Christmas and New Years is always the season of engagements! I can speak to this as Pineridge Hollow’s Banquet Manager, seeing incoming wedding inquiries around and shortly after the holidays but also as a 20-something person who has Instagram on their phone and saw at least 4 to 5 couples that I know personally pop the question within the last month! I recently read some statistics: apparently, 40% of engagements take place between November & February, with 15% of proposals falling on the same 10 days each year: Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day…etc. There’s just something about being around family, friends and sharing the joy of getting married that makes perfect sense around the holidays.
So naturally, right after December and all the Christmas excitement, the next season arrives…wedding planning season! Lots of couples ask the question “where do I start?” There are just so many details that go into planning a big event like a wedding. If you’ve never been in a bridal party or helped someone close to you with their planning, I can understand the overwhelming feeling! One of the tools Pineridge Hollow offers to our wedding couples is a wedding timeline. This is mostly in respect to our venue, but I have put together my thoughts and tips into a timeline that I hope will help any newly engaged, new to the wedding-planning couple.
Shortly after you get engaged:
- Decide on your timeline: How soon do you want to get married? This year, next year?
- Where will the ceremony be? If you’re planning on a church, you will need to coordinate available dates with both your ceremony & reception venues!
- Determine your estimated guest count
- Determine your budget – an average wedding runs at about $25 000 -$30 000 in Canada
1 year before or more:
- Book your wedding reception venue as soon as possible, especially if you have a specific date in mind
- Book your ceremony space (if not at the reception location)
- Book a marriage commissioner or officiant – don’t forget you need someone to preform the actual ceremony!
- Book a photographer – getting images from your big day is so important! There are so many different styles of photography and tons of creative vendors in Manitoba
- If you have your heart set on ANY specific vendors – floral designer, DJ, décor/design services, wedding cake, etc. – it is always best to book them as soon as you have a confirmed venue and date. Better to be safe than sorry and many popular wedding vendors book a year out!
- Go shopping for a wedding dress – many dresses need to be ordered months in advance to get them in time for alterations!
- Start dreaming about the theme & details so you can share these with your vendors as you book
6 months prior to the wedding:
- If you haven’t already booked your vendors for the day, now is definitely the time!
- Decide on a wedding invitation design and order invitations – are you offering your guests a meal choice? Make sure that is indicated on the reply. Whether you decide to have guests respond with a traditional reply card, a wedding website or just keep it simple with an email, make sure you also offer a section for “indicating dietary restrictions” for guests with allergies and special menu needs.
- Think about your transportation needs for the day and book limos, buses, etc. for you and your guests as needed. You don’t want to be left stranded!
- Does your venue provide a DJ company? Research them and make sure they’re the right choice for you. If not, reach out to other vendors.
- Book vendors for hair & makeup.
- Look into and book a block of rooms at a nearby hotel for out of town guests (and maybe yourself!) so that this can be included on the invitations as well.
3 months prior to the wedding:
- Send your invitations. Set the RSVP date as a month before your wedding so that you have time to contact and corral anyone who hasn’t responded before your final guest count is due with your venue or caterer (yes, this happens to practically everyone!).
- Have you thought about wedding favours? If you want something custom you may need to order it in advance
- Start thinking about your playlist and the songs you want for the most important moments of your day! This one took me a lot of time. If you’re particular, you don’t want to leave this to the last minute.
- Purchase or order wedding rings!
- Book your rehearsal with your ceremony venue
1 months prior to the wedding
- Chase down those remaining RSVPs so you can get final counts to any vendors who need it.
- Start finalizing with all your vendors
- Buy a marriage license – In Manitoba this needs to be done at least 24 hours before the wedding (do your self a favour and don’t leave it that last minute) but not more than 3 months before the wedding. There are a couple of hoops to jump through in order to get your license, research this online to find out what you will need when you purchase the license and where you can buy them.
- Apply for a liquor permit if your event or venue requires you to do so, order your alcohol through the Liquor Commission if you are planning on buying large amounts.
- If you haven’t already, make yourself a timeline for the day of when everything is happening and who needs to be there!
Ultimately, there are going to be a number of other things to be arranged with each vendor that I have not listed: tastings, trials, meetings and decisions that each vendor should be able to guide you through. There are also a number of other details you could include in your day and probably a number of things on this list that you don’t have to consider if you don’t want to! This should be a good structure to get the wheels turning and some timing in mind!