• Home
  • Weddings
  • Planning the Perfect Wedding – A 12 Month Guide

Planning the Perfect Wedding – A 12 Month Guide

wedding planning in johannesburg

Perfect planning results in a perfect wedding

The success of any event lies in the planning thereof, even more so when it comes to a wedding – your wedding.  Planning a birthday party or a baby shower could be planned weeks in advance, but a wedding is a different ballgame.  A wedding is planned a year in advance.  Here are a few tips which will ensure that all the arrangements run smoothly and that your special day is the perfect day:

12 months before


After the euphoria of the “Will you marry me?” the happy couple wants to involve family and friends in the planning of their special day.


Choosing a maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man, and groomsmen will be one of the first things you will do.  Decide on the number of people who will be part of the wedding ceremony.  As these people usually are family or close friends, a coffee or dinner date is probably the most appropriate way to get together to ask them to act in the functionaries allocated to each person.

Ring bearers’ and flower girls’ parents need to be consulted and bear in mind that an adult must accompany children NOT part of the procession, who, behind the scenes, must control young children.

One of the most important decisions you can make regarding your wedding is the venue.  The venue can determine the rest of your budget as it can include/exclude decorations and catering. Wedding venues can be quite costly, but it could be to your advantage to splurge on the venue as many wedding venues have unique offers (honeymoon suite, catering, decorations), but before you make up your mind and choose a specific venue, it is essential to set a guest list.  The number of guests will qualify particular venues and determines the size of the venue you will require.  Of course, the smaller the reception, the smaller the venue, the more cost-effective it will be.

If the venue includes catering, arrange a meeting with the manager to discuss the menu. Specific venues have a set menu while other will allow a little leeway.  Remember – if the venue includes catering, they will charge a catering fee per person.  If the venue does not include catering, it is best to search for a caterer with good reviews, but one which also suits your pocket.  Once you have found your caterer discuss the menu along with your preferences and also arrange a meeting with the caterer and the venue manager to discuss the intricacies before, during and after the wedding concerning food.  Sometimes it is necessary to hire any extras you might want to feature on your wedding day.  Again, it is essential to find a hiring company that suits your needs.  If you have the finances at the ready and would like a wedding planner, it is best advised to do a lot of research about the type of wedding planner you would want.  If you would like a more personal touch at your wedding and prefer to plan it yourself – make sure that you have everything listed and check off each item.

You must also decide if you want to simplify the ceremony and reception by having both at the same venue or if you would like the ceremony at one venue (a church for example) and then the reception at the decided venue.

8-10 months before 

During this time, it is essential to determine whether you would like your dress custom made or if it would be easier and less expensive to hire a gown.  If you decide that you would like a custom-made dress, it is advisable that you do your research and find a dressmaker who can make a dress from a picture.  Make sure you choose the material of the dress wisely!  Some materials may not be ideal.  Generally, the groom and the groomsmen’s outfits are hired.  When deciding on their outfits focus on the weather and also choose it according to your colour scheme.

At this point, you may also want to involve the mother of the bride and groom to ensure that complimenting colour schemes is discussed.  There is always more emphasis on the mother of the bride and this is a wonderful bonding time for mother and daughter.

You will have to decide whether you are interested in a band or a DJ and make the booking accordingly.

When choosing your photographer and videographer, it is imperative to remember that they will be in charge of capturing the beautiful moments of your wedding that you will be able to look at and cherish for a lifetime.  It is advisable to find the best photographer and videographer. It may sound like a money saver to use Uncle Bob to take your photos, but this is not the part of your wedding where you want to save a few bucks and risk not having the images you have always dreamed of having.

Now is the time for the bride and the groom to put together a wedding register.  Remember to accommodate all your guests by choosing a variety of gifts also regarding price.

Flowers can be an extremely pricey component of a wedding, and therefore you need to choose wisely.  Of course, personal taste will play a significant role, but remember to look at flowers in season.  By choosing a good florist, you will have excellent guidance.  If you are not a traditionalist, you can consider alternatives, i.e., succulents or only green foliage.  These alternatives are often very cost-effective.  Dried flowers are also an option, but your florist will give you the best advice in this regard.

Now is also the time to look for accommodation for guests.  A list of accommodation establishments must be included in the invitations.

6-8 months before

Finalise the bridesmaids’ outfits. A bride must be sensitive and open to suggestions.  Do not be rigid when it comes to choosing the style.  Decide on the material and colour and let each bridesmaid (assisted by the dressmaker) choose a suitable style for her body type. Many brides are absolute in what they want, and this can result in an unhappy bridesmaid who feels very uncomfortable, and this will show.  It is a challenging task to keep everyone happy, but this small gesture from the bride will ensure satisfied, smiling bridesmaids.

This is an exciting time for the bride and the groom – to plan their dream honeymoon.  If passport renewals are required, attend to that at this time.

Design a ‘save-the-date’ and send these out to your guests.  It is a brilliant idea to make these fridge magnets as they will be in sight and that is exactly what you want!

Book your minister or wedding officiator.  Remember that you may have to attend marriage counseling with a minister.

4-6 months before

You can either design your own wedding invitations or have them done professionally.  If you decide to do it yourself make absolutely sure that all information and details are included.   Keep the invitation simple and ‘easy to read’.  So many brides get carried away. Remember it is a wedding invitation – not a treasure map!

With all the planning going on, it is a nice break for the soon-to-be-married couple to take a trip to the jewelers to select and buy the wedding rings.

Find a baker to make the wedding cake.  Make sure you have photos of what you have in mind but be open-minded, as there may be limitations as to what the baker can do, but an experienced baker will guide you in the right direction.  Decide whether you want a traditional wedding cake or something different.  There are so many options.  Fresh flowers on a wedding cake are beautiful and less intricate work.

3 months before

Every bride wants to travel to the ceremony in style, and whether you want a limousine or a vintage vehicle, you will have to book it at this time.

Send out your wedding invitations.

To ensure any unpleasant surprises on your big day, a hair and make-up trial run is a must!

2 months before

Many people only follow the traditional way of doing vows, but there is the option to write your own vows.  It is so much more personal to write your own vows.  When writing your vows, keep in mind that it should be short to avoid boring your guests and keep it meaningful – remember it is a serious moment.

You will want to thank your guests for attending your wedding, and traditionally people buy a small gift which is placed on the tables.  This can become a costly exercise, and therefore it is necessary to keep the present simple.

1 month before

The final gown-fitting for the bride and bridesmaids take place one month before the wedding.  The bride should ensure that the maid of honor’s duties on the wedding day is clearly explained and understood.

A final meeting with the venue manager and caterer must be scheduled to ensure that everything is on track.

Design and print the wedding program.

2 weeks before

Review the RSVP’s and call people who have not responded.

Decide on the “must-have-shots” that the photographer should shoot and also confirm that the photographer has visited the venue and that you are both on the same page regarding where photos will be taken on the day.

Give a list of songs to DJ/band – mention special song requests and also the ones you don’t want to hear.

The bride should make an appointment for her last haircut and colour before the wedding.

1 week before

Advise the caterer of the final head count and remind the caterer to prepare meals for the photographers and extra assistants on the day.

In as far as seating is concerned, make a list and supply it to the venue manager and ensure that there is a spare table for the florist and the DJ if this is required.

Print your place cards for the tables.

Call all vendors and confirm your arrangements, give the venue manager a list of vendors who will make deliveries on the day of the wedding and the time of arrival and provide contact details of each of the vendors.

The groom must have his hair cut a week before the wedding.

2-3 days before

This will be the final wedding dress check (fit and adjust if necessary, steam if necessary).  It will also be the final fitting for the groom.

Make sure all parties involved in the ceremony know their position, movements, et cetera.

Deliver the table place cards, menus, wedding favors and all last-minute items to the caterer and the venue manager.  Final confirmation with vendors and point out any last-minute changes.

E-mail or phone the car rental company and confirm the date, time and place.

1 day before

Make sure everybody involved has emergency telephone numbers that they can call on the day of the wedding.  Make sure all finances have been attended to, i.e., all vendors as there will be no time after the wedding.

Arrange a short ceremony rehearsal the evening before the day of the wedding.

Make sure to get the bride and bridesmaids into a spa. To relax and enjoy a day or half a day of no stress as close friends. Melt away their burdens, rejuvenate and refresh with spa treatments. Unwind and relax so their spirit, mind, and body are transformed and awakened for the big event the next day.

The Big Day

Make sure to give the wedding rings to the maid of honor and the best man.


Contact the people responsible for returning all items of rental and make sure this was done.  If the dress and the groom outfits were rentals make sure that they’ve been dry-cleaned and returned.

Remember to send out handwritten thank you cards to all your guests who attended the wedding and also to those who could not participate in the wedding but had sent gifts.

Even the best-planned events can suffer minor hiccoughs and weddings are no different.  Prepare yourself mentally for this, plan well, but do not allow a small mishap to ruin your day.  Your wedding day is a once in a lifetime event, take your time and plan it well!