Wedding Planning Timeline
The fairytale like feeling of being newly engaged is still drifting through your every fibre when all of a sudden there's a new feeling, but it's not so fairytale like, actually its a bit like panic. WHERE DO I STAAAAAAAAAART!!!
Not to worry, we are here to help. Here is the Tall Tale Films wedding planning 101. This is a guideline only so please don't sue us for missing something out. Or blame Nicola, my lovely new wife. She organised pretty much our whole day, so guys just smile and nod when required ;).
First things first... by all means celebrate. You have just made probably the biggest decision of your life to marry your best friend. It's terrifying, nerve racking and out right wonderful, so you deserve it. Have an engagement party if it's your thing, it is a great way of dipping your toe into the whole planning an event psyche too, almost like a mini wedding trial run but best of all you get to dress up to the nines.
While we are here, we may as well mention wedding insurance. When Nicola was planning our wedding my initial reaction to wedding insurance was, "What? That's a bit pessimistic thinking that we wont make it through the trials and tribulations of planning a wedding." That's not the reason you actually get wedding insurance, it's in case one of your wedding suppliers gets into financial difficulty and goes into liquidation. Meaning that they are no longer able to supply whatever product or service they were going to, and without wedding insurance, it is very unlikely you will get any money back. Recently there have been a number of cases where venues and bridal wear suppliers have gone bankrupt and closed, although stressful, if you can at least get your money back it wont be disastrous.
The very first thing on our list and yours, should be the wedding venue. Without your venue, you don't have a date, and without a date, you can't book any more suppliers. Some of the more popular venues can be booked 2-3 years in advance, so as soon as you can, start booking appointments and going to visit some, it's fun and you can milk the free Prosecco/beer/coffee (delete as appropriate). You might have to go a few times to narrow down your choices but it's worth it, and you'll probably get a feeling straight away if it's the one for you. Think about budget, location, guest numbers, available places to stay etc and most importantly TRUST YOUR GUT!
T-Minus 12-24 Months
This is an important one! Book Tall Tale Films to film your big day and create a beautiful, timeless wedding film you'll love. At the moment our couples on average are booking us 408 days in advance, so we recommend speaking to us as soon as you have booked your venue. We only take a £100 deposit to secure your booking as we understand it can be a very expensive time for our couples. Even if you don't book right away, if another enquiry comes in for the same date, you will always have first refusal.
Similar to wedding videographers, wedding photographers are usually one of the first vendors to get snapped up. As such, we also recommend booking your photographer early too.
Ask your maid of honour/bridesmaids and best man/groomsmen to be part of your big day. We've seen so many creative and inspiring ways to pop the question to your friends and family, too many to mention. A quick google search will turn up thousands of ideas. Give your best man plenty of time to dig up stories, speak to exes (kidding) and thinking of epic stag do locations. Once you have your A-Team in the game, you have another load of brains to pick and bounce ideas off.
Start wedding dress shopping. Like you need an excuse to go shopping with your
family/friends for the dress of your dreams. There are many highly recommended bridal shops now so depending on your luck this may take a while, so it's always best to start early. A lot of brides are buying dresses online or from abroad but one piece of advice, take notes of the different designers that you like and try to visit shops who stock these designers. There are so many variations in sizes, you don't want to buy your dream wedding dress online, only for it to not fit.
Book any supplier that you already have your mind set on. If you've seen another supplier that you just have to have at your wedding, it's probably because they are amazing at what they do. It's also probable that someone else also has to have them at their wedding, so get in quick.
T-Minus 12 months
Book your hen do/stag do. Technically this should be your maid of honour/best man, but you will probably want to help if you're allowed to. Regardless of where you are going and who is coming with you, organising any number of male and females to do anything is a nightmare. The more time you have to plan and collect money from everyone the better. You are always going to have people pull out but that is to be expected.
Send save the dates. People are living busier and busier lives with shift work a high part of modern day living. With a year to go send out your save the dates to make sure your nearest and dearest can be there with you on your big day. On your save the dates, you can also ask your guests to reserve any accommodation that's needed and if there isn't enough room at your venue, include a couple of other suggestions.
Book your Celebrant. If you are getting married in a church you'll already have spoken to your minister/priest, if not then do this now. If you are getting married outside of church then there are a number of options available to you. We love all types of weddings at Tall Tale Films, but we do favour a Humanist ceremony. They are incredibly personal and are full of amazing audio bites that we can use in your wedding highlights film. We have worked with a number of amazing Celebrants and can recommend these to you.
Bands, DJ's, pianists, harpists, string quartets, magicians, face painting, photo booths, virtual reality booths the list really is endless. Do not feel pressurised into filling your drinks reception or evening reception with things to entertain your guests. If you have your heart set on daytime entertainers then by all means great, but truth be told, your guests will already be having an amazing time catching up with everybody. Book your band or DJ as soon as you can, the best tend to get snapped up earlier than 12 months.
Speak to your florist about your floral designs, what you want the ceremony to look like and start designing your bouquets.
Book your hair and make up artists. I'm not going to kid on to you that I have the first idea when it comes to hair and make up. Actually I've had the same hair cut since I was about 6 years old so whatever you do not take beauty tips from me. But the principle stays the same, with 12 months to go, make sure you have booked your talented beauty professionals, you can then start thinking about when to fit in your trials...we'll come to that later.
T-Minus 8-10 Months
Caaaaaaaake!!!!! I type this as I'm sitting here eating a massive piece of my own wedding cake from a couple of months back. Tall Tale Top Tip: Cut up your cake or what you have left of it and wrap each piece in cling film. You can then freeze it and eat cake whenever you want as long as you take it out the freezer the day before.
This is a category that could easily fall into the 12 months to go stage. I know of some cake designers who are fully booked for the year ahead but on the other hand you have national companies on discount sites who can turnover 4 or 5 cakes a day. Either way, organise a consultation and get a taster box with all the different flavours you can get. Since I'm eating her cake right now, it's only fair she get's a shout out. The one and only pocket sized baking genius that is Kimmy Cakes. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.
Groom and Groomsmen attire is up next. Make a day of it, whether you have decided on traditional Highland dress or a bespoke suit. Round up your best man and ushers and head to your nearest city who will have an abundance of options. (Also an abundance of bars to celebrate your awesome decision making skills).
If you aren't booking a venue who have their own in house team or even if you are and you want to do something a bit different or decorate the venue in your own theme. Speak to your venue dressing company and book your chair covers, LED dance floor, light up love letters if that's your thing and even photo backdrops. Whatever you do not search for this on Pinterest as you may be there a while.
T-Minus 6 Months
Just like the boys, the girls also need a day out shopping. Get all your girlies, mums and mother in laws together and go on a shopping trip to end all shopping trips. I'm thinking cocktails, dinner, the works, for some that could be a usual Saturday. Chances are the same dress isn't going to fit the way everybody wants it too and alterations can be made further down the line.
Book your honeymoon. The world is literally your oyster. Now is the time to visit that destination you probably will never get to visit ever again. I'm getting excited for you!!!! It's highly likely you have a few bucket list destinations and have been thinking about this for a while anyway. I wanted to go to Ravello on the Amalfi Coast because Noel Gallagher went there on his honeymoon, needless to say I didn't get to go.
Transport. Decide on how you are getting to your venue(s) and how your guests will get there and home again if they aren't staying. Most bus companies will take an estimate of numbers that you can confirm nearer the time. Someone always ends up wanting to stay longer to party with everyone and missing the bus home anyway.
Buy/Order your wedding stationary. If you aren't making these yourself, order you invitations and wedding stationary to give plenty of time. With some suppliers anything within 6 months is treated as a rush order.
T-Minus 4 Months
By now you'll already have booked your hair and make up artists, so it's now time to start scheduling in your trials. Each artist has their own way of doing these, speak to them and get it in the diary. Why not go out for a nice meal or drinks with friends, it's not everyday you get to go out with professional make up.
Purchase your wedding bands. It's actually not a legal requirement to exchange rings and more of a tradition. I don't wear any jewellery but I absolutely love my wedding ring. The symbolism comes from having no beginning and no end and therefor a symbol of infinity. It is endless, exactly the way love should be. It's believed to be worn on the fourth finger on your left hand because of a vein that leads directly to your heart.
If you are having favours for your guests, order these now. There are loads of different ideas available out there from, miniatures, personalised M&M's and hangover kits.
T-Minus 2-3 Months
IMPORTANT: Organise your M10 forms (in Scotland). These can be completed 3 months in advance but absolutely no later than 29 days. Without this form you will not be legally getting married.
Traditionally wedding invitations are sent out 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding. This gives everybody plenty of time to clear whatever they had planned so they can attend the wedding of the year. This is a lie, they should've done this when they got the save the dates, but you have plenty of time to get RSVP's back so you can update the venue(s) and transport.
After your strict health and fitness regime, you have the #weddingready body to die for, so attend your alterations of your wedding dress. The work that a quality seamstress can do is nothing short of magical. The dress that you thought fitted you before, now fits like a glove and you look amazing!
It's nice to give a sign of your appreciation to everyone that's helped out on your big day (If you'd like to thank us for writing this blog, then a 25 year old bottle of Macallan will do.) Parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, one another, whoever it is, it is a lovely idea to give a small token of appreciation so organise this now.
Finalise your vows. I thought this would be really easy, but it turns out that when trying to put something down on paper, words failed me. I may be different but opening your heart for all to hear can be terrifying, so give yourself plenty of time to think of the right words to say.
On a side note to the above...Groom...START WRITING YOUR SPEECH! You may be the worst public speaker in living memory, but if you are prepared, and this doesn't mean knowing it off by heart, but if you're prepared it will be brilliant I promise. Everybody in that room is willing you on. Make it funny and make it heartfelt, you can't go wrong.
Buy your accessories, shoes, jewellery, hairpiece, cufflinks etc and even before if you are ordering from abroad or online.
You'll usually be invited by your venue or caterer to a menu tasting and this is usually 8 weeks before hand. You'll be given a selection of items available to choose from or it may be a sample menu that you have already chosen. You can then make an informed decision on what you and your guests will be eating and drinking on the day.
T-Minus 4 Weeks
At Tall Tale Films we have procedures in place to keep in touch with you all through your planning, but unfortunately all suppliers aren't as good as us. If you haven't heard from them, contact your suppliers just to confirm all the details. At the very least it will give you peace of mind.
It's round about now that you'll be going on your hen or stag do. Enjoy your last night as a singleton (legally) but please come back in one piece with both eyebrows and no new tattoos.
Chase up any RSVP's that you haven't had back yet. Your venue will be looking for final numbers ASAP. Easiest way is a quick phone call as text messages can be misread. One quick phone call and you'll have your RSVP back in a minute.
If you haven't already, start thinking about your seating plan. I think this is where most arguments or fall outs come from. Auntie Betty doesn't want to sit next to Uncle Bob and his wandering hands etc. You can either play it straight down the line or have a bit of fun with it, sitting people next to others that they wouldn't normally. Once the ice is broken, it'll make a much better reception atmosphere.
T-Minus 2 Weeks (Oh Sh*t)
Have your final dress fitting. You've probably been for quite a few by now, but aim to have your last fitting 4 weeks out. Your pre-wedding diet and fitness regime has worked wonders and you'll be looking the best you've looked in years.
Finalise your group shot list and give this to your photographer. This is just a list of who you want in your group shots and means group photos will be over in a flash. I'm not a fan of giving your photographer a huge list of must have poses, if you have picked a reputable wedding photographer then trust them. They will get all the shots and poses you want, and more.
Attend a final meeting with your venue/master of ceremonies and hand over final numbers. Most venues will want to finalise your wedding day timeline. This is a chance to ask any final questions and give any final instructions that vendors have asked for like tables setup etc. Deliver the final table plan.
T-Minus 1 Week (Aaaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhh)
Pick up any last minute items needed for your day and start organising what you need to take with you on the day.
If you have finalised a wedding day timeline with your venue, your wedding photographer and Tall Tale Films (because we'll be filming your big day obviously) will be very grateful for this so send it on over.
Chase up any suppliers you haven't heard from and confirm delivery details with your cake maker.
Go for your waxing, pedicure, manicure etc in preparation for your make-up artist going to work on you. You'll be looking your very best.
Wrap any gifts for your bridal party/friends/family.
Pack an overnight bag for your reception.
Do all your washing and pack for honeymoon.
Do a full wedding dress rehearsal. If you haven't done this already, try everything on from your underwear to your veil. You'll have a better idea of timings and will ease any nerves, just make sure hubby to be isn't home.
T-Minus 2 days
Groom go and collect your ushers hired outfits and yours if you haven't bought your own and again make everybody try theirs on and notify the hire shop of any last minute emergencies.
Groom finalise your speech, you should have been writing it for at least a couple of months so should have a pretty good idea of what you are going to say. Practise in the mirror, make eye contact and enjoy it.
Confirm pickup times with transport companies.
Make last minute changes to the table plan and notify the venue of any last minute call offs.
Print off a sheet with the running order of the day and contact details for suppliers and anybody important.
I'm proud of this one...Pack a wedding day emergency kit. This really is invaluable, we actually carry a lot of these with us as we know what can happen on a wedding day. This should include, but not limited to; mints, tweezers, safety pins, Kirby grips, hair ties, hair spray, tissues, make-up, sewing kit, perfume, baby wipes, nipple tape and paracetamol. We really do carry lots of this on a typical wedding day, go on test us.
Put money/cheques in envelopes and write who they are for on the front if you are to pay people on the day. Pipers, DJ's etc sometimes will only take payment on the day.
For the next two nights, go to bed early and get as much rest as you possibly can. A wedding day is long, it's likely you will be up from early morning right through to early morning again.
T-Minus 0 Days
All the hard work and planning is over. Sit back and enjoy your day. I really mean that, if anything goes wrong please just try and let it go as there isn't a lot that can be done. Take as much of it in as possible, take a moment with you and your new spouse and just watch your wedding reception, I promise you will laugh your head off.
*If all the subtle hints have sunk in by now, you'll probably want to book the best wedding film company ever for your big day. You can do so here. Thank us later.