Wedding planning timeline: Your plan to get everything done on time! [free printable!]

Congratulations on your engagement! The days and weeks and months before your wedding is one of the most special times. The process should be exciting and shared between yourself and your partner since it ultimately ends in your happily ever after. Planning your wedding can be a daunting task, which is why most brides and industry experts would recommend you hire a wedding planner. But, should you wish not to, it is not impossible to plan your own successful wedding. Just use our handy list to keep track of all the different things you need to get done, and also by when.

We know the most beautiful wedding day is the one that speaks of the couple. So even though this is our example, we encourage you to move things around, leave things out or add things to the timeline. In the end, it is your day.

If you are more enthusiastic so planning your wedding in less than 12months, just move up the timeline. So instead of working in months, you work in weeks, or however long you have to plan. Just remember to get the big ticket and most important items (venue, dress, food, officiant and invitations) done first. It is possible to plan a fairy tale wedding (even within a small budget) in as little time as 2 weeks! You just need to be organized.

So to help, here is our suggested timeline for engagements of 12months or longer:

12 months before

  1. Set your budget

You need to know how much you need, how much you have, and then keep track of how much you spend. For more info on this, read our previous post here or see our video on budgeting here.

  1. Create a wedding website

There are various free sites that offer this service. You can even open a Wix account. Although not necessary, it is a nice to have, especially if you set it up in such a way that guests can RSVP on it, access your wedding registry, get all of the info regarding the accommodation, date, directions, transport arrangements, etc. in one place. Guests can even post photos, making it easier for you to get all of their snaps afterwards.

  1. Draw up your guest list

Determining how many people you would like to invite is crucial. Only after working out the estimate numbers, and seeing if it will fit in with your budget, can you start looking for a venue. For more info on drawing up your guest list, read our post here or see our video here.

  1. Start your wedding file

It is handy to have all of your gathered info in one place. If you attend trade-shows or go for viewings, you can place all of that information in your file. Keep your notes there, and also keep track of your progress.

  1. Create a mood board for the look and feel

Pinterest is going to become your best friend! Create a secret board where you can pin all of the ideas and colours and themes that you love. Should you wish to hire a wedding planner or consultant, you can add them to that board so that they can get a very accurate idea of the type of wedding you would like, and the type of bride that you want to be.

  1. Hire a wedding planner or consultant

Not a must-have, but definitely a nice-to-have. It will make your life easier, and although pricey in the beginning, the negotiation, experience and calm that planners normally bring are invaluable.

  1. Book your venue

Get to booking your venue as soon as possible. Especially the trendy and popular venues book up fast, with some already running a waiting list for 2 years down the line. A useful tip: book the venue before you pick your date. For more info on booking your perfect venue, read our post here or watch the video here.

  1. Set the theme, as well as the look and feel of the wedding

Decide how formal or informal it is going to be, your dominant colours, etc. Based on the theme, you will design your wedding stationery, décor, etc.

  1. Set the date

Once your venue has been confirmed you are ready to set the date (obviously the date that the venue is available J)

  1. Order your save the dates and invitations

Based on the theme and colour choices, you will now design your save the dates and invitations. Once happy, order them to ensure they have arrived before it is time to send them out.

  1. Start dress shopping

Decide if you would like to have a dress custom-made, would like to rent, or buy. And if you want to buy, will it be pre-loved or new? Know your budget, styles that work on your body shape, colour preferences and finishing touches. Then start making appointments to have fittings. Be open-minded, sometimes a dress that we would have never considered ends up being THE ONE.

  1. Start your special beauty regime

Looking good on your big day takes time, so start early. If you would like to lose weight before your wedding day, now is a good time to start changing your lifestyle to a healthier one. Incorporate exercise, drink more water, up the ante on your face cream, etc.

8 – 10 months before

  1. Ask your bridal party

If you are going to have a maid-of-honour, bride’s maids and flower girls, or any variation thereof, you need to ask these special people if they will do you the honour. Just a tip – you and your partner should have the same number of people in your bridal parties.

  1. Send out save the dates

This is especially important if you decide to get married on a date that falls on a long weekend, a public holiday, in the school holidays or around another big date or event. Also, if close family or friends live overseas, travel for work or have very small kids, they will need enough time to make arrangements to be there. It is important to note on the save the date whether or not guests are allowed a plus-one, and whether kids are invited or not.

  1. Hire band or DJ

Read reviews before hiring any entertainment. Meet with the service provider to ensure you get along, and that they understand your vision for the day. Music can make or break a party, even more so for a wedding. It sets the ambience and the mood, so choose wisely!

  1. Finalise the look and feel and theme

Think seriously about the aspects surrounding the look and feel – the décor, flowers, colour, table linen, favours, etc. and finalise your choices. Make sure all of these individual elements work together to form a beautiful whole.

  1. Decide on bridesmaids’ dresses

The theme, formality and season of your wedding will affect this. There are more choices than I can name, but the two biggest decisions would be do you want your entire bridal party in the same dress or each in a different (even just slightly) dress, and what colour will the dresses be.

  1. Sign up for a gift registry

Register a gift registry with your favourite home-ware shop, or do something entirely different like giving a list of charity organisations that guests can donate to instead of giving you a wedding present. If you rather want money, remember to mention it on the invitation, but give guests an idea of what you will be doing with the money, e.g. it will go towards your holiday fund, etc.

  1. Host an engagement party

Plan and host an engagement party to celebrate your engagement with your closest friends and family. Oh and show off your ring!

  1. Book a photographer

A big ticket item, having the right photographer is one of our crucial must-haves for a successful wedding. Your photos are all that you will have left, so make sure they are of good quality, and that the photographer captures all of the memories and moments you want and need.

  1. Book your caterer

If the venue has their own caterer, meet them now and start discussing your wedding menu. If the venue does not have a caterer or allows outside catering, then you need to find a caterer now. When comparing quotes, just remember to compare apples with apples in order to book the best caterer at the price you can afford.

  1. Order your wedding cake

This is one of the fun things! Identify a baker and book a cake tasting. Once decided, give them the inspiration for your cake design and order the cake when you are happy with the design. Tip: serve the cake as the dessert to cut menu costs as well as waste.

  1. Get an officiant

Book the person who will legally marry you. If you have a close friend or family member whom you would love to guide the ceremony, but they cannot legally marry you, then make a booking to either get married the previous day in court or by a registered officiant before the time. The family member or friend can then go through the ceremony as if they are marrying you, without any legal implications.

  1. Begin shopping for shoes, accessories and lingerie

You will need to have the shoes that you will wear with you when you go for your final dress fitting, so get going in shopping for them as well as any accessories and lingerie that you will need.

4 – 7 months

  1. Arrange accommodation for yourself on the night of the wedding (if not included in your venue) and for out of town guests

If you are not paying for all of the accommodation, make sure your guests have the relevant info to book and pay for themselves. Same with any transport arrangements – make sure your guests have the right information.

  1. Begin preparation for honeymoon

Most of the time the bride will have no idea where they are going for their honeymoon. Even so, now is the time to put some pressure on your partner to book the honeymoon, especially if you are planning on taking it in the busy season.

  1. Decide on and book a florist. Confirm flower selection

Take your Pinterest board to your short list of florists, get quotes and pick one. Finalise your flower choices, arrangement designs and any other flowers that you will need on the day.

  1. Shop for wedding bands

Decide beforehand how much you are spending, the material of the bands, whether they will be engraved, etc.

  1. Visit physician

Ensure you are in tip-top shape. If you are not planning on starting with a family directly after your wedding, put everything in place for birth control. If you are going to a country or place that required certain shots or vaccinations, get them now to ensure they are out of your system by the time of the wedding.

3 months

  1. Send out your invitations

Send out your invitations! Make sure you have a clear RSVP date, and also give guests the needed info regarding your gift registry, accommodation and transport arrangements, etc. If they can choose their own main course, or you would like them to contribute song choices, mention that on the invitations as well.

  1. Select the groom’s wedding attire

Sort out what your partner will wear, as well as the groomsmen. Doing it now ensures there is enough time for fitting and altering.

  1. Shop for bridal party gifts

If you decide you want to give each of your bridal party members something special, then start shopping for it now.

  1. Begin counselling sessions with the officiant

If you are attending pre-marital counselling, start with the sessions now.

  1. Go for the menu tasting and decide on your final menu selections

Make sure you are 100% happy with the menu, the offering, the tastes, the portion sizes, etc. Communicate clearly with your caterer regarding all of your requirements.

  1. Confirm your order of all rental furniture/décor

  2. Book your mock table with the venue and florist

  3. Confirm your wedding day transport

Book the wedding car, as well as any other transport that will be necessary to get you, your bridal party and your close family to the ceremony and the reception.

2 months

  1. Write your vows

Make it heartfelt, sincere and loving. Learn it by heart, but have cards with you on the day just in case the emotion gets you down.

  1. Confirm order with the florist

Confirm everything with your florist and ensure all of it is in writing. Confirm what time they will deliver on the day, as well as if there are any hired goods that you will have to return afterwards.

  1. Confirm order of stationery

Menus, name cards, church programs, anything that you had designed and now need printing for. Make sure it is done in the right colour, on the right cardstock, etc.

1 month

  1. Apply for marriage license

Usually, your officiant will help you with this, but you need to confirm that he/she will. Otherwise, follow the guidelines on the department’s website.

  1. Have the final gown fitting. Remember to take your wedding shoes with!

  2. Have your hair & makeup trails

Take a few photos after the trails to make sure your face is not shiny, your hair looks good from all angles, etc.

  1. Collate the final RSVP list

If you are still waiting for a few RSVPs, follow up and get their final answers.

  1. Prepare shot list for your photographer and videographer

  2. Deliver a list of songs to your DJ or band

  3. Draw up a seating plan

  4. Contact all of your wedding suppliers and confirm the schedule for the day

2 weeks

  1. Pick up the marriage license

  2. Obtain any legal information, approvals or licenses

  3. Check parking arrangements

  4. Rehearsal dinner

If you are having one, this is when you practice the processional.

  1. Confirm your final guest numbers with the venue and caterer

  2. Book in for Bride and Groom relaxing spa treatments

  3. Cut and die hair if needed

  4. Kitchen tea

The get-together where the guests give the bride things she will need to set up her home. Usually kitchen appliances or utensils, but can also be towels, linen, or even gardening equipment. The attending ladies can also partake in the tradition of giving her recipes so that she can start her own family recipe book.

  1. Bachelors and bachelorettes

The get-togethers for the young guests, planned by the bridal parties. Usually held separate, it can be anything from playing paintball to sipping cocktails, cake decorating or watching rugby.

  1. Get your spray tan done – if you are planning on getting it done

1 week

  1. Confirm honeymoon bookings and plans

  2. Confirm accommodation arrangements

  3. Pack for honeymoon

  4. Confirm wedding day attire

  5. Gather all necessary documents for travel

  6. Pick up formalwear

  7. Have one final phone call with each of your suppliers

  8. Have your dress steamed

  9. Pre-wedding relaxing pampering

1 day

  1. Go through the list of things to do and make sure all bases are covered

If you are entrusting a friend or family member to assist with the coordination on the day, you should have a “training” meeting with them now. Give them all of the info, the timelines, etc.

  1. Pack wedding day emergency kit

In short, a small kit that contains essentials that you might need if an emergency happens on your wedding day. This kit usually contains things like lipstick, hairpins, pain pills, water, mints, etc. For a complete list of what should be in your emergency kit, look out for next week’s post!

  1. Get manicure and pedicure

  2. Take a steamy and relaxing bath

  3. Put wedding attire and accessories together

  4. Give rings to best man

  5. Try to get a good night’s sleep

On the day

  1. Have a good breakfast, and make sure you eat something while getting ready. Avoid carb-rich foods, sugars, and caffeine

  2. Get hair and makeup done

  3. Have someone check reception site, or check it yourself if time and rules permit

  4. Get dressed for the wedding

  5. Have candid photos taken with family

We hope that you can use this list of things to do to give you a clear plan of action. We wish you and your partner a beautiful, calm and magical wedding which will be the perfect starting point of your life together.

Want the planner? Then get it here

Secrets, tips and must-haves to make your next picnic the most magical one yet

Is there anything more romantic than a picnic? I will venture a guess – not really. Stripes agrees, she has seen the number of picnics booked in the name of love and romance.

I don’t know what it is, but the whole idea of taking a basket full of delicious things to eat, out into the great outdoors, where you battle the elements in order to eat in relative peace, seems to rank somewhere at the top of the “most romantic things to do” list. I myself am a lover of picnics, not because of the food or the idea, but because when you do attempt a picnic with your loved one the settings and surroundings automatically force you to connect. There is nothing else to do except eat and talk. You can lie on your back and watch the clouds, or listen to the birds. Then eat and talk. Glorious. For most, the fun starts there – with the unveiling and unpacking of the goodies. But for us, the picnic-planners and picnic-packers, there is a lot of work to be done before this special event can take place. The success of your picnic rests on the panache with which you pack, and two undisputed tips – steer clear of any store-bought food, and be well prepared.

Picnics should be about comfort, ease, and joy. Nobody wants to use all of their energy carrying heavy baskets full of china and silverware, to a site that is km far, to sit on chairs (that you also had to carry) passing around cucumber sandwiches as a first course. Or worse, take out the carefully prepared food only to find everything is wilted, limp, or spoilt. For any picnic, there are a few must-have items, without which you will struggle, or even simply fail.

Something to pack the food in

A basket, or a dedicated picnic rucksack, works the best. You do not need anything special, whatever you choose must simply meet the following requirements:

  • Light enough to carry, even when packed full of goodies
  • Keep your cutlery and crockery safe, and clean
  • Keep the food and beverages cold and safe
  • Be able to house the dirty and empty things once you are done, without leaking juices onto the car seat

If you need 2 pieces in order to meet these requirements, then so be it. Maybe you will use a basket or rucksack to carry the cutlery, crockery and glassware, and a cool box for the food and drinks. Or you have a basket that is big enough for everything, plus insulated so it will keep the food cold. Just find something that will be practical and useful.  A few tips: a full cooler stays colder for longer, so ensure that it’s filled with about 75% food and the rest ice. If you don’t have enough food to fill it to ¾, then add more ice. Place ice at the bottom, followed by the heavier foods. Fill in with the lighter items. Pack the cooler directly from the refrigerator, and preferably use ice packs or slabs of ice. Another hack – freeze water in empty milk bottles and use instead of ice packs. And of course, once there always place the cooler in shade and not in direct sun. When packing your basket or another container, start with the items you will need last. Place them in first, e.g. the cutlery and crockery, the condiments, insect repellent, etc. Then follow with the perishable items and things you need as part of the setup. The last thing you place in your basket is your picnic blanket since that is the first thing you will need once you reach the picnic site.

Equipment

Make a list of the food that you are planning to serve, as well as the drinks, and determine what you will need in order to serve this menu. E.g. if you are drinking wine, ensure you pack a wine opener for the corkscrew. Bread, then pack a breadknife and breadboard. Cheese, you will most probably need a sharp knife, so pack one carefully. Don’t forget a cloth (you can pack a wet cloth in a lunch box or glass jar, making cleaning up a breeze) or napkins, and salt and pepper. If you will make use of a table, covered with a table cloth, remember to pack in weighted clips to hold the table cloth down. And remember something that you can use to collect all the trash. You must leave the picnic spot in a better condition than what you found it in – trash free.

For cutlery and crockery, we would recommend going the low waste, single-use-plastic-free route. Opt for bamboo or paper plates, bamboo or compostable knives and forks, and glasses that can be re-used. Avoid anything that is made from plastic or polystyrene that you will have to throw away after use. Metal is another option. For napkins, we recommend cloth, and empty containers and rubbish can be placed in the (hopefully) empty cool box for sorting and disposing of at home.

Food safety

A cool box, or ice packs, are essential to make sure that your food remains cold and safe for eating. Keep your cool box or insulated basket closed, only opening once you want to eat, and eat immediately once you have reached your destination in order to keep the food out of the temperature danger zone. Keep sauces separately, only adding them once you want to eat. Pack hand sanitizer or have another way of cleaning hands before eating.  If you are travelling or walking particularly far and don’t have adequate cooling options, avoid using mayonnaise or dairy products in your food.

Special touches

A blanket, cushions if you can carry them, an umbrella for shade if you won’t be under trees, and insect repellent are just a few of those things that you might not think of, but that is needed to make the picnic special. To ensure there is something cold to drink, freeze water in bottles. The frozen bottles can be used as ice packs, and once defrosted you have cold water to refresh yourself and your company.

The food

As important as the setting might be, the highlight of the show remains the food. When planning your picnic menu, you need to keep in mind it needs to be food that can be transported, that can be served at room temperature, won’t spoil in a cool box with only ice packs, can keep (so you don’t have to make it and serve it immediately), fall in the taste of your company, and provide a balanced meal. Here you have the choice of either going for finger food – smaller dishes and bites that don’t require cutlery and crockery to eat, or more traditional dishes, where you do need a plate and knife and fork in order to enjoy. A few dishes are iconically associated with picnics, such as Scotch eggs, chicken drumsticks, sandwiches, potato salad and quiche. Guaranteed crowd-pleasers, but definitely not the only options out there.

Pasta salad is perfect for picnics – usually hearty, they hold up well. If you want to pack a leafy salad, don’t dress the salad until you are going to eat it. For layered salads, always start with the heaviest ingredients at the bottom, working up towards the lighter ones like the lettuce. Other salad ideas include Middle Eastern couscous salad, a Greek orzo salad, or even a lighter-carb sweet potato salad. Adding vegetable dishes or bites can be a bit trickier as they usually do not handle the heat and transport that well. But there are options, such as zucchini fritters with minted tzatziki dip, pumpkin fritters, or chargrilled veg skewers.

Our favourite menu for a picnic? A selection of cheeses, cold meats, pates and spreads, olives, roasted peppers, gherkins, hummus, crudites and other meze bites, with fresh bread and real butter. Nothing fancy, just good produce that you can pair and add to make a wonderful meal. Social food.

A nice tip? Pack fruit, nuts and biltong for extra snacks along the way, especially if you are travelling with kids and the journey might take longer than you planned.

To end, chocolate brownies are always a winner. Other ideas: cheesecake in a jar, cookies, traditional scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, or a coconut loaf cake.

For drinks, anything that can successfully be kept cold can work. Ice tea is super refreshing on a hot summer’s day, lemonade or ginger beer (both homemade of course) being another stellar option. And for the grownups, sparkling wine or a chilled white or rose wine is wonderful. Just remember your glasses, and pack enough ice! You can also pack in sangria or spritzers, or pre-mixed G&Ts with the cucumber or lemon slices packed separately. Whatever says sun, outside, and great company. Our best hack to ensure your drinks remain cold (other than freezing them) is: chill as usual, then decant into a flask. That same flask to keep your coffee hot on road trips will keep your drinks nice and cold.

When packing the food, ensure the containers that you are using are leak proof. Place everything in the fridge to chill, and only pack them into your cool box at the last minute. Top with ice packs to ensure safe transportation.

The entertainment

  • Make getting to the picnic a scavenger hunt. Leave clues or a “treasure” map for your family to find their way to the picnic destination.
  • Bring along a board game, boules, a rugby ball, or a Frisbee for some outdoor fun. If kids will be joining you, try to pick a spot with a playground nearby.
  • Plan a hike and bring the picnic with you. Stop when you get hungry or find a scenic spot to eat.
  • Set the mood with a sunset picnic. If it’s allowed, bring a few votive candles and a small bouquet of flowers to add to the ambience.

Those are our top tips for making a magical picnic. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we hope you implement them for a romantic night out. And if you are worried about your skill in the kitchen, or simply do not have the time to cook and plan, you can always order your picnic from us!

Stripes is wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day, but even more, that you will feel the love the whole year round!

Themed weddings: Wonderland weddings

Theme: Wonderland

Inspiration: Alice in Wonderland
Trend: Pop of colour, balloons, relaxed and fun
Colour: mint green, rose pink, burnt orange
Venue: anywhere!
Dress: romantic and flirty
Groom: informal suit
Flowers: “veld” flowers, roses, baby’s breath, lisianthus, ranunculus, anemones
Decor: paper flowers, assorted glass vases with single stem flowers
Cake: romantic yet fun, go for an inventive flavour like naartjie with passion fruit buttercream, pecan praline with mocha ganache, etc.
Favours: macarons, small bags filled with biscuits, adorable sugar cookies. A mini pie or tart!
Entertainment: magician, caricaturist, or a sketch artist
Nail this ever popular theme by incorporating fun and unique elements. From paper flowers and home-made confetti to different runners on each table, use your imagination and start dreaming! For the food, think interactive starters bar with an assortment of canapes and salads, and for dessert a pie station with different kinds of pies stacked on top of each other. Designing a personalised cocktail specially for the night is another fun idea to make sure your guests see you and your partner in every detail. play croquet and lawn games during the couple shoot and remember this is the perfect theme to use should you wish to make your four-legged friend part of your special day.

Elopement

Elopement. Colloquially defined as running away to get married, usually done in secret and more often than not assumed to sprout from a forbidden relationship. The word has a very strong negative associated, so strong that you are forgiven to forget that elopement can also mean spontaneity, impulsiveness, and unbounded joy. Sometimes, a moment of love can get so big so fast that all you can do is get married, because that is the only way that you can express how much you love the other person. Of course I am implying that marriage is the only way that you can show someone how much you love them. But getting married does have its own magic, and brings a certain feeling of contentment with it. I guess that is why the instant-wedding trade in Las Vegas is booming!

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But back to eloping. Elopement does not always occur on the whim, sometimes couples plan months in advance. They plan the day as they would a traditional wedding, they just don’t send invites out. If they do tell people about their plans, and even if they invite guests, it is usually a very small number compared to the more mainstream weddings. I would say less than 10 guests in total. Usually the parents, siblings, and best friends. Often, the ceremony is similar to a “normal” ceremony, the couple exchanges rings and vows and everything we have come to know as the rites of marriage, and the reception is then still held afterwards. This reception, because it is usually a very small group, can be held in someone’s home, at a restaurant, or even catered for at an intimate venue. It will all depend on the couple.

 

I always thought eloping was romantic. Finding someone you wanted so spend the rest of your life with, not wanting to wait months for an available date to get married on, saving all that money so that you can invite a large group of people, spending all of that money… versus eloping – deciding you want to get married, finding your nearest court building, handing in the necessary paperwork, and that is that! Saying your I Do’s and then breaking the news afterwards. You can always have a big party after the fact, where you can invite all your family and friends, to celebrate you becoming husband and wife. It can still be special, maybe even more so since you eliminate the chance of family fights, wedding debt, and other issues that seem to always arise when you are planning your wedding.

We have done our fair share of “elopements” – couples who got married in court, then celebrated with a small handful of guests afterwards. In most of the cases it was not because the family didn’t like the partner, or didn’t approve of the match, or even because they didn’t have enough money to have a big wedding. For some people the glitz and glamour, or extra work, or attention, of spending of unnecessary money is exactly that, unnecessary. They want something small, intimate, and fast. For them it is about the marriage that follows, not the wedding itself. In other cases, their situations have changed drastically and quickly, leaving them no time to plan or wait for months. They need to get married within the week, stripping them of the chance to have the big wedding.

No matter what your reasons are, everybody should be able to have the wedding day that they would like to have. If you want to get married in court, with no hoohah then please do. If you would like to have the more traditional wedding but have no time or money, then there should be an alternative to getting hitched in court by a judge. We want to offer that alternative – a wedding venue for a 1-2-3 wedding. 1 – you pick the date and time so we can arrange the person who can legally marry you, 2 – you let us know how many guests to expect so we can invoice you, 3 – after paying the invoice you merely show up. What will you get? A forest chapel beautifully decorated, a person to marry you, beautifully set tables with flowers and centre pieces, a 3 course meal, sparkling wine for your toast, a bouquet for yourself, and a boutonniere for your partner. We can arrange the photographer as well. Want a wedding cake? No problem, we can quote on that too. In and out in less than 3 hours, you arrive as a Miss and leave a Mrs! And the price? Should you be interested, or want more info, send us an email to find out more.

Laughing Chefs Boersjiek wedding banners website Feb 2018 (2)