Planning Your Wedding
Planning Your Wedding
It is never too soon or too late to start planning your wedding, in fact, the sooner the better.
You will receive many suggestions from family and friends on when to start or to first wait for this or that but the fact of the matter is that your needs are unique and you need to consider your own situation and needs.
One thing is for sure, if you wait too long before you start planning your wedding you are destined to experience anxiety and stress. Not that if you start soon enough that you will not have your moments but it should be less severe and less often.
WL Wedding Photography is not in a position to tell you when to start or what to do but we are able to share our experience with you.
6 months before the wedding
• Make an appointment with minister, priest, rabbi or other person who will officiate the wedding.
Most ministers expect the couple to prepare themselves for the marriage or to have some pre-
marital counselling. Remember that the wedding will only take one day but your marriage must
last a lifetime! It is therefore important to also plan your marriage by the couple receiving pre-
• In most instances the couple decide on the date first but it is easier to first confirm your booking
for the wedding venue. Please remember to also consider what dates will best suit the parents
or even family outside of South Africa.
• Arrange the date with the minister
• Decide what type of reception you want as this may also have an influence on the time of day
that you want to get married. You can’t expect a sunset with a fire in a boma if you are getting
married in the morning.
• Establish the size of your budget
• Book the church or chapel and reception venue and confirm it in writing. Usually you will book
the minister and organist the same time.
• If you plan to rent anything, book now. There are items that are very popular and you may be
disappointed if you not book it in advance.
• Book the music, be it a DJ or band. Remember to ensure that all your needs are addressed in the
church and at the venue.
• If you want to lose some weight before your wedding, start now!
• Order the wedding cake.
• Book the photographer and videographer and also inform them that provision will be made for
them in the catering.
• Decide what your dress should look like and if you want to rent one or have one made for you.
Try on a few different styles to decide what flatters your figure.
• Make a list of the wedding gifts you would like and give the list to a few shops.
• Your fiancé can surprise you with the honeymoon location – that is part of the romance. He
must make the bookings now. If you need passports you must apply in good time.
• Draw up your guest list.
• Compare both sets of parents’ lists to avoid any duplication. Leave half of the invitations for the
groom’s family and friends.
• You and your fiancé must also decide on whom of your family and friends will play key roles at
your wedding. This is usually not an easy task because you do not want to exclude or
disappoint any of them. Remember that this is your special day and your needs and wishes are
more important than anything else! At this point you must start considering the following:
o How many bridesmaids and who
o How many best men and who
o How many flower girls and who
o How many pageboys and who
o Who will be the master of ceremonies
o Who will make toasts and speeches and when
o Who will drive the wedding car
4 months before the wedding
• Make an appointment to see the designer or person who will make your dress.
• Decide on the type of shoes you want and start looking for them. Remember to also discuss
your decision with your dress designer.
• Decide who will be part of the bridal retinue and discuss what they must wear. Have the outfits
• Ask the person you want as your master of ceremonies to take the task and speak to the people
who will make the toasts.
• See a gynaecologist
• If you plan to dance at the reception, take a few lessons if necessary.
• Start looking for clothes for your honeymoon
3 months before the wedding
• If you have not yet paid any deposits, make the necessary arrangements. Most photographers,
caterers, florists, etcetera, only accept your booking once they have received the deposit.
• Finalise the guest list
• Meet with the minister or other person who will perform the ceremony again. Discuss the exact
order of events with him or her. Ensure that you present him with the “program” in writing.
• Meet with the verger of the church and make sure what is permitted and what not. May you use
candles in the church and may you use confetti? Arrange the date for the rehearsal with the
verger. Make detailed notes.
• Meet with the person/s that will provide the music. Confirm the hymns that the organists must
play in church and let them play examples of their repertoire. Inform them that you made
provision for them for catering.
• If you want a DJ or mobile discotheque or band at the reception you must go and listen how they
play. Discuss your taste and preferences with them but also consider what your guests may like.
• Meet with the people that do your make-up and hair. They normally do a trial run. If you want
to perm or tint your hair or want to grow it for the wedding, ask your hairdresser exactly when
to do what.
• Have the invitations printed. The person who pays for the reception usually sends out the
invitation cards and acts as the host/ess.
• Do not mention a gift register in the invitation. If guests ask, you or your mother can tell them.
• Obtain all the guests’ postal addresses and address the envelopes.
• Book the florist and decide what bouquets should look like.
• Buy confetti, streamers or dried rose petals or make your own. Other options are bubbles,
feathers or fresh flowers.
• You and your fiancé must choose a suite or tuxedo for him.
• You should also make decisions about the outfit that the mother of the bride and the mother of
the groom will wear.
• Groom yourself well and try not to pick up any weight. Visit a beauty parlour for a facial once a
month from now on. It is remarkable what difference a regular facial treatment can make.
• Book a swanky car, limousine, chariot or cart. If you plan to borrow a car from a friend or
member of the family, ask the person to be the wedding chauffeur.
2 months before the wedding
• Mail the invitations and include a map. Do not send out invitations less than six weeks before
the wedding date.
• Have an ante nuptial contract drawn up.
• If you were happy with the trial runs on your hair and make-up, book the hairdresser and
beautician for the wedding day.
• The groom must book accommodation for the wedding night.
• Buy your going-away outfit and your honeymoon clothes.
• Buy the groom a gift. Remember that it is the thought that counts and not the price.
1 month before the wedding
• Arrange your engagement shoot with the photographer.
• Finalise the menu with the caterer. Ensure that you have everything in writing.
• Finalise the number of bouquets with the florist and arrange for button holes, corsages, flowers
for hair, etcetera.
• Send the guests who have enquired about it the details of your gist register.
• The groom must start working on his speech as this is one of the highlights of the wedding. The
speech should be written concise, appropriate and interesting and must acknowledge everyone
who contributed to this special day.
• Finalise the seating plan and write place cards. Seat people who know each other and will get on
well together. Remember to book an extra table with place cards for the photographer,
videographer, DJ and musicians.
• Ask the master of ceremonies or designate someone else to show this team where they are to sit.
• Ask the master of ceremonies or designate someone to assist the photographer when family and
group photos are taken.
• Inform people and businesses who need to know of any change of address.
• Keep your guest list up to date and check who can still attend. Some guests may forget to
respond (RSVP). Contact them after the RSVP date and determine whether they plan to come.
• Give the estimated number of guests to the caterers, rental agencies, etcetera. Remember to
include the photographer, videographer, DJ and musicians.
• Arrange paring for the guests. You may also consider a guard or even two to watch over the
• Buy your wedding rings
• Consult your designer and acquire the pearls and/or other jewellery and other accessories that
you need to suit your style of dress.
• Buy your stockings, bath oils or foam bath, your favourite perfume to prepare and pamper
• If you plan to do your own make-up, check your stock.
• Make an alphabetical list of your guests and have it typed. Save the file as there may be changes
• Buy a ribbon for the bridal car and ask your chauffeur to keep an umbrella handy for in case
there is a sudden shower.
2 weeks before the wedding
• Inform the caterer of the exact number of guests.
• Finalise the programme, speeches and toasts and discuss it with the master of ceremonies. Tell
the master of ceremonies exactly what you want him to do when. Also confirm the times allowed
for speeches and toasts and give him the programme and your instructions in writing.
1 week before the wedding
• Arrange with a family member or friend to look after your wedding dress while you are on
• Arrange with a reliable person to ensure that all rented items are returned safely.
• Arrange with a family member or friend to be in charge of the gifts brought to the wedding/
reception venue. The gifts must be taken to your home after the reception.
• Collect your wedding dress and accessories and ensure that everything fits properly.
• Collect the outfits that the groom and your retinue will wear.
• Collect your wedding cake.
• Confirm all the arrangements with everyone concerned. Make a list of all people who are
responsible for something, from the flower girls to the photographer. Contact every single one
and ensure that everything is on track. This list MUST be complete.
• Arrange a rehearsal in the church so that everyone in the bridal retinue knows exactly what they
must do and when.
• Buy gifts for everyone who has helped you.
• Pack your clothes for the honeymoon. Draw up a list to ensure you’ve packed everything.
The day before the wedding
• Do not eat too much, stay calm and rest as much as possible
• Do your nails.
• Pamper yourself. Go to the beauty salon for a facial mask and exfoliate. Use lashings and
moisture all over.
• If you planned to get dressed away from home, develop a checklist for all the items you will
• Put everything you will need the next day out and have it ready.
• Give the gifts to your retinue.
• Phone the minister to remind him of the wedding tomorrow.
• Go to bed early allowing you a good night’s rest.
On your wedding day
• Do not get up to early. Sleep for as long as you can.
• Have a good, light breakfast in bed.
• Go to the hairdresser and beauty salon.
• Have a relaxing (tepid) bath after you’ve been to the hairdresser. Keep the door and windows
open to prevent any build-up of steam.
• Use enough moisturizer. Also use a light talc to absorb perspiration. Apply deodorant 20
minutes after your bath.
• Put on your dress carefully so that your hair is not disheveled and your make-up does not
smudge or rub off on the dress. Ask someone to assist you.
• Finally, enjoy the day and remember that guests normally do not even notice any small details
that may go wrong.
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