Wedding Planning

18 Months To Go: The Ultimate Wedding To-Do List

Plan your special day with our ultimate wedding to-do list. From setting the foundation to fine-tuning details, we're here to guide you every step of the way.

7 Min Read

Wedding planning to-do-list, Papier

It's official - the rings are on! The adventure of a lifetime awaits, but where do you even begin? We understand that wedding planning can be a whirlwind of decisions and details, but fear not! We've got your back with the ultimate wedding to-do list. We've designed this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process, ensuring every step is stress-free.

PS. Feel free to customise the following checklist to suit your unique preferences and requirements. For those on a shorter wedding planning timeline, you might love our 12 months to go guide.

16–18 Months Before: Setting the Foundation

The first part of wedding planning is about laying the groundwork for your special day. But before you jump into the details, you'll need to find and curate your wedding inspiration. With so many wonderful options, from venues to flower arrangements - you'll need to dedicate time together to sit down and figure out what you both love. A great place to start is with Rock My Wedding, a free and beautifully curated online wedding planning platform.

Once you have a clear vision for your wedding, start planning a realistic budget. You should consider your financial resources and any contributions from family members. This budget will be a roadmap for your decisions throughout the planning process.

Simultaneously, create a preliminary guest list. While the final count may evolve, having an initial list helps estimate the venue capacity you'll need and the catering requirements. With this groundwork completed, you can decide on a date and venue. Start researching and visiting potential venues, considering factors like location, capacity, and availability. 

Amid this excitement, it's wise to consider safeguarding your plans. Much like how you secure your venue and vendors, wedding insurance can provide an added layer of protection. It ensures that unforeseen circumstances won't cast a shadow on your special day, offering peace of mind during the planning process.

Lastly, also secure crucial vendors like a photographer and videographer. Booking these professionals well in advance ensures you have the best talent for capturing your special moments, especially if your wedding falls during peak season (June - August).

16-18 Months Before Summary
- Find a place to curate your inspiration.
- Set a realistic budget.
- Create a preliminary guest list.
- Choose a date and venue.
- Organise wedding insurance.
- Book a photographer and videographer.

Petersham nurseries wedding venue

Petersham Nurseries, London wedding venue

9-12 Months Before: Bringing Your Vision to Life

With the date and venue secured, shift your focus to the aesthetics and experiences that will make your day unique.

Begin by researching a caterer and scheduling tastings to finalise your menu. Consider their culinary style, specialisation in cuisines, and ability to accommodate dietary preferences and restrictions. Reading reviews and seeking recommendations from recently married couples can offer valuable insights into the quality of service and the overall dining experience.

Next up is your wedding flowers. Flowers can transform a venue and help pull your wedding theme together. Our top tip is to opt for seasonal wedding flowers—not only will they look beautiful, but they'll also keep your costs down and are better for the environment.

Another important aesthetic to consider is your bridal party attire. For mix-and-match bridesmaid dresses, we recommend Rewritten. As partners of The Wedding Shop, all couples with us have £20 off purchases over £200. It's our go-to bridal store for beautiful bridal wear designed to be worn long after the wedding day.

Lastly, consider your entertainment. Whether you opt for a live band, DJ, or other performers, researching and booking entertainment early in your planning journey will save you from any last-minute letdowns. Plus, you'll need ample time to curate your dream playlist, complete with your must-have first dance song.

9-12 Months Before Summary
- Select a caterer and finalise the menu.
- ⁠Find a florist to align with your vision.
- Shop for the wedding dress and bridal party attire.
- Research and book entertainment.

6-9 Months Before: Building Excitement

As the key elements of your wedding come together, it's time to spread the excitement and anticipation with your loved ones. But before you send out those save-the-date cards, ensure you have a wedding gift list that truly reflects your unique aspirations for your newly married life.

Gone are the days of traditional registries filled with predictable homeware items. Modern registries like The Wedding Shop offer couples a personalised gift-giving experience, allowing you to curate a collection that seamlessly blends homewares with unforgettable experiences and customisable funds. Whether you dream of renovating your home, embarking on a new adventure, or funding your honeymoon getaway, your nearest and dearest will be delighted to contribute to your shared dreams.

Now that your registry is set up and published, it's time to send out those save-the-date cards, giving your guests ample time to mark their calendars. These cards are the first glimpse into your wedding theme, so take your time. Let your creativity shine through by incorporating your wedding colours, personal style, and overall theme into the design. Don't forget to include RSVP cards to ensure an accurate headcount for your caterer and other vendors.

For couples seeking a truly bespoke touch, consider a stationery designer. If you prefer the convenience of online ordering, we highly recommend Papier, a renowned UK stationer. Explore their curated collection of personalised designs by independent artists, and remember to utilise your exclusive 15% discount code as a Wedding Shop couple.

When you hit the six-month mark, it's time to plan your ceremony. Collaborate with your officiant to outline the ceremony details, including vows, readings, and any cultural or personal elements you wish to incorporate. This is also a good time to organise transportation for the wedding party and guests, especially if your venue is in a location that may require special arrangements.

6-9 Months Before Summary
Register for gifts.
- Send out save-the-date cards.
- Plan ceremony details with your officiant.
- Organise transportation for the wedding party and guests.

4-6 Months Before: Fine-Tuning the Details

As the countdown to your big day continues, it's time to add those final touches that will make your wedding flow seamlessly. Ensure a stress-free and memorable event by fine-tuning the details and securing suppliers.

Start by giving notice of intention to marry, a crucial step in the UK wedding process. Head to any registry office in England or Wales at least 16 days before your ceremony, armed with essential documents like birth certificates, passports, and proof of address.

Once the legalities are in order, it's time to think about the tangible proof of your union—the marriage certificate. Easily order it from the registry office where you gave notice, sealing the deal in official documentation.

You'll also want to design and order your formal wedding invitations and any stationery you need for your day. We recommend sticking to the same style as your save-the-date cards for a cohesive look. 

And let's not forget about the comfort of your guests. Secure accommodations for those travelling from out of town, ensuring they have a cosy place to rest after celebrating. Booking hotel rooms well in advance guarantees a comfortable stay for your loved ones and prevents prices from rising!

4-6 Months Before Summary
- Apply for a marriage licence.
- Design and order invitations.
- ⁠Book accommodations for guests and your wedding night.

2-4 Months Before: Finalising the Vision

As the big day approaches, it's time to put the final touches on your wedding vision. One (important) task is to check in with all your vendors: make sure they're on the same page regarding guest counts, timelines, and any specific requests you've discussed. 

This is also the time to schedule hair and makeup trials for the bride and bridal party, ensuring everyone looks and feels their best on the big day.

In the UK, it's not customary to have a rehearsal dinner, so feel free to skip this step! However, if you appreciate a well-laid plan and would feel more comfortable rehearsing the order of your wedding day, a rehearsal dinner is probably a great idea. It is also an excellent opportunity for the bridal party and close family members to come together in a more relaxed setting before the main event.

2-4 Months Before Summary
- Confirm details with all vendors.
- Schedule hair and makeup trials.
- ⁠Plan and organise the rehearsal dinner (optional)

1-2 Months Before: Countdown to Celebration

With only a few months leading to your wedding day, it's time to focus on the last-minute details. Create a seating plan for the reception, taking into account the relationships and dynamics among your guests. 

Purchase wedding rings and ensure they fit comfortably. For tips on how to find the perfect wedding ring, head to our article in partnership with sustainably sourced and bespoke jewellers, Fenton.  

If you plan on providing wedding favours, make sure they are prepared and packaged for distribution.

Have a final dress fitting to make any necessary adjustments to your wedding dress. This is also the time to follow up with guests who haven't RSVP'd and confirm final numbers with vendors. As the wedding day draws near, these details will help ensure a smooth and stress-free celebration.

1-2 Months Before Summary
- Create a seating plan for the reception.
- Purchase wedding bands.
- ⁠Prepare wedding favours.
- ⁠Have a final dress fitting.

2 Weeks Before: Countdown to Celebration

As the excitement builds, it's time to take care of some last-minute preparations. Pack for the honeymoon if you're leaving directly from the wedding. Double-check that you have all the necessary travel documents and essentials for a seamless transition from wedding to honeymoon.

Confirm all arrangements with vendors, from the catering service to the entertainment. Follow up with any guests who haven't confirmed their attendance, and make any necessary adjustments to your seating plan.

2 Weeks Before Summary
- Pack for honeymoon
- ⁠Confirm arrangements with vendors.
- Follow up with guests.
- ⁠Make final seating adjustments.

On Your Wedding Day: Enjoy Your Big Day! 

Finally, the day you've been meticulously planning for has arrived. Take a deep breath, savour the moment, and trust that all your preparations will come together for a beautiful celebration. Allow yourself to be fully present and enjoy the love and joy surrounding you on this special day.

Bride and groom, romantic beach wedding

Planning a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a magical and unforgettable experience for you and your loved ones. With a bit of planning and organisation, you can transform this exciting journey into a joyous and stress-free adventure. A wedding to-do list will be your trusty guide, keeping you on track and ensuring that no detail is overlooked.

Ready To Plan Your Wedding?

Plan your big day with ease with our complete wedding planning guides, expert advice and inspiration from the latest trends.

The Joy Of Wedding Planning: Creating Your Wedding Gift List

Six couples share why creating a wedding list is a fun part of wedding planning.

Read more

Why Guests Love It When Couples Have A Wedding Gift List

Why do guests love wedding gift lists? Let five wedding guests tell you why!

Read more

Wedding Catering: Your Most Asked Questions Answered

Wedding catering experts, Caper & Berry, give advice on a few key questions.

Read more