Wedding Checklist by Chloe Jane Wedding Photography.
Over the years of being in the wedding industry and planning a wedding myself I have picked up some good wedding checklist pointers. Below is my wedding checklist essentials, hopefully it will be something you find useful.
Budget – The first thing you need to do is have a sensible look at your budget. This may seem really obvious, but having a list of all the things you want/need along with a running total is an absolute must. This allows you to see where you may need to cut back on things for now, or of course where you might have the budget to add to your list.
Venue – Your venue is the first thing to book, you will then have a date locked down and can go on to book everything else. When looking at venues make sure to pick one that meets your accommodation requirements.
Wedding insurance – As soon as you have paid your venue deposit, it’s best to get your wedding insurance in place. This can usually be taken out up to two years before your wedding day and will give you peace of mind if something goes wrong. Topcashback is a great place to save some money on your wedding insurance, if you haven’t got an account already, you can get a £5 gift card by using this link.
Book registrar/celebrant – If you need to book a registrar/celebrant, this can be done 12 months before your wedding. So you can factor this into your timeline depending on how early you have booked your venue.
In Scotland, the wedding licence is held by the registrar, rather than the wedding venue. For this reason, if you want you marriage to legally take place at your chosen wedding venue, it is important to ensure your celebrant is also a registrar. If your celebrant is not also a registrar, you will also need to factor in a registry office service, to ensure your wedding is legal.
Save The Date – If you’re not having a super tiny wedding, then it’s worth getting the save the date cards out asap. For many of us, a wedding would not be a wedding without the people we love around us. When sending the save the date cards, be sure to just send them to people you will be inviting to the full day. The official invites and invites for evening guests will go out closer to your wedding day.
Photographer – We generally get booked next after the venue, so this can mean we get booked long in advance. Every year I have people trying to book me for a date I am already booked. The earlier you book, the more chance you have of getting the photographer you want. If that’s me, then you can get in touch via the contact Chloe page.
Videographer – A videographer isn’t for every couple, but if this is a route you are going down, I would suggest booking in as early as possible. A lot of couples see videography as an optional extra if they have the budget nearer to the wedding date. This is completely understandable, but if you have your heart set on one videographer in particular, do try and book as early as you can.
Wedding piper – Being based in Scotland, a wedding piper is a popular addition to a scenic Scottish wedding. As with other wedding professionals, if you have a particular piper in mind, you should book in as early as possible.
Accommodation/Transport – If you aren’t spending the night before the wedding at your venue, you will need to think about both accommodation and transport. Pending the location of your wedding, you may have to also factor this in for your guests.
Bridesmaids/Ushers – For many of us the choice is obvious, but getting your list of bridesmaids and ushers in place early can be really helpful. These guys are some of your favourite people and will (hopefully) be up for helping you with some aspects of the wedding day. Whether that’s shopping, wedding ideas evenings or a DIY wedding night for invites, wedding favours, etc. Having the numbers in place for suit and bridesmaids dresses, hair and makeup is also very helpful.
Colour Scheme – Ok so some of you would have picked this out before you were even engaged! But if not, now is the time to envisage your wedding day colours!
Hair & Makeup – I made the mistake of not booking early enough and I missed out on the hairdresser I wanted. To avoid this happening, it’s best to book early. Make sure you have a good look at the portfolios to make sure the look you’re wanting is achievable with their skills. Don’t forget to factor in travel charges to the pricing.
Your hair and makeup artists will need to know what time you all need to be completely ready on your wedding day, and how many people they are required for. This is how they work out what time they will need to get to you on the morning of the wedding.
If you aren’t getting married in the morning, there may be time for additional people aside from you and the bridesmaids to have their makeup done. This may mean you have the opportunity for the mothers and any sisters to also have their makeup done.
Band/DJ – If not provided by your venue, you’ll need to be on the hunt for your perfect evening entertainment.
THE dress – Yes the dress is a super important part of the wedding day for most brides! What I didn’t realise before I started planning, is that the waiting time for a dress in many shops is 6-8 months! To save the disappointment of not being able to have your dream dress, get yourself booked into a few bridal shops with plenty of time to allow for your dress being made.
When dress shopping, I would really advise to take note of what underwear and shoes you will need for your dress. Do you need to get a strapless bra? Do you need to go for nude underwear so it will not show through your dress? If you’re going for a tulle dress, then avoid shoes with any diamante detailing! Honestly, it is the most annoying thing when your dress is catching on your shoes all day (yes I am speaking from experience!!).
Flowers – Choosing your wedding flowers is just dreamy! Who wouldn’t love to pick out a bunch of pretty flowers and have a florist make them up something beautiful. You need to bear in mind that certain flowers aren’t available all year round, so it’s best to check in with your florist about what flowers will be available for your wedding month.
Offering a buttonhole or corsage to key people outside of the wedding party can be a really lovely touch. It’s a relatively inexpensive way of allowing some of your favourite people outside of the wedding party to feel more a part of your day. Your florist may allow them to choose their flower colour closer to the wedding date, so they can accessorise with their outfit.
I personally chose my flowers after my wedding dress, this just allowed me to pick flowers that seemed a good match for my dress. It may be worth securing your date before less shopping, but making your flower selections afterwards.
Suit/Kilt Hire – When I got married, we chose to start looking at suits at a similar time to when I chose my wedding dress. My husband already knew what sort of colours he wanted, so it was more about finding a shop that stocked what he was looking for.
Using a suit company that also stocks footwear can take some of the stress out of renting the outfits. Most will offer a choice of black or brown, so you can accessorise your outfit perfectly. Using your shops insurance is very advisable for peace of mind.
When you have decided on the outfit, the shop will tell you when they want your ushers/father of the bride in for their fittings. When you are having children fitted, they quite often leave the fitting as late as possible.
Official invitations – You may well already have a good idea who is coming to your wedding off the back of your save the date cards, but the wedding invitations are still very important. They are your guests official invitation and will hold much more information for people attending your wedding. Make sure your invitations make it super clear exactly who is invited to your wedding. I realise this sounds ridiculous, but people can make assumptions regarding a plus 1 or as to whether they can bring along their children. Being really clear ensures you avoid awkward moments further along the line. We personally found that there was a lot of information that we needed to share with guests, which leads me into my next point.
Wedding website – This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re finding you need to give your guests a lot of information, a wedding website can work a treat. Having the option of including the basics on your wedding invitations and then more detailed on your website can be a great option for some couples. You can ask your guests to RSVP via the website, include options for menu choices and also useful links for accommodation and transport.
Entertainment – Wedding entertainment can come in lots of different forms. A table setup with hearts to write on, a jar of messages to read on your first anniversary can be a lovely thing for your guests to partake in. Providing a postbox of some description in this area is also essential for keeping your wedding cards together.
The above can be done at a later date, but if your entertainment involves hiring in a professional, then it’s best to do this as early as you can pick someone. An illusionist or caricaturist can be fantastic entertainment for after the wedding breakfast, through to part way into the evening entertainment.
A sweet cart is also very popular at weddings and adds some excitement and sometimes a much needed snack before food. Some venues provide a sweet cart for you, or you can look into an external company. For DIY brides, this may be something that you can look into doing by yourself.
Cake – Arguably one of the best aspects of wedding planning. Trying all the cake with none of the judgement! When you have a reasonable idea of your wedding numbers, you can book in for your wedding cake. Have an idea of what you want and then check your chosen cake makers portfolio to ensure you think it will be possible. Most cake makers will set the cake up for you at your venue on the morning of the wedding, but this is something that you will need to check. Depending on your location there may be a travel charge, so it usually makes sense to go for someone local.
Rings – Being a self-confessed magpie, ring shopping was an absolute dream! If you’re thinking of shopping online, be sure to order a ring sizer beforehand.
Bridesmaids dresses/shoes – Bridesmaids can be difficult to buy for, with the challenge of one style not suiting different body shapes. I can honestly say that picking a dress for two bridesmaids was way harder than picking my wedding dress! If there is the potential that one of your bridesmaids may be trying for a baby, you may want to leave shopping for these as late as you feel comfortable with.
Wedding shoes/Underwear – When you chose your dress, you will have hopefully thought about what shoes and underwear you will need (as in THE dress section). When you choose your wedding shoes, try to go for something that you will be able to keep on all day. Ladies, we know there is nothing worse than having a day of uncomfortable shoes!
You will need to take your wedding shoes and underwear with you to your dress fitting. Once your dress has been made and delivered back to the store, they will call you back in for your alterations. Wearing your wedding shoes and underwear is essential for the dress fitting process. The dress will be tailored to fit the hight of your heel, around your bust, etc.
Music – There are generally three songs that you need to choose for your wedding day.
1 – The bride walking into the service
2 – The husband and wife walking out of the service
3 – Your first dance
Aside from the above, it can be nice to also choose music for your wedding breakfast and also songs to include in your evening celebrations.
Wedding favours– Wedding favours are often the thing that people can’t decide on. It is becoming increasingly common for couples to avoid wedding favours as a way of cutting out some wedding costs. It seems a hard one to get right, spend too little and they can be tacky, spend too much and they eat into your budget for something else. For my wedding we liked the idea of the wedding favours money going towards something more entertaining. We booked a caricaturist, which meant that guests had some really fun entertainment, and also a picture to take home and frame. It was great fun and timed it so our evening guests got to partake.
Trials – Your hair and makeup trials can quite often be done at your house, which makes the perfect opportunity for you to have a girls day in. Having your hair and makeup done at the same time is ideal for making sure you are happy with the overall look for your wedding day.
Ask your bridesmaids to bring along their shoes and dresses, if they have been keeping hold of them. It’s a good idea for you to keep these at your house, that way you are responsible for taking them to the wedding venue.
Your trails are also a great time to start breaking in your wedding shoes. It might sound odd, but wearing your shoes around the house is likely to make a big difference to you on your wedding day. Nobody wants to spend their wedding having sore feet, so do what you can to break them in before your big day.
Gifts – It is common practice for the wedding party to receive gifts from the bride and groom during the speeches. This isn’t essential, but it’s a nice touch to include on your wedding day. If you would like flowers for the mothers, this is something that you could ask your florist to also cover for you.
Sending a gift and card between the bride and groom on the morning of the wedding is becoming increasingly popular. The last card before you become man and wife is really special (just be sure to read it before you have your wedding makeup done!!).
Table plan – Once you know your final numbers, you will be able to get your table plan together. Your wedding venue will let you know the latest that they can receive this by. Giving your venue a clear understanding by table, of where your guests will be seated, along with menu choices, will ensure the smooth running of your wedding breakfast.
Finalise your wedding timeline – By now you should know the timings of everything that is happening on your wedding day.
Photography questionnaire – Be sure to complete you wedding questionnaire, this will ensure your photographer knows everything they need to about your wedding day. A group shots list will also need to be completed.
Speech – Right Mr groom, you need to make sure you put aside some time for your speech writing. If you’re nervous about speaking in front of everyone, then writing it earlier rather than later will help. The longer you have to learn your speech the more confident you will feel and you will rely on your notes less. Make sure you give yourself enough time to write everything that you need to say, it’s not something you can do again, so make sure you get it perfect.
Make sure you touch bases with the best man and father of the bride to ensure they have written/are in the process of writing their speech.
List – Write a list of every last thing you need to take to the venue with you. Doing this a few weeks before your wedding gives you plenty of time to add things on as you think of them. Leaving something important behind would be the worst thing!
Steaming – On the days leading up to the wedding, make sure the dresses are steamed/pressed and looking absolutely perfect ready for the big day.
Suits/Dress – In the last days before your wedding, you will need to collect your suits, and also dress if your dress shop has been storing this for you. If your suits are hired, you will also need to arrange for these to be dropped back off at your suit store. Allocating a family member this job can help with your planning.
Overwhelmed? – If the above sounds like your absolute worst nightmare, then hiring a wedding planner may be your best option. There is no shame in having a professional to help you, it’s all about you having the perfect day and there are plenty of people about who can help make that happen. Don’t forget you have family and friends to help!
The golden rule – It’s impossible to please everyone and your day is not about that, your day is about you and your partner. Somewhere along the lines people can forget about that. I honestly think that organising a wedding isn’t that difficult, it’s organising people that is stressful. Remember to put each other first and to make the choices that will make you both happy. It’s really not about anyone else, so just keep that at the front of your mind with everything you do.
Special touches – Hopefully that has covered off the bulk of the things you need to think about, but there are a few additional points that you can factor in to your wedding checklist. Have a think about things that would be special to you, that you would like to include in your wedding day.
Something that made our day even more special was to include our dogs. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it really was lovely for us. The florist made up extra flowers, so we had real flowers on Trixie and a tuxedo collar on Bruno. Little things like this add your stamp of personality onto your day and make it stand out for your guests.
If you have the bridesmaids shoes at your house on the run up to the wedding, it can be lovely to leave them a little handwritten message on the soles of their shoes. It’s something that can be found on Pinterest, along with lots of other thoughtful ideas.
Photography top tips:
As a wedding photographer, I see a lot of weddings and hate it when I see my couples disappointed. Most couples would love to have an amazing confetti shot, so be sure to contact your venue regarding this, beforehand. These days, lots of venues only allow dried flower petals, which is something guests don’t usually bring along with them. If you know the venue rules, it allows you to prepare long in advance, meaning we won’t miss out on this amazing photo opportunity! Be sure to let your guests know and also provide plenty of your own for your guests to use.
Sparklers are another popular addition to your wedding, but again, you will need to check in with your venue that this is allowed. All being well with your venue, be sure to buy the correct sparklers! Sparklers advertised as ‘wedding sparklers’ are typically not suitable. Be sure to buy long length sparklers with a slow burn time. This gives us the time we need to get the perfect picture. Metal buckets and sand are likely to be provided by the venue, but be sure to have a pack of lighters on hand for lighting a large group quickly. Doing the sparklers shot before it is completely dark is best and it’s essential that this is not attempted if your guests are a little worse for wear. It can be a safer option to keep this to a smaller group, but this is something that we could asses on the day.
Be prepared for your pictures! It may rain, so make sure you have a nice umbrella or two on hand for your couples shots. A few clear umbrellas would work a treat.
Be sure to bring along some flat shoes. Having to cross a field in stilettos is not going to be fun, so have some comfy flats to wear whilst we are out and about for your couples shots. It won’t be noticeable for your images, but it will make all the difference for achieving some gorgeous shots.
Tan lines – They really aren’t a good look for your wedding pictures, so ensure you do what you need to before your wedding to hide them. A spray tan might be essential to make sure you’re looking your best and are tan line free.
During practically every wedding service I attend, the wedding rings (that usually fit perfectly) don’t go on properly. A little vaseline applied to the inside of them on the morning of the wedding works wonders. It’s only something small, but it’s worth doing for a seamless service.
With a hitch – My wedding checklist should ensure your wedding day goes with just the one hitch! I hope you have found this page useful. Please do take a look around the rest of my website, I would really love to be a part of your wedding. Take a look at my weddings page for more details and get in touch if you think I’m the one for you.