Save yourself money and be your own wedding planner. With our expert help you'll plan the wedding of your dreams just the way you want it. Here's the ultimate breakdown…
Written by Kate Thompson Last updated: December 27, 2015
The last days of December have flown by in a whirl of festive fun and now it’s time to start planning the year ahead, and your big day! Here’s your guide to wedding planning in 2016, month by month, for all you lucky couples who have got engaged this Christmas.
Congratulations on your engagement! Your next year is going to be a little busier than usual, and much more fun. This planner is a simple guide of suggestions to help you on your way and make sure you don’t miss any important tasks in the lead up to your big day. It also gives you an idea of opportunities to save money, and an idea of how long you should allow for bookings so you don’t miss out.
Summer 2016 weddings: If your wedding is set for summer 2016 then you will need get everything in place as soon as possible – and don’t worry, it is possible! If you are not hiring a professional wedding planner, try to simplify things as much as you can by booking a venue with an in-house wedding co-ordinator as their help will prove invaluable to you.
Winter 2016 weddings: If you are planning a winter 2016 wedding then you have a little more time on your side. Start by booking your venue(s) and photographer and then follow the guide below aiming to get everything in place by 4-8 weeks before the big day.
Weddings in 2017: If, like most couples you are planning for 2017, you can relax for a few months after booking your venue(s)and plan the rest of the wedding at your own pace. The sooner you get wedding companies booked or pencilled in, the better off you will be. Keep reading for tips.
Once you have decided on a date, you should check that the venue(s) of your choice are free to accommodate you then secure your booking with a deposit as soon as you can. Once your wedding venue(s) are booked you are on the journey!
Draw up your guest list together, and if your wedding date is a year or more ahead you can send out Save the Date cards to all your nearest and dearest. You should send your wedding invitations at least 3 months before the wedding ideally. It’s stylish to match all your wedding stationery so your orders of service could match your invitations and thank you cards.
Here are some ideas for your next year, month by month:
Engagement ring: Joyous January is the month to go engagement ring shopping if he didn’t already surprise you with a ring on Christmas day. It’s also time to set the date for your big day!
Wedding shows: January and February are the time to visit wedding shows or local wedding fayres, to pick up inspiration for your wedding planning, speak to actual wedding suppliers such as photographers and cake makers, and a great opportunity to pick up exclusive discounts and money off deals. It will also help you decide on a colour scheme or wedding theme to base your whole day around.
Wedding dress and accessories: Look out for end of last season designer wedding dress sales as you could pick up a bargain! You should allow a minimum of six months for a couture gown to be made, a minimum of four months for a designer gown to be ordered in and, if you’re buying off the peg, allow at least six weeks for alterations. Look for wedding shoes, veil, tiara and any other accessories once you have got the dress.
Valentine’s Day: Your first Valentine’s Day as an engaged couple – this one is extra special so consider marking the occasion with a meaningful keepsake such as an engraved watch.
Engagement party plans: This is also the time idea month to start planning an engagement party. Send out invitations by the end of the month for an end of March or April party.
Engagement party: March and April are ideal for a spring engagement party and you will have given your family and friends enough notice if you sent out invitations last month.
Mother’s Day: It’s a special Mother’s Day so mark it with a fitting keepsake such as an engraved compact mirror she will carry with her everywhere she goes.
Photographer: If you haven’t already done so, make sure you book your photographer this month or as soon as you can. All the best wedding photographers tend to get booked up first, so use this month to see two or three local or recommended photographers. It’s important that you meet them face to face as you will need to feel comfortable with them. Ask to see more than one full album and discuss styles as you may prefer some black and white shots or more of a reportage style. Ask if they do an engagement shoot as part of the wedding photography package.
Catering: Now you’ve booked the venue and your photographer it’s time to think about the catering. If your venue does not do catering, contact two or three local or recommended caterers for sample menus and ask for a tasting session. If you want to cater the wedding more simply yourself then consider ordering party platters from your local supermarket or M&S.
Bar: Consider whether you will be having a free bar, a pay bar or hiring a mobile bar.
Bridal party outfits: Start thinking about bridesmaid dresses and suits for the groom, best man, ushers and fathers of the bride and groom.
Father’s Day: Make more of a fuss of your dad than usual on Father’s Day with an engraved keepsake gift.
Wedding cake: Think about what style of wedding cake you would like and allow at least three to four months for it to be made.
Gift list: Decide on and distribute your gift list whether it’s with a department store, online gift list company or you make your own.
Honeymoon: Take a break from your wedding planning. Go on holiday, book a spa day and just spend some time together and then come back and book your honeymoon!
Wedding Shows: If you missed the wedding shows and local wedding fayres in the spring they’re on again in September and October and well worth a visit.
Transport: Next on your list is booking the wedding transport. Decide if you would like a classic car or two, a vintage bus, cool VW camper van or just a tandem (wedding dress permitting!) and then start ringing local wedding car companies for quotes.
Flowers: Visit two or three local or recommended florists to discuss your wedding flowers, bouquet and buttonholes.
Entertainment: Book your DJ, live band or other entertainment. Your venue may be able to recommend a local DJ they have worked with before and you should try to go and see them before your wedding day to ensure they are exactly what you’re looking for. You should also check they have the songs you particularly want to hear.
Hair and Make up: If you are planning to book a professional make up artist and hair stylist for your special day then make sure you book a trial session with them first to make sure they make you look the way you want to. Brides who prefer to do their own make up should consider getting some advice and new products from the make up counter experts at your local large department store. Ask for a free make over and you will pick up some tips while you’re there!
Speeches, Readings and Vows: Decide on your chosen readings for the ceremony and/or write your vows and speeches. Enlist the help of a professional speech writer and have the day announced by a professional toast master.
Venue and table decorations: The finishing touches to your big day are the decorations that will adorn your venue(s) and decorate the tables at your wedding breakfast. This is the most fun of all as you can theme your wedding by colours or style or both. Make your table planner too so everyone knows where you would like them to sit.
Glass Globe Lace Pattern Candle Holder | Personalised Burlap Table Runner | Silk Cherry Blossom Petals | Shabby Chic Hook Set With Mr. And Mrs. Inscription | Vintage Inspired Pressed Glass Goblet | Vintage Inspired Pressed Glass Flute | String Of Lights With Round White Paper Lanterns
Stag and Hen: Plan your stag and hen (or ‘sten’) parties and a rehearsal dinner if you plan to have one.
Wedding rings: A whole year has gone by and all that’s left now is to buy your wedding rings and pull together the last pieces of the puzzle.
Gifts for the bridal party: Order personalised thank you gifts for the bridal party at least 21 working days before your wedding.