Quick guide to a wedding planning timeline

If you are newly engaged, congratulations! You are embarking on the biggest adventure of your life. Your initial feelings of love, happiness, and contentment may quickly turn to anxiety and even fear as you contemplate the process of planning your wedding. Fortunately, like any big task, breaking it down into small segments can keep it from becoming overwhelming. Our suggested timeline is based on a 12 month engagement, but those who have longer or shorter engagements should find it easy to customise.

12 months in advance

  • Create a wedding scrapbook: As soon as you are engaged, start a scrapbook with your plans and ideas. From pictures of wedding dresses to thoughts about staging, this will serve as your wedding wish book.
  • Set the date: Think of a few options and look for potential conflicts before finalising your date.
  • Draw up a budget: Sit down with your families and decide who will pay for what. Decide how much money you can realistically afford to spend, and divide it between all the necessary categories such as venue, flowers, and catering.
  • Choose your wedding party: Decide how many attendants you will have and ask friends and relatives to fill those positions.
  • Write a preliminary guest list: You might need to change this based on budget and other factors, but this is the time to create a dream guest list. Ask your parents, your partner, and your partner’s parents to create their lists as well.
  • Choose ceremony and reception sites: Draw up a list of venues and meet with a representative at each location to discuss pricing and options. Finalise your choice and make a firm booking as soon as possible, especially if you are marrying at a popular time.

8 to 10 months in advance

  • Finalise your guest list: With the venues secured and the budget in mind, sit down with your fiancé and both sets of parents to create a final guest list. Send out “save the date” cards to those you plan to invite.
  • Shop for the wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses: Begin searching for the ladies’ gowns, narrowing down your options based on price and preferences.
  • Book a marriage celebrant: Whether you want a big church wedding or a secular outdoor ceremony, your marriage must be solemnised by someone with the legal authority to do so. Interview potential celebrants and hire someone for the job.
  • Begin planning the honeymoon: Choose a destination and desired length, and research the options that fit your budget.
  • Meet with wedding professionals: Make appointments with florists, caterers, entertainers, photographers, and other wedding professionals. Discuss your plans, request samples, and talk openly about your budget.

6 to 8 months in advance

  • Choose and hire wedding professionals: Finalise your choices, pay deposits, and review your selections with your wedding professionals.
  • Book the honeymoon: Purchase plane tickets, book your hotel, and prepay for any special activities.
  • Order dresses: Place your final order for the wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses, or begin sewing anything that will be homemade.
  • Hire your marquee and furnishings: From chairs to glassware, this is the time to hire all the equipment you will need for the wedding day.
  • Hire wedding day transportation: Whether you prefer a limo or a vintage car, hire the transportation you desire for the big day.
  • Register for gifts: Not all couples choose to have a gift registry, but if you want one, this is the time to register.

4 to 6 months in advance

  • Organise pre-wedding counselling: Although not required, this is strongly recommended by many churches.
  • Order a wedding cake: Try samples and look through books at several shops, and then order your favourite.
  • Order wedding bands and invitations: Take the time to shop around and choose the items that best suit you as individuals and as a couple.
  • Shop for the men’s formalwear: The groom and his attendants should select their wedding day attire and arrange for its purchase or rental.
  • Arrange a menu tasting: Meet with your caterer to sample dishes and put together a finalised menu.
  • Book a hair and makeup consultation: Choose a salon and arrange a consultation and trial run.
  • Confirm plans for your bachelor party and hens night: Not all modern couples follow these old traditions, and many couples opt for a combined party. Whatever your wishes, make sure they are clearly communicated to your wedding party.

2 to 4 months in advance

  • Send out invitations: If guests will attend from distant states or countries, arrange hotel rooms and provide lodging information with their invitations.
  • Book hair and makeup appointments: Help all the women in the wedding party look their best by booking special wedding appointments, and don’t forget to include both mothers.
  • Finalise ceremony details: If you plan to write your own vows, include special readings, have a relative sing, or add other items to the ceremony, finalise these details and review them with your celebrant.
  • Finalise your registry: Make sure that you have items on the list at a vast range of costs.

1 month in advance

  • Submit your paperwork: Australian law requires you to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage form and submit it to your celebrant at least one month before the wedding.
  • Follow up with guests: Contact any guests who have not replied to the invitation.
  • Meet with your photographer and DJ: Finalise your shot list and song list, and decide an order of events.

2 to 4 weeks in advance

  • Gown fitting and haircut: Schedule a wedding dress fitting and pre-wedding haircut and colour.
  • Create a timeline for the wedding day: Send it to the wedding party and service professionals.
  • Review plans with wedding professionals: Contact all of your service professionals to review your plans and make any last-minute adjustments. Provide a contact number for yourself or a designated representative for the day of the wedding.

1 week in advance

  • Pick up your wedding bands: Give them to the best man and maid of honour for safekeeping, or put them with your wedding clothes to ensure they are not forgotten.
  • Pick up men’s suits: The groom and his attendants should go together to collect their formalwear and carefully review each outfit for completeness.
  • Phone the caterer: Provide a final head count, including service professionals, and a list of how many vegetarian or other special meals are required.
  • Contact the venue: Provide a list of special requests or instructions from your service professionals, such as a DJ table or flower storage.
  • Purchase gifts: Buy presents for your partner, wedding party, and parents.

3 to 4 days in advance

  • Visit the venue: Drop off any items you are providing, such as place cards, programs, or wedding favours.
  • Wedding gown fitting: Book the final wedding dress fitting. Be sure to wear the undergarments, shoes, jewellery, and hairstyle you will wear at the wedding. Take the dress home or arrange to pick it up.
  • Determine positioning: Create a reception seating chart and decide the order for the wedding processional and recessional.
  • Create pay envelopes: Determine which professionals need to be paid or tipped on the day of the wedding. Create a separate envelope for each and designate someone to handle those payments.

The day before

  • Relax: Spend time with friends and family. Enjoy your last day as a single person.
  • Hair and Makeup: Have the hair and makeup appointments for all the women in the wedding party.

The night before

  • Wedding rehearsal: Attend the wedding rehearsal with your wedding party, celebrant, and both sets of parents.
  • Rehearsal dinner: Share a meal with everyone who attended the rehearsal. Distribute gifts to the wedding party.

The Big Day

  • Give presents: Give gifts to your partner and your parents.
  • Delegate: Assign someone to handle vendor questions and requests, and introduce that person to your service professionals.
  • Wedding rings: If they do not already have them, give your rings to the best man and maid of honour.
  • Enjoy the moment: Show up on time looking your best, and then relax and savour the occasion.

After the wedding

  • Handle rentals: Pre-arrange for someone to return the formalwear and other rentals.
  • Write thank-you notes: Include any vendors who did an exceptional job.

At Betta Party Hire, we are here to help. If you desire personalised assistance, please phone us on 1300 472 793. Our dedicated wedding team (Jan and Damian) will be delighted to share our knowledge and recommendations for trusted professionals who can help you ensure that each aspect of your special day is perfect.

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