Congratulations on your engagement and welcome to the world of wedding planning! If you’re wondering where to start, we’ve got you covered. Our 13 Step Wedding Planning Guide will walk you through which tasks to focus on and in which order to do them. We’ve included helpful questions to ask along the way, so you can keep your vision and style in mind as you bring your plans to life.
Step 1: Determine your vision and style
It’s important to begin your wedding planning journey by asking yourselves:
What is most important to us?
How do we want our guests to feel?
What do we want our wedding to look like?
Do you want a packed dance floor all night? Well, make sure you prioritise your live music and DJ. Would you like a world-class meal? Then choose a caterer accordingly. Are you picturing a relaxed, garden party? Then focus your attention on all the items required to achieve that.
We always recommend beginning this way, because knowing your style will help you choose the right suppliers (that’ll come later), pick a colour palette or theme and will help you to prioritise when your budget needs to be reallocated (it happens to all of us!). Write down your top priorities and start putting words to your style. You could use words like elegant, boho, or intimate. These words describe the way your wedding will look and feel.
Step 2: Create a wedding planning system
There are a few things you can do right at the beginning to make sure you are organised and ready for wedding planning. Create a free Gmail account that you can use for all your wedding planning purposes. You’ll use this to liaise with wedding suppliers to keep all your quotes and invoices in one place. It’s also a great way to gather RSVPs from guests.
Make your wedding planning spreadsheet, make a binder and have a well-organised system from the start. Later, you’ll use this system to gather RSVPs, make your seating chart and put together a day-of timeline.
Step 3: It’s budget time
Now it’s time to sit down together as a couple and see what funds you’ve got to work with. Then have an open conversation with your parents and ask if they are happy to contribute something towards your wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, but lots of modern couples are choosing to do things differently. Some pay for their wedding themselves, some have both sets of parents contribute, while others rely on loans and gifts.
Step 4: Set a date
There are lots of factors to consider when setting a date, so go back to your vision. Did you picture a beautiful beachy wedding? Then choose a Summer date. Did you imagine your wedding party in lovely long dresses? Perhaps an Autumn or Winter wedding is an option for you.
Then look at your budget. If you’ve got a tight budget, you may want to consider an off peak wedding date such as a weekday or Winter date.
Step 5: Form your wedding party
Ask your besties to be your bridesmaids and groomsmen. You could do this with a fun proposal box, a small gift or card.
It’s important to share with them exactly what you’d like them to do on the day and in the lead-up to the day. You don’t have to be militant about it, but it will help everybody if expectations are clear. At this point, let them know your wedding date so they can take time off work or make any other logistical plans to be there.
Then, introduce your wedding party to one another. You may want to create a What’s App group or email chain to keep everybody together and to avoid having to individually text everybody about dress fittings and so on.
Step 6: Book these suppliers first
You’ve got an idea of your style, you’ve looked at your budget and you’ve set a date. You have a wedding party ready to help you. Now it’s time to start assembling your Supplier Dream Team. This is what we recommend you search for first:
Venue: Keep your wedding style, budget and guest list in mind.
Photographer: A key tip here is to ask to see a whole wedding that a photographer has captured, not just the highlights reel.
Planner: Full planning might not be in your budget, but we recommend considering a day-of coordinator to bring your plans together with minimal stress to you.
Florist and Decor: Remember your wedding style. Now allow the pros to bring your style and ideas to life!
Step 7: Create a guest list
You have a budget and a venue, so now it’s time to make a list of everybody you want to have celebrating with you. Start by writing out those who you would be sad not to have there. We’re talking about immediate family, wedding party and close friends. Then add to the list anybody who you would also like to have there. This is your wider community, friends you work with every day and family you love but maybe haven’t seen in a while. And lastly, create a B-list of guests you would like to invite if somebody else isn’t able to attend (note: nobody needs to know that they are on the B-list so keep this to yourself).
Step 8: Save the Dates and invitations
It’s time to invite your nearest and dearest to come to your wedding! Depending on how long your engagement is and how far away your venue is, make plans to send a Save the Date prior to a formal wedding invitation. Generally, you can send out a Save the Date four months prior to the wedding. Then at four to six weeks to go, send out your formal invitations.
Remember that your wedding stationery is the first taste you will give your guests of your wedding style. Incorporate lovely photos, your wedding colours or an illustration to give guests a hint of what’s to come.
Here’s what to include in your wedding invitation:
There’s a wedding and you’re invited!
The names of the couple
Venue and location
Date and time
Reception info (if your evening celebration is in a different location)
RSVP details (how to RSVP and when to do it)
Step 9: Choose the attire
Here’s a list of wedding attire you need to think about:
Couple’s outfits: dresses, suits, jumpsuits, or whatever else you’d like to wear on your wedding day.
Wedding party outfits: dresses, suits or whatever you’d like the bridesmaids and groomsmen to wear.
Accessories: don’t forget the veil, shoes, cufflinks, jewellery, ties and socks.
Step 10: Pick your entertainment
Think ahead towards your wedding day and consider the questions you asked in step 1. Knowing how you want your guests to feel will determine the type of entertainment you choose. Usually, you’ll want to keep your guests fed (more on this later) and give them a reason to dance.
Here are a few wedding entertainment options to consider:
Live band or musician
Photobooth or selfie mirror
Caricaturist or live artist
Magician or comedian
An interactive guest book
Step 11: Determine your ceremony details
Your wedding ceremony is a really important, yet often easily forgotten part of the Big Day. This is where you (usually) get legally married and make promises to one another.
Here is a list of what you should keep in mind for your wedding ceremony:
A celebrant or officiant
The legal bit (this can be done by your celebrant/officiant or prior to your Big Day)
Your vows (will you write your own or read pre-written vows?)
Special readings, items or songs you want to include
Will you walk down the aisle alone, with a parent or friend, or together as a couple?
Step 12: Food and cake
There are lots of fun wedding food options to consider, based on the style of your wedding! For an interactive, garden party style, think about DIY food and drinks bars. If you’re not into a formal sit-down meal, why not consider having all your favourites, such as pizza or burgers?
You can’t forget about the cake! This is a fantastic way to incorporate your wedding style and theme into your food. Always remember that your wedding cake should do more than just look good. It’s got to be super tasty too.
Wedding budget tip: you don’t need to have dessert and cake. Serve your cake as dessert!
Step 13: Beauty regime
Closer to your Big Day, you’ll need to think about everything to do with beauty! Book a hair stylist and makeup artist and set a date for a trial for each. This will help you to determine how you’d like to look on the day and it’ll save time on the morning of your wedding.
Other beauty elements to think about: a mani and pedi, a spray tan, and any skincare routine you may want to start doing now.