Planning your wedding, whether you have two years or six months to do so, can be a daunting prospect. Between conducting research and managing a budget, as well as figuring out when you’ll get round to everything, there’s a lot of different factors to take into account. So, to help you through this, we’ve produced a simple breakdown of the things you’ll need to consider to craft a stress-free day.
Step 1: Think about the big picture
Considering your wedding day in the broadest sense possible will inform the rest of the choices you make and simplify the planning process as a whole. We recommend coming up with a mission statement as a couple—taking into account your wedding theme, whether the ceremony will be steeped in any religious or cultural traditions, and what will matter most to you about the day.
Then it’s time to tackle fundamentals like your budget and initial guest list, as many other decisions are impacted by these considerations. For instance, you should have a rough idea of guest numbers when choosing your venue, while your budget obviously dictates what you can and cannot do. Beyond the day itself, it’s a good idea to start planning your honeymoon at this stage, as booking it in advance will be cheaper and gives you plenty of time to prepare for it.
Step 2: Find a venue
Before you can start thinking about details like outfits, decorations, or catering, you need to work out where you’re actually having the wedding. Your first consideration when choosing a venue should be capacity. You will obviously need somewhere that can accommodate your guests, but you also should decide whether you want an intimate setting or somewhere with a bit more space. It can be difficult to imagine how a venue will look when it’s filled with tables, so you should either request to view any potential venues when they have already been set up for a wedding, or ask for photographs and seating plans to help you gauge whether it will be the right size or not. Before committing to any venue, make sure it will be in line with the non-negotiable elements of your day, particularly your budget. You should also check whether you’re allowed certain entertainment on the premises and other factors like whether accessibility for disabled guests.
The venue’s location is also hugely important, especially because of how it affects your guests. If certain attendees aren’t based locally, your venue should be easy to reach and have convenient accommodation that’s either on site or nearby. The theme you’ve agreed upon also comes into play here, as the venue will play a massive part in putting this across. For instance, at Sandon Hall, our 19th century mansion can hugely enhance a more traditional or vintage aesthetic, with its magnificent neo-Jacobean style interior design providing the perfect backdrop for this type of ceremony. While for a rustic theme, a farm or barn setting makes perfect sense—think a countryside venue surrounded by farmland, with interior features like an open fire, wooden beams, and exposed bricks.
Step 3: Start shopping for wedding attire
It’s vital that you start shopping for wedding attire early on, as it can take a long time to find a dress or suit that you like, let alone one that fits. What’s more, many wedding shops have long lead times on their outfits—you don’t want to miss out on your dream clothing because you didn’t order it in time. Shopping in advance is especially important if you’re sorting out the bridesmaids’ and ushers’ outfits too. This same logic applies to your wedding rings.
When choosing your outfit, make sure to take your venue into account as well as your wedding date. It would be unwise, for example, to buy a wide dress if you’re tying the knot in a small venue with a narrow aisle, while you might want to opt for thicker materials in the winter.
Step 4: Identify and hire your vendors
A wedding vendor is anybody that you pay to provide a product or service for your wedding, whether that’s your wedding cake, dress, and invitations, or the music, catering, and photography. Below is a (by no means exhaustive) list of some of the vendors you may consider hiring for your wedding:
- Hair and makeup professionals
- Transportation company
Like everything else, the vendors you opt for will be dictated by your budget. As such, you should prioritise the essentials (such as your officiant) or the ones that absolutely can’t be done by someone you know. From the remaining vendors, work out which ones you could probably skip or do yourselves. You can then divide up your budget appropriately.
Once you’ve identified the type of vendors you need, remember not to simply opt for the first ones you can find. You want the best people for the job—after all, they will be playing a huge role in shaping one of the biggest days of your life. To identify appropriate individuals, ask for recommendations from friends and family (although do bear in mind that what worked for them might not work for you), use Google and social media while taking into account reviews, and browse wedding publications. Make sure to properly vet any prospective vendors before hiring them. Definitely meet—or at least have a phone conversation—with them, and perhaps ask for names of their previous clients as references.
Step 5: Start gearing up for the big day
When your big day is more immediately on the horizon, it’s time to iron out all the small details, from buying gifts for the bridesmaids and ushers, to obtaining a marriage license and ensuring you’re fully prepared for your honeymoon. Now is also the time to send out invitations—this is your chance to put your best foot forward to your guests, so consider working with a stationer or graphic designer to design stylish RSVPs that scream ‘you’.
The wedding schedule should be your next port of call. You’ll want to make the most of your day, so it’s crucial that you time it right in order to avoid any unfortunate surprises or rushing proceedings. This should take into account everything from the time you spend getting ready to your drinks reception—the more detailed, the better. At this point, your dinner menu and wedding playlist should be finalised and you should have your rehearsal dinner in the diary. Be sure to create a seating plan at this point. While it makes sense to have friends and family with one another, don’t be deterred from mixing groups up too, as this gives everybody the opportunity to mingle.
Step 6: Tie up the loose ends
The finish line is nigh, which means checking and double-checking you have everything organised. Ensure that your guests have their accommodation booked, your vows and speeches are finalised, and your marriage license is secured. Have your hair and beauty treatments done the week before the ceremony, and chase up anybody that hasn’t replied to your invitation. Don’t leave honeymoon packing until the last minute either—after all, you want to be able to relax the night before the big day.
Depending on where you’re staying, pack an overnight bag and wedding survival kit for the day, including items like tissues, deodorant, and painkillers. Finally, get a good night’s sleep and make sure you enjoy the day itself.