The Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist

Weddings are, for most of us, the most special day in our lives. The fun we derive from designing the details is matched with a sometimes-paralysing anxiety about planning it all.

As some of you may know – I get married soon! Well, when I say soon, it’s not until another 18 months away but it’s in the not-so-distant-future, and I’m super exciting about starting my planning. As soon as January arrives (so basically, in a few weeks time…) I’m going to get my wedding planning diary out and start thinking about what needs actioning, and when.

If you’re in the same boat as me, here is a guide to making sure you have allll the basics covered – and in roughly the right order to be ready for your wedding date!


You can’t have a 100+ guest list with a tiny budget, so the amount of money you want to allocate to your wedding should be decided on first. This can also sway your decisions on venue and location.

Ideally, you want to find out if you will be receiving any financial help from family members, and then go from there. According to Hitched’s National Wedding Survey, the average total cost of a wedding was £31,974 in 2019 – £299 less than last year.

Guest List

Your guest list is the next thing you’ll want to determine – it will give you an indication of the kind of venue that will be appropriate. This is the time to decide how big you want your wedding to be, and what kind of +1’s you will be handing out. Also – will children be suited to the type of day you are planning?

Remember that you can split your guests into day guests and evening guests, and don’t be afraid to request no partners if you’re numbers are too high. Guests will gain a lot from the day, from a three course meal, drinks and entertainment, so it’s important that they are the right guests who you personally want to see there. Not someone you’ve never met!

Guests also expect wedding favours, which you can save money on by learning all the make-at-home and do-it-yourself little tricks and tips. Wedding favours are a lovely personal touch and a way of saying thank you to your guests for celebrating with you, but just remember they don’t have to set you back a hefty amount of money.

Book the Venue and Date

This is where the real fun begins. For most people, the venue and the wedding date are top of the list of importance, so make sure your preferred venue is provisionally booked early on – you can always make changes later.

Choose a Theme & Create Atmosphere

This is where social media can really inspire you. Finding an original wedding theme can be a lot of fun and will be the foundation of all the other details. Will you go for something classical, rustic, or perhaps slightly bohemian?

This is your chance to display your love and create a highly unique and personalised wedding.

Remember that sometimes the theme itself doesn’t lend itself to create a thrilling atmosphere at a wedding. To do that, little extras are often needed to bring the wedding to life, and that can be done via various add on’s. A musician like a string quartet can provide that magical ambiance for the ceremony, a secret act like Sing waiters provide the entertainment during the Wedding Breakfast, and photo booths can create a bit of fun when the evening starts to lull (although hopefully, the evening won’t lull!).

Invitations and Stationery

If you want your guest list to turn up – and at the right place! – you need to give them an early heads up. Custom invitations are an extension of the wedding that you don’t want to brush over. Invitations by Downey are a great choice for bespoke and luxury designs to fit perfectly with your theme – the high-quality invitations make for a fantastic way to begin your wedding journey.

Consider having the same design and theme running from your save the date cards right through to the invites and even name place cards on the day.

Arrange a Hen Party

These days, brides-to-be can be found planning two of three hen parties as there is so much choice of things to do for them. For example, some brides like a family and close friend hen party, others like a wild weekend away full of hen party games, and others like a holiday abroad. That’s when some brides decide to have all three!

Make sure you are there to support your Maid of Honour, because planning multiple – and even just one – hen parties can be stressful. They include group WhatsApp chats and all kinds!

Find a Cake

The wedding cake can be a great way to accentuate the theme, or it can be its own separate entity entirely. Consider a traditional layered cake – perhaps with a customised bride and groom on top – or individual cupcakes for each guest for a more individual touch.

Book a Florist

Another extension of your wedding theme will be the flowers. Flowers are used in many different ways in weddings, from flower arches to table dressing and, of course, the wedding bouquet.

Flowers can be booked as soon as you know your theme, and you will likely already have an idea of what you want from the theme and the venue planning.

Book a Photographer

It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a good wedding photographer, nor is it something you should overthink. It is however important to book one early, just to put your mind at rest.

Have a look on Instagram for real life weddings – you’ll get a good insight to photographers on there through this search too!

Book a Band

The music can really set the scene and tone of your wedding – espeically the evening!

Wedding bands are the life and soul of the party and make for something everyone will (hopefully) remember. Reflect your wedding theme and personalities in your wedding band, whether it will be a rock band or a fun, hyped-up DJ. Also bear in mind about the music you’ll want for your walk down the aisle, and music to be played during the waiting around part after the ceremony.

Book Caterers

Certainly an expensive part of a wedding is the food. Some venues will already have catering options, but many will decide on external caterers. This could be a hog roast BBQ, oriental dishes, traditional sharing platters or anything in between.

Think about what your guests and yourselves will enjoy, and if it also fits into your wedding theme.

Finalise Your Wedding Dress Hunt

This process will likely have started much earlier on, but it’s fine to leave it until after the basics are organised. Bridal shopping is a bride-to-be’s fairytale dream and it can take a long time to settle on the perfect dress, so don’t rush into getting one unless you’ve had time to think it over.

I’m just about to start this wedding dress hunt – wish me luck!

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