Well the easy answer to that question is as soon as possible once you’ve decided that’s what you want to do for your wedding.
More specifically it’s good to remember that, just as is true for a wedding back home, the sooner you book the more choice you will have in terms of locations, dates and suppliers. Typically, my couples book at least 18 months ahead of time. This is to give themselves time to get organized but of course also their guests. That’s not to say that you have to, I have had couples book as little as 5 months before their wedding but needless to say the whole planning process becomes a bit more intense in those cases.
If you’ve not read my previous blog on How to Start Planning a Destination Wedding then please read it here. Todays blog is more about the order in which you need to book things up for the wedding and when. There are many elements that go into making up a wedding and it can be overwhelming to start with and perhaps you’re not sure where to start but basically it’s like building a lego tower: we need the large, foundation elements first and then with those as a base we can build on them with the smaller details. This timeline is not a hard and fast rule and if you are able to and want to start sooner on certain aspects that’s no issue at all, I would however say that leaving them later might result in your first choice of suppliers not being available or things simply getting too frantic in the run up to your wedding. It might be useful to print this and cross things off as you action/discard them.
Timeline for making your wedding plans:
Starting point :
- Venue, Guest list, budget and date
- Save the date cards/web invites
Next Step : things to do as soon as you can based on when you actually book.
- Book suppliers who book quickly ie. photographer /videographer and band and/or DJ.
- Think about guest accommodation if this is something you intend to help your guests with. Ask me for info sheets if I’ve not already sent them to you.
- Create a wedding website if you like the idea. Ask me for some content. It’s a useful tool but don’t spend too much time on it, the general feedback is that many guests don’t read it all and will still message you.
- Do you want a professional master of ceremonies ? If not the role can be performed by me or one of your guests.
- Confirm timings for the day.
9 months out
- Think stationary. Invites and what you want to include if you are doing paper ones. If you are then you should also ask for a quote for the table plan, table names, menus and place settings if you want it all the same. If you are not doing paper invites consider that you are still going to need some form of table plan, table names and place settings and don’t leave it till the last minute.
- Start wedding dress shopping – exciting !!!
- Think about bridesmaids dresses and colour theme.
6 months out
- This is super important if you are having a legal ceremony. Italy only recognizes certificates issues within the last 6 months so you cannot action it ahead of time. Here’s what to do
- Celebrant for your wedding. If you are not having a legal ceremony who do you want to celebrate your ceremony and what ceremony text would you like ? I also offer this service, read my blog.
- Is transport required for your guests ? Get quotes and confirm if required.
- How is the bride getting to the ceremony?
- Flowers, we can start with mood boards and some quotes. Be clear when you send images if you want it exactly like that or simply something in that style/colour. In my experience of recent years this is the hardest thing to tie down. Instagram and Pinterest give a lot of inspiration but also raise the bar as far as expectations go. Be prepared for them to cost more than you might think.
- Confirm your travel dates with me and set a Welcome Meeting date and time. Remember if it’s a legal ceremony you must be in Italy at least 2 working days before the wedding.
4 months out
- Confirm your menu and wine choices.
- Childrens menu if required.
- Decide on your wedding cake style and flavour
- Confirm your flower choices
- Confirm your ceremony music. If you are not sure what sort of musician you want tell me what sort of music you want and I’ll make suggestions.
- Make sure is legal wedding paperwork is complete, or nearly there, to post to me.
- Favours, if you’re going to do favours think about what you might like to gift. Limoncello, olive oil, scented candle with personalized lable, wooden place settings. Ask me for ideas & contacts.
3 months out
- Are you having readings for your ceremony? Who will read them and what?
- Think about a playlist for the evening. 1st dance is obviously important but also think about style of music, it does not need to be a track by track list but a simple likes and dislikes. If you want to list specific tracks there’s not need to provide more than 30 to give an idea of what you’re looking for.
2 months out
- Confirm final numbers and budget
- Start working on your table plan, this can take longer than you expect.
- How many speeches are there going to be and when do you want to make them?
- Look at what balances are due to be paid
1 month out
- Go over the check list with me for details and budget.
- Has anything that was sent by post to me arrived?
- Pay location/catering balance
- Send table plan and any special dietary requirements. Include ages of children and if highchairs are required.
Arriving in Italy
- Welcome meeting with me. We will go to the town hall to sign a verbal declaration (legal weddings only) visit your ceremony & reception venue and run through the plan for the day so we need at least 2 hrs.
- How many seats need to be reserved at the front of the ceremony
- What’s your bridal procession
- Confirm group photo list requirements
- Re-confirm time for hair & make-up, delivery of flowers and transport.
- Drop off any favours, table names, table plan, place settings, gifts.
- Final speech order. Master of ceremonies ?
- Confirm bar budget, tab or simply if guests are paying for their own.
And mostly DON’T PANIC. I’ll give you a big talking to about this at the Welcome Meeting but remember to enjoy the day. If you have a tendency to anxiety and you’ve not been sleeping get some rescue remedy drops or sweets, they are brilliant. This is your wedding and so much of the time is spent planning it, be sure to ENJOY IT.