Your essential wedding planning timeline: what to do and when
You’re engaged – hooray! But now what? Planning a wedding may feel a bit overwhelming, but, trust us, if doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve helped plan and host some of the most incredible big days at Hodsock Priory, so we know exactly what to do (and when) to bring the perfect wedding to life. We find that breaking that massive to-do list down into manageable chunks makes the wedding admin far less scary and means you can enjoy that smug feeling of ticking things off as you go along. Here, our team share our essential wedding planning timeline to help you plan your day, without the stress. You’re very welcome!
What to do 18 months before your wedding
Think about numbers
Before you start anything, it’s so important to get an idea of how many guests you want to invite to your wedding. This will affect everything from your budget to the venue you choose, so sit down together and make a rough guest list to get started.
Set your budget
There’s no dodging this one. Setting out a clear and affordable budget at the very beginning of your wedding planning timeline is crucial. Now is the time to set up a planning and budget spreadsheet (sorry, we went there). Granted, not the most glamorous part of the whole wedding experience, but you’ll be grateful for it.
Search for the venue
It’s never too early to start the search for your wedding venue. So many places get booked up years in advance, especially during the busy summer wedding season. Get ahead and search online wedding venue directories to discover ones that suit your couple style, that are in the right location and on budget. Instagram is another great place to get an idea about a venue’s style too. If you’re searching for a luxurious, exclusive-use wedding venue on the Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire border, Hodsock Priory is the one. Our historic country house is a real ‘wow-them’ venue and our team would love the chance to show you around. Just click here to arrange a viewing.
Registrar or church?
Whether you have your heart set on a church service or prefer a non-religious ceremony, make sure you talk to the church or registrar’s office to check about availability for the date your have in mind.
Book your venue
Once you have the ceremony side booked in, the next thing to do is secure that perfect venue. Then, when your wedding venue is booked in, your day will really start to come together.
Buy wedding insurance
Now you’ve started to dip into that wedding budget and your wedding planning timeline is under way, it’s a really good idea to get wedding insurance in place. This will protect you from losing money over things like cancellations and damages. Peace of mind is worth every penny.
Sort your wedding party
Chances are you’ll be desperate to get your wedding A-team in place, so now the date is set you can start asking friends and family to be part of the big day. Whether that’s bridesmaids, bridesmen, best man, best women or cute flower girls and page boys, surrounding yourself with the people who mean the most to you will make your wedding even better.
What to do 12 months before your wedding
Book a photographer/videographer
With a year to go, the countdown steps up a notch and now is the perfect time to book in your wedding photographer and/or videographer. At Hodsock Priory we’ve worked with some of the best in the business, so if you need any recommendations just get in touch!
Book the entertainment
Whether you’re after a DJ to keep the dancefloor buzzing all night, a swing band to kick start the reception, a magician to wow your guests during the meal or a photo booth for making memories, do your research and get them booked in asap.
Book your florist
Flowers are often a big part of a wedding day, and great florists get booked up early, so it’s worth searching for yours as early as 12 months in advance.
Find the dress
The fun bit! Twelve months is the ideal stage of your wedding planning timeline to begin looking for your wedding dress or dresses. Many bridal boutiques recommend a 9-12 month lead time, so start booking in appointments and trying on those gowns now, to make sure you have time to find ‘the one’. This is not something you want to rush!
Book your caterer (if needed)
Some venues require you to organise your own external wedding caterers, so get these booked in now if needed. At Hodsock Priory you won’t have to worry about that. We have the most incredible in-house team of expert chefs ready and waiting to create your perfect big day menu. Have a look here for some delicious foodie inspiration.
Think about your theme
With the wedding venue in place, you can start to think more about what style of day you’d like. Create a Pinterest board to get an idea of themes or colours you like, and start saving any Instagram posts that catch your eye.
Save the Dates
Get those Save the Dates out to your guest list as early as a year before the big day.
What to do 8 months before your wedding
Meet with your florist
Once you’ve booked your florist it’s important to schedule in a meeting to talk wedding flowers. With a general theme or colour scheme in mind, as well as an idea of wedding party numbers and your venue style, together you can come up with the perfect big day blooms.
Book hair and make-up
If you want to leave your hair and make-up in the hands of a professional, book them in now. Don’t worry about a trial just yet though, that can wait for a few months.
Book your transport and accommodation
At the 8-month mark in your wedding planning timeline you can book in any wedding cars and hotel rooms for the big day. At Hodsock Priory we have our own luxurious Honeymoon Suite for newlyweds, complete with king-size canopy bed, dreamy period features and a roll-top bath you won’t want to get out of. Also, if you choose to have your ceremony with us, we have 5 licensed rooms, one outdoor licensed space and plenty of choice for celebrant-led ceremonies to choose from, so no transport required.
Create a wedding website
Now is a good time to set up your own wedding website for guests. Here you can add details of local hotels, taxi numbers, a running order of the day and venue info
Order the invites
You’ll want to send invitations out soon, so give your wedding stationer plenty of time by ordering them 8 months before you plan on posting them.
Book your honeymoon
Take a break from the ‘on the day’ planning and look ahead to your first holiday as newlyweds. Make a celebratory night of it and crack open a bottle of champagne while you search for that holiday of a lifetime.
What to do 6 months before your wedding
Send your invites
It’s starting to get real now! With 6 months to go, it’s time to send out your wedding invitations. Try to offer an email RSVP option as well as a postal one, for speedy responses.
Buy or hire the suits
Bespoke, off the peg, or hired; don’t leave it any later than 6 months to get the suits sorted.
Sort your accessories
Now you have your wedding outfits in place, there’s time to shop for the accessories. Shoes, jewellery, tie pins and watches – go to town to show off your personal sense of style.
Buy your rings
Head to a local jewellers or order your wedding rings online, to make sure they arrive in plenty of time for the big day.
Order the cake
Talk to local cake makers to find a good fit for your wedding style and requirements. Once you’ve made a decision, book them in pronto.
Sort your bridesmaids’ dresses
If you’re planning on having bridesmaids and/or flower girls in your wedding party, buy or hire their dresses now.
What to do 4 months before your wedding
Choose the readings and music
It’s time to really personalise your wedding ceremony with readings and music that represent you as a couple. Your registrar should have provided you with a form to fill in with your ceremony preferences, so make sure you fill this out and return in plenty of time – the cut-off date is usually 6 weeks before the wedding. If you’re planning a church service, talk to your contact there about any rules around music and reading choices.
It’s a legal requirement to give notice of your wedding at least 29 days before the ceremony, so work this into your wedding planning timeline. Book an appointment at your local registrar’s office to sign all the relevant paperwork. For Church of England or Wales weddings, make sure you organise to have your banns read. Your officiant can talk to you in detail about this.
Start the wedding crafting
With your wedding theme coming together nicely, you may want to add a personal feel with some DIY touches. Trust us when we say you do not want to be leaving any wedding crafting to the last minute. Start early to make it enjoyable rather than a mad panic!
What to do 2 months before your wedding
Chase up those RSVPs
With only 2 months to go, now’s the time to take stock of your guest list and chase up any stragglers who haven’t RSVP’d yet.
The seating plan
Ooh, it’s a biggie – but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare! Make a fun night of it and put your seating plan together, with a takeaway and bottle of wine to celebrate once it’s all finished.
Buy any wedding gifts
If you’d like to thank any of your wedding party or friends and family who’ve really helped with the planning of your day, think about getting them little gifts to show your appreciation.
Have your make-up and hair trial
Book a trial with your make-up artist and hair stylist to make sure you’re happy with your big day look. Take along photos of your wedding dress so they can get an idea of how the overall look will come together.
What to do 1 month before your wedding
Hen and stag parties
To be honest, by this point you have organised more than enough, so pass the planning of the hen and stag – or hag – parties over to your wedding party. All you need to do is turn up and enjoy yourself! Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to recover before the big day…
Break in the shoes
Whether we’re talking sparkling high heels or stylish, leather loafers, make a habit of wearing them around the house in the run-up to your wedding to ensure they’re super-comfy on the day.
Confirm with suppliers
For peace of mind, do a final confirmation of timings with your suppliers, then pass on details of a contact person for the day. Someone like an usher or family member not directly involved in the wedding party are great to have as your ‘go-tos’.
Your final fitting
It’s time to have your very last wedding dress fitting. This gives your boutique the chance to do any tweaks, to make sure you look and feel your absolute best on the day. At this point, if no changes are needed, you are usually able to take the dress away, so plan ahead and have a place ready to store it.
Speak to your photographer
Chat with your photographer about all the ‘must have’ photos you want taken during your wedding day. Check they have all the address details for any getting ready shots, as well as a full running order of the day.
Planning your wedding at Hodsock Priory
And that’s it – the end of you wedding planning timeline. The hard work is over and all that’s left is for you to relax, enjoy yourself and get married! At Hodsock Priory we think it’s so important that our couples enjoy the run-up to their wedding day. We have an experienced and passionate wedding team who work tirelessly to bring each couple’s dream wedding vision to life – and we’d love to help do the same for you. If you have any questions you’d like to ask, or are keen to arrange a viewing of our luxurious, stately home wedding venue, just click here.