Wedding Planning Timeline Tips

Planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming - for one thing, when should you be doing certain things? Let us bring our years of advice together and answer some of those questions for you, and give you a wedding planning timeline to follow.

Wedding Planning Timeline

From years of being a supplier and planning our own wedding, here is a little advice on the timeline for planning your wedding.

Celebrating the fun at the end of the wedding at Oslo in Norway by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

Something I think a lot of suppliers in the wedding industry forget is that for you planning your wedding, it’s all new and you don’t necessarily know what you’re doing…or indeed when you should be doing it!
As suppliers, we’ve been there hundreds of times, and often have conversations with our couples as we’re talking about their ideas and plans, helping to guide them along the way.

One of the big questions that keep popping up is the wedding planning timeline: when should I be doing things?

Whilst there is no hard and fast way that you must plan your wedding by – after all, there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with your photographer first, then planning the day to their availability ;-) – but in all seriousness, there are some tips we would encourage you to peruse and take on board. But don’t forget, we’re always here to help – ask away!

Capturing the bridal preparations at Pendrell Hall in Codsall Wood by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

UK Wedding Planning Tips

Now, this all starts with the engagement or when you sit down to start planning your perfect wedding.
It’s a time to get excited, but also it’s a time for compromise and working on communication as you both share your ideas and bring together the perfect day for you both.

Capturing the bridal preparations at Oslo in Norway by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

Some things to consider right at the start

  •  Discuss your ideal wedding; what does it look like? What time of year? What style of the venue? How many guests?
  • Bring together your budget – yes perhaps it’s time to start the wedding spreadsheet!
  • Start planning a guest list. An approximate number of guests will help you find the right venue for your day.
  • Choose potential dates – there are great options with mid-week dates if this would work for you, or indeed choose a prime weekend date – but take into consideration that a prime day (August Bank Holiday weekend, for instance) will book up incredibly quickly, you may be waiting 24-36 months for your perfect date at some venues.
  • Research potential wedding venues. If you want some inspiration check out our Wedding Venues section of the website.
  • Throw an engagement party…?

Documenting beautiful moments with Father of the Bride seeing his daughter here at Hawkesyard Hall in Rugeley by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

12-18 Months Before the Wedding

  • Visit and book your venue.
  • Research potential wedding suppliers and services – photographer, florist, stationers, cake, decor, music, hair and makeup.
    Some suppliers book up sooner than others. Top Tip: As soon as you find a supplier you love, meet with them and reserve your date with them. Photographers / Musicians and indeed some stylists book up very quickly. You don’t want to lose your perfect supplier.
  • Consider and review wedding insurance options. 2020 has highlighted the need to consider insurance more than ever, and we have a couple of great insurers we know personally, so please ask for advice if you need a good provider.
  • Decide on your entertainment – DJ, band, acoustic – and indeed the times of day you want them with you. As mentioned, your musicians will book up quickly (especially the good ones!) so get in there fast!
  • Book a photographer ;-)
  • Book a videographer ;-) ;-)
  • Think about your wedding decor – this may be something your florist can help with, or it may be a completely separate supplier, but consider what you need for your venue, and start the consultations.
  • Get looking for that perfect wedding dress! There are so many amazing options available now with designers from all over the world, creating amazing looks – choose something that is completely you and fit in with your wedding’s style and design.
  • Send Save the Date cards – especially important if you’re choosing a summer date when people may normally be on holiday, or indeed if you’re planning your day abroad!
  • Exciting bitask your wedding party to be involved!!

Documenting storytelling memories with the Bride arriving in the rain at the Church for the wedding at Heath House in Staffordshire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

8-10 Months Before the Wedding

  • Book your entertainment – if you haven’t already
  • Order your wedding dress – some designers have a 9 month lead time at peak periods…you don’t want to get caught by an unnecessary ‘rush order’ fee
  • Research and reserve accommodation for your guests
  • Contact venue decor companies if you need to hire any items to bring your styling together
  • Book your honeymoon!! I have two very close friends who can help bring your wedding honeymoon dreams to life, and I’d be happy to put you in touch…I promise they would look after you, and even go that extra mile to make things extra special ;-)
  • Order your wedding cake
  • Check if you need to start attending church or attending a marriage course, dependent on your ceremony decision

Creative natural couples portraits at Oslo in Norway by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

6-8 Months Before the Wedding

  • Ensure passports are in date for the honeymoon – and ensure they’re the same names as you’ve booked your honeymoon in!!
  • Start planning your honeymoon excursions and activities – the fun stuff!
  • Start planning – or handing over the planning – of your hen and stag parties!!

Creative fun party photos here at Heath House in Staffordshire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

4-6 Months Before the Wedding

  • Choose bridesmaids dresses
  • Organise your suit hire/purchases
  • Meet with the florist to start planning the details
  • Organise the legalities, or give notice where required
  • Decide on readings and music/details for your wedding.
  • Arrange travel vaccinations if required.
  • Prepare a spreadsheet for your guest list, and start getting ready to tick off those RSVPs
  • Organise wedding transport
  • Choose and order your wedding rings – and yes, I have a brilliant contact which creates the most beautiful bespoke rings. Drop me a message, and I’ll put you in touch!
  • Organise a hair trial and book hairdresser
  • Organise a makeup trial and book a makeup artist
  • Speak to your venue about a menu tasting – if you haven’t already.

Beautiful food photography at Blackwell Grange in Gloucestershire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

2-3 Months Before the Wedding

  • Send your wedding invitations to your guests.
  • Attend dress fittings – and keep to the diet/weight plan you’re given – no binge diets or too many pizza’s ;-)
  • Buy shoes, accessories, hairpieces, lingerie etc.
  • Organise outfits for your flower girls/page boys
  • Start skin/hair regime as recommended by your suppliers.
  • Book your engagement shoot!

Creative Engagement Portraits around Digbeth Birmingham

4 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Have your final dress fitting
  • Have final meetings with suppliers and make final plans
  • Review the final RSVP list and plan your tables
  • Order wedding stationery
  • Complete any DIY projects for the big day
  • Pay the final balances…

Creative evening portraits at Blackwell Grange in Gloucestershire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

1 Week Before the Wedding

  • Top Tip – try to stay relaxed!
  • Touch base with your suppliers, to make sure all is in order
  • Give the numbers of key suppliers to your wedding party and allocate roles.
  • Get to the salon and enjoy a manicure and anything else!
  • Pack your bags for the morning after the wedding – you’ll forget otherwise!
  • Pack for the honeymoon!

Beautiful first dance photos at Rowton Castle in Shropshire by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

2-3 Days Before the Wedding

  • Grooms – pick up your suits, and Top Tip – make sure ALL of your groomsmen try everything on to make sure they fit.
  • Confirm pick up times for transport

Creative fun party photos here at Oak Farm in Cannock by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

The Day Before the Wedding

  • Drop off all stationery and DIY items that you’re providing to the wedding venue coordinator
  • Relax, and unwind! Enjoy a final night with your friends and family ahead of the big day!
  • Drink plenty of water!!
  • Sleep well!

Enjoy a perfect day…

Creative night portraits at Alrewas Hayes in Burton by Documentary Wedding Photographer Stuart James

I hope that helps and I’ve demystified some of the timings when planning your wedding. Remember, as suppliers we’re there to help you. From finding the right people to do certain things, to helping to take the stresses away – use our experience to help make your wedding planning fun, relaxed and easy!

And if you’re ever unsure, give me a call!