One of the many things I love the most about being a marriage celebrant, is seeing my couple’s special day come together. It would be remiss of me to say there won’t be any stress leading up to the day, but by having ‘The Ultimate Checklist; a Wedding Day Survival Kit’, will definitely minimise this stress.
As brides, we have this inherent panic button embedded in us. You know the one that gets us completely flustered for no apparent reason. This is not a bad thing, but I will admit at various times throughout the planning process this panic button will get pushed. So whether it’s a simple spreadsheet on Google Docs., a visual mind map, or an extended scrapbook you’ve had since you were a little girl, I promise all of these options will assist you during this time.
I have put together an indicative timeline to prepare you for your extraordinary day. So whether you’re planning your wedding a year in advance, two years, or six months, you can tailor this to suit your wedding requirements.
12 Months before – ‘The Planning Begins’:
Book Your Venue ~ If you have decided to have your wedding during peak season, you should book this well in advance. Some venues may need to be booked up to a year.
Guest List Draft ~ A Google shared document would be my recommendation. By having this option available you don’t run the risk of double ups, and this can be easily accessed by family members too. Emails can get quite time consuming!
9 – 10 Months – ‘Party Time’:
Engagement Party ~ My recommendation would be do this at least 9 months before. Traditionally, the parents of the bride will host the engagement party, but if you’re not one to follow tradition this can be completely optional.
Bridal Party Selection ~ Exciting! But can be very challenging all the same. Nowadays bridal parties can be anywhere between 2 – 12 people combined. So to make sure you have chosen the right friends and family, and given them plenty of warning, 9 – 10 months out is ample time.
Pick your Chosen Vendors ~ Photography, Caterer, DJ and/or Band. Facebook can be your starting point for this, this is why I absolutely love social media. Definitely knowing your venue in advance will assist with this.
Choose your Celebrant~ Just like your venue, celebrants are hot in demand. By building that relationship with your celebrant early will create the trust that you need (this is where I come in).
8 – 9 Months – the ‘Bits and Bobs’:
Book Hotel Rooms for you and your guests ~ If guests are coming from near and far, and if your wedding is in an isolated location, making sure you have booked the nearest hotels. Often hotels or motels will offer group discounts. A face-to-face meeting will also help if you are able to do so. And of course where you and yours shall be sleeping.
Wedding Gown time ~ You’ve been dreaming of this day since you were a little girl, so having the right dress, plenty of fittings prior, and a trusting relationship with your bridal merchant is a must.
Hair and Make-up Trials ~ Another crucial part to your wedding day attire, make-up, hair, and tan, all needs to be trialled and tested well before the day. A tan solution often needs to be tested for at least 48 hours to make sure it’s exactly what you want.
The Cake – This could nearly be up there with the dress fitting, take your loved one cake sampling! Spend a gorgeous afternoon sampling cakes.
6 Months – soooo close now:
“Save The Date” Cards ~ Especially if you chose a destination wedding, you will need to give as much time and notice as possible.
Register for Gifts ~ If you’ve nominated a gift shop for your wedding, best to register and set this up now. Especially if stock is limited, i.e. a boutique store.
Order Bridesmaids’ Dresses ~ Whether they’re all the same dress, different dresses, or your bridesmaids are selecting their own; this can sometimes take up to 5 months to order. Loving the fact all your bridesmaids are unique in their own way, we all know how (dis) organised a bunch of hens can be at the best of times! (No sarcasm intended here)
Purchase Wedding Bands ~ As I write this sentence, I myself am overwhelmed and feel privileged to be part of your wedding ceremony. So if you’re customising your bands with an inscription, or having the rings made to order, it’s best to have this organised well in advance. We don’t need a rendition of “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, we all know that first scene don’t we.
Honeymoon time ~ This is optional, as I know some of you may choose to do this at a later date. But if not, you may save money on airfares and travel by booking 6 months in advance. Try not to make this your main focus as this is simply the icing on the cake.
4 Months to go….
Confirm Vendors ~ Confirm and book additional vendors, i.e. lighting, cake delivery, sound equipment, furniture rentals, props etc
Confirm Hair & Makeup ~ Making sure you have all the appropriate make up, touch ups, people for your wedding day.
Plan your Rehearsal Dinner ~ Traditionally, the groom’s family will host a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. Not one for tradition, a good ol’ fashion Kiwi BBQ never went astray.
Select Groomsmen Attire ~ When it comes to dressing in formal attire, men can be testing. So whether you’re renting or purchasing, planning this a few months out is key.
2 Months – that’s 8 weeks, approximately 60 days:
Post Invitations ~ typically invitations are sent out 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding
Write or Decide on Vows/Ceremony ~ If you are writing your own vows, it is a stunning touch to memorise these words. They are of course the words of love and unity that bind you together.
Confirm Day of Transportation ~ Decide on transportation, as to how you and your bridal party, and your respective families, will be getting to and from the various wedding locations. This could be a good time to get the boy involved!
Accessorise darling! ~ Time to decide what will work best for your fabulous dress, i.e. shoes, jewellery, hairpieces, veils, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue!” Champagne anyone?
1 Month – so close:
Bachelor and Bachelorette Party ~ This is an indicative date, at any time you can conduct such a party. But best to do it at least a month out…for both the bride and groom. Just find a date that works for your bridal party, and get your favourite ladies (and gents) to do the work.
Printed Copies ~ Make sure all your menus, nametags, wedding agendas and the like, are printed and ready to go!
Final Headcount and Seating ~ Once all RSVPs have been returned, numbers will then need to be confirmed with the furniture hire company, and your caterer.
2 Weeks until your Big Day:
Review the DJ and/or band ~ Make sure you have that playlist sorted and your first dance song secured.
Photography ~ You should have the best shots sorted with your photography for the day and/night!
Your Final Dress Fitting ~ Now your dream has nearly come true, doll yourself up, get dressed in everything for your special day, if any changes are required, now is a good time to make these changes. You may be thinking of an alternative outfit to dance in? Also, this could be a good point to break in those wedding shoes.
1 week – 7 days and counting:
Facials & Waxings and all that jazz ~ Giving yourself a one week grace period will ensure breakouts don’t occur. Last thing you need is a certain something to pop up at this crucial point.
Gifts for the bridal party ~ make sure everything is wrapped and sorted so there is no added stress on the day.
48 hours – 10/10 for excitement levels:
Spray Tan ~ this is optional, as gorgeous white skin is just as beautiful. But if you choose the tan, now is to get this completed. STAY AWAY FROM SUNBEDS!
Mani and Pedi ~ This needs to be as fresh as possible, and if you’re like me the red nails and toes will need to be exquisite!
Rehearsal Dinner ~ Be there, love, embrace, and enjoy it!
Your Magical Day has arrived:
Marry your love, your soul mate, your best friend, the day has come. Relax, and live happily ever after!
At times throughout this process, things may go amiss, but try not to get to overwhelmed, these things happen, and its absolutely 100% normal for this to occur.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and how you prepared for your wedding or are in preparation for it!
Love Jude x
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and ensures through every circumstance.”
-I Corinthians 13:7