Gents, there’s a lot more to getting married than picking a suit. Our research shows that grooms are increasingly involved in the wedding planning process, from budgeting to even flower arrangements. Brides expect their future husbands to get hands-on - so it’s time to pull up your socks get to work.
We’ve put together this step-by-step guide of everything you could possibly be organising, counting down to the big day.
12 Months Before
With 12 months to plan a wedding you’re ahead of the game, so don't fret. Make time to keep up with the tasks and things should go swimmingly.
Work out a wedding budget
Before anything else, you need to work out how much you have to spend. Consider asking your parents for budgeting advice (they’ve done this before, after all) and if the pot’s a little empty, what you'll do to fill it. Be realistic with your budget and add contingent cash, as there will always be surprise costs. Include all essentials: venue, dress, catering, honeymoon, flowers. Be under no illusion - this list will grow, and it's not going to be cheap!
Plan a rough guest list, research venue options and entertainment
There’s no trickier balancing act than drafting a wedding guest list. Traditionally, it’s a 50/50 split between the bride and groom, but if your parents have helped to pay you can expect some unprompted suggestions. Since space will be limited it’s advisable to lock in your nearest and dearest, then draft a ‘B-list’ of guests who you can pick from later. Pro tip: note down their addresses, as you’ll be later sending invites through the post.
Once you have a rough idea of numbers, picking a venue becomes much easier. You’ll need to consider practical elements like how easy it is to reach for guests, before judging the feng shui. Picture yourself there for a moment: does this place reflect you as a couple and the atmosphere you want to create? Don’t be afraid to be picky - grooms are allowed to be a little precious, too.
Next, it’s onto theevening’s entertainment. A live band always works a treat, followed by a DJ who artfully balances club bangers with classics that keep your gran happy. This is your opportunity to wheel and deal: find a mate, or mate’s mate, who can perform at a more affordable rate. Name your best man and ushers
Do not underestimate the responsibilities of the best man. Will he stand up in front of a crowd and deliver the speech of all speeches, or will he stare at his shoes and make you look like a plank? Can he organise a proper stag do or will you all end up at the local 'spoon’? Choose wisely!
9 Months Before
Book your venue, entertainment and caterers
Whether you're going full church wedding or not, try to book the venue as early as possible. Be careful with deposit payments and stumping up cash; check their refund policy and get this in writing before handing over your money. Once you have a confirmed date, get the entertainment confirmed - DJ's, band, performers. If they're good, they'll get booked up fast.
Some wedding venues have their own in-house caterers (making this part a lot easier), but there’s plenty of options online if you find yourself in a bind. Check that they can cater to allergy/dietary requests, scroll through their specialities and confirm whether they charge per person or in bulk. It may be more fun (and economical) to consider a buffet, while a set course menu adds an air of sophistication. Book the wedding car, photographer and videographer
Now it’s the fun part. Your wedding car is your chance to arrive in style, so feel no shame in dithering between a vintage Bentley or Cadillac Convertible. Note that you may need multiple cars if you plan on ferrying bridesmaids, groomsmen and family, both to the ceremony and reception. A good supplier will provide a driver and allow you to hire for the entire day, starting from as little as £200 per day (plus a £100 returnable deposit).
Note that booking the photographer is no small investment, as they’ll be documenting one of the most important days of your life. Do your homework and check out their portfolio, as a good wedding photographer will cost you anywhere north of £500+ for the day. Book the cake and flowers, buy the wedding rings
You and your bride-to-be will have (ideally) discussed all of this by this point, so get cracking placing orders and getting fitted. Remember to keep the rings in a safe place until the big day - they’re kind of important. Start planning your honeymoon
There’s a lot of pressure in planning a ‘dream’ honeymoon, but remember: this trip is to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t feel you need to book a five-star resort in the Maldives if that’s not your style or budget (you’ll have just planned a wedding, after all). More modern honeymoons have seen couples backpack in Asia, or roadtrip across America - turning traditional getaways into adventures. The only rule is to get the wheels turning in advance, so you can be whisked away once the wedding bells have settled. It’s a lot of work to do this while juggling other duties, so remember to breathe!
Warm-up your guests
By this point, it’s wise to ask people to "save the date" of your wedding well before posting invitations. As soon as you land on a date, let your nearest and dearest guests know - people tend to book holidays in advance, you see. Like with invitations, many couples send paper RSVPs in the post/in-person to add a personal touch.
6 Months Before
Suits you, sir
While your bride is fulfilling her girlhood dreams and trying on wedding dresses, it’s your turn to get dapper. Book in a fitting early and get made to measure - a wedding suit should be worn, not wear you. The most popular option is the three-piece suit, in either black, blue or grey (but if your wedding has a specific theme, go buck the trend). Style tip: black/grey suits go with black shoes, blue suits go with brown shoes. Cufflinks, pocket squares and boutonnieres (flower arrangements worn on your lapel) are essential.
Order wedding stationery
This is where it starts feeling official. Stationery is all the print needed for your guests: from invitations to Thank You cards and directions, which should be sent directly by post. If you’ve been organised up to this point, you should have details ready to commit to print.
The invitation itself should be simple and elegant, including the name of the guest(s), venue and date. Additional information should be provided on a separate sheet, including a map, suggestions on accommodation, dress code and theme. If you really want to get 21st century with it, opt to put these details on a wedding website and provide a link.
Before ordering anything, make sure to finalise details with the venue - otherwise, you could be in for an awkward reprint. Release your inner Romeo
This part is all about setting the tone of your wedding. There’s no better way to do that than with your wedding readings: short, meaningful passages read after the processional. Most couples choose excerpts from their favourite books, poems and films (actual writing comes in the vows) - whatever you decide, make sure it is personal.
Of all stages in this checklist, the vows require your attention the most. It’s a challenge for sure, baring your heart and soul in just a few minutes. That’s why it’s important to set some time aside and dig deep, jotting down memories and ‘deep and meaningfuls’. Don’t be afraid to get sentimental - if you mean it, people will appreciate it - and a laugh or two always works a treat. Once written, keep your vows secret. The impact of your beautiful words will only be greater if heard for the first time.
The music is the piece de resistance to your ceremony. As your wife-to-be walks down the aisle and sends your guests to tears, the song is her backdrop: representing your relationship. The one rule is to make it personal.
2 Months Before
Send out wedding invitations
A wedding isn't much fun without guests, so post your invitations promptly in the mail. Do not, under any circumstances, rely on email or Facebook invitations - it’s lazy. Be efficient in chasing RSVPs, so you can finalise numbers with the venue and caterers. Remember to handwrite the envelopes for a personal touch.
1 Month Before
At this stage, it’s important to chase any late RSVPs to finalise numbers with the venue and your caterers.
Write your speech
Grooms are expected to give a speech at the reception dinner, traditionally second (after the father of the bride). Remember, this is a little more relaxed than the ceremony - it’s a chance to get people laughing, whilst putting the focus on your new wife. Share cute anecdotes that reveal a glimpse into your relationship. It’s also important to thank your new father-in-law following his speech, and to everyone else for joining you on your special day.
Tradition states it’s custom get something for the best man and ushers, bridesmaids and parents. It needn't be expensive, but it should resonate. Importantly, do not forget to buy the bride a gift! It sounds a little extra given the whole wedding, but it goes a long way.
1 Week Before
Pack for your honeymoon
If you’re setting off straight after the wedding, be ready to rock. Otherwise, chill. Wear in your wedding shoes
Given that you’ll likely have a brand-spanking-new pair of kicks for your wedding - and they’ll be made of leather (or pleather), like any respectable groom - you’ll need to ‘break’ them in so they don’t give you blisters. Wear them around the house and get comfortable, so you can confidently strut like Prince Charming down the aisle.
1 Day Before
Give the best man a list of duties for the day
As your right-hand man, your best man will have a big role to play during the wedding. Just before the big day, give him some cash to help pay suppliers and make sure he’s got the ushers in tip-top shape to welcome guests and direct them to their seats. Most importantly, ensure he’s got the rings in a safe place for tomorrow! Wedding Day
Time to get cracking
Hopefully, by this point, you're not still sat in the bar from the night before. Either way, get a good night’s rest, get some breakfast down you and scrub up - it's going to be a long day and you'll soon be walking down the aisle. It’s time to relax, enjoy the party and look forward to your new lives together. You’ve got this.
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