I have admiration and astonishment in equal measure for couples – and let’s face it, mainly brides-to-be – who plan their weddings. Co-ordinating everything from guest lists to menu choices, sending invitations and remembering to order everything from top hats to garters… I can’t even begin to imagine how you do it.
It takes 18 months to plan your perfect day… or does it?
The average time to plan a wedding in the UK is 18 months, I believe. Wedding magazines, websites and books offer wedding planning checklists and guides telling you what needs to be done when: have you taken out wedding insurance? ordered buttonholes for the ushers? Do you know when to order your wedding invitations?
Can you plan your wedding too far in advance?
I read a thread on the Hitched wedding forum this week, asking how early was too early to book a wedding photographer. My experience tells me that the very best get booked up anywhere from two years in advance.
The best dates are hotly contested: I remember the 7th of July 2007 being one of the busiest days for weddings when I started my calligraphy business! Any Saturday in July or August will get booked very early indeed.
So does it follow that if you’re getting married in the summer months you should plan earlier? The checklist I linked to at the beginning of this blog post seems a little optimistic: book your venue “6 months or more” in advance? I’d have said 12 months… but perhaps this only applies to the most exclusive venues and suppliers, and for the summer months.
Wedding planning advice from the experts
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When to start planning – for peak season weddings
Kelly’s advice is really helpful:
There is no doubt that peak Saturdays in July do get snatched up for certain key venues, but it’s not always the case.
If you are on a tighter budget or are very specific with the venue you want it can be good to book in but if your budget is a little higher you shouldn’t find too many problems finding a great venue with a year or less to plan.
Hand in hand goes the celebrant, so that should be booked at the same time as the venue. As for suppliers, there are one or two worth booking early such as a photographer but then I would advise leaving lots of it to researching and booking to within a year.
I book a lot of suppliers around 6-9 months before the wedding date and never have an availability problem. It also means that the details of the wedding are much more concrete.
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I also wondered if there was a risk to being too organised. If you pour your heart and soul into wedding planning, can you get too bogged down in the little details? Is there perhaps a risk in planning everything in minute detail, because things can and do go wrong on the day which are outside of your control?
Can you be too organised? An expert wedding planner says…
Once again Kelly had expert advice to offer: You can be too organised. I find that the brides who have over a year to plan get bombarded with information and can be prone to change their minds particularly on the look, theme and style of the wedding.
This can be time consuming for everyone involved and isn’t good if you want to keep your suppliers focused, dedicated and excited about your wedding. It can become costly too as sometimes changes can involve losing deposits etc.
It’s better to visit things later on and make sure, firm decisions. Additionally, too much planning can become obsessive and there will be things which are outside of your control which can become more and more frustrating the more an event is planned.
As a wedding planner, of course I dot all the Is and cross all the ts but I’ve learnt over the years that there will always be something or somebody that doesn’t quite go to plan but it’s how you deal with it and resolve it that counts.
So there you go: the official verdict on how far in advance to start your wedding planning! It’s good to be organised, but it’s great to keep your focus. And if you book your wedding suppliers with 9 months or so to go, you’ll have a more fixed idea of your styling and colours – making the whole planning and ordering process run more smoothly.
There’s more wedding planning advice on English Wedding Blog – with everything from wedding planning tools to wedding budgets covered in the guides and articles on the site. Please have a look at these – I hope you find them useful!