Wedding prep checklist (2/6): One year to go
So you’ve said (or heard) the words ‘YES of course I’ll marry you’, done your finest victory lap of the [insert engagement location here] and bombarded social media with the news… Fast-forward to a few months later and the task at hand is beginning to dawn on you. And, dare I say, you’re getting a smidgen of daunt?
Well – in the words of Taylor Swift – shake it off because we’ve put together a wedding checklist to help you navigate your way from becoming engaged to becoming newlyweds. This series of articles will pinball you and your to-dos in the right direction. So every big, medium and little thing that needs to come together in time for the big day, does.
If you haven’t already, have a read of Wedding checklist part one – Things to do as soon as you become engaged. Then, head back over here where I’ll be giving you a rough – definitely not set in stone – idea of things to do 12 to 9 months before your big day. (These timings are based on the general assumption of setting your wedding date just over a year after your engagement. But everyone’s different. And general timings are there to be broken, as Stacey and Kevin proved when they went from proposal to wedding vows in just eight weeks!)
12 months before the big day
Okay, you’ve had a chance to breathe after all that engagement excitement. And you’re probably the keenest you’ll ever be on getting stuck into your wedding plans. So this is the stage where you get all the big and obvious tasks done.
Decide where to get married and by whom.
If you’ve both got your hearts set on a specific venue, make sure you book it as soon as possible (and have a back-up plan if your dates aren’t available). If you still need to choose a venue, set aside a weekend or two for viewings (most places like you to pre-book). And if you want to get married in a faraway place, kick off the ideas process with our lowdown on having a wedding abroad. (Even if you’re aren’t tying the knot overseas, it’s worth making sure your passports are valid at this stage, in case your honeymoon plans involve flying somewhere.)
And you can’t get married without an official. So, alongside finding a venue, arrange a first meeting with your minister or priest, to set a concrete date for the wedding. And if you’re having a civil ceremony, book the registry office or civil venue (both of which offer an official’s service).
Decide who’s coming and who’ll be your right-hand people.
Once you know where you’ll be saying your ‘I dos’, finalise your guest list and send them a save the date card or email. If you want specific witnesses, or groomsmen and bridesmaids, let the chosen few know (and enjoy the high-pitched squeals of delight and vigorous handshakes of appreciation).
And a general note for this entire process; make sure your wedding budget is always at the forefront of your mind, especially in these early stages. It’s easy to get whisked away by romanticised versions of wedding days. And – although I’m definitely not wagging a finger at dreaming – remember to keep your pragmatic, budget-focused head on. Especially when it comes to choosing your guests. It’s oh-so easy for costs to spiral as you ‘just invite so-and-so and the kids’…
Decide everything that needs to be done and how to do it.
This stage involves a lot of bigger-picture thinking to answer the million dollar question – what do you need to do to plan for and have the wedding of your dreams?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But a good place to start is to ask people who’ve been there and done it. So get researching. Peruse our articles, scour wedding forums and magazines, and quiz all your married mates. And, if you can, try and get to a local wedding fayre. Not only are they a really fun (really exhausting) day out, they’ll inspire you and give you a chance to meet vendors, if you haven’t got specific ones in mind already.
Once you’ve got a head full of different thoughts and ideas, work out what you want to do. And how. Hint: a good aim is to compile and prioritise a list of all the tasks you need to do.
Once you’ve got your list, you’ll naturally be staring at it thinking, ‘Okay, so how are we going to do all of this before the big day?’ But fret not, there are options.
If you’re planning on doing all the planning and prep yourself, work out a schedule. Ask close friends and family if they’d like to help and then divvy up the tasks accordingly. If you want to hire a wedding planner, schedule a meeting to go through your list. Or, if you’re just too busy and you want to leave everything up to them, make sure you go into your first meeting with a clear idea of what you want. But, like most people, if you’re still not sure on what to do, have a read of DIY weddings vs. hiring a wedding planner: the pros and cons.
9 months before the big day
Once the big and obvious to-dos are under control, things start to get more fun.
The flowers, food and photos.
Unless you’ve got a friend from each wedding-related occupation, you’ll need to rely on vendors to help make your big day special. And arranging, booking and dealing with vendors isn’t always plain sailing. So start the ball rolling early.
Book a photographer, find and finalise details with a florist, and arrange a tasting session with one or two caterers before booking your menu. And, because that budget never leaves the forefront of your mind, it’s always worth asking vendors for the best deal.
The suiting and booting.
More often than not, it’s the wedding dress that seems to cause the most faff. Everyone’s looking for a dress to fit in with their style and body shape. And that’s before you’ve had the debate on what colour it should be – for the record, your wedding dress doesn’t have to be white.
But suits are just as faff-y. Plus it’s nice to get the bridesmaids and groomsmen involved in the shopping process. So get a date in the diary early on.
The cherry on the ‘Just Married’ cake has got to be the honeymoon. Your first holiday as a married couple. And, because it’s such a special occasion, it deserves the same amount of care and attention (and research) as your actual wedding day.
So, unless you’ve already got a destination in mind, why not schedule a game of Pin The Tail On The World Map as part of the decision-making process (only kidding). Read The BIG FOUR: tips on booking your honeymoon.
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