Planning a wedding can be very daunting, with hundreds of ideas of what each partner would like as part of the big day, and hundreds of suppliers to match, it can become an overwhelming process. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate wedding checklist! We’ve added as much info as possible into this post so you may want to grab a cuppa or add it to your reading list to refer back to!
There is now a wealth of ideas online with platforms including Pinterest, where you can create the perfect mood board for your day (We suggest couples tag us to their boards), we even create out own! Facebook also opens endless opportunities to get in touch with wedding suppliers, which can become a bit of a headache when 100+ suppliers respond to your “Looking for a South Wales wedding photographer” post. So this is where we step in. When booking with us we will become more than just your wedding photographers, we will engage with you responding to random texts, emails, phone calls etc. Helping with any queries you may have regarding the organisation of your big day. But here is an ultimate checklist of how we believe an engaged couple should approach organising their wedding day, with a few supplier suggestion as an added bonus!
12 months before your wedding day
You have recently got engaged (Woooooo!!!) and now the fun begins. After the initial excitement settles you will soon realise that both partners have different visions on what the perfect wedding day will look like. So here are the first couple of things that we would highly suggest you start considering around this time point…
This is one of the most important parts to your wedding day, yet many couples have never heard of it before and is something we highly recommend. Wedding insurance covers you against any complications that arise with your wedding venue and/or suppliers; including cancellations, bankrupcy or even take over by another company. The brilliance behind wedding insurance goes even further, with coverage of wedding cancellation by yourself due to family illness, bereavement etc. And any charges that you may incur from your suppliers due to a change in date. In the unfortunate event of damage or theft to your wedding flowers, wedding bands, wedding gifts etc. wedding insurance will also cover you for this also. It must be stated at this point that we are not experts in this field and are merely offering our advice on the matter, with acknowledgement of different insurance suppliers having variations in their Terms and Conditions policies.
Budgeting! It is easy for weddings to get out of hand in terms of cost, with the average cost of a wedding within the UK in 2019 being £31,974 according to Hitched. This is a great sum of money for anyone planning on getting married and there maybe an expected increase in prices following the unfortunate 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. At least 12 months prior to your big day is therefore the perfect time to organise things including your all important budget, as this will allow you to easily allocate money to various suppliers that we mention in our ultimate checklist (wedding photographers, makeup artists, florists, cake makers etc.).
Now thats the boring adult stuff done and dusted, Now to have some fun! Let’s think about booking the wedding venue of your dreams. Maybe you want that fairytale wedding in a castle? Or maybe you want something simpler? Maybe you want something totally different to the traditional wedding. Well we have been fortunate enough to photograph an array of different weddings, each holding a different style.
Wedding guest checklist
Now is the time to sit down with your partner and establish a guest list for the day and then an additional one for the evening. The best way to decide on which guests to invite to the big day is for both partners to go into separate rooms and write down every guest they would like to join them in celebrating their big day. Upon completion of these lists, you should come together and see where you say “Snap” and build your list from there. From this point its good to establish how many guests can actually attend during the day, different ceremony rooms hold different numbers of guests, so it is always good to check with your wedding venue for clarification; then have a discussion and come to an agreement on the finalised guest list. Doing this at the very start will help narrow down the venue options, although most are capable of holding 50+ guests.
A fairytale wedding
A castle wedding has been many peoples dream since they were a child, with the magical castle, twinkling fairy lights, confetti, fireworks and much much more. Five wedding venues and photo spots we would highly recommend are Clearwell Castle, Fonmon Castle, Ogmore Castle, Alton Castle and Hensol Castle, all providing stunning grounds and gorgeous interiors that are spacious enough to house between 50-110 guests for the ceremony. As stated, each venue has stunning grounds and interiors which will allow for stunning photographs that you will cherish forever.
Manor House wedding venues
Maybe you are after a more simple yet luxurious wedding day venue that combines everything into one brilliant package, where there is no need to move about venues on your big day? Well from several experiences we would highly suggest the following wedding venues, which provide wedding preps for both parties, ceremony, wedding breakfast, evening party:
Lanelay Hall – https://www.lanelayhall.co.uk/
Court Colman Manor – https://www.court-colman-manor.com/
Llechwen Hall – https://www.llechwen.co.uk/
Llancaiach Fawr – https://your.caerphilly.gov.uk/llancaiachfawr/content/welcome-llancaiach-fawr
Hotel wedding venues
There are some beautiful hotels that offer wedding packages. These guys certainly know how to hold a fantastic function! The bonus of hotel packages is the ability for your guests to stay on site, usually at discounted rates. Again, you also have that bonus of holding both preps in one place so we can cover both if you don’t fancy adding a second shooter.
The Vale Resort: https://www.valeresort.com/
Coal Exchange Hotel – https://coalexchangecardiff.co.uk/
Canada Lodge and Lake – https://canadalodgeandlake.com
Wedding Photographer and Videographer
Of course we are going to be biased towards the wedding photographer and videographer being the most important parts to your big day as it is these creatives who will capture all those incredible natural moments on your special day that you would have worked so hard to perfect during the 12 months building up to the wedding. So why would you compromise on your photographer and videographer? Memories are great! But a wedding album and feature film adds a tactile component to your wedding which you can look back on in years to come. Now this is by no means an advertisement for us….
South Wales Wedding Photographer (www.oliverreesphotography.com) Contact Us!
All jokes aside, investing in your wedding photographer and videographer is crucial as unfortunately these suppliers are commonly the last on wedding couples lists. But these are the people who you are likely to have the most contact with building up to, on and after the big day, I would say easily more than 24 hours contact. You want to feel comfortable with your chosen supplier and build a good relationship with them, having the trust in their abilities and vision. The national average for a wedding photographer in 2019 without any albums or printed products included was £1590, but unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, most couples leave these suppliers to last, resulting in a small budget and many photographers being below this price, making it difficult to separate the experience from those just starting out. We personally work with all of our couples to ensure everything runs smoothly leading up to and on the big day, as evidenced by this helpful “Ultimate Wedding Checklist”. So with the effects fo COVID-19, I personally wouldn’t leave your wedding photographer and videographer to last as dates will be full during the recovery period from the 2020 pandemic.
Hire the officiant
The person who is going to say those legally binding statements and allow you to officially tie the knot. Choosing the right officiant for your wedding day is extremely important and some consideration is needed when choosing the right person to unite you and your partner in a legally binding contract of marriage. We are by no means experts in this area and suggest you take a look at some very informative websites (TheKnot). You must also register your intention to get married which must be done 29 days prior to the big day in the UK (.Gov).
9 Months before your wedding day
To re-cap, you have now organised your wedding insurance, your wedding venue is booked, you’ve got your photographer and you have your guest list penned out! So let’s get booking your suppliers! Stage two of the ultimate wedding checklist begins…
Even from a photographers perspective, we would have to agree that food is by far one of the most important aspects to your wedding day; having to account for dietary requirements of your guests (Vegetarians, Vegans, Pescatarians, Allergies etc.). This is where wedding fairs are so valuable as you have the perfect opportunity not only to grab yourself a free lunch! But also to taste a variety of caterers foods and discuss packages with them. Of course, some weddings venues provide a set three course meal as part of the wedding packages they offer and this is perfect as it eliminates a level of complexity. A few wedding venues that supply a set menu include (Coal Exchange Hotel, Lanelay Hall, Manor Parc Hotel, Miskin Manor, Vale Resort Hotel etc.). However, you may be looking for something a bit quirky for your big day, a hog roast perhaps? Or maybe even an authentic Japanese food cart, the list has truly endless possibilities. One wedding we had the please of photographing decided to order a Dominos buffet for the evening meal! I mean who doesn’t love pizza right?
There are a few wedding caterers that we have worked with before and have also been fortunate enough to taste some of their delightful food!
Bella’s Hog Roast: www.bellascateringservices.co.uk
Pigs on Spits – [email protected]
Miniyaki’s – www.miniyakis.co.uk
Fig & Fromage (pictured above) – https://www.facebook.com/figandfromagegrazing/
Ordering your wedding dress
Ok ok I hold my hands up, I got a bit carried away with the food… Ordering your wedding dress is by far one of the most important parts of your wedding day. A vision that has been in most brides minds since they were a little girl is finally becoming a reality and is a magical memory to be shared with all of your loved ones. The 9 month mark is the perfect time to start trying on dresses and finding “The One“, as this allows you a buffer period for adjustments and any delays that may occur and cause potential stress building up to the big day. We are lucky to have several wedding dress shops in and around Cardiff that are renowned for providing excellent customer experience from start to finish.
Perfection Bridal Cardiff – perfectionbridalcardiff.co.uk
Cardiff Bridal Centre – https://www.wed2b.co.uk/wedding-dresses
Willow in White – https://www.willowinwhite.com
Gardenia Bridal – https://gardeniabridal.co.uk
High bridal society – https://www.highsocietybridalboutique.com
If you are on a tight budget and having a brand new dress isn’t crucial, there is the option of purchasing a second hand dress on several platforms including Facebook, Facebook Market place, Ebay etc. The most important part is that you feel comfortable and confident in your dress remember, you will be wearing it all day, waling around the venue(s) and of course dancing to the Grease Mega Mix at the evening disco later!
6 months before the big day
Florist and wedding cake
Onto the next part of our ultimate checklist – Six months prior to the big day should be about organising the aspects of the wedding that make it unique to you, adding personality and creativity; truly making it your own. Flowers are a very important part of the big day, complementing the wedding dress, suits, tables and even wedding arches lovely. Wedding bouquets are becoming more and more diverse, with a range of colours, themes and additional touches that can be implemented into them. ELYN Boutique is a fantastic creative florist specialising in artificial wedding flowers.
From a traditional horse and carriage to a sports car, maybe an Aston Martin or a Ferrari! iDoo Wedding Cars offer a range of bespoke cars to suit your day including a Maserati Quattroporte and a Mason Black Coach, offering a thrill and a classic theme to your wedding day, whilst always arriving in style. This is the perfect opportunity to add some flare to the big day, allowing the inner petrol head to have an additional moment of excitement to the big day and have additional photograph opportunities, creating another story to your wedding day. Other wedding car companies with a great reputation for South Wales Weddings:
Prices Wedding Cars – https://www.pricesweddingcars.co.uk/index.php/en/
The first holiday you get to enjoy as a married couple and one which you have probably envisioned for several years, white sand beaches, cocktails, hammocks, great food, sun and coconuts of course! Most of the big jobs have been completed by this point, with all suppliers, wedding venues booked and guest lists sorted. Now is time to start thinking about places you’d like to go on your honeymoon. Maybe a trip to the Caribbean? Maybe even a cruise! There are plenty of options open to you with great deals to be had depending on when and where you book and decide to go. With the current pandemic in full swing this may be challenging to decide on, with the great uncertainty of what is going to happen in the next couple of months. Maybe you could plan a minimoon for the UK, with plenty of beautiful places to see including the Brecon Beacons, Bath, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Herefordshire, Glencoe Valley in Scotland, the list is endless.
4 months before the big day
Create a timeline of the big day
I can honestly say no wedding goes according to plan by the minute (I really mean that!), it is always a good idea to have a timeline in place to which both your guests and wedding suppliers can work with. Pinterest and your wedding suppliers are your greatest assets when it comes to creating a timeline of the big day. With all suppliers having seen the process hundreds of times, they are the best people to ask; with photographers being the best choice, as they are quite literally there from start to finish. We are always happy to sit down with our couples and discuss their plans for the big day and where we think additional or less time is needed. We also suggest that you provide enough time for buffer periods. What is a buffer period? (buffer, not buffet, even though you must make time for the buffet!) this is sections of time throughout your big day that are empty spaces which will allow for any natural delays to take place. Group shots can sometimes take a little longer – theres always an uncle bob that goes wondering or even an auntie Maureen who’s on the bouncy castle! By incorporating these buffer periods into your day you are minimising the stress levels and can sit back and relax knowing you’ve got some time to relax in between key parts of your day.
We ask all of our wedding couples to fill out a wedding day questionnaire, to provide us with a brief overview of their big day based on their timeline. It’s so we can pre-plan when we’ll take key photos and get any equipment ready (such as lighting for your first dance).
Hair stylist and MUA trial day
What a worse time to find out you don’t like your hairstyle and/or makeup than on your big day, where emotions are running high and everything is working within a timescale (see the buffer periods are important!). Having a trial run with your hairstylist and makeup artist (MUA) is a very important and exciting time, allowing you to relax and enjoy a pamper before the big day. We have worked with several makeup artists including…
Most couples are nervous in front of the big fancy camera and this is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. A pre-wedding otherwise known as an Engagement Photoshoot is the perfect opportunity to gain confidence in front of the camera and to also try out themes, styles, poses etc. All in preparation for the big day. The perfect time to organise a pre-wedding photoshoot is approximately 3 months prior to the big day, so that you don’t forget how your wedding photographer works and also allows the photographer to remember what works best for you. Some couples even take the opportunity to have a full on styled photoshoot.
Other things to consider
Break in your shoes
Ensure all suppliers are paid
Ensure you have a time booked off work before the wedding day