How To Manage The Wedding Countdown

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Whether you start planning two years or even three months prior, here’s our handy checklist to help you cover all areas before the big day

There are many things to think about when planning a wedding. Our handy countdown checklist will help you plan what to do and when.

12 months

  • Draw up a draft budget
    Separate the budget into set amounts for various categories
  • Set your top priorities
    Sit down with your groom and each write a list of your top three wedding priorities. These will become aspects you will allow yourselves to invest more time and money in.
  • Draw up a draft guest list
    A rough number of guests will help you narrow down a venue
  • Research venue options
    Book appointments to visit any venues you’re interested in. Saturday nights during March and November are the most common choices for Sydney weddings and many venues will have these nights booked up a year or more in advance, so get in early to avoid being disappointed.
  • Start an inspiration folder with clippings of dresses and themes you like
  • Select your bridal party
    Consider hosting a bridal party dinner so they can get to know each other.
  • Optional: host an engagement party

11 months

  • Book reception and ceremony venue and caterer
  • Start an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of costs and deposits paid

10 months

  • Make appointments for dress fittings
    Try on dresses to get a sense of what you like.
  • Order save the date cards and mail these

9 months

  • Book photographer and videographer
  • Book celebrant or priest
  • Determine your theme and colour scheme
  • Book band or DJ
    Consider music for the ceremony too. Often band members can arrive earlier to do an acoustic set for the walk down the aisle or during canapés.
  • Finalise your guest list
  • Order your dress
  • Choose a wedding registry
  • Select and order bridesmaid dresses
  • Contact and book necessary items from hire companies
  • Research and choose your honeymoon destination
    Also check to make sure passports have six months' validity after the date you plan on returning.
  • Optional: Book a pre-marriage course

7 months

  • Book your honeymoon flights and accommodation
  • Book florist
    Create a mood board with the type of flowers and look you would like. Include details about your colour scheme, venue, dress and theme
  • Start trialling hair and makeup artists
  • Optional: Make a wedding website, especially if you are having an out-of-town wedding. The website can direct guests to accommodation options and inform them of pre-wedding and post-wedding events.
  • Add items to your gift registry

6 months

  • Select your four special songs:
    The walk down the aisle
    Signing the registry
    First dance
    Cutting the cake
  • Select an MC
  • Purchase your: Shoes, Headpiece, Accessories
  • Select groomsmen’s outfits including: Suits, Shirts, Ties, Cufflinks
  • Select and order wedding bands
  • Select attire for flowergirls and ring bearers
  • Order invitations
  • Negotiate accommodation rates and place room holds for out-of-town guests
  • Ensure your priest or celebrant has ordered the necessary marriage documentation
  • Confirm wedding-day hair and makeup look and book makeup and hairstylists

5 months

  • Mail invitations
  • Order wedding cake
  • Write your wedding vows
  • Determine order of events for the ceremony, special readings and prayers, then print booklets
  • Book wedding transport
  • Organise a venue for the after party

3 months

  • Make a photography list
    List all of the photographs you would like taken and with names of guests you would like in them. Email this to the photographer and select a family member or bridesmaid to be responsible for helping the photographer with this on the wedding day.
  • Organise your day-before and day-after outfi ts
  • Organise bridal party gifts
  • Purchase gifts for family and friends who have helped with the wedding planning
  • Order wedding-day stationery such as menus, place cards etc
  • Reserve or organise a venue for dinner the night before or a brunch the morning after the wedding
  • Check on the status of your gift registry and update if necessary

2 months

  • Have your hen’s party
  • Organise a venue where you can get ready on the day of your wedding. Remember, lots of your photos will be taken here so make sure it’s a nice-looking setting
  • Write thank-you notes as gifts are received
  • Secure pre-wedding beauty appointments for the weeks before the wedding and trial any procedures that aren’t in your regular routine:
    Spray tan
    Teeth whitening
  • Finalise honeymoon arrangements including:
    All flights
    Airport transfers
    Hotel bookings
    Dinner bookings at noteworthy restaurants
    Special activities

1 month

  • Create a master schedule in Excel. On this schedule include:
    All suppliers' names and phone numbers
    Ceremony and reception addresses
    Times for all wedding activities
    Details for suppliers delivery, set-up and pack-up times and details. 
  • Send this spreadsheet to:
    Bridal party
    Bridal party transport
    Guest transport
    Hire company
    Cake maker
  • Assign duties for the ceremony and reception:
    Booklet hand out
    Photographer's contact — this should be a guest who knows lots of friends and family and can help the photographer round up people for certain photos
  • Finalise seating arrangement
  • Do a practice run with hair and makeup artist
  • Purchase any necessary undergarments

2 weeks

  • Pick up your dress
  • Try on your entire outfit. Move around, sit, make sure everything fits perfectly

1 week before

  • Re-email the master schedule to all of your suppliers and bridal party. Also advise them of any location or time updates
  • Give the venue or caterer a final head count

3 days before

  • Try to pay any outstanding balances or organise cash for the day

1 day before

  • Print out a few copies of your master schedule ready to hand out tomorrow. Leave these in strategic places for crew or bridal party to check if they need to know anything
  • Print the photographer’s photo list and give this to your nominated guest who will help the photographer
  • Check the weather, implement any necessary weather back-up plans

The morning of the wedding

  • Eat a good breakfast. We suggest:
    Eggs and a green smoothie (full of nutrients without the bloating effects)
    Porridge with berries (oats are low GI so you’ll feel full all day)
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get ready
  • Enjoy the morning and try not to stress about little hiccups



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