Continuing with the Planning Timeline series, here are the next steps for your wedding planning, working from 9-11 months before your wedding. Happy Planning!
Find your venue
Once you’ve thought about where you would like to get married, now is time to think about whether you would prefer to host your wedding celebrations within a venue or a marquee. A misconception I often come across is that marquee weddings are likely to be more cost effective than a venue, but in actual fact it can be very much the other way around. Building a marquee is a laborious task; everything will need to be brought in - including all furniture, toilets, a generator for power, and heaters in case you might need them! These are all items you will need to budget for.
A venue may have lots of these items already, but others may have a “Dry Hire” offering, which means you will need to hire in all furniture, and bring in your own suppliers for catering and production, for example. This is often my favoured choice as a Wedding Planner, as it allows you to have free reign over which suppliers you use - which allows my creativity to flow freely!
Another point to consider before you make a final decision is where your guests might stay; is there plenty of accommodation nearby for them, and is there somewhere for you to stay the night before / after your wedding? Quite often clients ask me to source a venue which allows them to enjoy a whole weekend of celebrations, from a rehearsal dinner or BBQ the night beforehand, and then perhaps a cricket match or Afternoon Tea the day following the wedding. It’s unlikely you will ever get the same group of family and friends together ever again, so why not make the most of the opportunity and really enjoy every moment!?
Confirm your Minister / Registrar / Celebrant
Once you have booked a provisional date with your chosen venue, it’s vital that you now check availability for your Ceremony to be conducted by your chosen Church or Registrar on your preferred date. If you’re not keen on having a Religious or Civil Ceremony, you could also consider having a Humanist Celebrant conduct your Ceremony. This is a non religious service which is completely personal to you both as a couple. A Celebrant will take time to get to know your personalities and your journey as a couple together, to create a truly special Ceremony which reflects you both and the time you have spent together. I have a number of Celebrants who have conducted incredible Ceremonies for my clients who I would love to put you in touch with!
Consider a Catering company
Your venue may have an in house catering team who will provide all food and beverage for you, in which case you can leave this task until a little later, as you have plenty of time to consider your menus and drink offerings. If your venue or marquee site allows you free reign to choose which catering company you would like, then it’s time to start researching catering teams to provide a quote for you. There are some incredible catering companies throughout the UK, all offering something a little different, so do take your time to speak to a number of suppliers about what they’re able to offer you. Your venue may be able to recommend some great companies they have worked with previously, so it’s always worth asking, as a word of mouth recommendation is worth 10 online reviews!
The catering will likely come in at around 25% of your overall budget, so choose wisely, and consider as many options as you can before making a final decision. I would aways recommend booking a tasting in too, once you’ve confirmed who you would like to go with.
Find your Photographer
The best Photographers get booked up well in advance, so this is a task to start researching as early as you can. I can’t stress enough the importance of having the best Photographer you can afford within your budget. Aside from your memories (and video if you decide to hire a Videographer too - in which case, start this search around the same time!), photographs are the only thing you’ll have from your wedding in years to come. So it’s important to make the right choice and feel completely happy with who you have chosen.
Take some time to research the different styles available, and think about whether you might prefer film photography over digital. Do you prefer the moody darker style, or really light and airy? Most of all though, it’s important that you find a Photographer who makes you feel comfortable and who you enjoy talking to. They will be with you for the morning of your wedding and throughout the day, and when you’re not used to being photographed, it helps when you have a Photographer who you feel you can be entirely yourself around, as this will produce the best photographs!
Find your Florist
It’s also time to start thinking about flowers! This is one of my favourite parts of the wedding planning journey, as I love flowers and think you can never have too many! They add such a wow factor to your day, and can really change the whole feel of a space.
Create a Wishlist of the arrangements you think you would like throughout your day, from your Bridal bouquets through to your Ceremony and Reception arrangements, as well as any other areas you would like to dress. Then the fun part - researching the best florists! There are so many fabulous florists in the UK, and each have their own wonderful style. If you’re hosting your celebrations outside, or in a marquee, you might want something soft and blousy to enhance the garden surroundings. If you’re in a historical building or Palace, something more formal with less or no foliage may suit you better. Look for a florist who has created designs previously in the kind of style you’re drawn towards, as you’ll get the best out of them that way.
Ask each florist for an initial guideline of pricing to see if they work within your budget first, and then build upon that from there.
Confirm your Musicians and Entertainment
Consider the flow of your day, from your guests arriving, right through to the end of the evening. Think about how you might see this unfolding, and if you would like to start with something more classic and formal and work your way up to something much more lively and fun for your evening reception. This is an entirely personal choice, and there’s a huge range of talented musicians available - but it’s a fun task researching! You can spend upwards of £7-8,000 for a really great evening Showband, so it’s important to re-visit your budget here.
You can also pair this task with confirming any additional production you might need. If you’re having a band, you may require a stage, or if you’re having a DJ you may need a DJ booth if your chosen DJ doesn’t provide one. Always consider a dance floor and additional lighting, as they (lighting particularly!) have a huge effect on the ambiance of a room in the evening.
Confirm your Stationery Designer
Your invitations will set the tone for your wedding day with guests, right at the beginning of their journey with you, so consider your overall design aesthetic and how the invitations will fit into this. There may be some ready to go collections available which suit your style perfectly, and you’re able to personalise those with your details. Papier and Minted offer some great options. If you don’t find anything you like, most good stationers will offer a completely bespoke service where they will design something perfect for you.
Think about how long you’ll need for this process, particularly if you decide to go down the bespoke route. Your stationer will be able to advise on this, but you’ll need time for the initial concepts, design, revisions, and then printing and delivery, before you’re then able to send out the invitations to your guests. Aim to send your invitations out approximately 3 - 4 months ahead of your wedding date.
I hope this helps, but do let me know if you have any queries or are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of all of the organisation, and I’d be delighted to help further! I offer a range of Wedding Planning Services, and based centrally to the South East in Oxfordshire I cover the south of the UK.