when you’ve booked your wedding venue

You’ve just booked your wedding venue! Hurrah! Huge congratulations! The start of the most wonderful wedding planning journey continues from here, and we’re so here for it. 

If you’ve booked Stratton Court Barn for your wedding, then you would normally have ticked off my top-three suggested items on the wedding planning to-do list. Those are:

  1. Booking your ceremony time with the council’s Registration Service (or church)
  2. Getting the ball rolling with one of our seven approved caterers
  3. Checking that your very core people (parents, siblings, bridesmaids, best man) can make the date!

If you haven’t tackled these things already, this is your sign! Go get ‘em! 

Once this is done, you’re ready to look ahead to the next steps, which I’ll outline below.

The Wedding Outfits

One. 12-18 months before the wedding

First of all, the number one thing would be to start searching for the dress. Or other outfit, if the traditional white dress isn’t for you! Rachel from Butterfly Bridal has these tips:

“Do your research first. Pinterest and Instagram are amazing resources for finding the styles that appeal to you most. 

Make note of the style pattern that emerges, whether that’s boho or vintage, modern or traditional, etc. 

Find boutiques that stock the style of dress you like, check that they have these in stock, and make appointments with those boutiques. New wedding dresses – unless sample sale dresses or explicitly stated – take around 6 months to be delivered from the day of order.”

Factoring in the time for fittings and to have it altered too, means the dress has the longest lead time, hence ticking this off first. Let’s get dress/outfit researching people! Then we can tackle the next step. 

Tell your guests!

Two. 12-18 months before the wedding

Next up, let’s get the happy news out to your wedding guests! 

Anna, from Anna Jayne Designs, have these wise words:

“I would suggest sending Save the Dates 18 – 12 months before your wedding day. 

Your formal invitations, with all the detailed information, can then be sent about 6 months before the wedding. If you are not wanting to send out Save the Dates, then I would suggest sending out your invitations earlier than 6 months”.

Why is she giving you a different time line to every other wedding planning to-do list on Pinterest? Because Anna lives in the real world, has recently been a bride herself, so she knows that guests lead busy lives, and dates need to be saved early! She also knows that your venue, caterer and stationery designer or printer will need you to have a finalised guest list (and table plan) 1-3 months before the wedding. Getting the invites out in time, and thereby the RSVPs, is so important! 

If you’re ready to learn more about stationery design – and what you write in them! – have a look at Anna’s advice here: 

Next up, let’s think about your other suppliers.

Find Your Dream Team

Three. 12-18 months before the wedding

Popular wedding suppliers book up early, so don’t leave this to last! Curating your dream team of wedding vendors means everything will come together beautifully. I’ve listed my top-six vendors here in priority-order of booking:

  • Caterer
  • Photographer (and videographer, if applicable)
  • Florist
  • Entertainment (band/DJ/other)
  • Hair and Make-Up Artist
  • Cake

There are of course numerous other suppliers, from photo booths to cars to extra lighting, but these are my top six to book first! 

Deep breaths here, a little bit of time to tweak budget and guest list if needed, before we move on.

Wedding Practicalities

Four. 12 months before the wedding

From here, the wedding might start to feel a bit more “real”. And it’s likely you’ll start thinking more about the practicalities around the day. An important factor here is the timeline for your day. 

I would suggest looking at our blog post all about wedding logistics, to help you figure out the best flow to your day. If you’re feeling stuck – please reach out so we can help you! 

This is also when I would suggest finding your venue’s next Open Day, so you can stand in your venue and really visualise your day. Bring a tape measure and note book, and helpful wedding party members! 

Wedding Check Point

Five. February of your wedding year

This is a check-point month! Use the rather grey days of February to check off these points:

  • Weddings rings
  • Suits and dress
  • Transport (if needed) 
  • Décor, including flowers and florist consultation
  • Menu tasting and/or meeting with your caterer
  • For a civil ceremony: Book your Notice of Marriage appointments in your local registry office 3 months before the wedding. Decide readings, music (any music that isn’t religious) and if you want to write your own vows. 
  • For a church wedding: Make sure you’ve scheduled in services to create qualifying connections if needed, and that your Reverend has scheduled your banns to be read. Meet with your vicar to decide on your hymns, readings and order of service. 
  • Hair & make-up trial in the diary

And finally, contact your venue about drinks! We set our drinks prices and update our drinks packages in January, and hold them for a calendar year. Get in touch to get up-to-date prices and start finalising your drink choices.

Full Wedding Planning Meeting

Six. 3-4 months before your wedding

Your Event Manager – here at Stratton Court Barn it’s me Karin or my colleague Jessica! – will be in touch to arrange your full Planning Meeting. Ahead of this meeting, we will ask you to complete a planning form with all your wedding information. The more detail the better! 

We will ask you to fill it out and send it back in Word-format, so that we can continue to update, edit and tweak it as we finalise all your details. This is also when we’ll expect final decisions on drinks, so it’s worth having your RSVPs coinciding somewhat with this meeting! 

After the meeting, we’ll raise your final invoice, based on all the lovely decisions we’ve made together. 

We’ll also schedule your handover meeting – where you drop off all the items that have been collected in your spare room! – for a mutually convenient date a few days ahead of your wedding. 

Wedding time!

Seven. 3 days – 2 weeks before your wedding

We’re so close now! 

First of all, please send us your table plan! What we need is not the pretty version guests will see, but rather a floor plan showing exactly where guests will be seated around the tables, with dietary requirements, children and high chairs highlighted. We have our own template we will send you, but our favourite online tool is Hitched’s table planner!

And finally, we will connect a final time before your wedding at the handover meeting, normally 2-4 days before your wedding. This is when you bring all your stuff over (apart from dresses). 

Please arrange your table decorations (place cards, menus, favours) in a box per table and label them according to the table name or number.

Event Manager Top Tip!

Event Manager Top Tip! Don’t send your Event Manager your own schedule, itemised decoration list with instructions, to-do lists or supplier lists in the fortnight leading up to your wedding. We love organised couples! But there isn’t always time to cross-check or cross-reference your lists with our Planning Documents that we’ll be running off on the day. So to avoid confusion, please double and triple check that all information has been added to our planning documents at least four weeks before the wedding.

Where do we go from here?

I hope this has armed you with all you need to see a clear path ahead to your wedding day! As always, Jessica and I are here to guide you whenever you need it. We love chatting weddings! 

And if you feel any overwhelm creeping in, or time is simply too short, then we can also warmly recommend these wedding planners:

Mrs T Weddings (Constance)

Karin Tindall Weddings (Karin)

Amortentia Weddings (Katie)

Warmest wishes,

Karin x