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Your 12 month wedding planning checklist | Essex Wedding Venue

Wedding Planning - 03.01.24

Congratulations – you’re getting married! The wedding countdown has officially begun. Perhaps you have a clear idea of what you’d like your Essex wedding day to look like; perhaps you don’t. Either way, you’ll want to kickstart your wedding planning journey with a clear roadmap detailing exactly how you should divide your planning tasks between now and your wedding day.

Whether you have an ideal 12 months to plan your day or are working with shorter time frames, it is entirely possible to plan your Essex wedding with ease and have fun throughout the planning process.

Here is our ultimate month-by-month wedding-planning checklist to help Essex couples enjoy the process and plan the wedding day they’ve always dreamed of.

12 months

Select the venue
Most couples will book their wedding venue approximately one year in advance to ensure that they secure the month and day that best suits them. Choosing a wedding venue is probably the most important decision you’ll make throughout your wedding planning journey so it’s essential that you explore your options, visit a few different venues and ultimately choose the wedding venue that fits the location, guest numbers, style and budget you both have in mind.

It’s wise to have a good idea of which type of venue you’re looking for; however, don’t underestimate the importance of gut feel. Trust how you feel when you’re there. You’ll know when you’ve found the one.

If you’re interested in choosing an Essex wedding venue, Braxted Park boasts exquisite indoor and outdoor spaces, is ideally located in rural surroundings but remains well connected for travelling guests, and can accommodate both large and small wedding parties.

Set your budget
First things first, it’s time to map out exactly what you’re prepared to pay for your wedding day. Start with the bottom line – what do you want to spend as an absolute maximum and are family members contributing? From here, you’ll want to agree on your priorities as a couple and start researching how much these priority areas are likely to cost. From there, you can allocate approximate budgets to all aspects of your wedding day and make compromises in less important areas if need be.

Keep this spreadsheet updated as you plan your big day to keep track of spending and to minimise any surprises along the way.

Make a guest list
Putting together your guest list is often one of the trickiest elements of wedding planning. It’s good to get the guest list agreed early to manage everyone’s expectations and ensure you can appropriately budget and plan for the correct number of guests.

You’ll already have checked the minimum and maximum number of guests with your chosen venue, so next, you’ll have to decide whether you have the budget available to invite everyone you’d like there.

Start with immediate family and best friends (bridal parties and groomsmen), and then together, add on people outside of that close-knit circle until you reach a final number you can both agree on.

11 months

Decide on your theme
Pull out your Pinterest boards, pour a long drink and ask yourselves: what do we want our wedding day to look and feel like? What is most important to us? What will we remember for years to come?

Flick through your inspiration boards, choose a colour palette that you both love and begin to create a mood board of your favourite looks, props and styles. Take your time and try to enjoy this part of the process. If you do begin to feel overwhelmed, you may wish to consider hiring a wedding stylist to support you in bringing your design ideas together and delivering on your vision on the day.

Book important suppliers
Some wedding suppliers book up very quickly, such as photographers, bands and DJs, so as soon as you have secured your wedding date, it’s time to research, shortlist and speak with your favoured suppliers. Once you start securing your dream team, we guarantee you’ll feel super organised and confident with how your wedding day will look and feel.

10 months

Send save-the-dates
Now is the perfect time to send save-the-dates to your guests and to find out if anyone can’t make it to your wedding. From here, you can gauge real numbers and guarantee that the most important people will be there.

Tip – if you’re planning to create a wedding website, you’ll want to do this before you send your save-the-dates so that you can include a URL and guide guests to more information, such as places to stay and directions. In our opinion, this is definitely worth doing to avoid being inundated with the same questions from multiple guests.

Start wedding dress shopping
Gather your squad and make for the shops; it’s time to start trying on wedding dresses! Before you head out, make a mood board of gowns you love and wedding dress shops that you can afford to make the trip as productive as it can be. And lastly, enjoy it.

Book Hotel Room Blocks for Guests
It’s a thoughtful gesture to block out rooms (and secure a discounted rate) for your guests. Before you create a room block at random, check out our comprehensive guide on the subject to ensure your family and friends have the right accommodations.

9 months

Buy your wedding dress
It’s time to make that all-important decision and commit to a dress if you haven’t already. Additional fees may apply for dresses ordered later than approximately nine months before the wedding.

Start preparing invitations
If you’re opting for custom invitations, you may wish to start working with a designer or stationer/calligrapher now to create a suite of design ideas. If you’re opting for a less involved route, you could wait until closer to the time you’ll be sending them out, which is around three months before your wedding day.

Book remaining suppliers
At this stage, you will ideally want to have spoken with a few suppliers and be in a position to book the right professionals for your taste and budget. Scour Instagram, speak to friends for recommendations and research your Essex wedding venue’s preferred supplier list. You will want to have booked your florist, stylist or hired props, cake supplier, hair and makeup artists, and musicians by this stage in the planning process.

8 months

Buy bridesmaids’ dresses
If you have chosen to have bridesmaids at your wedding, you will ideally have bought the dresses – or bridesmaid outfits – by the eight-month mark. If finding a colour or style to suit everyone is proving difficult, why not consider giving your friends a loose brief (e.g. has to be blue and long) and asking them to find something that they would like to wear themselves. Mismatched dresses are an incredibly popular wedding day look – plus it saves you a job! Make sure that accessories are taken care of and that your bridesmaids all have comfy shoes to wear.

Appoint a celebrant
If you aren’t marrying in a house of worship, you will need to hire a Celebrant to make your marriage official. For Essex weddings at Braxted Park, we can recommend fantastic local celebrants who will work with you between now and your wedding day to bring your unique story to life through witty anecdotes and personal narratives.

7 months

Reserve rooms for guests
If your venue permits, it is helpful to reserve rooms and secure a discounted rate for your guests. You may even be able to speak with other accommodation close by to secure discounted group booking rates if you know that your wedding party will be relying on this.

Start shortlisting songs
Whether you’re opting for a solo musician or playlist for your wedding ceremony, or have booked a band or DJ for the evening, you will want to start putting together your own playlist of songs that mean something to you both. Start to discuss which song you’ll walk down the aisle to and which track will play as you share your first dance. It’s also worth putting together a list of party tunes guaranteed to get guests on the dance floor in the evening.

Book transportation
If you require transport to arrive at your venue, now is the time to book that beautiful car, limo or carriage (or something entirely unique and creative).

If parking is limited at your wedding venue or if people have already travelled quite far to attend a destination wedding, for example, you may also wish to consider hiring transportation for guests, such as a shuttle bus.

6 months

Book the honeymoon
You’ve reached the six month mark! Now is the perfect time to share a glass of something special, pull up your laptop and travel guides, and start researching ideas for your honeymoon. Be clear on budget from the offset, as well as when you’re planning to travel, as this will affect weather and prices. Discuss what you’d both like to gain from the trip – whether that is to tick multiple destinations off your bucket lists or perhaps to feel super relaxed and rested by the time you leave. Aim to have something booked this month.

Buy or rent the suit
Whether you plan a shopping trip together or send your partner out with a pre-agreed brief on colour, price and style, you will want to have secured a suit or tux this month. Focus on attire that is well-fitted, and if you’re purchasing rather than renting a suit, consider something you will want to wear for years to come.

5 months

Choose your cake
Now is the ideal time to meet with your cake designer and share images of designs you love, as well as tasting samples of the delicious flavours on offer. Some couples choose a single flavour that they both love, whilst others may choose a different flavour for each tier so that they can offer guests various flavours.

Buy wedding rings
Head back to the place where your partner purchased your engagement ring as a first stop, and ask the jeweller to recommend bands that complement. That being said, don’t be afraid to shop around for a style and price that works for you.

4 months

Select the groomsmen’s suits
If you have groomsmen supporting you on your special day and have decided to go with matching suits, allow plenty of time to get the guys together for a fitting and alterations. An alternative budget-friendly, sustainable and organisationally easier option could be to brief the guys on a colour and style, and ask them to wear a suitable suit that they already have at home or source one themselves that fits the brief.

Have your hair and makeup trial
Bring photos of hairstyles and makeup looks that you love and be as specific as possible about what you do and don’t want. It’s also important to be open to receiving their recommendations as experts as they may recommend a ‘look’ you hadn’t considered that will suit you beautifully.

Start creating DIY items
If you’re planning to DIY elements of your wedding day, now is a great time to start getting creative. By allowing plenty of time you’ll enjoy the creative process more, and could even invite friends over to help and make a day or night of it.

3 months

Send wedding invitations
With just three months to go until your big day, it’s time to print, assemble and post your wedding invitations, not forgetting to include an addressed, pre-stamped envelope for RSVPs which you’ll want returned one month before the wedding day, at the very latest.

Write your vows
If you’ve opted to write your own vows to one another, it’s time to start thinking about what you’d like to say. If you have booked a wedding Celebrant, they will be able to guide you in writing your vows if you’d like a little support.

Select readings
If you have asked friends or family to give a reading during your wedding ceremony, ask them to send a copy to you this month to share with your Celebrant.

2 months

Give notice at your local registry office
It is a legal obligation that anyone who intends to marry in the UK must sign a legal statement at their local registry office to say that they intend to get married or form a civil partnership. This is known as ‘giving notice’. You must give notice at least 29 days before your ceremony so it’s best to schedule this for two months before your wedding day to allow plenty of time.

Buy detail items
If you haven’t opted for a wedding stylist or hired props and decor, you will want to make sure that you have bought or created these small detail items by this stage of your planning journey. Think table numbers, cake stand, guest book, card box, flower-girl accessories, flip-flops and signs (“Welcome,” “Guest Book,” “Dancing Shoes,” etc.).

1 month

Pay suppliers
Each of your wedding suppliers will have their own payment terms but one month before your wedding day, you will want to have paid all of your wedding suppliers. That’s a huge tick off the list. It’s officially all paid for.

Create a seating chart
You will have received all of your RSVPs by now so the final challenge is to choose where to seat everyone. Consider your venue’s floor plan and whether or not you’ll have a top table, as this may influence who sits where and how close they are to the married couple.

Break in your wedding shoes
Get those gorgeous shoes on and wear them around the house at any opportunity. The goal here is to keep them clean and pristine but to avoid blisters on the big day!

1 week

Deep breaths – your wedding day is almost here and you’ve done an incredible job of wedding planning. The hard work is over and it’s time to start relaxing, prepping and enjoying the build up to your big day.

Our one week before the day prescription includes:
· Manicure/pedicure
· Massage
· Final dress fitting
· Practise your vows out loud
· Write your partner a card for the morning of the wedding

Congratulations, you’ve done it. Enjoy every second of your wedding day.

If you’re looking for the perfect Essex wedding venue, get in touch with the team at Braxted Park today. Our experienced events team is waiting to show you round our dream wedding venue.


If the beauty of Braxted Park has planted a seed in your heart, then simply fill in your details below, and we will be happy to email you our brochure or arrange your personal visit. Alternatively phone us on 01621 770855 and one of our friendly wedding team can tell you more about how this magnificent venue could become distinctively yours.