Congratulations on starting your wedding planning! It goes without saying that every wedding is different so every wedding will need different things, however this list is just a rough idea of things you may need or want for your own wedding, you can take parts of this list and make your own. At the end of this blog is a downloadable checklist you can print off.
Choosing your wedding venue should be the first thing on your list. Do you want your ceremony and reception at the same venue? If so, is the venue licensed to hold ceremonies? Will you have exclusive use of the venue? If you want an outdoor ceremony, is there an inside / covered space as a back up if it rains? Do they have in house caterers? Is there a corkage charge? Is it the right size for the amount of guests you want?
Registrar / Celebrant
It's important to book your registrar as soon as possible as they get booked up quickly. You will need a registrar to legally marry you if you want a non-religious ceremony. Some people choose to get married at a registry office on a separate day with only two witnesses and have a celebrant officiate the ceremony at their actual wedding. This may be so they can have their wedding in a place which isn't licensed to hold ceremonies like a garden or an outside venue for example or if they want a more unique and personal ceremony. For religious ceremonies you will need to speak to your Priest/ Vicar.
Photographer + Videographer
Photography is a given these days but videography is slowly on the rise with lots of couples saying they regret no having a video of their day. Having a photographer and videographer is the best way to capture your special day. It's really important to choose someone great at what they do and someone you get on with well as they will be with you all day so make sure you meet or video call them first before booking. For photographers see if you like their editing style and shooting style, are they documentary or are they more posed? For videographers do you like the way they tell a story, their editing style and music choices?
Think outside the box with your wedding cake if you're having a three course meal. Will people want dessert and cake as well? Probably not, so to avoid waste you could have a smaller one tier cake, or if you want a traditional wedding cake with tiers you could have two dummy tiers and one real cake tier. Other options are a donut tower, cookie stack, macaroon tower, cheesecake, a sweet table, a grazing table with lots of different desserts which is perfect for a buffet style wedding breakfast, or something savoury like cheese wheels stacked up.
DJ / Band
I would highly recommend having a DJ or a band so the music is taken care of for the night, lots of venues have resident DJs that they will be able to recommend. Just find one that suits your style and plays the kind of music you like. If you want a lively dance floor then a band is a great idea as they can be interactive with your guests. Ask what kind of set up they have, do they have lighting? Will they take song requests?
Real flowers can be expensive so if you're on a budget maybe look into artificial or dried flowers. If you do want real flowers you'll need to ask your florist what flowers will be in season the month of your wedding. Flowers are often used for bouquets, button holes, and venue decor including centre pieces on round tables or as table runners on long rectangular tables, on an arch as a ceremony backdrop, hanging from the ceiling, down the aisle, on the cake or in your hair. Large flower displays can make a real impact, they look amazing. You can use it for your ceremony backdrop and then move it to your top table or by the cake stand afterwards.
Venue Decor + Stylist
Decorating your venue can be an overwhelming task, that's why I think it's best to hire everything from one company so they can come and set up on the day for you so you don't have to worry. You can also hire a stylist if you need help with ideas on how to dress your venue. Ask your venue what's included in the hire as you may need to hire chairs / chair covers separately. DIY decor is a good shout if you're crafty and feel like you could save some money making your own welcome sign or floral arch.
There's quite a lot of stationery you'll need for a wedding. Save the dates, invites and RSVPs, place cards, seating plan, table numbers, welcome sign, menus, order of the day, vow books etc. If you want beautiful stationery then hiring a designer is your best bet, there are plenty of wedding stationery designers to choose from, find one who has a style you like. If you want to go the DIY route there are templates you can buy on Etsy which you can edit and print off yourself. Alternatively, you could design your own on Canva or Photoshop.
It can be hard to find an outfit you love but start by looking in shops that suit you, if you're young and want a modern dress go to a modern bridal shop like Lily Jacobs Bridal or Isabella Grace Bridal. You can also find wedding dresses on ASOS, Monsoon and John Lewis if you have a smaller budget or if you're looking for a simple dress or playsuit. Another option is looking at second hand dresses, this is a great way to save money and reduce waste.
You don't have to have wedding favours if you don't want to, but some people like to give their guests a little gift each for coming to their special day. If you decide you would like wedding favours I would recommend having something edible like an iced biscuit or sweets so it won't get left behind and wasted. Mini bottles of alcohol are also a great favour as every one can use them when you do the toasts.
Confetti shots are always my favourite photographs to take as they're so much fun. You don't have to do it when you're walking back down the aisle, lots of venues don't allow confetti inside anyway but after the ceremony your photographer can line all of your guests up in two lines and get you both to walk through as everyone showers you in confetti. I would highly recommend using biodegradable paper circles or dried flower petals as your confetti. It's hard to know how much to buy but try to get enough so everyone has a big handful of it so you'll definitely be able to see it in your photos.
There's not much advice I can give you about rings but just know there are some amazing unique rings available so find a style that suits you. Staghead Designs do some stunning rings for men and women.
If you're getting married at a wedding venue the venue will likely have in house caterers or recommended caterers. They should be able to offer different types of menus to suit you. You could ask if food trucks are allowed in the evening as they are great for evening food or dessert. Food trucks aren't ideal for serving a large number of people at a wedding breakfast as it will take a long time and everyone will be eating at different times. If you want a more relaxed dining experience for your guests maybe go for a buffet style dinner or an afternoon tea.
Entertainment can play a big part in your day, if you have a long day it's important to think about what guests will be doing in between the ceremony, wedding breakfast and first dance. You could have garden games like jenga or mini golf, magicians are always great, singers or musicians, a bouncy castle for the kids and drunk adults, a photo booth or magic mirror, a quiz, casino games or a DJ or band for the evening. It really makes a difference to the dance floor when you have a good interactive band or DJ.
When looking at venues it's important to consider if your guests will need accommodation. If there isn't any at your venue is there a hotel nearby? If your guests want to stay the night it's a good idea to get that booked in in advance, you could ask the venue or hotel to block out a certain number of rooms for you.
Transport can be something that slips a lot of peoples minds. If your ceremony and reception are at different places how are your guests travelling between the two? You could book a double decker bus or take cabs, just make sure it's all booked in advance. You may want to have a wedding car for you and your partner, there's lots of great classic cars to choose from or you may want to go for something more modern.
Guest books are great to look back on and read what people wrote to you. They don't have to just be a book though, you can get creative with it. If you like music and vinyl you could have your guests sign an old record and you could display it on your wall. You could use a globe if you're an adventurous couple. I've seen people use jenga where each guests writes on one piece each.
Wedding Checklist Free Download
Below is a downloadable checklist, you can print it off and check off things as you go.
There is of course much much more you need for a wedding but this list is a great start. View my recommended supplier list here.