You're getting married — congratulations! The lead-up to the wedding could be stressful - but it needn't be. Make sure you enjoy laying the groundwork just as much as the big day itself by planning ahead.
There's nothing as much fun as making a list — except ticking things off it. So, start off by making a list. Then take all the help you can get! Do you want to bring in a wedding planner who will take a lot of the load off your shoulders? Or are you keen to do it yourselves?
If you're doing it yourself try and delegate responsibility to willing helpers. Someone will have to be in overall charge, collating all the information and motivating everyone to keep to the schedule, but it doesn't have to be run like a military operation.
Get the ball rolling
Spread the good news and celebrate your engagement!
Decide on what type of wedding you want and who is going to pay for it?
Select the date and time but have backup dates in mind.
Choose bridesmaids, best man and ushers - and make a guest list.
Decide on a venue and who is to officiate at the wedding.
Send out Save the Date cards.
6-12 months to w-day
Book the services of photographer/videographer, florists, caterers, and musicians or DJ.
Do you want wedding insurance? Fingers crossed nothing goes wrong but you never know...!
Cheer yourselves up by planning your honeymoon.
Shop for your wedding dress and any accessories.
Settle on bridesmaids' dresses, meet with wedding cake designers or bakers and arrange for a tasting (yum!).
And no wedding could go ahead without a ring so if you haven't already chosen the one (or ones) you love, chop, chop!
Send out invitations along with a gift list if you so wish. (And while you've got presents in mind, think about the ones you need to buy for the people who are giving you extra special help).
4-6 months to w-day
The groom's outfit, his best man and ushers - to buy or to hire?
Settle on the wedding order of service: the vows, music, readings or poems.
Hair and makeup: D-I-Y? practise makes perfect. Professional? Meet and discuss what you want.
Apply for your marriage license.
2-4 months to w-day
Final gown fitting. Get help to bustle your train, fasten any tricky buttons (and help you go to the loo if you've got a particularly big wedding dress!)
Has everyone else got their wedding outfits?
Confirm arrival and delivery times of service providers.
Write and print your wedding programme.
Write thank you cards as you receive wedding gifts — it will save an awful lot of time later.
6 weeks to w-day
Ask your right-hand man or woman to contact any guests who have not RSVP'd.
Arrange seating plan and write place cards.
Give final head count to your caterer and confirm any last minute details.
Give a list of 'must take' photographs to your wedding photographer
1 week to w-day
Pack for your honeymoon.
Final hair and make-up practice.
Hold rehearsal with wedding party.
Assign responsibilities (handing out corsages and button-holes, greeting and seating guests, checking on suppliers, etc)
Try on your wedding shoes on carpeted surfaces around the house.
Pick up your wedding dress - you wouldn't forget that now, would you?
24 hours to w-day
If you have followed all this good advice, the day before your wedding you can treat yourself to something really relaxing so that you wake up fresh and full of beans on the BIG DAY!
For richer, for poorer?
Once the rosy glow of becoming engaged has settled down into a delicate shade of pink you need to start planning a wedding budget.
The average cost of tying the knot in 2013 is around £20,000 but before you throw in the towel and nip off to the pawnbrokers to recover at least the cost of the engagement ring, don’t despair.
Pick up a pen and pad and make a list of what you’d dearly love to have, what you think you can afford and what you can do without.
Gone are the days when the bride’s parents would stump up for it all. Unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, be realistic. If you want your families to help you out have a frank discussion with them about it. They may ask questions such as "How much do you think the whole thing will cost?" It’s best to have some idea but make the point that you'll base your wedding budget on what is available to you.
Start off with the basics and work outwards from there. Make room for what matters most to you. It may be the venue or it may be the number of guests, the wedding dress or the honeymoon. There are always savings to be made somewhere along the line that won’t be missed.
Once you've set a budget, stick to it. Easier said than done, of course but you stand a far better chance of it really being the happiest day of your life if you don’t have the threat of bankruptcy hanging over you!