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How to plan a wedding: your ultimate checklist

Get your wedding planning off to a flying start with this handy checklist

wedding planning planners
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
Updated: August 15, 2023
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Congratulations on your engagement! Now the fun of wedding planning begins, and you can tackle each step like a pro with our top tips.

Our wedding timeline will guide you on everything from setting the date to finding the perfect wedding venue, and we've got a round-up of pretty planners to make wedmin even more enjoyable…

Budget is a huge factor when planning a wedding, and should be one of the first things you think about, so you know roughly how much you can allocate to everything from the venue to the dress and the catering.

Bride and groom wedding© Photo: iStock

Follow our handy wedding planning timeline in the countdown to your big day

Once you’ve found and booked your ceremony and reception venues, you can start booking suppliers, including your DJ or band, photographers, and caterer if there isn’t one at your venue. Writing your guest list and starting to notify invitees about your wedding date should also be high on your agenda, so everybody knows to keep the date free. 

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After the main things are booked, you can start thinking about wedding outfits for yourself and the rest of the wedding party. Then enjoy a break from wedding planning by browsing for honeymoon inspiration and decide where you can go to unwind once it’s all over. From hair and makeup trials to the seating plan and wedding breakfast menu, there will be lots to sort out as your wedding day approaches, but our handy printable checklist will help you to stay organised and prioritise what needs to be done when. Good luck!

Your wedding planning checklist and timeline

12 months to go

  • Announce your engagement!
  • Book the church or civil ceremony venue
  • Book reception venue
  • Book registrar if civil ceremony
  • Start looking around for gown inspirations
  • Think about possible venues and themes

11 months to go

  • Work out your wedding budget
  • Compose your guest list
  • Visit bridal stores to look at and try on gowns
  • Book caterer
  • Book DJ or band
  • Book photographer
  • Book lighting and sound
bride trying wedding dress

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10 months to go

  • Choose and order your wedding dress
  • Select bridesmaids, best man and ushers
  • Choose and order outfits for attendants
  • Set honeymoon budget and start looking at brochures

9 months to go

  • Register for wedding gifts and come up with a list
  • Confirm menu and drink choice at reception
  • Choose and order headpiece, veil, gloves and shoes
  • Confirm orders for wedding day attire
  • Find a florist and choose flowers for bouquets, buttonhole and venue decor

8 months to go

  • First gown fitting
  • Decide on music/ hymns and readings/ poems at ceremony
  • Order invitations and wedding stationery
  • Start to research wedding rings

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READ: Cutting costs on wedding music is the worst thing brides and grooms could do – expert

7 months to go

  • Arrange dress fittings for bridesmaids
  • Book transport from ceremony to reception for you, parents and attendants
  • Buy any bridal accessories
  • Order confetti or rose petals for guests

6 months to go

  • Order outfits for groom, best man and ushers
  • Select and order wedding rings
bride and groom at wedding reception

5 months to go

  • Arrange for wedding cake order
  • Sort out place cards for table and any order of service
  • Confirm rehearsal dinner if necessary

4 months to go

  • Write or choose wedding vows
  • Buy/ rent groom's accessories
  • Book first night's hotel
  • Book honeymoon and pay deposit
  • Buy honeymoon clothes

3 months to go

  • Make appointment with hairdresser to discuss hairstyles
  • Make appointment with makeup artist to try different looks
  • Book wedding rehearsal - usually for a few days before the big day
  • Create any maps or hotel info you want to send out with invites

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LEARN: How to rent your entire wedding day: from décor to dresses

A bride and groom at their wedding breakfast

2 months to go

  • Send out all wedding invites
  • Try on your whole wedding outfit - the dress, shoes, veil and accessories
  • Arrange final pick up or delivery of dress
  • Buy or make wedding favours and gifts
  • Check groom has organised his clothes, buttonholes, wedding rings

1 month to go

  • Finalise seating plan
  • Hen and stag dos
  • Confirm music selection
  • Confirm delivery of flowers
  • Confirm arrangements with photographer
  • Hair and makeup trials

1 week to go

  • Pack honeymoon bags
  • Pick up wedding dress
A couple dancing at their wedding reception© iStock

What are the five things a bride needs?

Tradition states that the five things a bride needs on her wedding day are "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence on her shoe." This originates from an Old English rhyme that dates back to 19th-century Lancashire, and is something that many modern brides still choose to follow.

Theories suggest that there are significant meanings behind each item; "something old" represents a link to the past, "something new" signifies hope for the future, "something borrowed" is believed to bring good luck, while "something blue" represented love and fidelity. The sixpence, meanwhile, is believed to bring prosperity to the couple.

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How many months before a wedding should you start planning?

Ideally, you would have a full 12 months to plan your wedding, to allow enough time to secure your wedding venue, book various suppliers and get all of the details in place without rushing. However, many couples plan their weddings in much shorter timeframes, while others take longer. Ultimately, it depends on when you want to get married, and your vision for your big day.

Pretty wedding planners

wedding planner

Luck and Luck wedding planner, £11, Etsy


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wedding planner busy b

Busy B wedding planner, £12, John Lewis

kate spade planner i do

Kate Spade wedding planner, £51.10, Amazon


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