Congratulations on getting engaged to the love of your life!
Now the next step is learning how to plan a wedding that symbolises your love story!
It is no secret that wedding planning is a strenuous process. From maintaining a budget and deciding on a venue to finding the vendors, finalising the guest list, and choosing the perfect bridal decor can feel pretty overwhelming.
If you are going through something similar, don’t worry. As a Cornwall wedding photographer, I know how the industry works and how much time couples need to plan their big day seamlessly. In addition, every celebration is unique, so planning one is different every single time. When it comes to hosting epic occasions, being organised is of utmost importance! And the best way to stay on track is to give yourself enough time for the planning process. That way, you will not rush or stress out about the big day.
I am confident that my 12-month wedding planning checklist will be very helpful. Follow the guidelines and tick off the tasks monthly to make your planning process as smooth as possible.
Here’s your ultimate step-by-step guide on how to plan a wedding. Grab your coffee, and let’s get started!
Before you start wedding planning
There are a few things that you MUST do before officially starting your wedding planning process.
Decide the theme of your wedding day
The wedding theme sets the mood and tone for the big day. It enables you to create a cohesive aesthetic that represents you and your partner as a couple. Now is the perfect time to sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation with your significant other about your nuptial vision.
Do you wish to have a traditional wedding with classic décor? Or are you dreaming about an outdoor beach ceremony? Maybe you wish to incorporate vintage elements? Do you want a lavish glam theme? As you can see, the possibilities are endless, and the choice is completely up to you!
Some of the most famous wedding themes include;
- Art deco
Set your budget for the big day
If you want to plan a wedding without stressing yourself out, set your budget from the start and try to stick to it!
Deciding on a budget saves you from wasting money or falling into debt. I understand that budgeting can be stressful, but it is a vital part of the planning process. Get realistic and get clear about your wedding funds. Additionally, coming up with a budget will help you allocate the funds for certain vendors. For instance, you may want to spend more on a wedding photographer and less on the decor – a tracking plan will help you stay on top of everything! That said, communicate with your partner, calculate the percentage of the savings you are willing to spend on the main day, and determine how much more you need to save (if required).
If your parents or relatives are willing to pay for the expenses, get clear from the start. I know the conversation can get a bit awkward, but I promise it will save you from so much stress during the wedding planning journey. Ask them how much they are willing to contribute. Do they want to pay for the photographer? Or maybe they would like to bear the expenses of the décor?
Pro tip: Create a spreadsheet to keep track of your wedding budget. This will give you an estimate of how much you are spending. Also, allot a percentage for unexpected expenses.
Make a guest list
Before finalising the wedding venue, you must know how many people you will invite to celebrate your special day with you. Moreover, it also helps you to create a budget for food, stationery, souvenirs, and invites.
12-month out wedding planning checklist
Hire a wedding planner
When you plan a wedding, hiring a wedding planner is the best thing you can do for your big day. Why? Because it saves you from so much stress and helps you to create a wedding day that embodies your dream aesthetics. Sure, doing a DIY celebration is all good, but having a professional by your side will help you seamlessly plan your event.
Here are some advantages of hiring a wedding planner:
- Having a planner takes the pressure off you and your partner.
- Wedding planners are experienced professionals who know exactly how to turn your dream vision into reality.
- They help you to save time and money.
- They take care of the little details, so you don’t have to stress at the last minute.
- In essence, they also help you to utilise your wedding budget in the best way possible.
These professionals ensure that you have a seamless planning process. Moreover, they also suggest tried and trusted suppliers, give you the best advice on choosing the venue, and take care of all the essential details to eliminate stress and pressure leading up to the big day. Furthermore, they are absolutely essential if you’re planning a destination wedding since they know your desired location in the back of their hand. As you can see, by hiring a professional, you’ll get to fully enjoy the planning process without having to worry about any of the logistics.
Choose a wedding date
Select the wedding date as soon as you can. This will make the entire booking process easy for you. Have the top 3 dates in mind and then make the reservations accordingly. Additionally, check whether all your preferred vendors are available for your selected date.
Book your wedding venue and ceremony location
Choosing your venue location is the most important part of the wedding planning process, mainly because it sets the stage for your momentous celebration. On top of that, it determines EVERYTHING about the style of your big day.
Start your research early on and list the venue that resembles your dream wedding vision. Visit the options with your partner and opt for the one that fits your style, budget, aesthetics, and guest count. Booking the venue well in advance also makes getting married on your desired date easier. In addition, having a planner comes in very handy during the entire procedure.
Many wedding venues provide breathtaking outdoor ceremonial locations if you romanticise the idea of an outdoor ceremony. If you love bohemian weddings, getting married in the countryside or in a chic rustic venue will be an ideal choice.
You may be dreaming about tying the knot in an enchanting castle or a beautiful beach pavilion. Luckily for you, wedding venues in Cornwall have a lot to offer to make your dream come true. From chic rustic barnyards and romantic secluded coves to golden sandy beaches, breathtaking gardens, and charming historic places – Cornwall has something for every couple. Start your research early to choose the best option for your big day.
11-month out wedding planning checklist
Decide the colour palette for the décor
Once you have decided on your wedding theme and venue, the next step is to select the colour palette for your special occasion.
The colour scheme dictates the tone of the event and also plays a critical role in determining your design and aesthetics.
Start researching potential vendors
To plan a wedding that will create everlasting memories, you need to find the right suppliers to turn your vision into a reality. With that said, start researching potential vendors almost 10-11 months before the main day.
Researching wedding suppliers is so important! It helps you to find the right fit for your special event. Start checking the portfolios of potential photographers, bakers, florists, caterers, and music bands. Although their work might be stellar, make sure to like them personally, just so you can fully convey your vision.
Finalise your guest list
After booking your wedding venue, it is time to finalise your guest list and give the management a solid headcount about how many people will be attending your wedding.
10-month out wedding planning checklist
Book your ideal wedding photographer
After researching the potential vendors, finalise the wedding photographer and videographer whose style resembles your dream aesthetics. Booking the photographer in advance is always a good idea; it allows you to hire your favourite photographer to capture the most special day of your life. However, it’s not just about their technique – personality plays a huge role. Since your photographer will be side-by-side with you the entire day, you need to find someone you really get along with.
Having a photographer and videographer is the best investment you can make for your wedding day. These suppliers document your special moments and emotions so you can revive these beautiful memories forever.
Finalise wedding suppliers and caterers
Once you are done with your research, start booking the wedding suppliers. These include; florists, bakers, DJs, bands, and caterers. Early booking will save you from a lot of stress and pressure during the last months leading up to the main event.
Professional musical bands and DJs provide the best entertainment services. They are the life of the party. Don’t leave this decision at the last moment!
Similarly, hire a wedding florist early so you can have ample time to decide on the colour, shape, and types of flowers you would like to have on your big day. It also gives you enough time to think about floral arches or impressive hanging installations for the wedding day. Keep in mind that sometimes the flowers you like will be out of season, but you can always go for faux.
Start your wedding dress research
9-10 months is ideal for starting the wedding attire research.
Think long and hard about the look you’re going to dazzle everyone with. Is it a beautiful A-line gown with a flattering neckline? Do you wish to flaunt a ball gown adorned with intricate lacy details for your glamorous celebration? Finding the perfect wedding dress is hard, but starting your research early will help you find the ideal fit for your special occasion.
Other popular silhouettes include;
- Empire gown
- Mermaid gown
- Sheath wedding dress
9-month out wedding planning checklist
Pick up your wedding invites and save-the-dates
By the start of the 9th month, you must start picking up your wedding invites and save-the-dates. Get inspiration from your theme, colour palette, or venue. After careful selection of the invites, start ordering your stationery. Make sure you ask for a sample of the selected card before ordering in bulk. Additionally, if you want to save a pretty penny, you can do all these things electronically via e-mail.
Decide your bridal party
Make a list of the people you feel closest to and start choosing your bridal party. This is by far the most exciting part of the wedding planning process! Decide the best man, maid of honour, usher, bridesmaids and groomsmen. Also, assign them their respective roles and keep them up-to-date with the organisation.
Book your honeymoon
Another fun step in the planning process is to start making reservations for your honeymoon. This will save you from so much stress after the main event. Plus, early booking will also help you to save tons of money.
8-month out wedding planning checklist
Say ‘yes’ to the wedding attire of your dreams
After carefully thinking and researching your bridal attire, it is time to say ‘yes’ to the wedding look of your dreams.
Purchasing a bridal outfit in advance prevents you from making any rash decisions.
Create your wedding registry website
Create a website for your nuptial where you update your guests will all the necessary information. Also, start your wedding registry so your guests can buy gifts YOU want and need. This way, you don’t end up having duplicates of things you already have.
Online updates on the website also help the out-of-town guests to stay oriented and in touch. Plus, it also lets you track your RSVPs digitally, saving you from a lot of stress and headache at the last moment.
7-months out wedding planning checklist
Send out save-the-dates
Save-the-dates contain basic information about your special day, such as time, date, location, and the link to your wedding website. Sending them 6-7 months before the big day is always a good idea.
Choose bridal party outfits
Always choose the bridal party outfits after finalising your own wedding attire. You can use your primary colour to compliment the bridesmaid’s dresses and groomsmen’s accessories. Moreover, you can also go for colourful hues and earthy tones or draw inspiration from your venue.
Purchase a groom’s suit
Based on the formality of your event, you can choose between a tux and a suit. Make sure that it complements the wedding theme and the bride’s outfit to create an amazing cohesive look.
6-month out wedding planning checklist
Hire an officiant
Sort out all the legal registration details for your marriage. If you are planning to hire an officiant to lead the ceremony, contact them at least 6 months before the wedding day.
If you are opting for a destination wedding, research what the marriage registration details for that particular place look like. Follow the procedure and complete the form to avoid any last-minute stress on the event.
Book hair and makeup artists for the wedding day
Take inspiration from Pinterest or Instagram and start researching hair and makeup stylists. It’s vital to choose the ones that resonate with your wedding style. Show them the inspo pictures so they can get an idea about the look you want on your big day. If you don’t have anything particular in mind, your stylists will provide many amazing options!
Organise transport for your guests
If your reception isn’t taking place at the same place as your ceremony, it is your foremost duty to arrange transportation for all the guests. Organising transport is essential since it enables your bridal party to arrive comfortably and in style.
5-month out wedding planning checklist
Attend wedding dress fittings
Once the bride and groom’s wedding outfits have been selected, it is now time to attend dress fittings. Final dress fitting is vital because it ensures the entire dress is up-to-the-mark and perfectly fits your body shape. Moreover, it also gives you complete confidence in your bridal look. Try doing the trial 4-5 months before the wedding day to get ample time for any required alterations.
4-month out wedding planning checklist
Purchase accessories for your wedding outfit
Accessories elevate the outfit and amplify the entire wedding look. Moreover, they look gorgeous and create the extra sparkle you need to ace your big day.
Here is your bridal accessories checklist:
- Jewellery pieces (necklace, bracelets, earrings)
- Hairpins, tiaras, and other ornaments.
- For grooms, the essential accessories are:
- Tie bar
- Bow ties
- Sleek cufflinks
- Personalised pocket squares
Send wedding invitations
Ideally, the best time to send your wedding invitations is 3-4 months before the big event.
This way, you can request and track your RSVPs sooner and create the seating chart for your big day. Sending the invitations timely also gives your guests enough time to clear their schedule and join you for joyous occasions.
3-months out wedding planning checklist
Host your pre-wedding party
Hosting a pre-wedding party is an amazing way to gather with your close friends and share your excitement. It is an intimate way to gather with your loved ones and soak in the happiness leading up to the big day.
If you plan to host a pre-wedding event, consider doing it 3 months before the main occasion.
Finalise gift bags for the guests
Wedding favours are a fantastic way to thank your guests for attending the event. Start finalising the gift bags to avoid any rush.
2-month out wedding planning checklist
Buy wedding rings
You will be wearing your wedding rings forever, so take your time to find the ones that perfectly convey your love story. Set a firm budget, do your research, choose the shape and design, and select the size. Consider personalising your rings for a more authentic touch. When it comes to choosing wedding bands, shop early and shop together.
Sort the little details
Sort out all the little details like cake knives, personalised napkins, garters, lighting, and guest book.
If you are planning an outdoor celebration, consider having a backup plan for rain as well.
Write your vows
Personalised vows make the whole event even more special and meaningful. Give yourself enough time to write your vows. Think, surf the internet for inspiration, write, edit and write again to finalise the result.
Book a photo booth
Photo booths are hands-down the best party favours for special occasions! Consider booking one for your big day to get authentic and amazing pictures with your guests.
- Have a final wedding attire fitting.
- Consider doing menu and cake tasting.
- Have a meeting with your photographer or videographer to finalise the timeline.
- Confirm the arrangements with all the wedding suppliers and clear their dues.
- Purchase your wedding shoes.
Do all the pre-wedding preps (manicure, pedicure, and waxing)
Complete your beauty regimens a week before the wedding. Get a relaxing massage to calm your nerves and soothe and moisturise your skin for a mesmerising look. Also, don’t forget to get your nails done!
Create a timetable for the big day
Create a timetable for the wedding day to stay calm and organised. Having an hour-by-hour timeline will ensure that your day runs smoothly.
The night before the wedding day checklist
For a healthy meal, don’t drink alcohol and pack your essentials the night before your wedding. Also, get a good eight-hour sleep so you wake up bright and fresh the next day. Plus, pack a wedding emergency kit with bobby pins, needles and threads, and touch-up make-up products.
I hope that the above 12-month checklist on how to plan a wedding proves to be helpful for you. If you need a Cornwall wedding photographer to capture your big day, contact me today. I would love to photograph your special event!