How to take the stress out of planning your wedding with this ESSENTIAL WEDDING PLANNING checklist

Updated: Feb 19

Getting organised can help you find peace of mind and this exclusive wedding checklist is all you need. Wedding Planning can be enjoyable and stress free if you get on top of your wedmin to plan the best day of your life. Download your FREE printable Wedding Planning Checklist and use it to master your to-do-list ensuring you don’t miss a thing. I've also included links to other trusted Wedding Professionals so you can start building your team with confidence.

Once your date is set the countdown begins. You can actually plan a wedding in just a few weeks but if you've got a day job, it’s safe to say you can expect to spend a year or more to plan the event of a lifetime.

12 months Congratulations!! You're getting married

• Set the date. To ensure you can book the venue of your choice and suppliers you've set your heart on start your wedding planning twelve months or more in advance.

• Talk Budget. Decide whether to DIY your wedding or enlist a Wedding Planner Enlisting the help of a professional wedding planner might be an added cost but if your budget will cover the service they offer then their experience will save time & energy.

But if you're looking forward to planning all the details yourself, talk through the budget with loved ones who often want to contribute. Be realistic and careful so you don't go into debt.

• Attend a wedding show to help discover your Wedding Day style. Take time to visit some local Wedding Fairs for all the wedding inspiration you need under one roof. Not only is it a great place to find loads of unique wedding ideas, it’s a fun day out with your nearest and dearest, complete with catwalk shows and glasses of bubbly.

• Research, Reserve and Book your venue(s). The sooner you book your venues, the easier everything else will be. It might suit you to opt for a venue that can cater for your entire Wedding plans which can make your day easier and save on transport costs. Or you might dream of a church wedding so you'll need to book an evening venue too. Take into account seating capacity, room hire costs, catering options, indoor and outdoor settings for photographs. You could save thousands of pounds by booking out of season – many venues have fantastic winter wedding offers too.

• Research your full team of Wedding Pro's Word-of-mouth is a fantastic way to discover trusted Wedding Pro's, and Wedding Fairs are a great place to meet suppliers face-to-face. Although even if you attend several, that will still only present you with a fraction of all the pro's out there. You've got a lot of suppliers to recruit... well, you've got your photographer right here :) but there's Wedding Planners, Videographers, Caterers, Florists, DJ's, Musicians, Hair Stylists & MUA's, the list can go on. Keep your Wedding vision central to your decision making and you'll find the perfect people out there for you.

• Book your photographer and videographer. Finding a wedding photographer and videographer who offer the style of images you are looking for is very important. It's well worth meeting with them to make sure you are comfortable in front of their lens. Make it a priority to book ASAP so you're not disappointed if your date isn't available.

• Choose your Wedding Party, bridesmaids, best men, ushers, flower girl & ring bearer Behind every bride there is a support system; an elite team of family and friends who make sure the lead up to the big day goes without a hitch. They’re on hand for all the pre-wedding prep, they are the organisers of the hen & stag do and even the providers of the all important reality check, should ‘Bridezilla’ make an appearance. Choose from close friends and family who are nearby ideally and... (ahem) thoroughly trustworthy!

• Start to compile your guest list(s) Try to make it equal and keep both families happy. Have a separate evening reception guest list.

• Take out wedding insurance. It’s not costly and could save you thousands if a supplier suddenly lets you down. It’s worth it just for peace of mind! And you might want to add your Engagement ring too!

• Browse Wedding Dress styles. If your dream is to have a unique, bespoke couture wedding dress made especially for you then you’ll need to start this process now. If you’re ordering a designer dress then allow 4-6 months and if you’re buying off-the-peg or second-hand, 4-6 weeks before should be fine for alterations if needed.

• Start your healthy eating diet and exercise programme. Whether you want to simply tone up for your wedding day and honeymoon or lose a few pounds, there is no better time to start than now! Get to the gym together as a couple or go with a friend. You’ll never have such amazing motivation to look and feel your best!

9 - 11months Woop! You're on a roll...

• Make appointment to Give Notice of Marriage. Notice for all marriages must be given in the 12-month period before the date of the marriage. Normally, notices should be with the registrar about eight weeks before the marriage so book into your schedule for 2 -3 months before your wedding date.

• Meet/book your minister/registrar/officiant. They’ll be able to answer all your questions about the ceremony.

• Hire the rest of your Wedding Pro's Book a DJ/Band/Entertainer Lot's of choices... a DJ to dance the night away, a live band or classical musicians for your reception. Maybe a singer to perform a live solo piece, singing waiters, a magician or celebrity lookalike for their evening reception just to add a sense of fun!

Book Caterers If you need to consider hiring outside caterers or, if your budget is tight, catering the wedding with buffet party platters from your local supermarket can be just the ticket.

Book Transport You’ll need to book your bridal car or even better a cute Campervan, and you may also want to book a second car for your mother and bridesmaids. If you want to make it easier and fun for all your family and friends – book a bus! You could get some amazing wedding photos of you and your guests atop a vintage double decker!

Book your Florist Decide how many flowers you would like and where, or if you’re on a tight budget, invest in everlasting silk flowers that can be sold on after the wedding.

Book a Toastmaster You might think you don’t need a toastmaster, or think that having one will make your wedding day feel too formal. They’re worth their weight in gold for ensuring everything goes to plan at the right time, in the right place and with the right people. I can vouch for this - I've been asked to help out & act as Toastmaster and to be honest, I'm better at taking photos! :)

• The Wedding Guest List Dilemma. Time to Refine and Finalise your Guest List

Narrowing down your wedding guest list is always a headache, from debates about whether to invite parents friends, old friends or work friends, to that dreaded ‘plus one’ consideration. The best place to start is to split the list into Groom's family & friends and Bride's family & friends. Then decide how much you need to trim down, this can be tricky but it'll help to consider who is a part of your day-to-day life and who you couldn't imagine your day without.

The evening do is easier... if you haven't seen them in the last 6 months and wouldn't miss them, then don't invite. And work colleagues you don't see outside work, don't invite. All of this doesn't apply to those friends or colleagues who you hardly ever see but you love them to bits and they'd make your wedding more fun -- definitely invite!

To Add a Plus One or Not? Difficult and awkward but here's some help. If you don't know a guests partner and they don't live together, with a tight guest count, it's fine to not invite their plus one. But if they live together then you need to add their Plus one. If your guest is single and there'll be no other single guests then you need to allow them a Plus one. But if there'll be a few single people, it's fine not to add a Plus one. It's a minefield but you'll get there!

• Send save-the-date cards. Refine & finalise your guest list so you can send your save-the-date cards. Make sure your guests don’t book their summer holiday and miss your special day.

• Order/Make your wedding invitations. Don’t forget all the other wedding stationery including: orders of service, place cards and thank you cards.

If you’re planning to DIY some aspects of your wedding – such as making your own invitations and the favours or you're going for a full on DIY extravaganza, with everything from personalised name cards to a self-built photobooth. Regardless of whether you're going for minimum effort or maximum impact – just to be on the safe side, now is the time to start DIY-ing!

• Buy your wedding dress, shoes and accessories. You've probably already bought your dress by now, but if you haven't, it's time to say 'yes to the dress'. Get your shoes in good time for your first dress fitting, and your tiara and veil in time for your make up and hair trial.

• Research Wedding Party Attire. Now you've got your dress you can start looking at Groom, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Ushers, Flower Girl & Ring Bearers attire.

• Book your Pre-Wedding Photo session If you book me as your photographer I offer a free Pre-Wedding Session which is a fantastic opportunity to get to know each other and to practise some lovely poses so you feel completely comfortable on the day. This can be done anytime to fit in with your busy schedule but contact me asap & get it booked in as my schedule gets busy too.

• Stay on track with your fitness regime. When you feel good you look good too! Keep going and motivated, walk, run, swim, gym, whatever you enjoy you'll be so glad you did.

6 - 9months Good Job!

• Apply for Marriage Licence. Order 2 - 3 extra

• Order your wedding cake or cupcakes or ‘cheese cake’. Talk to your 'cake artist' about how your dream centre piece might look and taste. Schedule in a mouth watering tasting.

• Reserve Rentals. Chairs, Linens, Lighting, Décor etc

• Order Venue Décor & Table Décor. If you decided to buy rather than DIY, now is the time to get your venue vision sorted out.

• Find Hotels for out-of-town Guests. You might want to get 3 different hotels lined up with different price points.

• Buy your wedding rings Make sure your wedding ring will sit comfortably alongside your engagement ring if you plan to wear them together.

• Buy/Rent Wedding Party Attire... Suits for the groom, best man, your bridesmaid’s dresses, ushers and any flower girls or page boys need to be booked for your date.

• Honeymoon vaccinations needed?

• Explore Wedding Day Make-up & hair styles & Book your Stylists Pro's

Speak to several to find the one that’s right for you, then book a hair and make up trial complete with your tiara and veil if possible.

• Stag & Hen do's need to be planned... It's not really your job, but someone needs to be on it by now. Recruit the help of your best man and chief bridesmaid.

4 - 5months You're getting close

• Send out your wedding invitations Traditionally they are sent out 6-12 weeks before the wedding but you can send them sooner if you prefer. Include information for your guests on overnight accommodation, transport, parking and any dress code if appropriate. Include RSVP method (email, facebook group, Wedding Website or RSVP card) and ask your guests if they have any specific dietary requirements.

• Have Pre-Wedding Photo session Make time to get to know your photographer, this gives both you & your photographer an invaluable opportunity to practise some poses to see what works best. I consider it an enormous honour to spend the day with you on your Wedding but the value of a Pre-Wedding session is immense, especially if you're uncomfortable being photographed. I absolutely love it when a nervous couple tell me how much they enjoyed the session and they're now looking forward to the Wedding photos.

• Order Flowers for Wedding Party & venue

• Buy gifts for Parents, Best Men, Bridesmaids etc... Check out Wedding forums for interesting ideas that other Brides have sourced and don't be afraid to get creative and make your own gifts for a truly bespoke feel.

• Confirm arrangements, dates, times, addresses with your Wedding Pro's Check everyone still has your date firmly on their calendar and they know where to be and when. Speak to them personally and chat through your expectations to ensure you are all still on the same page. Any misunderstandings or change of plans can be discussed at this stage.

• Confirm with Venue the Honeymoon suite is booked Don't overlook the obvious. Also ask the Venue if there's anything else they can offer you... anything from rose petals on the bed to a golf buggy to whizz around the venue for photographs.

• Wedding Dress Fitting Don't lose any more weight.

• Hen & Stag do time Time to party. Have fun!!

2-3months Finishing Touches

• Arrange pick up of Hired Suits Although this seems like a job to delegate, actually going to check the right items and sizes have been supplied is worth overviewing.

• Purchase Guest book, Flower Basket, Ring Bearer pillow... Getting some of the finishing touches is so exciting.

• Write Wedding Vows Let the love flow!

• Write Speeches This can be a wobbly knee moment for the speech givers, whether it's the writing or the delivery that's making you nervous, there's professionals out there that can help. You can recruit a professional speech writer or write from the heart, and then practice, practice, practice… And if you're still nervous then think about a speech coach to deliver a quality Wedding Speech, getting one-on-one Speech Coaching can mean the difference between a nervous wobbly mumble to a standing ovation.

• Choose the music for your Ceremony & throughout the day to First dance Pick music that moves you from the moment your guests are waiting before your Ceremony, walking down the aisle through to your First Dance. And get your favourite playlist ready for the DJ.

• Book Honeymoon I know you're busy but have you booked your honeymoon yet? If you want help to find that perfect location talk to a travel counsellor to research & book everything from flights, accommodation to special treats and experiences.

• Finalise Wedding Breakfast Menu Confirm with your Venue if there are any RSVP's with dietary requirements

• Practice Hair & make-up Take this opportunity to discuss your desired style & take any along images for inspiration.

• Schedule the Wedding Rehearsal Best arranged for the week before your date. This will help you know where to stand and when to speak and will prepare you so you don’t feel nervous on the day.

• Layout the content for Wedding Programme & Order of the day Use the 'Order of the Day' on your Essential Wedding Planning Checklist download to help you get started and adjust to suit your own plan.

• Keep up the facials for glowing skin Stay calm and unstressed knowing everything is in order. Stress-free = spot-free.

1 month - It's getting real...You've got this!

• Organise RSVP's Follow up any guests who haven't replied yet

• Give final guest count to Caterer The venue and the caterers will need to know final numbers at least 1-2 weeks before.

• Finalise your Order of the Day and send to Officiant, Venue, Photographer & Videographer

• Finalise Seating Plans And make your table planner so guests know where to sit.

• Finalise Play list with Musicians, DJ/band

• Decide 'Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue' Ask your mother or grandmother for something old, the rest is easy and a silver sixpence is meant to bring good luck.

• Pick up Marriage Licence

• Pick up Wedding Rings

• Final Dress fitting with Shoes & Undergarments And bring along your mum, sister or best friend too!

• Send final Payments to Wedding Pro's/Vendors Complete any final payments

• Give Photographer & Videographer image requests Make a list of the formal groups you would like photographed and any must have moments that mean the most to you.

The Week Before - Almost there

• Hair Trim & Colour Then you’ll know it’s looking its best for your big day, but only do as planned in your hair trials – this is not the time to experiment with a new colour or a style change!

• Wedding Rehearsal Make an evening of it by inviting all your bridal party along to dinner afterwards too. It’s a good opportunity for them to all get together just before the big day.

• Pack for Wedding Day & Honeymoon Lay out your Wedding day wardrobe and if you're honeymoon is while you're still on a 'bridal high' then get passports & suitcases at the ready. You’re going on the holiday of a lifetime!

• Wear-In your Wedding Shoes Don’t wear bridal shoes outside, but do wear them around the house to make sure they’re comfy on the day.

• Create Wedding SOS Kit Include make up, a compact mirror and powder, lipstick, tissues etc – anything you think you might need on the day. Your chief bridesmaid will be happy to carry your bridal kit for you.

• Check Weather Forecast If the weather ahead looks rainy invest in some bridal umbrellas or for a sunny day, pretty parasols.

• Keep Supplier Contact Details safe & give a copy to a designated person Give the list of all your wedding suppliers with their contact details and times they are meant to arrive, in case they need to be contacted, to your best man and/or chief bridesmaid and then do not give it another thought!

• Delegate someone to return Rentals and tend to Wedding Gown

• Enjoy Spa/Beauty day with Bridal Party Don't leave it too close to your Wedding day... Go for pre-wedding and honeymoon waxing or fake tanning in good time before the big day. Get eyebrows shaped and anything else that needs attention done the week before, not the day before.