The Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Wedding In 12 Months

Just gotten engaged and feeling a little lost about where to start? Check out Zankyou's guide on how to plan your perfect wedding in a year!

  • Planning the wedding
  • Advice
  • Bridal couple
  • Couple

You’re engaged! Congratulations! Now it’s time to start preparing for the big day. But where to start? Weddings are the kind of event that requires a lot of very detailed planning so why not take a look at our bridal calendar to get an idea of how you could kick start your planning process?

Photo: Ricardo Hara

12 months before


There are probably plenty of couples out there who think planning your wedding over the course of a year is excessive, but as with most things, you can guarantee that the big day will come around much more quickly than you anticipate. After all, if you want it to be perfect with all your nearest and dearest able to attend, then planning it all about a year in advance is a good way to go!

The first thing to get thinking about is the date, or a couple of potential dates to give yourselves some leeway. Keep in mind the fact that your dream venue may well be booked for that date already, so you must either be flexible or be prepared to have a rethink. Once you’ve got the date sorted, then you can begin to have a think about the other details, but remember to let your guests know as soon as possible!

Photo: Osvaldo Enoc

With this in mind, it’s also a good idea to draw up a rough list of all the guests you would like to invite, to give yourselves a realistic estimate of the size of venue that you are going to need. Knowing your number of guests will also allow you to gauge an idea of how big your budget is going to need to be.

Once you’ve got all this sorted, it’s time to get thinking about where you would like to hold the reception. Also don’t forget to discuss your budget with the venue as this will help rule out the possibility of overspending or finding yourself being saddled with unwanted expenses.

Photo: Jeffe Gall

10 months before

By the time you have ten months to go before your wedding day, you should really have a good idea of the type of wedding you would like to have, including ideas on a theme, if you plan to have one, as well as decorations and how you would like the reception to work. For example, are you going to have a sit-down meal or will it just be drinks and a buffet? Now’s the time to decide.

It’s also not a bad idea to start looking for the bridesmaids dresses too – given that you might have to find a few (depending on the number of bridesmaids you choose to have) there’s no harm in beginning the search early on. It also gives you time to really work out what you do and don’t like, meaning that you’ve got a much better chance of ending up with a set of dresses that you all love! Of course if the boys want to start thinking about their suits then by all means encourage them, although there is obviously less scope for different types of suit, so there’s less urgency in their case.

Photo: Julia Asdurian

Another thing to think about is how you are going to organize the wedding presents you receive. For example are you going to organize a wedding list with a certain department store or even create a wedding list with us at Zankyouor would you rather wait and see what your guests come up with themselves?

Photo: Christian Goesgana

8 months before

Eight months before your big day is the time to start thinking about some of the details such as the kind of flower arrangements you would like and where you are planning to source them from. Now is also the time to decide what sort of menu you would like for your meal, if you choose to have one. You might also want to give a bit of thought to your seating plan, and any little surprises you might be planning for your guests. Get booking things in advance to avoid disappointment!

Now is also the perfect time to get chatting to photographers to find out a bit more about how they work and the kinds of services they can offer. It’s worth doing the research now to make sure that you end up with the right professionals for your big day!

Photo: Thrall Photography

On a more exciting note, it might be a good idea to start thinking about your honeymoon…there’s plenty of inspiration on our site so get online and start exploring all the possibilities!

It’s also important to give your guests ample warning about when you have chosen to have your wedding, so make sure you are firming up plans regarding invitation designs etc, so that you are ready to send them soon afterwards.

Photo: Aloha Photography

6 months before

Now that you’ve got your definitive guest list and invitations sorted you can really get some concrete figures from your wedding providers, venue and hired professionals so you can begin to work within your budget. On a similar note, if you are planning on having a civil service for your wedding then make sure you have factored in the costs of the documentation and certainly make sure that it is all in order early on, in preparation for the big day.

Photo: Mauricio Alanis

6 months is also the perfect time to kick-start a beauty and health regime to make sure that you are looking your absolute best on your wedding day!

4 months before

How are you going to get to the ceremony and from the ceremony to the reception if they happen to be at separate venues? How are your guests going to get there too? 4 months before the big day is the perfect time to get thinking about the logistics. Admittedly they are less exciting to plan than some of the other aspects, but they are some of the most crucial areas where planning is required! Have a look online and call up some vehicle hire companies to get some inspiration and to get an idea of what different cars or vehicles will cost to hire.

Photo: Cathy Loughran

On a more indulgent front, it’s time to start thinking about the type of cake you would like. We have plenty of information on the latest trends in the world of wedding cakes on our site, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with your favourite patisserie to see what they could offer.

With only 4 months away from the big day and from saying “I do”, now is the perfect time to start thinking about the minor details that will make your wedding day perfect. For example, have you and your husband-to-be thought about how your outfits might complement each other – perhaps he could wear a flower on his lapel that matches some of the ones that will be in your bouquet?

Take a look at our guide on how to choose the perfect bouquet for inspiration. 

Photo: Michael Segal Photography

2 months before

Because the lead up to your wedding can be quite full on, and simply because the preparation period takes place over the course of quite a few months, it can be very easy to lose or gain weight prior to your big day, so that’s why we recommend that you try on your dress every few weeks in the run up to the big day to avoid any last minute panic!

2 months before your wedding day is also the time to start getting girly. We’re talking hair and makeup. Nowadays lots of places offer trial makeovers and hair appointments so you can experiment with your look and perfect it. We would recommend going for something subtle and natural in terms of makeup and make sure whatever style you choose for your hair, you choose something timeless and comfortable – your wedding day is long and you want to still love the styles you picked in years to come when you’re flicking through your wedding album!

Photo: Amy Anaiz

Next on the list is your menu tasting. You’ve organized the menu and now it’s time to try and to make sure that it’s up to scratch. This can also be a fun occasion, so why not invite your parents and a couple friends too? This is also a good opportunity to talk about the kind of extra services you might like – such as having an open bar.

Now is also the time to ask for a quote on the flowers you’ve decided upon and to have all the honeymoon paperwork in order!

Photo: Volvoreta Bodas

1 month before

Time to do a final trying on of your dress, to make sure it fits you like a glove. It’s also the perfect time to chase up any guests that have not confirmed their attendance yet so that you can finalise the seating plan for once and for all. You might also want to have a think about letting your guests know about hotels and places to stay that are nearby so they’ve got time to get it all booked well in advance. Lastly, make sure that you confirm everything – just keep in touch with any hired professionals and the staff that you have spoken to about any services that you have organised. There’s no harm in making sure that you’re all on the same page!

Photo: Sylvain Norget

Inform your guests through your Zankyou website, (created completely free of charge) where the hotels and other accommodation near the wedding venue are located, as well as hairdressers and other points of interest.

Confirm the following contracted services: ceremony location, reception venue, catering and menu, photo and video, musicians (and type of music), hotel reservations, transport, floral decoration (not forgetting the bride’s bouquet), honeymoon, etc. Also, send thank you cards as you receive the gifts.

Photo: Julie Asturian

1 or 2 weeks to go

If you’re having a civil service, make sure that you have handed all the relevant documentation in on time.

One or two weeks before is the most important time to make sure you’re sticking to your health and beauty regime. If you’re feeling indulgent then why not book yourself in for a massage or another treatment to help you remain calm and well rested for the big day. Most importantly, make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before the day you’ve been waiting for!

Photo: Ju Kneipp

So now the big day is upon you! It is sure to be one of the happiest days of your lives, and the secret to everything going well and you enjoying it is to put the nerves and stress aside and just enjoy the day as best you can. Everything is now ready and you have nothing to worry about. Here’s to the happy couple!


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