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Your Complete Guide To Planning A Wedding On A Low Budget

Partnered with the Low Budget Wedding Network we represent a thriving global community with over 21,000+ members. We work together to bring you great wedding design ideas, planning guides and money saving tips. Proudly affiliated with various leading brands including: David's Bridal, Cocomelody, Minted, Vistaprint, Zazzle , Etsy, Amazon. All products shown and linked to are carefully sourced and handpicked to meet your needs and we may receive a fee for purchases made. 

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Are you up for the wedding planning challenge?

Planning a wedding can be a challenge and the key to success is organization. Here to help you is a handy wedding timeline guide which you can use to kick start your wedding planning process. Many couples set their wedding date on average two-years from their date of engagement. This allows a full year to research themes, color schemes, venues, consider your budget, location and all the niceties of wedding planning. The real work though starts a year ahead of the wedding date as those ideas are put into motion. With this in mind here is your wedding timeline with a two-year window for dreaming and planning.

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2yrs

  • Set the date
  • Agree the budget
  • Decide on Guest numbers
  • Start looking at venues

Plan an Engagement and Set The Date


If you're announcing your engagement formally, having an engagement party, sending out notices etc. it is a good idea let guests know a that same time when the wedding will take place.


An exact date may not be possible at this stage but some idea of the year and what time of year would be very useful. This enables your guests to make their own plans and savings to cover the cost of wedding clothes, transport, possible childminding\and gifts. They may also need to make arrangements with work and sort out holiday bookings.


It is likely you will invite the same people to your engagement as you intend to invite for your wedding. This will provide a guide as to how many guests you may need to cater for re the wedding dinner / reception.


Engagement Cards & Save The Dates 

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Decide on the number of guests and budget


Deciding on the number of wedding guests will help determine the wedding budget, cost of the wedding or vice versa. If you set the budget before hand this in turn will dictate how many guests you are able to have for the ceremony and the reception. Your wedding budget and guest list combined will determine, large or small wedding, formal, informal wedding and lead you to selecting appropriate venues and so on.

Enlist the help of a practical and fun wedding planner


Agree the wedding budget


Who is paying for the wedding? 


If you're sharing costs across families, gather all those involved to discuss how this will proceed.


Things to consider:

  • There are different cultural expectations and traditions when it comes to paying for weddings. My advice is not to assume or expect anything and to be open to discuss it with your families.
  • Will all the wedding money be given in advance and put in a special wedding savings account/pot?
  • Alternatively will individuals settle bills as they arise?
  • Will different persons have different costs they are responsible for?
  • Are you required to save ... can you save enough to settle the bills within the given timeframe / pay deposits?



Book the Ceremony & Reception Venue/s


When the wedding date is set, the wedding guest list decided, the wedding budget agreed you can take that information and start looking at wedding ceremony and reception venues.


Things to consider:

  • Distance from where you live
  • Distance and available transport between ceremony and reception site
  • Parking /disabled access /child friendly
  • Can your guests get their easily
  • Venue guests capacity
  • Indoor/outdoor and contingency re weather
  • What is included with the booking
  • Do they cater for all dietry requirements
  • Check their insurance
  • Cost as it works out per person
  • Cancellation terms
  • Take out insurance


Choose your Bridal Party & Groomsmen


Choose your bridal party and groomsmen and invite them formally to participate. Maid of honor, bridesmaids, flower girls, best man and ringebearers are sometimes given small personalized gifts when verbally asking them to fulfil that role. 


Check out our blog for Bridesmaid and Groomsman Proposal Gifts and fun ways to propose.


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Make the Guest List


Once you've decided on your bridal party and groomsmen, sit down together as a couple and make a wedding guest list. Couples have different 'rules' re this but generally they split it down the middle inviting an even number of guests for each side.


In some cases the bride or the groom may have a smaller friend or family guest list in which case you can agree between you how 'balanced' the list is and if that is even important. If there is a big discrepancy between bride and groom guest numbers avoid the different seating arrangements for the ceremony as it will be less obvious.


Guest A, Guest B, Guest C - which are you?

There is a funny meme floating around on social media about a bride who revealed the fact she had tiers of guests who may or may not make it to the final cut! The process of who determining who you most want at the wedding is normal, announcing it to the guests, definitely not!


Make a list (and keep it private) of those you know for certain will be there, you can't get married without them. These will be your nearest and dearest family and friends. And perhaps your boss.


Plus 1's and children?

When you've compiled this list, consider whether you're allowing plus ones and children, because the numbers will double/treble when you factor that in!


From here, decide who else you may like to be there if space and finances allow. And again, consider who they might bring with them.


Family Politics

There will be all manner of family politics involved with creating the guest list. Parents, friends and siblings may have their own ideas about who should come to your wedding! Stand firm, this is your wedding, do not be bullied into having a bunch of people you don't know or care about at your wedding. And if it gets too stressful, there is always elopement!


Cost per head

When you have your wedding guest list you can work out the cost per head for food, drinks, favors and more.



Wedding Dress Shopping


We both know you started looking at wedding dresses as soon as he popped the question right?


Wearing a wedding dress might be the only time in your life you put on a dress. It is a very special occasion and the dress itself, being a once-worn only item is a big part of your day. You can never start 'looking' too early. Just don't be tempted to make a rash decision you may regret later.


Make wedding dress shopping an event - take your mum/s, girly friends or one special person and book ahead to ensure you get a proper amount of attention. If you're buying a wedding dress online, read all the reviews and pay very close attention to the size guides.


When factoring costs allow a budget for alterations and do some research so you know what these might be as they can work out more expensive than the dress.


Also consider wedding dress accessories such as little purse or bag, a belt, veil/train, undergarments, underskirt and of course any jewelry.


The Groom 

We mustn't forget the guys! Your groom-to-be will usually do his wedding suit shopping at the same time as his groomsmen as they all tend to wear the same thing with a little spin of originality for the Groom. A different colored waistcoat, a cravate, pocket square, tie etc. Maybe a slightly sharper, darker or lighter suit.


Same sex couples

If you're a same sex couple you may want to surprise each other or shop together for co-ordinating outfits. You may both opt to wear the same. Lots of options, the sky's the limit and there are no rules.


1yr - Book Your Vendors

  • Order and send out your wedding Save-the-Date cards to all those on your guest list. 
  • Create a gift list and register with an online wedding gift registry (Amazon or other) or department store. These days it might be preferable to have an online wedding gift registry as not all your guests can make it to a specified High Street store. It's important to consider convenient access when compiling gift lists.
  • Arrange your wedding ceremony and meet the officiant / officials organising it. Confirm the details, rehearsal and any other necessary details.
  • Interview, meet, book with service providers:

Vendors

  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Florist
  • Caterer
  • Dressmaker/Bridal wear (wedding dress, shoes, head wear, underwear, jewelry).
  • Transport / cars
  • Overnight hotels
  • Entertainment / DJ / Band / Singer / Dancers
  • Cake Maker / Baker
  • When booking services, ensure you read the contract details carefully. Wedding insurance is a good idea in case of last minute changes, cancellations.
  • Discuss and book honeymoon, arrange time off work
  • Decide on wedding colors, theme.
  • If you want to lose weight, tone up, get in shape for the wedding, start early so you can achieve the result you want in a natural and healthy way with some practical lifestyle changes.

6 months

  • Bridal party clothing / shoes
  • Groom suit / clothing
  • Best man, Groomsmen suits
  • Makeup artist / hair stylist / manicurist
  • Order / send out wedding invitations and stationery - couples have different ideas on the best time to send out invitations. Important considerations include allowing time to have your invites designed and made/printed a process which in itself with postage and proof checking can take a month or more. Guest will require enough notice to ensure they have no other commitments, can arrange childcare, time off work and return the RSVP in good time for you to confirm details with your caterer and venue.
  • Research and order table decorations and other ceremony/venue decor
  • If your having a DIY wedding, start crafting!

4 months

  • Have a wedding dress fitting and arrange for any adjustments
  • Chase your wedding guest rsvp's
  • Update out of town guests on local hotel arrangements /travel
  • Buy smaller details for your wedding ceremony and reception, such as guest books, ring bearer pillow etc.
  • Source and order wedding favors or craft your own.
  • Check the details of pre-booked wedding vendors to ensure all is still ok for the day! You may have additional amounts to pay.
  • Ensure your passports are up to date re that honeymoon!
  • Do you need vaccinations for overseas travel? 

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1-2-3 months

3 months before the wedding

  • Final reminder for guests re wedding rsvps as you will need to confirm shortly with your venue and caterer final numbers.
  • Are you having a rehearsal dinner? If so send out invitations and arrange a date.
  • Arrange your wedding transport and that of your bridal party, groomsmen etc.
  • Ensure all the details re honeymoon, passports, vaccinations, spending money, travel to airport/back are sorted/planned, confirmed.

2 months before the wedding


  • It won't hurt to confirm again with your vendors and ensure everything is on track for the date! Same with wedding guests and outstanding rsvp's. 
  • If friends and family are assisting with things like transport, photography, crafting flower arrangements etc. ensure they're still on board and able to do so.
  • You may need to meet (if getting married in a Church) with your Priest or other, to confirm the details.
  • Order , make, buy thank you gifts for your bridal party, groomsmen and any others you wish to thank for their attendance. 
  • You may want to create a small memorial for those loved ones who can't be with you at the wedding.
  • Start writing those wedding speeches and toasts! Do some research re this and add some funny and heart-warming anecdotes. 
  • Chase others responsible for speeches to make sure they're busy with theirs!
  • Finalise your wedding seating plan, order table cards, seating chart.
  • Confirm your wedding reception details, numbers, tables, order of events with your wedding reception vendor, planner.
  • If you're changing your name/s after marriage make a list of those who require notifying and the legal requirements for formally changing your name on things like house deeds, bank details, passport etc. These things can take time and you often need original copies of documents not copies, so check the details carefully.
  • Write your wedding vows. You may want to create a keepsake journal of wedding vow drafts, this is a cute idea for bride and groom!
  • Ensure marriage license details sorted.

1 month before the wedding


Have a final wedding, bridal dress fitting and arrange a date for collection.

Practice your hair and makeup.

Collect dresses, suits for bridal party and groomsmen (fittings).

Pay remainders for bookings as required.

Update your wedding gift list registry as desired.

Start making a note of gifts received early so you can send out thank you cards.

Confirm all details with bridal party, groomsmen, helpers so everyone knows what they're responsible for and ensure they're still available and willing to help.

Arrange and have your bachelor (stag) and bachelorette (hen) parties. Have them early to ensure there's no chance of hangovers spoiling your wedding day for you or your guests!

Have a bridal shower party.



1 week before wedding


Most of this you've done already but just in case, confirm one last time with vendors all details.


  • Collect your dress/suits and any extras.
  • You may be collecting your wedding cake yourself , arrange for this or check with cake maker their delivery arrangements one last time.
  • Ensure all is on track for your fresh flowers, delivery, arrangements.
  • Confirm hotel reservations and all others. You may still need to advise of final guest numbers.
  • Ensure photographer/transport know where they're going, time of arrival.
  • Prepare for your honeymoon, pack bags, passports, legal documents.
  • You may need a wedding handbag for emergency items, sort out something discreet and co-ordinated.
  • If you are likely to require help going to the loo in that huge Princess wedding dress, recruit your maid of honor now!
  • Get plenty of rest and destress before the big day, book a massage!
  • Have your nails, eyebrows done.


On the Day

  • Wake up early, shower and have a good breakfast so your tummy isn't rumbling throughout the ceremony!
  • Collect flowers, cake and anything that has to be done on the day
  • Have your hair, makeup done
  • Have photos taken of the getting ready process
  • Leave your dress until you're almost ready to leave to ensure you don't crease, spill anything on it.
  • Don't forget your bag with essential items before leaving the house
  • Co-ordinate with the grooms party to ensure who arrives where, when first.
And enjoy!!


Wedding Invitations