How To Plan A Wedding

p r e t t y (2)I recently went to a very pretty wedding. It made me think about how much work goes into planning one and making it extra special. After extensive research, here’s the pointers for planning your big day from the experts.

16 Months Before

+ Begin leafing through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design and food magazines for inspiration

+ Determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own

+ Pick your wedding party

+ Start a guest list – make a head count database to use throughout your planning process with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information

+ Decide on a date

+ Book your venue

+ Research a good photographer, band, florist and caterer

+ Hire a wedding planner if you wish

+ Throw an engagement party – remember that your invitees should be on your wedding guest list as well

Pretty weddings + how to plan them


8 Months Before

+ Hire a photographer and a videographer

+ Book the entertainment, florist and caterer

+ Purchase a dress – you’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be postponed for another two to three months

+ Reserve a block of hotel rooms for guests – pick three hotels at different price points close to the reception venue

+ Create your gift register – sign up at a minimum of three retailers

+ Launch a wedding blog or facebook page – create your personal page through a free provider such as, or Facebook. Note the date of the wedding, travel information, and accommodations. Then send the link to invitees

Pretty weddings + how to plan themPretty weddings + how to plan them

6 Months Before

+ Select and purchase invitations

+ Start planning a honeymoon – make sure that your passports are up-to-date and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need

+ Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses – allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized

+ Meet the officiant – map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion)

+ Send the save-a-date cards

+ Reserve structural and electrical necessities – book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs if you need them, lighting components etc.

+ Book a florist

+ Arrange transport – consider limos, minibuses, trolleys and town cars. Remember that low-to-the-ground limos can make entries and exits dicey if you’re wearing a fitted gown

+ Start composing a “day-of” timeline – draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance)

Pretty weddings + how to plan them

4 Months Before

+ Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner venues – negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that place as well

+ Check on the wedding invitations – ask the stationer for samples of the finished invitations and revise them to suit your needs

+ Select and order the cake – some bakers require a long lead time. Attend several tastings before committing to any baker

+ Send your guest list to the host of your shower – provided you, ahem, know about the shower

+ Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings

+ Schedule hair and makeup artists

+ Choose your music – what should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing?

Pretty weddings + how to plan them

3 Months Before

+ Finalize the menu and flowers – you’ll want to wait until now to see what will be available, since food and flowers are affected by season

+ Order favours, if desired – some safe bets: monogrammed cookies or a treat that represents your city or region. If you’re planning to have welcome baskets for out-of-town guests, plan those now too

+ Make a list of the people giving toasts

+ Finalize the readings

+ Purchase your undergarments and schedule your second fitting

+ Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception

+ Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs

+ Purchase the rings -this will give you time for resizing and engraving

+ Send your event schedule to the vendors

Pretty weddings + how to plan them

2 Months Before

+ Touch base again with all the vendors

+ Meet with the photographer

+ Discuss specific shots and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you

+ Review the playlist with the band or deejay

+ Send out the invitations – the rule of thumb: mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date

+ Submit a newspaper wedding announcement – if you’re planning to include a photograph, check the publication’s website: Some have strict rules about how the photo should look

+ Enjoy a bachelorette party – arranging a night out with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honour. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, feel free to ask if a celebration is in the works

Pretty weddings + how to plan them Pretty weddings + how to plan them

1 Month Before

+ Enter the RSVPs into your guest-list database – phone people who have not yet responded

+ Get your marriage license – the process can take up to six days, but it’s good to give yourself some leeway. If you are changing your name, order several copies

+ Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations

+ Visit the dressmaker for (with luck!) your last dress fitting – for peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly

+ Stock the bar – now that you have a firm head count you can order accordingly

+ Send out as many final payments as you can

+ Confirm times for hair and makeup and all vendors

+ E-mail and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles

+ Assign seating

+ Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts – you’ll present them at the rehearsal dinner

+ Write vows, if necessary

+ Get your hair cut and coloured

Week of the Wedding

+ Reconfirm arrival times with vendors

+ Delegate small wedding-day tasks – choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts (especially the enveloped sort), someone to hand out tips and someone to be the point person for each vendor

+ Send a timeline to the bridal party – include every member’s contact information along with the point people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise

+ Pick up your dress

+ Check in one last time with the photographer – supply him or her with a list of moments you want captured on film

+ Set aside cheques for the vendors – put tips in envelopes to be handed out at the event

+ Book a spa treatment – make an appontment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)

+ Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events – typically, companies close their lists 72 hours in advance

+ Break in your shoes

+ Assemble and distribute the welcome baskets

+ Pack for your honeymoon

Pretty weddings + how to plan them


+ Get everything in writing from suppliers

Get everything in writing from suppliers and read the fine print. Written cost estimates should be carefully checked and physically signed off by you or your partner. Couples have been caught out in the past by, for instance, hotels that charge double rates after certain hours. Also, set a limit on your bar bill, because no-one wants to cancel their honeymoon just to pay off the tequila

+ Ask for a discount

If you get married on any day other than a Saturday, you may be eligible for major discounts. Most venues and suppliers set their rates for ‘in-demand’ Saturday afternoons, so ask for a discount because rates on other days may be cheaper

+ Choose the right marriage officer for you

Choose a marriage officer (priest, rabbi, imam or guru) who knows his or her stuff. They should be able to advise you about the legalities, paperwork and order of ceremony. For instance, a wedding is only legally binding if the register is signed in a religious building, private home or government office. Plus, South African citizens must present valid green ID books; passports are not permissible. Your marriage officer should cost between R1 700 and R1 800, and that should include about 10 hours of counseling and rehearsal time

+ Get it copied

Get a photocopy of the marriage register and your marriage certificate on the spot. Otherwise, this can take up to six months to source

+ Fix your will

Get your will amended because you’re now part of a new family. Sign an antenuptial agreement. Think long-term sensibility, even in the midst of the wedding planning and blissful excitement

+ Wedding planners

Wedding planners should charge a maximum of 10% of the total cost of the wedding – but only on invoices from suppliers they commissioned on your behalf. Make sure you check the suppliers’ clauses. For example, if a venue charges overtime, you’ll be paying that extra cost plus another 10% for your planner

Wedding Planning Companies in South Africa

Timeless Weddings 

The Little Pink Book

Wedding Concepts

 Wedding Photographers in South Africa

Cape Town

Cape Town




Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thammy Young says:

    What a wonderful blog Tam 🙂 very informative indeed, wish I had read something like this before planning my wedding. This should be very helpful for many brides to be. Especially in those moments when everything is piling up and they don’t know where to begin.

    Lovely pictures also 😉

    1. Your wedding was spectacular!! Xxx

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