Wedding season is upon us, which means that many brides to be out there are frantically finalising last minute details, whilst trying to enjoy every minute as annoying people like me keep telling them that the day itself will ‘go by so fast’.
It does, but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy the lead up. For some, the planning stage is the most stressful time of their lives, and if that’s you right now, I sympathise.
Having worked as a wedding coordinator, and planned two of my own weddings (plus a UK reception), I wanted to share some of my tips for a stress-free final countdown to the big day, whether you have 3 Months, or just a few weeks left to go.
3 Months To Go
So, at this stage, you’ve more than likely got everything booked, deposits paid, and the guest list finalised. Now is the time to send out your invites, if you haven’t already.
If you are having a destination wedding, or getting married on a weekday, or special date, you may have already sent these out previously. If not, don’t panic, 3 months is the perfect time to let those you want at your wedding know it.
Put a RSVP date of a week or two prior to the date your venue has asked for final numbers, to avoid stress when having to chase up those who haven’t let you know on time.
If you’re getting married in a registry office, or with a registrar at your venue, you will need to give notice no later than 28 days prior to your wedding, but 8 weeks is advised (and 10 weeks if either you or your partner have been married before). Get this booked in, if you haven’t already, to avoid any disappointment or stress if there are delays.
2 Months To Go
Now is the perfect time to get some pre-wedding pampering booked in for yourself. During the busy wedding season, many beauty and hair salons can get booked up in advance, so if you’re planning on having a cut or colour, and getting your nails nicely manicured, book up in advance and relax.
This is also the perfect time to check in with your bridal party and arrange fittings for bridesmaid dresses and your own dress.
As a general rule, you will have your first fitting at around 6 weeks, with your final fitting around one to two weeks before your wedding day, but if you’re concerned, you can have an extra one to avoid any last minute dramas.
6 Weeks To Go
By this point, many suppliers will be looking to have their final balances paid off, including the venue. A final details meeting will help calm your nerves, and give you the chance to provide final numbers for catering.
If you are having a church wedding, you’ll also have the banns read. These must be carried out over three Sundays prior to your wedding in your own parish church, and the church you are getting married in (if different).
A rehearsal for a few days before the ceremony may also be arranged. This is brilliant if you’ve not been to many church weddings, and are a bit unsure of what happens.
You’ll likely have your first wedding dress fitting at this stage. At this point, it’s also a good idea to check in with your photographer, and send over a list of must-have shots if you haven’t already. Although a good photographer will know what they’re doing, there’s nothing worse than regretting a shot that wasn’t taken on the day.
If you are having a hair and makeup trial before your day, it will likely be around now. Try and arrange it for a day when you have plans in the evening, to make the most of it, and test out the staying power.
1 Month To Go
By now, you may notice other people start getting excited for your day as well. This is brilliant, but can cause extra stress when people start asking a million questions. Consider having a wedding website, which you can direct people to. These can be set up for free, and include as much or as little information as you want.
A gift list is a good idea, as people will inevitably ask what you want, and if you have one to point them to, it saves a lot of hassle.
If your venue is hard to get to, or requires an overnight stay for those travelling from far away, it is a good idea to add directions and local hotel details to your website.
2 Weeks To Go
If you’re planning on jetting off on honeymoon straight after your wedding, now is a good time to sort the final details for this. Get your travel money, pick up any last minute items you need, and consider packing in advance to prevent last minute panic.
You’ll likely have contact from your venue at this point, either in person, via email or over the phone, in order to run through the order of the day, check final numbers, and arrange a time to drop anything in to the venue that you want there on the day.
If your venue are able and willing to set up for you on the day, I would advise this. Although it might be tempting to do it yourself, there often just isn’t enough time on the day, and it can be stressful. Delegate where possible, and if the venue aren’t able to help, rope in a friend or family member to do this for you.
1 Week To Go
The final countdown. Things can really ramp up a gear at this stage in things. You’ll have had your final dress fitting by now, and everything will become a little more real.
Try and book in some distractions to keep your mind occupied. A date night with your partner can help you both connect and get excited for this next stage in your lives.
If you haven’t already had your hen & stag parties, these might be booked in for now. Enjoy!
2 Days To Go
If you are staying at the venue, or a hotel, the night before, ensure you’re packed. You will likely be able to drop anything to the venue at this stage. To avoid any confusion, label everything well, and include any table and seating plans the venue will need when setting up.
If you are having your own CD playing during the ceremony, test that this is working both at home, and when you are at the venue, and again, ensure it is labelled clearly which song is to play at which stage to avoid mistakes on the day.
If family are coming down for the wedding, they may want to meet up. If you don’t have the time, be honest, and don’t be afraid to put your foot down, but also accept any offers of help.
Not long to go now! If you’re having a rehearsal at the church and/or your venue, this will likely be now.
The final 24 Hours
With hair and nail appointments to keep you occupied, you’ll be caught up in a whirlwind of pre-wedding excitement by now.
Hopefully everything is running smoothly, but to avoid any last minute stress, hand over the details to a bridesmaid, your mum or a close friend, and switch off.
Enjoy the leadup, try and get a good night’s sleep, and have a fantastic wedding day!