Planning an entire wedding from scratch might seem like a tall order, but trust me when I say that following this guidebook will make it much easier. Most of the time, we inevitably get caught up in the details and intricacies, which will not fail to overwhelm us. This wedding guide is made for you. It shares all the steps to put together a beautiful wedding. Inside it, we share our experience in planning our very own wedding, and threw in a couple of tips and recommendations on how you can plan your big day efficiently and effectively. This guide aims to give you a direct shortcut to the best stuff. This is a read suitable for anyone who is planning a wedding, whether you have 30 days or 3 years to your timeline!
Day 1. Set expectations. Draw up a realistic” budget. Estimate your Guestlist. Set the Date.
Have a think about the following.
- How big does your guestlist look? Consider the family, relatives and friends that you want to invite. Ballpark this number.
- How elaborate do you want it to be? – A grand affair or an intimate one?
- What does the overall programme look like? – Are you going to have a church wedding or a solemnization?
- Is it a full day affair? – Lunch or dinner or both?
Next, sit down with your partner and discuss the above. Through your conversation, you can come together on the wedding that you both want. Align your expectations and also do consider how much money you both are willing to spend on the wedding. Let that number be your working budget to kickstart the planning. I understand that it might be difficult to come up with an amount not knowing how much the individual services might cost, but it is good to ballpark a figure first based on your spending limits. Do not risk going into debt for your wedding, and be sure to only spend what you can afford. Be conversative when planning your budget and include a buffer for unexpected costs. Set a rough tentative date for your wedding. Doing so right at the start can help to coordinate your planning and give you a rough timeline to work with. It also allows you to check in with potential wedding venues on whether the date is available. Have a couple of back up dates as well, in case you want a particular venue that might not be available.
Day 2. Find your Planning Resources
If you both have very busy work schedules and find yourself unable to take time away, hiring a wedding planning would definitely value-add in terms of time cost. Your wedding planner will be able to help you with the research, planning as well as actual-day coordination of your wedding, leaving you stress and worry free. Wedding planners usually charge from $1,000 and can go up to $5,000 depending on your needs. Most planners offer planning and actual day coordination packages separately. Note that their price quotes are usually service fees and do not include material costs. If you are on a tighter budget, yet find yourself needing some extra help, you can either find freelance wedding planners at a cheaper rate, or seek help from your friends and family who loves planning and is willing to help. Next, get together some planning tools and resources. I would recommend these as they are a great help!
- Google Drive – you can create spreadsheets and have various tabs to organize your budget, research, vendors and guestlist.
- Evernote – Keep track of your checklist and timeline.
- Dropbox / We Transfer– Great for sending files / sharing stuff.
- Pinterest – It’s overflowing with inspiration
Look at magazines and websites for guides and downloadable templates.
Day 3: Find a Wedding Theme, Colour Scheme & a Suitable Venue
Find yourself getting caught in a chicken and egg situation when it comes to choosing your wedding theme first or venue first? Well, the key here is to get started on the one that is more important to you! If you already have a venue in mind, seek out that venue and find a theme that will complement it. If you have a theme in mind, seek out the venue that will suit your wedding theme!
- Do you have an inspiration behind your love story? A movie, cartoon, play, activity that you both love (sports, travel)?
- Close your eyes and imagine the look and feel of your wedding. What wedding vibes do you want to give you to your guests? Do you want it to be romantic? Whimsical? Glamorous? Elegant?
- Contemporary? Pop? Vintage? Rustic? Traditional?
- What is the setting of your wedding? Is it formal or casual?
- How is the food served? Table or buffet servings?
Come up with a list of keywords that describes your dream wedding. Using those keywords, you will be able to narrow down to a theme.
If you find that a wedding theme might be too elaborate, you can alternatively just work with a colour palette. A colour theme is less time consuming, simpler and more flexible to change. You will not need as many props and flowers might just do the trick for you. Though an elaborate theme like The Great Gatbsy or Alice in Wonderland can look spectacular, it will definitely cost you more. Also, do consider your timeframe. If you have less than 3 months to your wedding, I would advise against taking on any DIY projects!
If you have a venue in mind, you can craft up your wedding theme and colours from there too! For our wedding, we wanted a beach wedding and had a desire for classy and elegance, so we had our wedding at Sentosa and paired it with agold and blue watercolour theme to match. One of the reasons why couples on average take about 9-12 months to plan their wedding is because hotel venues, especially the popular ones have their weekends booked out a couple of months in advance. However, this does not mean that you cannot get a beautiful location in a short time frame. Shortlist a few (at least 5) and call or email them to inquire for availability and their wedding packages. Be sure to ask if they have any ongoing promotions for weddings. Ballpark your guestlist number so that you can estimate the size of the ballroom / venue needed. It is a trend that couples now increasingly opt for more intimate venues (source).
Day 4: Finalize your Theme & Colours and consolidate them in a Moodboard. Book your Venue.
It’s time to get it all finalized. Based on your colours / theme, search for pictures on Pinterest and save them all on a board. From your shortlisted venues, discuss them with your partner to finalize on one. Do a site visit and submit a booking. Do note that most venues will require you to submit a non-refundable deposit upon booking so be very sure before you do it!
Day 5: The Search for Vendors Begin – Start with your Wedding Planner & Stylist
If you are looking to save cost, you probably can do without a planner but I would highly recommend a coordinator. She will ensure that everything on your wedding day runs smoothly, on time, and according to programme.
For decorations, do get a wedding stylist to help you make your dream wedding a reality.
Day 6: Find Wedding Invitations & Have them Printed
There are several ways to get your invitations done. You can either customize them or go for ready made designs. For a cheaper alternative, fill out invitation templates that you can find for free online and find a printer who can print them out for you (this might be more time consuming on your end).
If you only have a 30-day window, I would not suggest to go for a fully customized invitation as you need sufficient lead time for designing. Printing itself minimally takes about 1 week or two (subject to vendor). In this case, you can go for ready made designs, which are equally beautiful, and more cost effective too!
Draft up your wedding invitation text beforehand so you can send it to the vendor when making your inquiry. It would hasten the process and you can get your mockups sooner. Be sure to include a deadline for RSVPs in your invites.
Day 7: Apply for ROM. Find a Solemnizer and your Witnesses
There are 3 steps to getting married:
- File a notice of marriage online on the Registry of Marriages (ROM) website here. Give at least a 21 day notice for your intended marriage.
- Go to ROM to verify documents and for Satutory Declaration (this is by appointment and ROM will inform you of the date scheduled)
- On the day of marriage, have your marriage solemnized by a licensed solemnizer in front of 2 witnesses. Source: ROM
Find a licensed solemnizer for your wedding here. Some religious leaders who are certified so you might want to check with your church as well.
Day 8: Search for a Crew to Document your Wedding
Documenting your wedding is one of the most important things to not miss out. I would advise reaching out to teams that have both photographers and videographers – it’s convenient to only have one point of contact and the advantage is that they have experience working together and are probably well coordinated.
Remember, investing in a great crew pays off. Your wedding memories last a lifetime and you would want to ensure they are properly and professionally captured. Correct lighting, blocking and other tricks that a pro can employ to catch the drama is worth the money in the end.
Day 9: Find the Perfect Wedding Rings
If you’re looking for unique one-of-your-kind wedding rings, customize your wedding bands. If you are really tight on time, seek out commercial jewelers to pick their ready made designs off the shelves.
Day 10: Find a Wedding Caterer for Food & Desserts
If you are having a church wedding and a reception after, or your chosen venue – some places do not provide food, you have to find a caterer who will take care of your food arrangements.
Day 11: Get your Dream Wedding Cake
Day 12: Gather your Bridal Party & their Outfits
It’s time to invite your closest pals and get them involved in your wedding. When inviting them, also have an idea of what their roles and responsibilities will be for both prior and during the actual day.
For bridesmaids outfits, infinity dresses are the easiest to coordinate as they are free sizing, and you can spice it up a little by having each bridesmaid tying their dress differently. A tip to shop at retail outlets during sales for great buys.
Day 12: Make a Guestlist and ask them to Save the Date. Create a Wedding Website.
For this you will probably need to rope in your parents to help collate the relatives that you will be inviting. Use an excel spreadsheet to list down their names, contact, address and relation to you.
Informing your Family & Friends
You can give them a call, but a quicker way would be to send out your messages via Whatsapp (free) or send a blast SMS. I found this tool Burst SMS to be useful for sending out messages at one shot. It saves a lot of time, and it is only 4.9c per message. There are no set up fees but do not you have to purchase a fixed amount first before getting started.
To coordinate RSVPs, you might want to set up a simple wedding website with a form for guests to key in. You can get a blog at WordPress.com and Google Forms are simple and easy to set up – both are free!
Actual-Day Guest Registration
For actual day guest registration, reach out to Guestday to help you coordinate this as they excel in making your sign in process smooth and efficient.
Creating your Wedding Website
If you want a website with your own domain, sign up for Bluehost for a one click install of WordPress.org (a free open source web software). You can find free website templates online to customize and end up with a gorgeous looking website for your big day at a fraction of the cost.
Day 14: Choose your Wedding Outfits & Wedding Shoes
Look your finest and most beautiful on your big day. Arrange for a gown selection appointment as well as a fitting / collection appointment.
I would suggest renting the outfits as compared to a bespoke customized gown, as you will need much longer lead time for the designing and manufacturing phase. Also, the cost of a bespoke gown is easily 3 to 5 times more as compared to renting the equivalent.
When choosing your gowns and suits, do ensure that their colours are complementary, so you can achieve a unified look between bride and groom.
Day 15: Plan your Pre-Wedding Photoshoot.
Having a pre-wedding shoot would give you beautiful photos to showcase on your wedding day, on both the screens and your wedding albums. For your location, you can choose to have it at a location meaningful to the both of you, or a place with beautiful scenery that would make for perfect backdrops.
Decide on whether you want a casual or formal shoot and choose your outfits from there. It is important to recee your location prior to the shooting day itself. For outdoor venues, do have a backup indoor area in case of wet weather.
Day 16: Flowers and Decor.
Bouquets & Boutonnieres
To complete gorgeous outfits, you will need beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres for both bride, groom, your parents, siblings and bridal party.
Florals for Decorations
Have flowers that will suit your wedding theme, colour and budget.
Fresh flowers are beautiful and their fragrance will uplift the mood to create a lush and romantic ambiance. As fresh flowers are costly, you might want to consider mixing in artificial flowers as well. Vines can work especially well for rustic and vintage weddings.
If you want your venue to be very heavily decorated, it’s best to have an event stylist, as they can help you transport, set them up and tear down on the actual day itself.
Day 17: Find your Makeup Artist and Hairstylist. Book a Trial.
It’s always better to figure out what your final look will be during your trial than be surprised on your wedding day, so be sure to book a trial session with your makeup artist and hairstylist. It also helps you both get comfortable with each other. Don’t waste the look and schedule a fancy dinner or a wedding rehearsal right after.
Do also get a hair and makeup stylist for your mothers and bridesmaids. They too would want to look their best on that day!
Day 18: Plan your Wedding Programme. Find your Emcees, Music and Entertainment. Prepare your Wedding Montages and get a Photobooth too!
It’s time to plan out your wedding day programme down to the finest detail, from start to end. If you have a planner, she will help you get going. Be sure to schedule for enough buffer time in between for vendors to set up, guests to arrive, your touch ups and more. More buffet time can beat the hectic rush on the actual day.
Find your emcees to help you host the event. Most choose their close friends, though there are professionals that you can engage for your event. You might want to spice up your dinner programme with some music and entertainment as well! Have a DJ play romantic music throughout the evening and hype it up whenever you want. We had DJ Dance Man at our wedding and it was a blast! If you have a bigger budget to work with, you can engage a live instrumental band or singer for added class.
Day 19: Make Deposits and Prepare for Payments. Consolidate Key Contacts.
It’s key to confirm all the soft bookings made by putting down the deposits. This is a good time to check in again on the budget list and see where needs some trimming. Also ensure that you have the rest of the payment plans prepared for so that vendors will not have to bug you when you are on your honeymoon.
Whenever possible, do pay with a credit card in case of any disputes / mishaps. Remember to up your credit limits beforehand. Also, find out which are the credit cards that entitle you to the best rebates. Using credit cards are also a better way to track your expenditure after your wedding. Ensure that you keep all receipts, invoices and agreements consolidated in a file for easy reference.
While you are at it, consolidate the list of key contacts of all immediate family members, bridal party and your vendors and pass them to your coordinator, so you can save yourself from scrambling for contacts and making the phone call on the actual day.
Day 20: Arrange wedding transportation.
You deserve a luxurious ride on this special day. Decide whether you will rent a car or borrow one from your relatives or friend. Be sure to map out your timeline to include transportation time required. Plan out the route beforehand and include buffet time for traffic congestion or any unexpected delays.
Day 21: Send out your Wedding Invitations. Get RSVPs.
This can be done immediately once your invites are ready. Don’t wait too long to get started on them, as you will need time to write down the names on your cards and envelopes. Mail them out as soon as they are ready. Snail mail takes about 1-2 working days, and a tip is to send them to the mailbox before 5 pm so they reach the next working day. To save on mailing costs, for guests that you will be seeing soon, you can pass them the card personally.
Day 22: The Finer Details
Wedding favours and thank you cards are a really sweet way to show your appreciation to your guests, loved ones and vendors. Do order your favors in advance as most vendors require lead time to make them.
Day 23: Plan your Seating arrangement.
Once you have received your RSVPs, you can start planning out the seating arrangement. If it is a table seating, you might wish to consult your parents on what is the best arrangement between the family guests. Planning the seating arrangement might be a tricky affair, but if you plan it well, it will definitely uplift and enhance your wedding atmosphere.
Day 24: Plan your Honeymoon
It’s time to plan and book your flights and accommodation for your honeymoon! You can plan for an immediate getaway after your wedding, or you can space it out to catch a breath after the wedding. Don’t pack your honeymoon schedule too tightly. Your honeymoon destination should be a place where you can both do your favourite activities, enjoy and relax your newly-married lives together.
Day 25: Spa all the Stress away
It’s time to reward all that hard work. Get your nails and hair done and just, relax. Of course, do not make any drastic changes to your hairdo, and be sure to not apply any new products or have new facials done. Only do what you know you are comfortable with and have tried before. You wouldn’t want any mishaps happening to you prior to your wedding! You can even grab a staycation to just relax!
Day 26: Finalize your Programme & Details. Write your Vows and Thank You Speeches
Use today to settle all outstanding details and finalize your programme. It’s also time to write your vows and thank you speeches! Find a quiet place to get this done.
Day 27: Pack up for your Honeymoon
If you are planning on jetsetting away for your honeymoon right after your wedding, here’s a day dedicated to your packing needs. Be sure to pack foreign currency, tickets and passports all in a suitcase, ready for you to grab and go. The thrill of “eloping” off into the sunset right after your wedding is amazing, but be sure to not forget anything important.
Day 28: Pack a Luggage & Prepare your Emergency Kit
Have a checklist and pack all your wedding day essentials ready to load in the car. Pack all loose items into a luggage so you do not miss loading the items into the car. Having to make a trip back from church or the hotel can waste precious time on your big day so be thorough in your packing list.
It’s key for brides to have an emergency kit on your wedding day so any mishaps are easily solvable. Have a pouch filled with these items – tissue, wet wipes, cotton buds, tampons, extra contact lenses, eyedrops, sewing kit, pins, medicines, candies, snacks, spare cash and your phone are must-haves on standby. These are the tiny things which people mostly say “Thank Goodness!” due to unexpected settings.
Day 29: Rest Up, Have an Early Sleep
As the day draws near, your excitement level is bound to sky rocket. Be sure to get sufficient sleep and rest prior to your big day for a restful sleep will ensure you looking radiant on your big day!
Day 30: Get Married!
The day has arrived! It’s time to put on your biggest smile. Be relaxed, calm and know that if anything crops up, nothing is ever big enough to ruin your biggest day. 🙂
Marrying the love of your life is a dream come true. The big day requires much careful planning and coordination, but when done right, you get to enjoy this perfect moment etched in your relationship. Good luck with your wedding preparations!