Wedding Planning Timeline. Wedding Planning Tools

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Well after having a really interesting discussion this week on twitter over wedding planning timescales, i thought it would be the next logical step in the wedding planning tool series on the blog.

Several photographers have been receiving wedding enquiries as far in advance as 2012 and 2013. Some photographers take the bookings, while others will only book up to a year or eighteen months in advance.

So what should you do if you are recently engaged and planning a wedding years in advance? I understand that many couples have to plan so far in advance to save up for the wedding and to ensure their favourite vendors are available. While other’s are lucky enough to be able to plan a last minute wedding, whilst taking the risk that they may not get exactly what they wanted for their day or planning a budget day.

I would say the first thing to think about which is often the priciest is your venue, dates can get booked up very far in advance for popular wedding venues. Alternatively you can get last minute deals if you are flexible with your date. If you are having a service at a separate location, it’s best to arrange this too, so that the date is secure all round.

I think it’s best to prioritise what you want for your wedding day, whether you want the perfect dress, photographer, cake baker or florist. If they book up fast it may be worth an enquiry early on, but if they say they do not book up that far in advance, contact them once they open their diaries to get yourself booked in.

All in all i think each wedding planning journey is unique and so different.

If you are a vendor, how far in advance do you open your books? If you are planning a wedding or have planned a wedding, how far in advance are you arranging everything? I’d love to hear all of your opinions on this matter so vendors and couples know what to expect and avoid disappointment when planning their day.

I shall leave you with a little checklist and timeline i have constructed, it isn’t the gospel, so chop and change it where you will, it’s more of a reminder so that you don’t end up disappointed when planning your wedding. There is a PDF version for you to  print out and put into your wedding file and a fully customisable excel version for your pc. I hope you find it useful :-) Do let me know your thoughts ;-)

PDF: wedding planning timeline checklist

EXCEL: wedding planning timeline checklist

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  • When it comes to Wedding Stationery .. to be honest I would take an order however far in advance the client wants to book. Especially if they need to send out Save the Date cards which are usually sent out a year before the wedding.
    As a 100% Handmade stationer, we can often only take so many weddings per month so it really is a good idea to guarantee a spot with your favourite stationer quite early.

  • Great topic Lou! I’m a wedding photographer and I take bookings as far in advance as the bride would like to book me! I currently have bookings for 2012. None for 2013 yet though! It’s best to book your photographer as soon as you can, as they do get booked up quickly.

  • When to book your wedding cake does really depend on when you are getting married. May-September gets booked up really quickly, but for our company the busiest weeks are not consistent year on year. With any service if there is a particular supplier you really want it’s worth having a conversation with the supplier to find out how far in advance they take bookings. At present we still have availibility for every weekend from March through to December, but with the wedding fair season just starting that could change very quickly. There are a couple of weekends in July and August were we only have one slot left. We can make more than one wedding cake per week but your favourite photographer can only do one wedding per day.

  • I take bookings only up to 18 months in advance. If a couple get in touch with me as far as 3 years in advance I pencil them in for the date and take their details and they can then secure their date by paying a deposit 18 months prior to their wedding date. If you are planning a Saturday wedding between May and October it is a good idea to get in there as quickly as possible as these usually book up with me 12-18months in advance and it’s heart breaking turning away all the lovely Brides who are only enquiring about availability for those dates 3-6 month before their big day.

  • Most of my bookings for my wedding video service are taken over a year in advance of the date. I have taken a few nearly 2 years in advance and I guess I would take any booking that came my way regardless of how far in advance it was. I also get the odd wedding that is booked a month or few months before, the shortest notice was 3 weeks. As long as I’m free I don’t have an issue. You guys might be interested to hear that I use an organiser app on my iPhone called awesome note and have a section for bookings, it shows me in order all the weddings I have coming up with how many days left and also take a picture of the booking form to get stored with each entry allowing me to have access to all the info anywhere I am. One of my better ideas!

  • Thanks so much for all of your comments thus far. It’s really insightful and I hope this will help couples when planning their weddings. It seems the majority of you would take any bookings, but advice couples to book asap even if it is 12-18months+ thank you :-) keep your opinions coming xx

  • We got engaged last January, get married in April, so 15 months of planning. We got all our first choice suppliers, but know that some were reaching capacity for 2011 when I booked a year ago x

  • I would advise- from experience- that when booking 2 venues (church/temple/reg office then hotel/golf club/stately home) you don’t give in to any pressure to ‘time’ your day for you from the second venue. What I mean is, if your hotel ‘normally’ has the meal at 5pm and tries to get you to do this because it suits them, this could have a knock-on effect of either rushing you at the ceremony or obliging you to add entertainment purely to fill a gap.

    It sounds such a silly little tip but ‘start your venue timings from the FIRST event’ and ‘be bossy with your hotel- you are paying them thousands of pounds’ were two things my then fiancee nagged me to do and I am SO glad he did! Our venue were very nice but wanted us to eat late, our church gave us an early ceremony (lovely morning light etc’) – had we not put our foot down there would have been bored, hungry kids (and adults) by mid afternoon. The venue had this idea that people wanted action ALL the time and an after-lunch-coffee-and-chat-gap before the evening do would not work- but we knew our guests and (with the addition of a regional cheese nibble buffet and a wood panelled room) it actually ‘made’ the day because long lost relatives could mix and mingle and relax after their 5am-to-drive-down start! Then they were re-energised for the disco later!

    A the end of the day, although venues have a lot of experience, they can be set in their ways so don’t be afraid to be firm!

  • PS. Short engagement? We asked around after we got engaged and discovered we could get the same wedding suppliers for 16 months (ie June the year after) OR late Oct/Nov that year. There seems to be a ‘dry spell’ during late Autumn (I guess people hold out for Xmas) – but the weather is often fine and bright and the autumn colours lovely. I believe January is also a good date for ‘less than a year’ couples!

  • I will take wedding photography bookings 12-18 months in advance. Anything more than this I tell my couples that they will be in my diary and I will contact them if I get any other enquiries for their day to see if they are still hoping to book me when it gets to the 12-18 month before mark

  • Yes Cath, you are absolutely right. If you want to get married within a year of getting engaged and are flexible on time of year and day of the week you should still be able to get the suppliers you want. I had one couple who phoned to ask me which dates I still had available and then compared the dates the venue had said they were still available for and this way they found a suitable date and booked. So this might be a good tip. And I would say make sure that the venue will not give the date to somebody else without letting you know first. When me and my husband got married we pencilled in for a date, then went on holiday for a week and when I phoned up to confirm the date was no longer available. I thought that was shocking and really put me off booking that venue after that. So be assertive and tell them that you are serious about booking but need to check availability with your preferred suppliers first.

  • We started plannimg in 2009 for our wedding this year. We began early as i didn’t want to compromise on things I wanted. I wanted to be organised and we both had a clear vision of what we wanted. I dont think this can be done in a few months.

  • Cath – great tip RE the timings on the day, it’s your day and vision and you have to stick to your guns :-)

    Also great point that it depends on when you are getting married, choosing a popular summer month bank holiday or 11/11/11 date for example may be really popular. Flexibility is they key to short planning timings.

    Like Caroline says, prioritise your wants/needs and find a date where things you want are available.

    Becky, very good point, congratulations and good luck with your planning :-)


  • Here at the Vivien Sheriff studio we ask all brides to give us a minimum of 6 weeks notice for any of our bespoke pieces. Even at busy times we will try and accommodate all orders. We prefer all brides to come and visit us at the studio, for a cup of tea and a chat. We will personally talk each bride through our range and will discuss how we will personally design the piece especially for them. Its a lovely day out as we are based in rural wiltshire in the most beautiful surroundings, and well worth the trip.

    Eager brides can contact us up to a 1-2 years in advance there is no limit, it all depends on if you have your dress sorted as brides like to match accessories.

    A top tip for wedding guests or M.o.B’s is to choose the hat first and let that dictate your outfit. We can colour match all our designs though so if you already have the outfit we can design a style to suit.

    Hope that is helpful, watch this space for our new bridal designs coming in May.

  • We had a Christmas wedding which also brought in other presseures. Some venues werent avaiable as they claimed they made more money from Christmas parties than weddings, so you need to make sure you ask. We also had an xmas party going on at our venue at the same time as our wedding, which we didn’t mind but I could imagine some couples may not want to share their day.
    Suit hire were keen for us to book early as Christmas is a busy time for them too.
    The other main issue we had was booking the DJ, again they are often booked for xmas parties so when we found the one we wanted we booked him over a year in advance.

    Abbie x

  • Thanks Vivienne, that’s great to know a timescale for a bespoke accessory.

    Abbie – that’s so useful. I didn’t think of a Christmas wedding conflict with Christmas parties so that’s a great point :-)


  • Aw I’m glad you like it David – I made it with my own fair hands too hehe !! Hope it’s useful :-) x

  • For wedding photography, we tend to take bookings between 8 and 16 months in advance. But even if you’re running a little late, don’t be afraid to call your top photography choice. Sometimes there’s an availability or a bride cancels.

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