How To: Plan Your Wedding

After the excitement of the proposal has worn off, you may find a creeping sense of urgency starts to dawn coupled with an overwhelming realisation of what planning a wedding actually means...time, organisation and some serious calculations! But fear not, we're here to help. We have devised a handy guide to planning your wedding, with a countdown of what has to happen and when. There is so much to think of sometimes it can be confusing to remember everything that needs to be done and most importantly, the deadlines!

The average time it takes to plan a wedding is currently 12 months – but of course this can be extended or amended according to your personal timeline. Below is an approximate time line of the events in order of planning to help you on your way -

How to Plan Your Wedding


AFTER ENGAGEMENT / 12 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING

It can be very useful to start a scrap book to collate all your ideas in one place so you can refer to this when planning and even take to your appointments with your wedding venue/florist/caterer/dress maker etc - it always helps to have have visual references to get your ideas across. Stick in any photos, magazine articles, images, fabric swatches you like in your scrapbook, and make lots of notes.

IMPORTANT
• Set the date!
• Agree a budget, who is paying for what and when
• Choose your bridesmaids, best man and ushers. The sooner you pick them, the sooner they can start helping you with the organising!

bridesmaids

CEREMONY
• Draft a guest list for the wedding ceremony. Decide whether you want a small, intimate gathering or all your family and friends in attendance
• Decide on the type of service: religious or civil, and begin your research on registry offices, churches and venues. You may find a venue which can host both your ceremony and reception. Here is a handy guide to the Registry Offices in Suffolk to help get you started
• Give notice - if it is a civil ceremony with a registrar you will need to book an appointment and attend together as a couple. If it is a religious ceremony you will need to meet with ceremony officiators (Priest/Rabbi/Minister) and book your date
• BOOK your wedding venue ASAP (venues are booked months, and sometimes years in advance)

Follow this link to find a host of amazing Suffolk Wedding Venues to inspire you.

Helmingham Hall gardens

RECEPTION
• Draft a guest list for your wedding reception, if it differs from your ceremony. Will you be inviting additional guests to the meal, or to the evening celebrations?
• Research a venue for your reception, if this is separate to your ceremony location. Most venues hold special open days or wedding fairs throughout the year, so make sure you have a good look around any potential venue, meet the staff and wedding planners, and get a comprehensive list of everything that is (and isn’t) included in the cost of your venue hire. We have a whole page dedicated to listing these Wedding Fairs in Suffolk which should help you plan when and where you'd like to attend
• BOOK your wedding reception venue ASAP!

FOOD
• What type of food do you wish to offer your guests – a formal three course sit-down affair / buffet / BBQ / picnic / hog roast? Begin researching caterers and menus, and gather quotes, including any equipment hire you may need. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, or if potential caterers are restaurant based why not book a table to sample their wares?

Find some fabulous Suffolk Caterers here.

FLOWERS
• Start to gather ideas regarding your flowers. Will you require floral arrangements for your ceremony and reception? Research which flowers will be in season around your wedding date and what colours will work best with your -

wedding flowers

OUTFITS
• Make appointments to try on wedding dresses to get an idea of the style of dress you want, or meet with dress makers to discuss your ideas and find out what is possible for your budget/time scale. Take a look at our 'Tips for Shopping for your Wedding Dress' to help guide you on your quest
• Meet with your bridesmaids to discuss their outfits. Will you be choosing these, or leaving it up to each bridesmaid? Will there be a colour/style theme? It can be difficult to find a dress which suits everyone’s figure and taste so the sooner you begin this search the better
• Don’t forget the Groom – will he be hiring his outfit, buying off the peg, or having a tailor made suit or tuxedo? A bespoke suit can take at least 6 – 8 weeks to make so it is also important to begin this search as soon as possible

HONEYMOON
• Begin research on honeymoon destinations to ensure you get the best deals. If your wedding is at the height of summer you might want to consider delaying it to avoid paying peak prices. Decide on dates and book the time off work.
You don't have to go abroad for your honeymoon and may fancy a romantic
Cottage Honeymoon or
Luxury break instead?

OTHER
• Announcement in paper/family friends and engagement party
• Arrange for parents/families to meet (if needed)
• Begin researching photographers and videographers. If you need advice, make sure you read our guide on How to choose the right wedding photographer for helpful tips
• Use blogs/magazines to gather ideas for theme/decor/outfits
• Choose and book a wedding planner (if needed)
• Make a list of people whose talents/skills/hobbies you can make use of. Friends and family members can play a vital role in reducing the cost of a wedding, with the added bonus of including them in the wedding, and making them feel special.

3-6 MONTHS BEFORE
wedding invitations

IMPORTANT
• Finalise your guest list and send ‘save the dates’ – a card/email/video to your guests to let them know the date of the wedding
• Select wedding stationery and order invitations. Check out our guide to Wedding Invitations for top tips on creating your special invites
• SEND invites (with info on accommodation and travel for guests)
• Select and book your photographer (and videographer) Meet up to discuss your ideas for the day and plan a pre-shoot if required/offered – to help relax in front of the camera. Check out some of the best Wedding Photographers in Suffolk here
• Book and pay deposits for vendors and suppliers

CEREMONY
• Meet with person officiating at your wedding to discuss the order of service
• Agree date for publication of Banns
• Organise marriage license
• choose readings, hymns, music for ceremony - ask friends or relatives to read
• Organise and book a choir, singer or musician
• Work out transport arrangements - who is going where, when and how - and book wedding cars and transportation for the Bride, Groom, bridesmaids, best man, family and, if necessary guests

RECEPTION
• Organise music for your reception. Would you like music for when your guests arrive at the reception? Will you require a live band, DJ or entertainment for the party? If so book these ASAP, as popular wedding bands and musicians are booked up well in advance. Check out these locally based DJ's for ideas
• If you plan to do the music yourself, you will need to look into what facilitates your venue offers and whether you will have to hire a PA system. Start gathering/downloading/buying the music for your compilation!
• Decide how you would like to decorate your venue. Do you have a theme or colour scheme? Start researching the best places to purchase/hire your decorations, or if you are particularly crafty and plan on making them all yourself start gathering the materials, as it will require a lot of time and dedication.
• If you have decided on giving wedding favours for your guests, start planning what these will be, and where your will purchase/or who will be making and when.

FOOD
• Gather ideas for your wedding cake, and research suppliers. You can read all about the wonderful Wedding Cake makers from Suffolk in this article, which should give you lots of ideas. Contact potential makes and ask to sample their cakes; then choose your design and book a cake maker
• Meet with your venue representative to discuss alcohol – is there a corkage fee? Do they charge for a cash bar? Check their price lists. If you are supplying your own alcohol begin to research good deals and meet with a wine merchant, it may even be worth a trip to France
• Ensure you request details of any food allergies/intolerances/dietary requirements from your guests and pass these on to your caterer

CRUMB Bespoke Suffolk Cakes

OUTFITS
• Choose your wedding rings
• Arrange a wedding dress/bridesmaids dress fittings
• Select shoes and accessories for Bride, Groom and attendants. See our guide to Wedding Accessories from Suffolk for help
• Purchase an lingerie / under garments
• Book a hair dresser for your wedding day and agree on a date for a trial to try styles
• Book a makeup artist for your wedding day, and agree on a date for a trial for this too. If you would prefer to do your make up yourself then consider booking a makeover at a department store beauty counter to trial cosmetics and styles for the big day
• Decide whether you would like an evening/going away outfit and begin the search

FLOWERS
• Discuss ideas and quotes with various florists and pick your favourite
• Consider how many bouquets/posies/button holes/corsages/arrangements you need and calculate costs
• Are you thinking about fresh flowers for your hair? If so discuss this with your florist and hairdresser

wedding hotel

HONEYMOON
• Book a hotel for your wedding night (if needed); the Suffolk Hotels Guide has lots of fantastic hotels and deals to choose from
• Plan and book honeymoon, check passports/visas
• Book flights
• Arrange vaccinations if needed

OTHER
• Decide how you will handle presents. Set up a wedding gift list if required, or an account for contributions towards a honeymoon/house etc
• Set up wedding website (if needed)
• Research wedding insurance
• Buy gifts for family and attendants, see our guide to Wedding Gifts from Suffolk for inspiration
• Gently remind your Best Man/ Maid of Honour that they should be planning your Stag and Hen dos. Send your Maid of Honour this link to our guide to Hen Parties in Suffolk to give her a helpful nudge

2 MONTHS BEFORE

Best Man

IMPORTANT
• Confirm ALL bookings with your suppliers/venue/photographer/florist etc in writing/email

CEREMONY
• Finalise order of service (design/print/order of services for guests if desired)
• Arrange date for wedding rehearsal (if needed)

RECEPTION
• Order favours and decorations; see our guide to Wedding Reception Accessories from Suffolk for ideas
• Select your first dance – and consider lessons if you need them! Or at least have a little practice

FOOD
• Finalise your menu with the caterer and attend a tasting session to confirm your selection and make any adjustments. Double check that the caterer has any dietary requests from guests
• Purchase alcohol if needed

OUTFITS
• Coordinate Groom, Best Man and Ushers outfits/accessories if required. I.e. matching ties/cravats/cufflinks

OTHER
• Enjoy your Stag and Hen parties

1 MONTH BEFORE
wedding venue

IMPORTANT
• If you are changing your name, inform institutions as necessary

CEREMONY
• Meet with Registrar to go over details of ceremony, or send selections as required

RECEPTION
• Confirm final numbers and arrange your seating plan
• All decorations should be finished/ordered/confirmed

OUTFITS
• make appointments for manicure/pedicure, any treatments; the SK Clinic and Spa in Bury St Edmunds has wonderful facilities and offers great pampering packages for Brides (and Grooms!)
• buy all cosmetics / perfume etc

HONEYMOON
• Buy holiday items / clothes

OTHER
• If you are planning on making a speech make sure these are written and check with other speakers that they have at least started theirs!
• Draft up an idea of what photos you want taken/combinations of family to give to photographer and copy to Best Man

1 – 2 WEEKS BEFORE

IMPORTANT
• Confirm all appointments / pick ups
• Ensure photographer/videographer has all venue details, times and is fully briefed

CEREMONY
• ensure all music is ready for ceremony (burn on to disc/iPod if needed)

RECEPTION
• Ensure all final decorations are purchased/made/hired and find out when they can be delivered to venue, and when you can deliver/collect. Find out how long you have before the day to set up
• Double check delivery/collections times for any equipment hire

OUTFITS
• Try on complete outfits to ensure fit and make final adjustments
• Wear in your wedding shoes

FLOWERS
• Confirm pick up/delivery with florist

HONEYMOON
• Order your currency or travellers cheques

OTHER
• Keep an eye on the weather forecast and make plans in case of adverse conditions (umbrellas/wellies/coats etc)

THE DAY BEFORE

IMPORTANT
• Payments – withdraw cash for payments on the day to any suppliers
• Contact details distributed to wedding party
• Route planned between venues
• Pampering time! – nails / waxing / exfoliation / face masks, the works! Make sure you plan some relaxation and an early night
pampering

CEREMONY
• Ensure you have copies of the readings printed out for spares
• Make sure at least one member of the wedding party has a supply of tissues / plasters / safety pins / needle & thread / wet wipes - JUST IN CASE!!! It’s always best to be prepared.

RECEPTION
• Decorate venue if needed

FOOD
• Be sure to stock your fridge with everything you need for a hearty breakfast in the morning, as it may be quite a while before you eat
• Have bottles of water ready to take with you for before the ceremony, especially in hot weather, adrenaline and excitement will add to your thirst
• Confirm wedding cake delivery and set up. Make arrangements for storage if it is a hot day

OUTFITS
• Ensure all clothes are ironing and shoes shined, layout all the things you will need before bed to prevent last minute panicking!
• Hand over the rings to the Best Man

FLOWERS
• Confirm pick up/delivery - who is in charge or picking up / receiving and distributing in the morning
• Ensure you have spare pins / safety pins for button holes and corsages

HONEYMOON
• Check all flights/transfers ok

THE BIG DAY
There should be nothing left to do but ENJOY your very special day! (oh, except double check that the Best Man has the rings of course)
how to play your wedding


AFTER
• Ensure all payments and invoices are paid
• Send thank you cards for gifts, and to the Best Man/Bridesmaids etc
• Order photos/albums
• Return any hire outfits
• Dry your bouquet/buttonhole if you wish, to preserve them
• Organise storage of wedding dress (vacuum sealed bag/boxes)

Mind at Rest Will Service
One thing you may want to consider now is updating your Will as your old one is no longer valid when you've married. This quick and valuable service will ensure that your assets go to your loved ones and not to the State, so give the experts a call and put your mind at ease.


honeymoon


We hope this is a helpful guide to planning your wedding. If you have any comments, feedback or suggestions please send them to info@suffolktouristguide.com