With so much to do it’s important to know the normal milestones in planning a wedding. Sometimes it’s going to seem like a never ending list, so break it down into manageable sections and slowly work your way through it.
Why not paste this timeline into the Google Drive spreadsheet that we hope you’ve created? It was one of the 10 first steps for the newly engaged. Don’t be afraid to delegate some tasks to your family and bridesmaids – they will be more than happy to help.
10 – 12 Months Before
• Book your venue: Venues book up fast, especially around peak dates. I booked my venue a year in advance and they had already had quite a few enquiries so I was lucky to get the venue of my choice. Have a look at I do Venues for some inspiration.
• Decide if you are going to have a minister or an officiant: It’s useful to get to know them and their style so you can decide if they will run the type of ceremony you are after. This is the part that Phil and I struggled with the most. If you aren’t a regular church goer I would recommend going by word-of-mouth referrals when possible.
• Select bridal party: I am sure you already have ideas on who to ask but make sure it’s a considered decision as they will play an integral part in your day. Phil and I decided to do something a bit unusual. I had my brother as a “bridesman” and he had his sister as a “groomsmaid”. Go with what is special to you.
• Select suppliers: One of the key suppliers is a photographer. They typically get booked out far in advance so look to get this firmed up early on. We used Lauren Kriedemann and she was excellent. Decide on the style of photographer you want and how much you want to spend as their prices vary quite a bit. I would also suggest looking into videographers, caterers, DJs and florists. The suppliers are an integral part of the wedding so meet with them and make sure you connect.
8 – 10 Months Before
• Go dress shopping: Wedding dresses can take up to eight months to be delivered so order it early. Don’t worry about wanting to lose weight first as they will take rough measurements and fit it to you closer to the date. I found my dress at Ollivelli but there are a number of bridal shops around so take your mom and friends along as you will need a second (and probably a third opinion). A perfect place to start would be the Olivelli Fashion Show. You can win tickets here.
• Block book hotel rooms for guests: We had a number of guests from abroad so we block booked accommodation near to the wedding venue. Make sure you the hotel keeps an up to date rooming list and you agree on release dates. You don’t want to be liable for any rooms not booked.
6 – 8 Months Before
• Send Save the Dates: If you are inviting overseas guests or having a destination wedding, it’s a good idea to send these out with as much advance notice as possible. For local guests give at least 6 months’ notice. Save the dates can be sent electronically or via post. We decided to create a wedding website and sent all our Save the Date’s via email. It also helped us gather postal addresses for sending the invitations.
• Plan and book your honeymoon: Start discussing various destinations, or you can leave this up to your partner if you prefer a surprise.
• Order bridesmaids’ dresses: Start shopping for bridesmaid dress. If you don’t buy one off the rack that can take up to 5 months to receive after ordering. You also need to allow time for alterations. I opted for infinity dresses for my bridesmaid dresses as my one bridesmaid lives in New Zealand and the other in London so it saved dress fittings and sizing issues.
• Buy wedding bands: There is no real set time to buy your bands – just don’t leave it too late. A nice idea is to get them engraved.
• Confirm additional suppliers: Confirm and book additional suppliers such as lighting, furniture. If you are having a wedding planner they will do this for you.
• Cake tastings: Not going to complain about this item on the to do list! Decide on what type of cake you want and do some tastings. Once you have found one there is no harm placing the order early. Phil and I love cheese so we decided to be a bit different and have a cheese tower for our cake.
2 – 4 Months Before
• Select groomsmen suits/tux: Whether the groomsmen are renting or purchasing, it’s a good idea to get this sorted out a few months before the wedding to ensure stock availability.
• Post wedding invitations: Wedding invitations are typically sent out 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding.
• Write or decide on vows/ceremony: Phil and I wrote our vows together which was really meaningful. If you are worried about learning them by heart you can ask you minster to lead you through them. Much easier considering how emotional you will feel!
• Book a wedding course: Phil and I found this really interesting and useful and it poses some important questions to discuss before getting married. These courses are normally run by your local church.
• Buy accessories: Decide what you will be wearing with your dress—shoes, jewellery if you will be having a hairpiece or veil. Don’t forget to break your shoes in to avoid any blisters on the day.
• Confirm transport: Decide on how you want to get to the ceremony – Classic Cats in Cape Town offers beautiful vintage cars. Also decide if you are going to provide transport for your guests. We used Shuttle Up to get our guests to and from the accommodation. It can be quite logistical so make sure to think through the timings correctly!
• Hair & makeup trials: Book a hair and makeup trial with your supplier. I would suggest doing this closer to the wedding so it will still be fresh in your mind. Take some images to show your hair and makeup artist as this will help guide her.
4- 6 Weeks Before
• Hen party: Try and find a date that works for your bridal party. It’s fun to have this close to the wedding so guests can get to know each other before the day. Have fun and remember… “what goes on tour stays on tour”!
• Kitchen tea/ bridal Shower: Traditionally, the groom’s mother’s close friend hosts the bridal shower. My godmother, with the help of my bridesmaids, hosted mine. A kitchen tea is a lovely way to celebrate your upcoming marriage with older members of your family.
• Arrange first dress fitting: It is a good idea to book in a first dress fitting 4 weeks prior to your wedding to allow time for alterations.
2 Weeks Before
• Final Dress Fitting: The final tweaks should have been made to your dress and you can now take up the hem and make sure your accessories work.
1 Week Before
• Confirm numbers: Confirm final numbers with your caterers and relevant suppliers.
• Finalise Seating Chart: There might be some last minute cancellations so only finalise your seating chart closer to the time to avoid having to make changes.
• Send items to print: Once numbers and the seating chart have been finalised send everything to print.
• Beauty appointments: Allow some time in case you have an unexpected breakout. You also want to make sure you get this all done before you get a spray tan!
• Photo list: Put together a full list of the formal photos that you want taken. It can get a little crazy trying to find old uncle Bob at the bar so make sure the list and names of people are given to the photographer and MC.
2 Days Before
• Spray Tan: If you have decided to opt for a healthy tan book your spray tan in 48 hours before. Make sure you have tested the salon out beforehand so that you know how the tan reacts to your skin.
• Set up at venue: check that you are happy with how things have been set up or if you are a DIY bride get everything ready for the big day. I would suggest that you have suppliers drop everything off the day before set up so you can hit the ground running.
• Mani/Pedi: I had my mani and pedi done the afternoon before the wedding. It’s a nice way to relax into things. There are services you can book that will come out to your house/hotel.
• Get lots of sleep: try to have an early night so you feel fresh for tomorrow.
• Have the florist deliver the bridal bouquets: Make sure these arrive early so they can be included in your detailed wedding photographs
• Give wedding bands to the best man: You don’t want to have to ask the guests to lend you one of theirs.
• Eat something: With all the excitment of getting ready it can be easy to forget to eat. Make sure you have a decent lunch as it will be a while until your next meal. We don’t want you feeling faint!
• Get married! Yippeee!!! Take a deep breath, stop and savour the moments! Some of the best advice I was given by my married friends was for Phil and I to step back from the crowd and take a moment to take it all in.
Good luck and happy planning! Feel free to ask us any questions.
Blog image credit: zumi