The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline
McBride Photography

The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline

Tips & Hints

Planning your wedding is an exciting journey, and we’re here to guide you through the perfect wedding planning timeline.

From venue to catering, photography to the dress, most plans can be easily achieved within 18 months. Below are some key milestones and expert tips to make your planning process smooth and stress-free.

18 Months Out

You may be newly engaged and its time to have some of the initial wedding conversations and see where you land. Some things to do first –

  • Insure your engagement ring. If its not already, add it to your policy to ensure no loss or damage dampens your wedding planning moving forward.
  • Consider your numbers. You may want to keep it small and intimate or maybe invite every one of your second cousins. Get those numbers on paper to make it easier to plan a style of celebration that will work within them.
  • More numbers but plan an overall budget. Consider what you’ll be covering and if there are any other contributors to the bottom line before assigning ballpark figures to the main things that matter to you; photography, venue, food and drink, the dress or flowers.

Once you have your numbers in check consider the type of celebration you’re wanting to have. If its more an elopement style you might feel more comfortable planning everything yourself, for a bigger celebration (and if the budget allows) a wedding planner takes a lot of the stress out of everything moving forward.

Booking Key Vendors and Venue

At 18 months out, it’s time to secure your dream wedding venue and essential vendors and ‘lock in’ your chosen date. Prioritise booking your venue first as it will largely indicate your chosen ‘style’. Remember, popular months and special dates require earlier bookings, especially if you’re planning a southern hemisphere wedding during spring or autumn, school holidays or long weekends.

From there consider the type of catering you’re after, wether its covered by your chosen venue or you need to source it externally and get creative deciding on the perfect party menu.

Get some coverage

Before you start laying down those deposits consider if you want to take out insurance. If so, do it now to ensure all the funds you’ll start paying to your chosen vendors are covered from the beginning.

12 Months Out

Nows the time to piece together your perfect team. Work your way from top priority down to choose your photographer, celebrant, music and more and lock them in for your chosen date.

Start Looking at Invitations

Take a moment to think about how you plan to tackle the wedding invitations. Paper or a website? Save the Date or straight to the formal invite? This will largely depend on the tone of your event, the logistics/travel involved for guests and how quickly its coming up.

Get Dressed

Plan in time with the key fashion-focused in your life to get your dress picked. It might be a few weekends boutique browsing, a fun afternoon picking something you can wear again off the rack, or getting your own unique vision designed for you by a local designer, either way, start the journey now to ensure you have enough time to make it a reality.

9 Months Out

Organise Your Bridal Party

Dedicate nine months pre-wedding date to your partner and your bridal party. Book or buy suits, dresses, accessories.

Book In Your Beauty

Book in hair and makeup for you and your bridal party now that you know the numbers and timings of your day.

6 Months Out

Book Your Honeymoon

Flights for any overseas trips will open now and allow you to book in a post-nuptials trip.

But before you get there consider these other items for the big day –

  • Book in any hire items – furniture, seating, table wear, linens, lighting might be required to create vision at your chosen venue.
  • Lock in your celebrant and ensure they have enough time to get the paperwork sorted and their script for the day personalised to perfection.
  • Book transport for you and your guests to ensure everyone can make the most of the day.
  • Decide on your cake. It might be a traditional tiered, or a savoury cheese option. Either way, book in your supplier and start thinking of ideas.

4 Months Out

Organise your bridal hair and makeup trial. Be prepared with some inspiration images for hair and makeup to discuss the potential for your own look and discuss with them a plan for hair and skin maintenance leading up to the wedding to book in the remainder of your appointments before you see them again.

Order Your Invitations

Order your invitations and send them out with an RSVP of one month before. Be sure to have a system in place to record those RSVPs before you send out the first invite to easily track your numbers right up to the date.

Confirm Your Menu and Cake

Get tasting! Confirm with your caterer and cake maker the menu and flavours for the day. If you also have a bar supplier consider coming up with a signature cocktail for guests to enjoy.

2 Months Out

Consider the ceremony. If you’re planning to have readings, songs or personalised vows get the details nutted out with your celebrant now.

  • Buy wedding presents for your bridal party, parents or special others
  • Search for shape wear or underwear to suit your chosen wedding dress shape
  • Confirm any song selections with your musician; ceremony, first-dance and entry tracks deserve some special consideration.
  • Lock in any miscellaneous items you might need, a guest book (we love the audio type!), cake knife, card box, flower girl accessories or ‘first aid’ kits for the day.

1 Month Out

  • Finalise your seating once your final RSVP arrives at one month out and send off to your signage designer to get creative with a seating plan sign and place cards.
  • Pay your balances for all your wedding vendors to ensure they’re ready and confirmed for your date.
  • Book in a final walk-through with your chosen venue and discuss any last-minute plans or requirements they need on the days before and of.
  • Break in those shoes. Avoid the blisters on the day and practice walking and dancing in your chosen pair.

1 Week Out

This week is mostly about beauty, which is a great way to walk into your wedding day stress free –

  • Book a manicure and pedicure
  • Have a last minute light treatment for picture perfect skin
  • Consider a massage with your partner or bridesmaid to keep the stress at bay
  • Get your ring cleaned to ensure its sparkling

Day Before & Day Of

Time to enjoy! Take a moment to thank everyone around you and enjoy their company the day before, morning of and of course at the main event.

Still a big Overwhelmed?

Not sure where to get started? Here’s some more tips to make your wedding planning stage a breeze!

Consider Logistics

Take into account you and your guests’ travel logistics. Both in terms of getting there and also what they’re leaving behind; work schedules, other social commitments and family obligations should be considered for even the closest of friends and family ahead of selecting a date.

If your guests are keen to traveling for a destination wedding, consider the timing to ensure theres plenty of flights and accommodation available or consider increasing your lead time so everyone can secure their bookings early.

Prioritise What Matters to You

Identify what aspects of your wedding are the most important to you and your partner. Whether it’s the location, food, or photography, prioritise booking these elements first. Flexibility with other details allows for adjustments based on availability, whilst ensuring your priorities are met.

Maintain an Organised Overview

Create a shared folder or spreadsheet to track venues and vendors you’ve contacted, along with their pricing and details. This overview will help you stay organised, compare options, and make informed decisions. Still shortlisting? Use the favourite’s feature for all of our wedding venues and vendors to easily track your top picks.

Ready to get planning? Browse through the best wedding businesses across Australia from venues, to catering, photographers and more in our directory.

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