The Ideal Gay Wedding wedding planning checklist

Planning As they say, the course of true love never did run smooth, and the same can be said of wedding planning.

With so many elements to organise and a bunch of guests to entertain, it’s easy to see how coordinating nuptials is one of the most stressful things a couple can do.

We can’t promise to have included every little thing, but we hope this wedding planning checklist helps you keep on top in the lead-up to tying the knot.

Over a year to go.

Enjoy your engagement.

It’s a unique time in your relationship. Throw an engagement party, get an engagement photoshoot, or just take a picnic to the park for you and your fiancé(e).

Put a ring on it… again!
There are no established norms for gay engagements, so who’s to say you both shouldn’t have a ring? Some couples even have a second proposal, where the one who got proposed to the first time gets to surprise their partner and pop the question. Sensitivity is advised here: if you want to avoid making your partner feel outdone, go for a completely different proposal style.

Gather ideas.
It’s never too soon to start getting an idea of what you want. After all, inspiration strikes at the strangest moments. You might spy a wild flower and decide that you can’t live without it decorating your wedding, or hear a tune and decide it has to be your first dance song. Or a line for a vow or speech might pop into your head while you’re washing up one Tuesday evening. Write everything down and worry about refining it later.

Explore other people’s weddings.
Chances are you’ll be invited to a wedding or two (or, if you’re in your early thirties, fifty three) between now and the date of your nuptials. Being a wedding guest is the perfect way to explore and experience different options, but lurking online and stalking total strangers’ wedding pics is a close second! Work out what you like and don’t like, what would work for you and what wouldn’t long before you have to make decisions.

Draft a guest list.
Several considerations here. If you already have a venue firmly in mind, find out their limit on numbers and shape your lists accordingly. If your budget is fairly bijoux, it may follow that your guest list reflects this (but it doesn’t have to).

Set your budget.
It’ll change a bazillion times between now and your wedding but try to come up with a rough idea. It’s unromantic but true that many decisions you’ll make will relate to how much dosh you’re willing or able to part with. Down the line, you might expect contributions from family but these won’t necessarily appear instantly, so just go with what you know you’re likely to have and then anything else will be a bonus.

Insure any engagement jewellery.
Given, it’s not the most romantic action you’ll ever take, but a quick phone will set your mind at ease. Just give your existing home insurance provider a call first to see if the new items are covered already or if you need to add them individually to the policy. You can even get specific engagement ring insurance.

12 months to go.

Set the date and time of day.

Whether you’re morning people is something to think about, but also think about your guests, especially any that will be travelling a long way. Do you want sunshine or are you all about the late evening when you can set off the fireworks? Do you want a long wedding where you can pack in loads of activities, or short wedding? For obvious reasons, most couples opt for a Saturday wedding, but you can save a ton of cash by going for a weekday.

Establish priorities.
One of you can’t imagine getting married without a string quartet, while the other things that top-notch photography is a must. Move both these things to the top of the list. Neither of you that bothered about wedding favours? Skip them. No one will miss them and you’ll save yourself more than you’d think!

Draw up a guest list.
It’s okay if you haven’t got it completely figured out yet, but an approximate number of guests will help you plan. Many weddings involve close friends and family for the ceremony and meal, with other guests joining them in the evening. In practice, the lines are drawn by venue capacity and the couple’s budget.

Check your budget.
This is the chorus of the wedding planning song! Keep an eye on it as you go.

Send out save-the-dates.
If you’re feeling flush, you could get cute postcards/fridge magnets of you and your beloved posted out to everyone. Alternatively, emails, texts and instant messaging will do the job. As long as guests keep that day free, then any formality and detail can wait until the official invitations.

Explore venues.
Do you want something local or a location a bit further afield? Does it fit your wedding size? Can you have both the ceremony and reception there or are you planning to involve two separate venues? Remember to check out the rules in your local area if you want the ceremony to be recognised legally.

Give notice.
Book an appointment at your local registry office to give notice to marry. At the time of booking, they should tell you what you’ll need to bring with you and what the cost is.

Think about invitations.
If you’re going down the DIY route, start crafting them as soon as possible! If you’re making your own to save money, make sure you’ve worked out your costs and that it really is the cheapest option. Costs of craft materials (especially if you try something and it doesn’t work) can really add up. If you’re ordering invitations, aim to do this in the next few months.

Start writing your vows and speeches.
Sounds a little premature, right? Maybe, but you’d be surprised how many people end up scribbling away on the eve of their wedding! Even if you almost completely rewrite it before you use it, at least you will have made a start.

6 months to go.

Send out invitations.

Set up an RSVP spreadsheet to record replies. Chase non-RSVPs every month but be upbeat and friendly when you do it. It’s amazing how even the most reliable invitees will forget to reply to you.

Choose your key players.
Good news! There are people that you can saddle with some of the many tasks involved in wedding planning – the wedding party! Pick your team and let them know what an honour it would be to have them in the wedding. Give a heads-up to anyone you’d like to give a speech so that they have plenty of time to prepare.

Choose your wedding outfits.
Go for whatever makes you stupidly happy and confident. Take some honest shopping buddies who care about you, not about tradition. Make them cry when you find the right outfit.

Shop for rings.
Brand new? Vintage? Antique? Made by your own fair hand? The choice is yours and your ring can be as individual as you. Not having rings? That’s okay too!

Take care of the food and drink arrangements.
Again, there are so many choices out there. Aim to balance your unique personalities with crowd-pleasing dishes and cuisines. This can be done on any budget and with any type of food. As a rule, sit-down meals are pricier than buffets. Think about whether you will need to provide evening food too.

Shop for a wedding cake.
We’ll bet that if you’re keeping just the one wedding tradition, it’ll be a massive, delicious cake! The sky’s the limit with this one. Take along any pictures of cakes you like to help your cake maker get a clear idea of your vision.

Check the budget.
Check your sums and your spending against your planned spend. It might be painful, but you’ll be glad you did it.

Choose a photographer.
Meet in person. Explore their portfolio. Get references. Photos will be one of the longest-lasting souvenirs of your wedding so it’s worth hunting out the right match.

Choose your entertainment.
Do you want a harp to play at the ceremony, or perhaps the gentle sounds of some bagpipes to accompany the buffet? How about a punk band in the evening or a magician to break up the post-meal sleepiness? Seek them out and lock them down now!

Choose your florist.
Fancy some blooms to brighten your day? Clearly communicate what you want to the florist and make use of their expertise. Make sure you ask for the floral decorations to be set up at your venue and for any bouquets and boutonnieres to reach you wherever you’ll be getting ready.

Book your honeymoon.
It doesn’t have to be directly after the wedding. It doesn’t even need to be in the same year! It doesn’t need to be an ‘official’ honeymoon and it doesn’t have to be the ‘romantic trip of a lifetime’. Do whatever pleases you whenever is suits you, but treat yourself to some kind of break. Wedding planning is stressful, after all. Consider name changes here and remember to make sure your passport will have the right name on it when you come to board your flight.

2–3 months to go.

Finalise arrangements with suppliers.

Put everything in writing and confirm it all. Your chosen suppliers are busy and deal with many weddings. They are probably highly organised and talented but clear communication always wins.

Firm up transport arrangements.
You don’t need a fleet of fancy cars but you do need to make sure everyone is going to be where they need to be on time on the day. Book transport now if needed.

Prepare a gift spreadsheet.
If you’ve gone for a traditional gift registry, gifts may well start arriving about now. Even if you haven’t, people will still send you stuff or give it to you on your wedding day, so set it up ahead of time and you’ll be glad you did.

Finalise your guest list.
You should hopefully have a very good idea of who is attending by now, so go over the list, adjust any arrangements accordingly and chase any pesky outstanding RSVPs.

Book any pet or home care.
A wealth of pet-sitting and home-sitting companies are out there, so work out what you need and book reliable, recommended services now. There are even pet handlers who can bring your dog to the wedding so they too can be in the photos (provided your dog would be the sort to enjoy this kind of situation). This can result in some really touching and funny photos.

Book your wedding night.
Regardless of your honeymoon plans, booking a swanky (or even not so swanky) room at or near your venue will keep things simple and will help extend the magical feeling you’ll get on the day. Your future self will thank you.

Check the budget.
Yes, again! Surprising how it changes, isn’t it?

1–2 months to go.

Finalise the music selections.

Music is so powerful. Take your time to choose the right pieces for the most significant moments. Send your ceremony choices to the officiant/registrar and your party choices to the DJ, if you’re having one. It’s also okay to have a ‘don’t play’ list where, even if it gets requested, certain hideous musical numbers can be kept firmly out of your wedding dance party.

Finalise honeymoon plans.
Make sure your itinerary and bookings are confirmed, especially if you are going away straight after your wedding.

Check in with out-of-towners.
It’s not your responsibility to familiarise your faraway guests with every inch of the wedding’s locality, but a well-timed conversation now should save any last-minute panicked phone calls (and you can even give them the contact details of a local friend who can field any such calls).

Buy gifts for key players.
With any luck, your key players will have provided indispensable moral support throughout the wedding planning process and will keep you sane on the big day. Show your gratitude with keepsakes to match their personalities.

Buy wedding day props.
Scrabble around in that last bit of budget and find some money for things like a guest book, confetti, bubbles or puzzles and games for the reception.

One last talk with the caterer
Make sure they know about any vegetarian, vegan, coeliac and other dietary requirements.

Now is your chance to work your way through the day and identify any potential problems. Any sooner and you wouldn’t have a firm enough structure. Any later and you’ll likely be too busy. Do it now!

Check the budget.
You’re tempted not to at this point, but keep on top of it and it’ll make life simpler in the long run.

In the final 2 weeks.

Confirm all services.

Yes, we know. You’ve done this before. But just a quick call or email to your suppliers will, if nothing else, give you peace of mind that your wedding will go swimmingly.

Sort how you’ll settle up.
Consider how you will get the final payments to the suppliers on the day. This is another area where reliable key players come in handy.

Collect your wedding attire.
And try it on! It’s not too late to make any final changes if something isn’t right.

Look after yourself.
Eat healthily and drink plenty of water to ensure you look and feel your best as you tie the knot.

On the eve of the wedding.

Set the alarm.

In fact, set many alarms! There are loads of clever alarm clock apps out there so download one of these, or enlist an early-bird friend who won’t quit until you’re well and truly out of your pit.

Check your outfit.
Make sure you have everything. Then check again!

Distract yourself.
A cinema trip, a stroll, hanging out with your partner… they’re all good, but our favourite suggestion is board games! Old-school, no Wi-Fi lagging to stress over, absorbing enough to stop you fretting. Plus we’ll bet you’ve got enough people in the house to play in teams!

Wind down.
You’ve done all you can to make tomorrow go smoothly. The best thing you can do now is get as good a night’s sleep as your butterflies will allow. Night!

On your wedding day.

Be mindful.

Many married couples talk about their regrets when it comes to slowing down and taking it all in. Learn from them. Step back – mentally or literally – throughout the day and appreciate the special atmosphere and moments being created around you.

You have love and support all around you. Make good use of it in the event of any snags. You will make your key players feel useful and it’ll free you up to spend time with guests, dance like a badass and steal a kiss with your new spouse.

Be yourself!
There is no designated way for people getting married to behave. If you’re shy, no one will expect you to become a party animal just because it’s your wedding. If you’re usually frowny, so what? Be who you are, because that’s who your partner is marrying. Here’s to love!

After your wedding day.


Fancy tucking into a slice on your first anniversary? The top tier is usually the bit saved for freezing, so tell your caterers if you want them to put this to one side for you. Remove any decorations from the cake, wrap it snugly in cling film and then place in an airtight bag.

Name changing.
If you changed your name when you got married, then here begins the admin! You’ll need to update your details with the tax office, electoral register, the DVLA, bank accounts, mortgage provider, your GP and the passport office (if you didn’t need to do this before the wedding) to name just a few. There are companies who can take care of most of the changes for you, but at a cost.

Say thank you.
Tradition states you should send out beautifully handwritten notes within a month of the wedding. While tradition sometimes talks a load of crap, it’s only right to express timely gratitude to your generous guests, so make it easy for yourselves by planning ahead so you have all the information and stationery ready. You could do a few every day for a week, or sit down with some wine and wedding cake and get them all done and dusted in one sitting.

Sort that wedding album.
As soon as the photographer sends you the pictures, you’ll need to set about choosing which ones you want in your album or up on your wall. Get ready for some serious shortlisting and whittling down of a massive longlist of shots! It’s a long but enjoyable task as you and your partner can look back on the day and notice all the bits you may have missed while being the fabulous hosts.

Look to the future.
Post-wedding can be a time of mixed feelings and a sense of limbo as you no longer have that build-up and the flurry of activity you were immersed in only a few days ago. If you find that you’re feeling a bit flat, remind yourself but this is only the beginning of your new life as a married couple. Make some new plans (both as a couple and as individuals) that you can look forward to in this exciting new chapter.

Whether you’re selling your outfits on or preserving them, get them professionally cleaned. And in fact, those aren’t the only two options. You could donate your outfits to charity, Frame an element of your outfit, trash it with a ‘trash the dress’ style photoshoot (Doesn’t have to feature a dress!).

Review your suppliers.
A little praise goes a long way and will help other couples identify the really good suppliers amongst the blah ones. Sadly, we are all far more likely to write about poor service than good service so redress the balance and put a good word in for those lifesavers who made your day. Equally, if they were shockingly awful or even lacking in one vital area, be honest and specific and keep it professional.

Gifts – return or exchange any unwanted ones.
You thought you’d created a gift registry to avoid this bit, right? Wrong! Chances are you’ll need to return or exchange something. Do this ASAP to avoid any cut-offs put in place by the vendor. Keep a note of these so you can keep track of incoming/outgoing items.

Take down your wedding website and registry.
This isn’t an immediate task, especially as you can let guests know that you will be posting photos of the day on the site for their perusal, but the day will come where it’s time to retire these! Remember guests sometimes send gifts after the wedding so best to stick a note in your diary to take it down three or four months after the wedding.

Resell and rehome.
Unless you have an everyday need for three miles of bunting, eight glittery vases or six white parasols, move them along, make some money back and enjoy the lack of clutter!

So what else have you got on your to-do list? Share it to save someone's life, or at least their pre-wedding stress levels.

Tags: checklist, planning, engagement, ideas, design, budget, guests, invitations, vows, speech, photography, flowers, honeymoon, transport

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