event.

Wedding party


Create a floral checklist

If you know there are certain flowers you definitely want included in your wedding, make a list of them. This is something you can present to your florist. It will help them visualise what’s in your head, as well as making sure you don’t miss any flowers you really want.

Have a dedicated floral budget

Make sure to free up some of your budget to pay for your flowers. They might cost more than you initially realise. This is another thing to talk to your florist about. They’ll be able to provide you with a range of packages. From there you can pick the one that works best for you.

Hair and makeup

Ask for portfolio photos

It’s important you get to grips with exactly what a stylist can actually do. Make sure to look at past examples of work they’ve done at other weddings. This will give you a good idea of if they’ll be able to pull off the look you’re after.

Use social media to find someone

Doing some research on social media is a great way to find stylists you like. Some brides will tag their stylists in their posts. Click on the ones you like and see what other work they’ve done.

Schedule a trial styling

This is the best way to make sure your stylist is right for you. Even if they’re not quite there with your image, it gives you the chance to hammer out the finer details. Try to book an appointment for everyone who’s getting styled on the day itself. Also ask the stylist to use the same products that they would at your wedding.

Hiring transport for the wedding day

If people have to come from far away for the ceremony or reception, you may need to organise transport. This might sound like a tricky task, but there are ways to make the job easier:

Consider any specialist needs

If there are elderly guests, or anyone who has accessibility requirements attending, they might need additional care when it comes to transport. Make sure to add this on the RSVP. It will give people the chance to discreetly ask for specialist requirements.

Try to create a specialised route

You might struggle to find a taxi driver who goes door-to-door to pick everyone up. A good alternative is to create a dedicated route with a few stops between point A and B. This makes it easier for people to get to the stopping location nearest to them, even if it isn’t right on their doorstep.

Shop around

Make sure to ask a number of drivers what they can offer, and how much it might cost. Taking the first offer which works might sound tempting, but you could save hundreds of dollars between providers if the routes are long.

Planning your honeymoon

Now that you’ve finalised all the details of your celebration, it’s time to really focus on you. Your honeymoon is a chance to spoil yourself. You’ve earned it. Here are some of the best tips to keep in mind during the planning stage:

Deciding where to go

It might sound obvious, but the most important step is picking somewhere to visit. There are probably loads of good options. Try to choose a place which means something to both of you, that you wouldn’t normally go to on a regular holiday.

Picking a time to head away

Despite what it might seem like in the movies, you don’t need to go on your honeymoon as soon as your wedding is over. You can wait for a time which works better for your needs. Pick a time when flights are cheaper, the weather is better, or it’s easier for you both to get time off work.

In a recent survey, 24.4% of brides said they wanted to go on their honeymoon the day after the wedding, while a total of 76.6% will head out at some point during their first week of marriage.

Use wedding gifts for your budget

If you were given some healthy cash gifts for your wedding, you can put some of this towards the cost of the trip. Just make sure this is something you’ve mentioned in your registry.

Make sure you’re both happy

The most important thing is to make sure both parties are happy with the final decision. This is a holiday which you’ll both remember for the rest of your life. It’s crucial you pick a place and type of activity which you both enjoy and actively want to engage in.

Chapter 5

Planning 6 months
up to the day of your wedding

Things couldn’t be any more real now. As the months turn to weeks, it’s natural to feel a mixture of both excitement and nerves. While the bulk of your planning will be behind you, there are still some finishing touches and pointers to keep in mind as you reach the home stretch.

3-6 months before the wedding

Wedding rings

Wedding party gifts

This is a good time to start thinking about (and possibly even buying) gifts for the people close enough to be a part of your bridal or groom party. The key here is to find something personal, but practical. For example, a pair of custom sunglasses for the boys, or a comfy cushion or pillow for the girls. Also be sure to start thinking about favours for your guests.

Your rings

A wedding ring is a symbol of the eternal love you share with your partner. As such, spend some time in the months leading up to the wedding shopping together for a pair which complement you both. Remember, this is something you’ll (hopefully) wear for many years to come, so you need to like it.

Messages from loved ones

It’s become tradition to have lovely personal notes from your guests laid out somewhere during your reception. How you choose to present this will vary depending on your theme, or even just personal tastes. While something simple like a book doesn’t need much in the way of prep, you might want to start early if you’re thinking of using a varnished wooden plaque, or an equally complex item.

Think about your accessories

It’s the little things which add the finishing touches to any wedding. With about half a year to go, you should start thinking about factors like shoes, jewellery, hair pieces, ties, pocket squares and cufflinks.

1-3 months before the wedding

Bride getting her hair and makeup done

A wedding portrait

While totally optional, a wedding portrait gives you the chance to forever capture how magnificent the bride, groom, or other friends and family looked in their wedding splendour. If you’re a traditionalist who doesn’t want to see your partner fully kitted out before the big day, you can book in separate sittings. If you don’t want to be snapped in your wedding day splendour, you could instead opt for a late engagement shoot.

Hair and make-up trial

If you’ve spoken to a specialist about doing your hair and make-up, it’s a smart idea to sit down with them and do a trial run in the build-up to the big day. They’ll be able to iron out any aspects you’re less keen on, while also getting a better understanding of exactly how you want to look.

Dress re-fittings

There’s a good chance that people would have grown and shrunk in the time between the original fitting and the months prior to the wedding. This gives everyone a chance to see where they’re at, and have their dresses re-fitted accordingly.

Clean your engagement ring

You’ll want the ring which started your wedding journey to shine as bright as a star on your big day. Take it to get polished and cleaned in the months leading up to the wedding.

Arrange notice of marriage

As part of forming a legally binding marriage, citizens of the UK are required to sign a legal statement which says you intend to get married. This has to be signed at least 29 days before your ceremony, so be sure to organise it well ahead of time.

1 month before the wedding

Groomsman on a stag do

Double check with vendors

While you shouldn’t panic, there’s always the chance an unforeseen change or administrative error might mean a vendor won’t be turning up when you expect. It’s best to check with anyone you’ve made agreements with, and find out if any last-minute changes will need to be made. A month prior to the wedding, you should still have time to rebook.

Hen and stag do

The month prior to the wedding is a great time to plan your stag or hen do. It’s close enough to the big day to get you excited for what’s to come, but far enough out that you won’t be feeling the impact of your night as you walk down the aisle.

Start assigning seats for dinner

Think about where you want everyone to sit. It’s best to try and keep people who know each other together, in order for everyone to feel comfortable during their meal. If that’s not possible, try matching up people with a similar set of interests.

Put together an emergency kit

Any number of minor issues could crop up on your big day. Having an emergency kit means you’re prepared to handle things like a spill, a cracked nail, an allergic reaction, or even feeling faint. Luxury Hair provides a comprehensive list of everything you need to have in your kit.

The week before the wedding

Bride and groom shoes

Beauty treatments

Now’s the perfect time to pamper yourself. Colour your hair (or refresh it if it’s faded), have your nails painted, refine your eyebrows, or even just get your lashes done. You deserve to look your very best on your big day.

Check in with the wedding party

Speak to every member of your respective parties and make sure they’re fully aware of timings. They won’t have to worry about too much – but it is important they know where to be and when. If you feel it’s necessary, you could give them a printed or digital schedule of the day. This is also a good time to chase any stragglers who haven’t replied to your RSVP yet.

Break in your shoes

Just as with any new pair of shoes, wedding footwear can be uncomfortable if you haven’t already worn them a few times prior to the big day. Doing this for 30 minutes or so every day leading up to the wedding means you’ll be walking down the aisle without rubbing or chaffing.

Take time off work

Unless you absolutely can’t, try to take the week leading up to your wedding off from work. This gives you the chance to focus on sorting any last minute bits and bobs, as well as providing a welcome mental break in the lead up to one of the most important events of your life.

The day before the wedding

Rings on top of written notes

Go over your speeches and vows

While you’ve probably already done plenty of work on them, the day before the wedding gives you the opportunity to really cement them in your mind. Spend some time practising them in the mirror, and iron out anything which you’re still not sure about.

The rehearsal dinner

This usually takes place the evening before the wedding (although it could be at any point during the week leading up). The rehearsal meal gives family members the chance to meet, while also reducing tension somewhat ahead of the ceremony itself.

Get an early night

You’ll want to make sure you get as much rest as possible. Weddings are amazing fun, but they can be intense for the couple who are getting married. You’ll want to ensure you get as much rest as possible to be able to tackle the day at your fullest.

Write an open letter to your partner

This is a lovely way to make your partner feel as special as they deserve on the wedding day itself. Tell them to open it the next morning, as the perfect way to start what might be a slightly nerve-wracking day.

The day of the wedding

Arrive early

There’s no such thing as “too early” on your wedding day. The more prepared you are, the easier you’ll find it to glide through the day with minimal stress. Ask your venue what time they are willing to accept you from. This will also give you the chance to meet the registrar, and run over anything specific with them.

The first look

This is an increasingly popular option for couples before their wedding. The first look gives you a chance to get a brief moment of alone time with your partner a couple of hours before your ceremony. While some might shudder at the idea of the groom seeing the bride before she walks down the aisle, others might appreciate this short window to relax and share a special moment with the person they love.

Enjoy yourself

Lastly (and possibly most importantly), remember to have fun and enjoy your day. It’s rare that absolutely everything goes completely to plan, so try to relax and enjoy yourself with a mix of your nearest and dearest.

Chapter 6

Useful links

We’ve discussed a lot in this checklist. Despite that, there might still be more you want to learn about specific parts of planning. Make sure to check out these useful secondary resources for more information.