The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide 2020

Your wedding day is one of the most important moments in your life, and it’s not just the day that you finally become newlyweds that provides the most stress – but the months of anticipation and planning leading up to the wedding. There’s finding the right dress, the perfect photographer, a reputable wedding planner, sizing your wedding rings, finding a venue, designing your invitations, tailoring your theme, renting decor & furniture, and so much more!

It’s best to get started early, so that you can leave ample time for all the smaller things that you didn’t think would take as long as they inevitably will. Weddings involve months of meticulous planning but on the actual day you want to be focused on your partner and celebrating with your loved ones. You don’t want to be thinking, “Did I forget to ask..” or “Did I forget to bring..” or “Will there be enough of..” or “Did I remember to invite..” when the wedding day is finally here.

So, begin by reading through our checklist to make sure you have every little thing you could need sorted when the time comes for you to tie the knot and celebrate in style!

the ultimate checklist for a bride's wedding day, wedding reception and wedding ceremony

12-9 Months To Your Wedding Day

With a maximum of twelve months left until you tie the knot, you still have plenty of time, but there’s a catch. There’s A LOT to do. At the moment, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed at where to start. 

Our suggestions will ensure you’re not left feeling like you’re spinning, instead you’ll be ready to picture the perfect wedding for you and your partner.

At this stage, you need to take care of a number of larger aspects of your wedding day – from booking the venue to choosing a photographer, wedding planner, entertainment and plenty more. 

A good way to start? Sit down with your partner to understand the vision you’re going to bring to life. Consider your style as a couple, the colours you like, the themes that resonate with you best and the kind of atmosphere you’re looking to create for your wedding day celebration.

Build your Wedding Budget

You don’t want to “put a downer” on the vision for your wedding by setting a price tag for such an incredibly special day, but it’s a necessity. A few months down the line, the preparation becomes intense as your diary fills with wedding menu tastings, wedding dress fittings, hiring furniture, picking wedding decor, ordering flower arrangements and tons more.

So, before the chaos takes hold and things start to unravel and you’re left fronting the cash for unforeseen costs, consider carefully constructing a wedding budget. Try to include everything you might need, both leading up to and on the big day, and use our wedding planning timeline for some ideas to include in your wedding budget. Add in what you expect to pay on our Wedding Budget Calculator page to estimate some of the costs for your wedding. 

For a “who pays for what” wedding budget breakdown that includes traditional etiquette and modern approaches to planning your wedding on a budget, take a peek at this article.

couple planning a budget at a table

Engagement Shoot

Booking an engagement shoot is a great way to celebrate your engagement. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for the the right photographer. At the moment, you’re probably researching a bunch of wedding photographers to see who can capture the special moments on your wedding day.

The right photographer has to be experienced and have a portfolio of stunningly captured weddings – but they also need to be able to communicate well and be someone that you can form a personal connection with. Wedding’s are long, and your photographer will be around for pretty much the entire time, so finding someone you get along with and a person that shares your vision for your wedding photography is an ideal mixture.

An engagement shoot gives you the opportunity to get to know your photographer, and see if they fit what you’re looking for, and also a lovely way to celebrate your engagement. If everything goes well, you can ask them to save the date for your actual wedding day and chat about the vision for your wedding day photography.

engagement shoot wedding ring and couple

Pick a Wedding Planner

Finding the right person to plan your wedding day can be a difficult but rewarding task. Start online and peruse wedding portfolios and reviews from other couples to get a sense of the type of wedding planner you could hire. Using research, find wedding planners that create weddings that suit the style you’re looking to achieve, for your own wedding day. Similarly, it’s great to open up conversations with groups of friends that have had weddings recently and ask them how they managed their wedding ceremony and reception.

If you’re struggling to find reputable planners, have a look at our Ultimate List of Wedding Planners for Cape Town in 2020 and pick out a planner you like!

Depending on the type of wedding you’re having, you might need a specific wedding planner with a great portfolio dealing with your potential theme and style of venue. This person will also need to be the right fit on a personal level. Planning a wedding that’s perfect in your eyes is never easy, but it’s a lot easier if you can get along with the person planning every fine detail. 

Make sure this is a reliable individual you feel wholeheartedly comfortable communicating with, and you feel they can take the ideas you’re envisioning and convert them into a wedding day to remember.


Wedding Venue & Style

Finding a wedding venue can be a tricky part of the process, as you not only have to book in advance with plenty of time to prepare, but you also need to find somewhere that’s large enough to accommodate your guest list. More importantly you need a venue that suits your style can be kitted to fit your theme. 

We’ve collected a list of The Best Wedding Venues in Cape Town for you to look over and find a beautiful venue that suits your style and the size of your guest list. 

Picking the right theme to package your wedding is par for the course to create your perfect wedding day. Some couples prefer planning their wedding in an outdoor setting, with more natural furnishings, lighting and wedding decor; whilst other couples might decide on a more formal theme, hosted in a grand hall or church, featuring placid colours, a conventional dress-code and traditional wedding decor

Have a cup of tea or a glass of wine while you sit down with your significant other to discuss an approach that meets the ideas you have in mind for your wedding reception and ceremonies. Discuss the overall wedding theme, the colours you like and dislike and what kind of wedding decor you might hire for your wedding day.

venue and theme with beach wedding and indoor setting

Tailor your Wedding Theme

Your wedding is one of the most memorable events in your lifetime, so you want your special day to be personal and tailored to suit a theme you and your partner both adore! Wedding’s with a consistent theme also look lovely in photographs and provide a great atmosphere for your guests.

For your wedding you might decide to choose from a variety of themes. You could go for a traditional themed wedding set in a chapel with a formal dress code and placid colours. In contrast, you might decide you want your wedding to feel lighthearted and carrying the happy essence of your nuptials. For this kind of approach, you’d consider a whimsical theme, featuring light, bright colours, beautiful flower arrangements and playful menus, for example.

You might also consider a rustic themed wedding, in a garden setting or on the beach. Alternatively, a modern themed wedding, bohemian themed wedding or even an art-deco style wedding with glitzy decor, regal ornaments & glamorous furniture.

different themes for events

Send your Save The Dates

Save the dates should ideally be sent out 8-12 months in advance, to give all of your guests enough notice to mark their calendar to come and celebrate your incredibly special wedding day.    

You have a few different options for reminding your friends, family and colleagues of your wedding date. You could use an electronic save the date, which can be emailed to members of your guest list, alternatively it’s always a nice idea to produce a hard-copy version. 

A printed version can be placed on a fridge or mantle-piece in a home to remind a guest of the date, and this also gives you the opportunity to test out a certain style that you’re thinking of incorporating within your official wedding invites or to do with your overall wedding theme.

This notification is one of the least formal elements of planning your wedding day, and it’s completely up to you to decide how to deliver important initial information about your wedding to your guests.

save the date watercolour invite

Wedding Entertainment

Entertainment for your wedding day can take on a variety of forms. Usually, this refers to a band, DJ or artists you’d like to perform at your wedding with a playlist set with your preferences in mind. 

Deciding on a band, DJ, group or solo artists needs to be sorted out months in advance in order to book the right act with enough time to make sure they set your date aside and perform at your wedding.

But the music isn’t the only type of entertainment you might have for you and your guests to enjoy on your wedding day. You might also decide to incorporate other ideas into your special day, such as retro photo booths, fireworks displays, wish lanterns, professional dancers, live drawing or painting or even a small string quartet if that suits your taste better – but we’ll touch on hiring ceremony musicians a bit later.

You could start your search by looking for some wedding entertainment ideas here. Think of whether you’re keen to hire a local wedding band, DJ or if classical entertainment is more appealing.

band and pianist

Picking The Perfect Wedding Photographer

The right photographer has to be experienced and have a portfolio of capturing weddings in beautiful ways – but they also need to be able to communicate well and you need to be able to have a personal connection with your photographer. Wedding’s are long, and your photographer will be around for almost the entire time, so finding someone you get along with and a person that shares your vision for the photography on your wedding day is an ideal mix. 

A good way to find a photographer is opening up conversations with friends that have had weddings in recent times and had fantastic photos taken. This well help put your mind at ease knowing you can get your hands on a photographer with a good eye and an even better reputation. Alternatively, you can look online and sift through portfolios until you find a photographer that can capture your theme and timeless portraits for you & your partner to cherish for a lifetime.

To see the kind of shots a wedding photographer will take to set the scene surrounding your special day, have a look at this article for some ideas you could incorporate into capturing your wedding day.

The Wedding Dress

The wedding dress. One of the focal points of your wedding, especially for the bride. Picking a wedding dress can be a challenge. There are loads of styles to choose from, from ball gown dresses, mermaid dresses, sheath wedding dresses to a-line dresses for your wedding day

It can be difficult to picture which style might hug your figure right away. But don’t fear, at this stage there’s plenty of time to choose. So, start with some research online and have a look at some of the styles that might suit you best. Figure out whether your wedding dress should have a tight or loose fit, whether it has straps or whether you’re seeking a strapless wedding dress. Understand whether or not the design needs to incorporate frills, or if you’re looking for something that’s sleek and classic. Figuring out the style of your wedding dress, in relation to your body type and the aesthetic you’re looking to achieve are great starting points in the process. 

As general guidelines, ball gown dresses are ideal for many body types but more suitable to those without petite frames. Trumpet, or fit and flare, wedding dresses cinch the waist which make them an ideal fit for hourglass figures and petite brides. The style of a column or sheath wedding dress works well for those with slim figures and hourglass body types, and similarly looks effortless when worn by tall brides. The mermaid style also provides similar features, by accentuating your curves with a tight, fitted design, which flares out below the knee. A wedding dress with an a-line cut is well-suited for an array of body types, making it a welcoming style for brides of all figures.

If you need a visual representation of how different figures match certain wedding dresses, have a look here to learn which wedding dress silhouette will suit you best.

two friends picking a wedding dress

6-8 Months Until Your Wedding Day

Having settled on a venue, theme, a budget, your save the dates, a photographer, having done some research surrounding your choice of entertainment & wedding dress styles and whether you’re planning your wedding yourself or if you’ve recruited a planner to bring your vision to life, – it’s time to get stuck into even more intricate aspects of planning your wedding day. 

You’ll need an officiant, groomsmen suits, bridesmaids dresses, a florist and maybe even a wedding website to create a modern spin for your nuptials. It’s also time to make sure you start staying in shape so you can look your absolute best on your special day. 

So, keep pushing! With around 8 months to go, you’re about to see the crux of your wedding come to life as you tie together more pieces of the puzzle to bring the vision of your perfect wedding day into reality.

Decide on your Wedding Dress & Order It!

So, you know your figure and you’ve had a look at a host of styles that might suit you. Now it’s time to visit a shop for your wedding dress and try on some of your  preferred styles, whether it’s an A-line, Ball-gown, sheath or strapless style.

Take a close friend or two and some valued family along to make sure you have the right opinions alongside you to help with your final decision. Don’t bring along too many people to add their thoughts – it can take the fun out of the process and leave you feeling a bit confused.

Try on wedding dresses that suit the approach you’ve been eyeing and something that’s going to fit your body the way you like. A wedding dress that’s not too tight but cradles your figure and emphasizes your curves in a design that suits your style.

It may seem a little early to order your dress 9 months before your special day – it seems like a lifetime away – but to avoid “rush” fees and make sure your dress is tailored to your specifications, it’s imperative to order early and continue with the other million things on your wedding day checklist.

blonde woman trying on a wedding dress

Getting the Groom’s Wedding Suit

Getting the right suit for the groom is also a challenge, but most would argue it’s much easier than picking out a wedding dress. There are some options for grooms. You may be tempted to go for a bold suit with striking colours and bright accessories like bowties, waist coast and belts, because you want to make an impression on your wedding day – but it’s advisable to keep things clean and simple. 

One of the best options is to go to a tailor and have a suit made that fits your figure to a tee. Although it may cost more, the groom can use his suit for at least a few years to come if he purchases one in a classic colour that would work well at a variety of functions and formal events in the future.

In terms of accessories, getting a tie or pocket handkerchief that’s similar to part of the bride’s look and feel is also a nice way to match on the day and look like a well-suited (excuse the pun) couple at the altar. As for shoes, brown or black work best, but generally black is slightly more versatile for using this outfit as a whole for events in the upcoming years.

As for the type of material you should look for in a suit, you have options. You could opt for a blend between wool and silk, linen and cotton, wool and mohair blends – or even a pure wool material for your wedding suit. Summer with hotter conditions would call for a linen and cotton or wool and silk blend for breathability, whilst a winter wedding might require a slightly warmer pure wool or wool and mohair blend.

Exercise Plan

A wedding day is one of the most memorable events in one’s lifetime, so it makes sense that both the bride and groom want to feel confident and content on their special day. You’ll have photos taken that will last a lifetime, so it’s important that you feel comfortable showing off your physique and fitting into your suit or wedding dress. An exercise plan is a wise way to make sure your fitness is on track, so get started early enough to reach the goals for your body and health by the time your wedding day arrives.

personal trainer in the gym with a future bride

Wedding Website

Creating a wedding website is a great way to communicate to guests and capture different aspects of your wedding day. It’s an eco-friendly medium that you can use to show off your gift registry, wedding invitations, important details about your wedding venue and theme, a message from you as a couple, and updates – whether it’s about the time of commencement, the weather or other information. It’s also a nice way to share wedding pictures of the special moments to friends and family right after your wedding day has drawn to a close. 

An element that makes a wedding website really engaging is that your site can be molded and personalized to suit the story of your relationship, as well as the look and feel of the wedding you’re planning. It can give your guests some insight into your wedding day and get everyone excited to celebrate your nuptials!

laptop keyboard with love symbols and a bouquet of flowers in someone's hand

Block Hotel Bookings

Booking blocks in nearby hotels is a crucial element to ensuring your guests have somewhere to stay overnight after the different events on your wedding day. Booking early is imperative, as hotels often get block bookings for weekend weddings, for example, and overseas guests will arrange their travel & accommodation months in advance.

It’s also important to provide guests, especially those travelling far and wide to enjoy your wedding day, with a few hotel options that fit within their budget and are still close enough to your wedding venue

It’s also wise to understand the range of dates your guests will occupy while staying at the hotels to make sure there are no issues with friends and family arriving and/or departing from the hotels.

guests checking into a hotel

Booking your Honeymoon

After the stress of planning and pulling-off your wedding day, you’re going to need a well-deserved break. If you haven’t thought about where you’d like to go already, then it’s time to start looking at honeymoon packages and destinations. With somewhere in mind, you can book your accommodation, tickets for flights if necessary, and renew your travel documents if need be. It’s stressful to start renewing your passport or applying for a visa with limited time left before your honeymoon, especially if you fear that you might not get your paperwork back in time. 

Whether you’re travelling locally, or overseas, you need to consider what you’ll need to wear for the duration of your honeymoon. Starting this process with 6 months to go before your wedding day is a huge plus! It’ll give you plenty of time to plan your outfits and figure out what you still need, whether it’s a swimsuit for the beach, or warm tops and bottoms for chilly weather.

couple enjoying their honeymoon by the sea

Hire a Wedding Officiant

There are different kinds of officiants you can hire to marry you as a couple. It’s really important to pick someone that makes you and your significant other feel comfortable on your wedding day. 

If you’re going the religious route you’d consider hiring a priest, rabbi or a minster that belongs to your particular church. Otherwise, you may consider a celebrant, interfaith minister, a civil wedding officiant or civil servant, or even a friend or family member.

The last group mentioned in that list could be the best option if you have a family member or friend that you just adore, that’s also been ordained! If they aren’t already, and you’re super keen on getting them to marry you as a couple, ask the person if they’d mind getting ordained to be a part of your wedding ceremony. It’ll be an awesome way to make you feel comfortable and they’ll feel included ceremony. Getting ordained can often be done online or through a simple process completed a few months before the wedding day.

Selecting a Wedding Florist

Flowers are a key aspect to styling your wedding, with colours and arrangements that match the theme of your venue and add a spark to your table settings.

Before a vibrant floral twist can be added to your special day, you need to figure out the kind of styles you’re interested in. Do some research online, find styles of arrangements that speak to the design of your wedding and search for florists that offer most of what you’re after.

Organise a budget for your wedding flowers and take pictures for inspiration to show to your selected florist and ask them how they can handle your approach, whether it’s modern & minimal or bold & extravagant.

Decide on your flower arrangement and ask to have mock-ups made a few months before your wedding day, so that you can see how these arrangements will look as centerpieces within table settings and as bouquets to highlight the style of your venue. Have a look at these different styles of wedding bouquets for some initial inspiration.

florist working with flowers in her shop

Your Bridesmaids dresses..

The right bridesmaids dresses are so important. They’re an element of a wedding which can tie everything together, or they can become a bit of a distraction from the focal points on the wedding day

You’d like you bridesmaids’ to wear dresses that fit in well with the colour scheme and style of your wedding and your wedding dress. If your dress is elegant and understated, then you’d like your bridesmaids dresses to inherit the same theme without extravagant design frills that will distract from one of the stars of the show – the bride in her beautiful wedding dress.

Together, you and your bridesmaids need to look like an ensemble, where the bride is supported in style by her bridesmaids’ attire. Have a look at these variety of styles of bridesmaids dresses to give you an idea of how you might decide on the bridesmaids dresses for your wedding day.

bride with her bridesmaids holding flowers on wedding day

And the Groomsmen’s suits

When shopping for the groomsmen it’s important to apply the same kind of thinking. You’d like  the groom to stand out amongst his groomsmen, whilst the groomsmen’s suits still need to match in part with the bridesmaids’ dresses.

There are a number of ways you could handle these aspects of styling the groom for his wedding day. To make sure the groom stands out on his wedding day consider opting for matching suits for the groomsmen, either in colour or style, it needn’t be both. Then, pick something that contrasts this colour or style slightly for the groom and his suit. 

Pairing the groomsmen’s attire with bridesmaids dresses can sound like a task, but it doesn’t have to be as plain as getting matching dresses and suits from the same colour palette. Instead, you could have your groomsmen wear pocket-handkerchiefs or ties that match the colour of the bridesmaids dresses, or even use this principle when picking waistcoats for the groomsmen.

groomsmen standing beside each other in a garden with their dog

Wedding Venue Rental Items

As we all know, a lot goes into the special day, and making sure you have all the right equipment is a vital part of planning your wedding day. Some venues might supply you with a few basics for catering parts of your wedding day, but generally you’ll need to hire everything you don’t have on-hand.

Items such as furniture, like tables and chairs, to lights, decor and plenty of catering equipment. It’s important to look at a variety of options that will tie in with your theme. If you start with months left on the clock, finding the right furniture will be made a lot easier.

start out with what you’ll need depending on your setting and wedding venue. If you’re going for a beach wedding, then Tiffany Chairs either side of the aisle might be apt, but an indoor venue might call for Deluxe Ghost Chairs and round tables to seat plenty of family and friends, dining together at your wedding reception.

So, keep your venue and wedding theme in mind, and order the right options to bring your wedding day to life. We have a variety of furniture and decor items to rent for your wedding day, right here.

rent items like decor and furniture for wedding

Wedding Ceremony Musicians

You might’ve decided on the kind of entertainment you’d like at your wedding, whether it’s a DJ or band for the reception, or even fireworks and photo booths – but it’s time to pick the musicians that will play music while you walk up and down the aisle. 

Initially, you should consider your venue. If you’re indoors, consider the acoustics and how certain instruments will sound as they’re played while guests filter into the rows of seats along the aisle. If you’re outside, is the sound going to travel far enough to reach your guests?

You also need to decide whether or not you need a vocalist or if you’d prefer more of a background music kind of feel. You could hire a quartet, but it’s just as acceptable to hire a duo or trio of string instruments that will sound good as a combination. 

Lastly, you’ll need to confer with the musicians to pick the right music to play during the ceremony. Consider the prelude, and what plays while guests are being seated, the processional, and what accompanies the entrance of the wedding party, the recessional, which is the conclusion of the ceremony and you’ll need to select the kind of music to play while you and your partner make your exit down the aisle. Some couples also decide on postludes or interludes, which can be useful when your guests exit after your ceremony or even extra pieces of music to use during your unity ceremony.

musicians playing at a wedding

2-5 Months Before Your Wedding

You’ve done really well so far and things are starting to take shape for your special day. Don’t let up your motivation now, with a maximum of 5 months remaining there’s still a lot to do and it’s time to keep adding to the framework of your wedding.

You still need to register for wedding gifts, order a wedding cake, set a menu, find a makeup artist & hair stylist, pick your playlist, design your invitations and plan a rehearsal dinner – along with a few other elements that will solidify the style of your wedding day.

Rehearsal Dinner

Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner takes place the night before the official wedding ceremony and after a dry run of the following proceedings. This sort of evening used to be considered a formal run up to your official wedding day, but in modern society many couples consider keeping their rehearsal dinner a bit more casual as there’s already so much stress surrounding the practice run and the actual wedding day.

Organise a rehearsal dinner that won’t add to your stress but rather diverts the intensity, and gives you an evening to settle before tying the knot the following day. Another plus to a more casual rehearsal dinner is that sometimes guests find it more inviting. A laid back atmosphere can encourage mingling and lots of laughs as the evening goes on.

rehearsal dinner with tables featuring glasses navy serviettes and good food

Registering for Wedding Gifts

It’s best to register for wedding gifts well in advance. This provides your guests with some time to peruse your wedding registry and figure out what they can purchase as a present on your wedding day. 

You can register for a variety of items, ranging from gifts that are useful in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or even others that suit a hobby or common interest shared between the couple. You could also ask one of your friends to provide their services on the day as their wedding gift – so if they’re a stunning photographer, you might have already found the perfect person that you know will capture the best moments on the wedding day, in a beautiful and timeless way.

Similarly, some couples also ask for donations, either to contribute towards a specific goal, like paying for a house or the honeymoon, or to assist a charity of the couple’s choice.

wedding gifts placed on a chair

Designing Wedding Invitations

With 6 months to go, it’s time to start planning the look and feel of your wedding invitations. Wedding invitations can be a bit daunting to design, and you have many options.

You might choose a company to design your invitations by looking online, or you might feel an individual designer or even a calligraphist might be a perfect fit. You could even design your wedding invitations yourself, if you’re feeling up for the challenge, or find methods to manage your wedding invitations using templates online. 

Designing your invitations can be made easier by bringing yourselves back to the basics of your wedding day. Try to picture how your wedding invitations can match the style of your wedding day and the colours you’ve chosen. Similarly, play with the element of size. Choose between small scale, quick and informative invitations or for something larger, with a more intricate design that hosts more information and maybe even a message from you as a couple. Don’t forget to include RSVP cards for your guests, so they can let you know within at least a month of the wedding whether or not to expect them.

One of the most important aspects is fine tuning the wording of your cards. Invitations need to spell out information clearly and easily, whilst the style of your communication can help convey your tone and build excitement for your upcoming wedding day!

wedding invitations and menu on table

The Wedding Band or DJ’s playlist

Earlier in the planning process, you decided on the kind of entertainment you wanted at on your wedding day. Having booked the band, DJ, string orchestra months in advance, it’s time to pick songs for your playlist to spin all evening long while you and your guests celebrate your marriage. Often, couples have a pretty good idea of the kind of music they’d like to play at their wedding ceremony and reception, but now it’s time to sit together and hash out the definite “yes’s” and “no’s” for the tracklist.

picking songs for the wedding day playlist

Hair & Makeup Trials

Finalising your hair and makeup is a big deal for pretty much all brides. Arranging a trial run with enough inspiration to show you how you’ll look on the actual wedding is a great way to feel confident about the way you plan to style yourself. 

Make sure to do some research online and gain an understanding of the approach you’re going for. Similarly, bring pictures as inspiration to show to your makeup artist or hairdresser. It’s a great way to get the ball rolling to pick a style you’re comfortable with.

Remember to wear a top with a similar neckline to the style of your dress and to bring along any jewelry you plan to wear on your wedding day, whether it’s earrings or a necklace. Having these accessories during the trials will help you have a holistic idea of what you’ll look like on the day.

a bride having her hair and makeup appointment on her wedding day

Planning the Bridal Shower

With a few months left to your wedding day, it’s common to have a bridal shower to celebrate the bride and her upcoming nuptials. The shower can be hosted by a number of different people. Traditionally, it was held that the couple’s family should never host the bridal shower, and that it was generally the responsibility of the bridesmaids. However, in modern times, the bridal shower is typically hosted by friends or family of the bride. Either way, whoever hosts the shower will likely ask for assistance from the bridesmaids for preparation. 

The venue options are pretty open. It could be hosted at a restaurant or coffee shop, but  often it’s arranged in the home of a willing host. The guest list should include close female friends and relatives of the bride and groom as well as those included in the bridal party. If it’s a surprise bridal shower, it’s best to get a hold of the guest list to make sure you don’t invite anyone that’s not invited to the wedding. 

Gifts can vary, from necessary household items that will benefit the future living situation of the bride and groom, to presents that form part of the theme of the bridal shower or even spa vouchers for the bride to treat herself before she ties the knot on her wedding day.

people at a bridal shower

Planning the Bachelor Party

The bachelor party is the time to go all out and celebrate the groom’s upcoming wedding day. The party or weekend away is typically organised by the best man, but often it’s a wise idea to consult the rest of the groomsmen to get an idea of the type of night you want to create for the groom. 

As for the venue and type of celebration, it’s up to the best man, possibly the groomsmen and consulting the groom on the kind of bachelor party he’s looking for is also a good idea. You could go all out with a night out featuring many members of the wedding party, but you could also plan something with a smaller group comprised of the groomsmen for a weekend away.

Either way, start by asking the groom for the guest list so you don’t invite anyone not attending the wedding. Once you’ve decided on who to invite, contact each individual to find out an idea of which dates might work and what kind of budget you’re working with to plan the party.. You could even organise bachelor party games or these keep some of these bachelor party ideas in mind.

guys celebrating with their friends at a bar for a bachelor party

Creating your Menu & Menu Cards

Structuring your wedding menu is as much about what kind of meals you and your significant other would like to enjoy on your wedding day, as it is about your guests. After all, you’re hosts, so it’s always a good idea to include a few popular picks that could go down well with your guest list – like a classic fillet steak. Also remember meal options for those that are vegetarian and vegan. 

You’ll need to think of starters, main courses and dessert options, but you also need to consider canapes for cocktail hour – which takes place after the ceremony and before the wedding reception, often while the wedding party finishes up their photos. It’s also a good idea to picture the timeline of the afternoon into the evening and which dishes will be served at certain times.

You can design the look and feel of your menu cards with your theme, venue and season in mind. The important part is to make sure the menu cards speak to the colours and styles present throughout your wedding, and bring forth the essence of the couple too. Here are some wedding menu ideas to help you get the ball rolling..

wedding menu resting on a table at a wedding

Planning the Bachelorette Party

A bachelorette party is another way for the friends of the bride to celebrate her upcoming marriage. It’s usually a lot of fun, with a jovial atmosphere, plenty of jokes and drinks – but it’s also fairly complicated to plan. Typically, the bachelorette party is hosted by the maid of honor, but if the maid-of-honour isn’t up to the task for any reason, then it would be wise to pick the most organised friend in the bridal party group to plan the party. 

Generally, the bachelorette party can be hosted as a night out or a weekend away. The more affordable option is a night out, especially if everyone is located in relatively the same area. However, whichever option you choose, it’s important to note that the costs for the party will likely be split among those invited to celebrate the bride during the bachelorette party. 

In terms of who to invite.. ASK THE BRIDE. But since she’s already planning a a whole wedding, this is the only aspect of the bachelorette party to consult with her about. It’s important as she may only want a select few friends to celebrate with her even though she has extended female relatives in the bridal party. 

Once you’ve figured out the guest list, pick a date and contact the invited guests to find out if the date works for them. Usually there’s some difficulty in coordinating a date between a number of different people living their own busy lives, so this can be one of the main headaches of the process. You need to make sure everyone the bride thinks will be there is actually there and that you’re not left fronting the bill for a failed bachelorette party or weekend away.

Check out some bachelorette party ideas or games to make your evening or weekend away a complete blast!

friends of the bride planning a bachelorette party

Order of Proceedings

An important part of the wedding process is the order of your ceremony including speeches, exchanges of vows, toasts, a welcome message, readings, blessings and other elements. 

Although usually this process follows a broad guideline that’s common across many weddings. You start off with the processional, which involves the immediate family and wedding party taking their seats after walking down the aisle. Following this, the officiant will start with some words of welcome and an introduction into the marriage of the couple. From this point, you may have readings, delivered by members of the family and close friends, and introduced by the officiant. This part is followed by the exchange of vows and the bestowal of rings on the bride and groom, after which a kiss seals your marriage as husband and wife!

The ceremony draws to its final stages with a unity ceremony, which involves a symbolic method to celebrate the union of you and your partner as a married couple. Some couples choose to release wish lanterns, whilst others may find lighting a candle more fitting. 

The unity ceremony is brought to a close with a final prayer delivered by your officiant and the recessional, which is your introduction as a married couple followed by walking down the aisle as your wedding party trails after you and guests throw rice &confetti in celebration!

order of proceedings on a wedding day

Wedding Rings

The bride-to-be has been wearing her engagement ring for months and now it’s time for you, as a couple, to get sized for your wedding bands. Nowadays, couples often mix it up when choosing rings, some even opting for a single ring for the engagement and wedding while others find the more traditional approach appealing. This involves wearing the engagement ring in tandem with your wedding band. Your wedding band is often a much simpler, less expensive piece that ties you together as a couple from your wedding day onward. It’s wise to start early to find a variety of wedding bands that suit your style and size, so you have ample time to choose the right ring to wear as a symbol of such a happy moment for years to come!

wedding bands resting on a pillow

Ordering your Wedding Cake

Planning the kind of wedding cake you’ll order is another intricate task. But, instead of considering your guests and their favourite choice of frosting, consider the taste of you and your significant other for this food choice. Ordering a cake with multiple tiers is a good idea if you plan on serving loads of guests. 

When meeting with your baker or caterer, make sure to sample many different kinds of flavour profiles and icings. Not only is this a lot of fun..but some icing options won’t be suitable for outdoor weddings in summer, for example, like butttercream or whipped cream, so make sure you know where you’ll place your cake. 

Lastly, keep a budget in mind for your wedding cake. There are so many elements to consider on your wedding day but chances are the cake is an important statement and celebratory piece, so go all out, but don’t break the bank! Try to incorporate some colours accents that mesh with your overall wedding theme. 

One of the final things to remember is to outline the delivery for the cake on your wedding day and a beautiful way to present it. Cake stands are a great idea, of course, and you can get creative with your choice of colours and the style of your cake stand.

For some, it’s a tradition to keep the top tier of the cake as a token for  the baby’s first christening, whilst others feel it’s best kept for the first year wedding anniversary. If you plan on keeping part of your cake, make sure it’s properly wrapped in airtight plastic packaging before being frozen.

If you’re not so keen on the taste of a cake that might’ve gone stale by the time the future comes around, consider enjoying the tier you saved a few weeks into your marriage and ordering another cake with the same kind of flavour that you had on your wedding day, to celebrate a 1 year wedding anniversary, christening or memorable family event.

1 Month Until Your Wedding

With 1 month to go before you finally tie the knot, and with your stress levels running high, it’s time to sort out some of the finer details and enjoy a party or two.

By finer details we’re referring to getting your documents in order for your marriage certificate, planning your wedding photos and organising a seating plan for your venue. Although, when we refer to a party or two, we’re talking about the bachelor and bachelorette parties of course!

Who’s in the Wedding Photos?

In terms of wedding pictures, your photographer will almost certainly have a shotlist that covers the main aspects of your wedding day, to curate your story from start to finish (if you’re looking for an idea of the kind of shots this might include, click here). 

However, you’ll still need to decide who’s in the rest of your wedding photos, from family and friends to those included in the groomsmen and bridal parties. Generally, you should have couple shots, both alone and together, photos with close family and friends, and lastly more informal shots featuring more friends, colleagues and extended relatives as you enjoy the ceremony and reception together.

family and friends in wedding photo

Hosting the Bachelorette Party

Having planned all aspects of your bachelorette party, from a venue to transportation for the invited guests, it’s time to celebrate the bride and her upcoming marriage! Be prepared for tons of laughter, games, drinks, hilarious stories and a lot of fun!

Hosting the Bachelor’s Party

Earlier in the planning process, you decided on the kind of entertainment you wanted at on your wedding day. Having booked the band, DJ, string orchestra months in advance, it’s time to pick songs for your playlist to spin all evening long while you and your guests celebrate your marriage. Often, couples have a pretty good idea of the kind of music they’d like to play at their wedding ceremony and reception, but now it’s time to sit together and hash out the definite yes’s and no’s for the tracklist.

friends enjoying a bachelor party at a bar

Hosting the Bridal Shower

The maid of honour, member of the family or bridal party, has spent a few months planning the bridal shower, and now it’s time to host the party. Wherever the venue may be, it’s important to keep the atmosphere of the shower uplifting and setting up a playlist with some good music to set the scene always helps. Remember to keep a pen and some paper on hand to take notes of the gifts the bride has received and their senders. This will help her send thank-you’s at a later stage, while making sure she enjoys her bridal party and isn’t worried about how she’ll remember who’s given her which well-thought-out gift.

ladies at a bridal shower before wedding

Marriage Certificate

Living in South Africa, on the day of your marriage you will receive a hand-written marriage certificate free of charge from your marriage officer/officiant. Thereafter the marriage officer will submit an application for your abridged marriage certificate, containing brief personal details such as your I.D number and full names. An abridged certificate is received by the officer on the same day the application is submitted.

After obtaining an abridged marriage certificate, you need to submit an application for an unabridged marriage certificate which can take from 6-8 weeks to be processed. This certificate requires further details regarding the individuals that have entered into a marriage, and is mandatory for many types of overseas travel and should you choose to emigrate in the future.

certificate of marriage with wedding rings

Seating Plan for your Wedding Venue

Seating your guests in the right places can be a bit of a mental battle. From family and friends to extended relatives, colleagues and in some cases your wedding party’s dates, it’s important that everyone has a great evening at your wedding ceremony and reception.

Here are some tips you might consider. Start off by picking the shape of your tables and how many people are able to sit at each table. Following this step, it’s important to decide whether or not you’ll have a sweetheart table, for you and your significant other, or if you wish to sit with part of your bridal or groomsmen party. If you choose a sweetheart table, then the next step would be picking a table for your bridal party and the groomsmen. After this step, it’s time to pick where to seat your parents and their friends will be seated. A helpful idea would be to ask your parents to help you with where to seat their friends, and they’ll be happy to assist in your wedding day preparations. 

After these first few important tables, it’s time to figure out how to seat the remainder of your guest list. You could aim to sit the rest of your guests according to relevant friends groups, their interests, or even similar lines of work that could spark conversation.

seating chart at wedding placed on easel

2 Weeks Before Your Wedding

Your wedding day is almost here! By now, you can picture your wedding almost to a perfect tee. You’ve put in countless hours of meticulous planning to make sure everything is sorted for your venue and guests.

Now it’s time to settle yourself by finalising some more minor elements and enjoying a bit of pampering to make sure you feel your absolute best for the big day. Also, you’ll need to think of what to say when all eyes are upon you and your partner at the altar..

Writing your Wedding Vows

Writing your vows can be a bit intimidating for some, as they’ll form part of your speech at your wedding in front of plenty of friends and family. The best vows come from the heart, so it’s important to keep them personal. A good way to start is by talking about who your significant other is to you and why they’re so incredibly important in your life. Focus on the parts you love about them, whether it’s the little quirks or the grand gestures. Follow by talking about your relationship and mixing in fond memories that will bring the essence of your love to life. 

The latter parts of your vows should touch on what you’re promising your partner. Keeping these promises specific and personal can often be made easier by working in both romantic narratives and funny anecdotes about your significant other.

In wrapping up your vows, focus on the future on how your relationship may guide you through aspirations you both have in the coming years, and end by mentioning you’ll be there, even when things get really rough, for as long as you both live. This adds an element of “forever”, or longevity, to your vows – call it cliche, but it’s your wedding day after all.

Whether you’re going for traditional wedding vows, wedding vows with a fun twist or Christian wedding vows, remember to keep your words as personal and as meaningful as possible.

Book Spa & Beauty Appointments

With a few weeks to spare before the special day, if you haven’t considered it already, it may be time to book some extra appointments for some fine tuning. Whether you’re worried about your nails, some ragged eyebrow hairs, or you’re in need of a spa day to make you feel relaxed and confident for your upcoming nuptials, now is the time to get all of the final touches sorted.

woman having a massage at a spa

Confirm Hair & Makeup Appointments

For the bride, makeup is an incredibly important part of your wedding day. So, confirm your appointment with your makeup artist for your wedding day to make sure that there aren’t any last minute issues.

woman having her hair done at a salon

Picking Up Your Wedding Dress

It’s finished! The dress you tried on, give or take 9 months ago, is finally ready. It’s been tailored and altered to suit your figure and now it’s time to pick it up. Make sure you pick up the dress with a few weeks to spare, so that if there are any small issues, there’s enough time to make more changes to the dress. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with something ill-fitting.

wedding dress hanging from a window


When you sent out your wedding invitations, showing off your theme and inviting your guests to come and celebrate your upcoming wedding, you attached RSVP cards. With around a month to go, it’s time to check in on who has RSVP’d and from who you’re still awaiting a response. When you’ve made a list of who’s attending, you can follow up with those that you’re unsure of. With a few weeks to go and once you’ve tallied the final numbers, you can inform your caterer of your expected headcount to make sure the food you’re serving on the wedding day is on track.

rsvp card for wedding invitation

The Night Before Your Wedding Day

It’s the night before your wedding day. The excitement and anxiety is palpable – but also completely normal! Make sure you have a relaxed day, drink plenty of water, have a few balanced meals and get a good night’s rest so that you’re ready to celebrate one of the most memorable events in of your life.  

Your Wedding Day Has Arrived!

With all the planning and stress leading up to your wedding day, it can be hard to remember to have fun and truly celebrate the fact that you’re getting married and it’s so incredibly exciting!

Now it’s time to get together with your loved ones to take your relationship to the next level and create a foundation for the future between you and your partner. So, just for a moment, take a deep breath and try to clear your head so you can set your mind up to enjoy the beautiful wedding day that you spent months preparing for. 

If you’d like to take away some of your stress a little bit earlier, we’d suggest hiring a wedding planner. They can help you with both the intricate and larger scale decisions mentioned throughout the article, whether it’s ordering your wedding cake, booking a venue or ordering furniture and decor to suit your specific theme, a wedding planner is perfectly positioned with the right contacts and eye for detail to make sure you get the wedding you have always wanted. 

To find out what exactly a wedding planner can do to help you and what you can expect, check out our guide: How can hiring a Wedding Planner help me create my dream wedding?

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