How to plan a wedding in five months
The idea of planning a wedding in five months is enough to send most people’s hearts racing – and not for nice, sappy, romantic reasons. You probably imagined you’d have all the time in the world to plan your big day but simply, life happens. Things come up that you just can’t plan for and suddenly having your wedding within the next 6 months has become a must.
Maybe you got engaged in lockdown, and have been holding off all this time; microweddings are an intimate and creative choice but they couldn’t accommodate your guest list. Perhaps you're envisioning a spring wedding in full bloom or a Christmas wonderland theme, making you tied to a specific time of year. Or, you might just be a pair of hopeless romantics who are keen to skip a drawn-out wedding planning process and get to the bit that really matters, walking down the aisle.
Here at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, we’ve hosted hundreds of weddings and so, have our fair share of advice to offer those couples looking to step on the accelerator and say ‘I do’ quickly.
Organising a wedding in five months can be a challenge, but, in our opinion, is entirely achievable. To help make this possible, we've simplified the process and created a checklist, organised month by month to help you tick every essential step off and create your dream day, even if you only have 5 months to do so. This checklist will be your saviour, so don’t forget to download it here.
5 months to go:
Pick out your venue
Ready? Start the clock! Before you deep-dive into the details (those hand-painted shell table decorations can wait), you’ll want to start thinking about location. Choosing and booking a venue should be your number one priority. The space you select is more than just a backdrop – it impacts everything else from guest numbers to theming, catering to accessibility, and more.
You probably already have an idea of the style of venue you’re looking for. It could be a beach villa, country house, rustic barn, or a sophisticated city townhouse; whatever your vision, stick to it! Draw up a shortlist, and then start narrowing your choices down. Is ease of access important for you? If you’ve got guests travelling cross-country – or indeed, flying in – does your venue have strong transport links? London is the obvious choice, insofar as you’ll benefit from the capital’s excellent tube, rail, and airport connections.
If you’re unsure about numbers, it can also help to look for a venue with a variety of room sizes available. For example, at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, we offer 7 elegant rooms to choose from, with capacities ranging from 18 to 125 guests. It’s important to us that couples can tailor the space to the occasion – and if you don’t have the luxury of time, selecting a venue with this in-built flexibility could be a lifesaver in the long run. Whatever you do, make sure you love the venue, at the end of the day it is the place where the magical day happens and will be the main piece of your wedding puzzle. If you’re one of those people that loves the idea of a simple planning process, our hand selected supplier list may also be of use to you. Our suppliers offer a diverse range of budgets and styles to suit your wedding. From Music and entertainment to furniture, you can make your planning process less stressful with their help.
Save the dates
Once you’ve firmed up the guest list, it’s time to search for original save the date ideas, which can be a bit of a task, we know. Your save the date cards give your guests a first look into what they could expect from your big day, so whether you’re thinking of a classic rustic card or a modern acrylic tag, make sure it fits with your theme and colour palette from the off.
Book a planner
You absolutely do not have to book a wedding planner. You may be the most organised person in the world, know your excel spreadsheets and be able to arrange everything yourself, even down to the tiny fine details. If this is you, you can skip this step.
However, if you’re looking for a wedding planner - whether you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, want additional support or are just looking to ease the process – this is the time to start your search.
A planner can make all the difference in helping you realise the big day that you’ve pictured for many years. If you do decide to enlist the help of a planner and need a little help sourcing one, we work with three planners who can help take care of every detail, leaving you free to relax and enjoy your day.
Whether you use one of our planners or outsource your own, the most important thing is that you align well, have the same visions and they understand your needs so that you can work together to create the ultimate wedding of dreams.
Start by researching their online presence. Look for reviews, social media accounts, websites, all of this online content could very much show you their style and reputation before narrowing it down. Once you’ve selected a few planners, meet in person as this will see if your personalities mesh, because if they don’t, you’re asking for a potential disaster. Don’t forget to prepare some important questions that matter to you and your partner - going to meet with a wedding planner without any questions could leave you flustered.
Choose your caterers
Once you’ve booked your venue, catering should be next on your agenda. With so many decisions to make – drinks, canapés, cake, the wedding breakfast itself – organising food and drink can be a particularly overwhelming part of the process.
Fortunately, many venues boast in-house catering teams to help make things a little easier.
When you’re strapped for time, check whether a venue offers catering deals or packages. Whilst the details will vary from one location to the next, these inclusive bundles often feature set menus designed to dazzle guests from the very first hors d'oeuvre, and can encompass everything from drinks to seated dinners.
We’re particularly proud of our wedding catering. Searcys are our renowned catering partners and work with the finest seasonal and local ingredients to deliver exceptional menus packed with flavour. From champagne receptions to canapés, bento boxes to spectacular seated dinners: our four wedding offers provide options to suit every occasion. Alternatively, our expert in-house chefs are happy to work with you to create an entirely bespoke menu. Whether you opt for vol-au-vents or a full three-course dinner, rest assured the food will be a talking point amongst guests for all the right reasons.
4 months to go:
Dress and suit shopping begins
What can feel like the most exciting part of the wedding planning process for some, can also be the most daunting and overwhelming for others. There are so many options out there, from price points, styles, fabrics and much more. Start by looking online at different silhouettes and fabrics to get an idea of what you think you may be looking for, after all you want to look and feel your best.
Scope out popular boutiques in your area, or further afield - as it is worth traveling for - and book some appointments. Gather your wedding party or just one close friend to join you on your search and start trying on. After all, you’re never going to know how you feel until you put a dress on, and you may surprise yourself and choose something completely the opposite to what you first imagined. You’ll know when you get that special feeling and when you do, say yes to the dress!
Wedmin begins. We know, it's so easy to get lost in venues, dresses and food that you often forget about the paperwork and admin that comes with wedding planning. But you actually need someone to marry you both. Start by searching your local registration office, you will find the registrar's details on their website, remember you need someone local to your venue if you aren’t getting married locally.
But what fees are involved? For a civil ceremony you can expect to pay around £500, plus some additional fees when you notice and register your marriage. Quite often this can be around £4 for the certificate on the day, or £10 to purchase it at a later date.
Flowers are a vital part of every wedding and starting to research florists is the next step in the process. You most likely have an idea of what style you are looking for, so get on Instagram. Yes, social media is your best friend for this part of the planning process. By looking on local florists’ Instagram accounts, you’ll see their most recent work and get a feel for their style if it could align with your vision. Some florists may use large luxury flowers and others more foliage, so be sure to find one with a style that suits you. Have your colour scheme prepared and focus on this rather than the types of flowers you want to avoid limiting you or your florist on flower choices. Remember to have fun and get creative.
Order your Cake
Get ready to start taste testing. When else are you going to get to eat lots of cake, with a very reasonable excuse? The cake can be crucial for some couples and if you’re one of them, now’s the time to order. Look at local bakers online, on social media and get an insight into their recent work. Do they create minimalistic, rustic or luxury cakes? Do they provide specific allergen options? Have they got a big variety of flavours? All of these are important questions to ask yourselves before deciding on a baker.
3 months to go:
Send out your invitations
Typically, etiquette dictates that you send invitations 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding date (but if you’re looking to celebrate your special day abroad, aim for 10-12 weeks). These days, there are also plenty of great online options available. Free digital form builders provide an alternative to hastily scribbled lists and complicated Excel documents. Simply send out RSVP forms for guests to fill in, and the service updates your central spreadsheet accordingly.
Book a photographer and/or videographer
On the subject of wedding suppliers: with three months to go, you’ll need to start thinking about securing a photographer (and/or videographer). Again, these services are highly sought-after, and many require advance notice.
Do you know how you envision the style of your wedding photographs? It's important to research and find a photographer who has a style you like and understands how your dream photo album looks. Ask friends and family for recommendations, search online or look at your venue's suppliers.
If you’re planning on outsourcing AV equipment, such as lighting and sound systems (what’s a wedding without a good playlist?), this is the time to do so – or contact your venue to see whether AV facilities are included with room hire. Individually sourcing and co-ordinating suppliers can be the costly cause of many a logistical headache; that’s why we provide access to a PA system for music playback as standard across all of our wedding offers.
Book your Honeymoon:
Now is also the time to think about booking your honeymoon. We’re pretty sure it’s something you and your partner have discussed on numerous occasions, but now it’s really happening.
Are you going all out and relaxing for 2 weeks? Will it be an adventurous trip of a lifetime? Or maybe you’re going back to a special place? Whatever you choose, you will want to ensure you get it right, as you only do it once. Start to think about budgets, hidden costs, travel agents and booking annual leave. Online research will get you so far, however it can often distort reality and a good idea is to vet your destination by talking to friends or family who have been there personally, or even a travel agent. Whatever you book, make sure it's very you, and you’re not purely influenced by others.
2 months to go:
Hair & Makeup Trails
Booking Hair and Makeup can be one of the most difficult tasks. If your wedding falls during peak season, it might also be worth contacting hair stylists and make-up artists now to save a last-minute DIY job – they’ll get snapped up, fast! Ask for recommendations and ensure whoever you choose can bring the look you’ve imagined to life and make you feel the best you’ve ever felt.
Hen and stag do
It’s time to let your hair down, gather your friends and family and get ready to go all out for one night, or even a week. The traditional route of having your hen or stag the weekend before or even the night before the wedding is long gone, organising them around 6-8 weeks before the big day is much more common and will allow you to fully recover and get back to the smaller details. Will you be going abroad, staying in the country or having a spa weekend? These are all things to think about ahead of time, as getting a large group of people together can be a major task in itself.
1 month to go:
Focus on the fine details
Venue booked, catering sorted, guests invited, dress hems lifted, photographer hired – the finish line is in sight! Remember those bespoke table decorations? With the wedding essentials sorted, and fewer than 28 days left, this is your chance to pull up Pinterest and go all-out: gift bags and favours for guests, pretty calligraphy place cards, rehearsing the steps to your first dance – it’s the little things like these that can transform an event into a truly memorable occasion.
On the day:
The long awaited day is here and our very important piece of advice is, have fun! Enjoy it, turn off your phone, remember to eat and just make memories. It really is a day that only happens once and to be fully present, as well as not putting too much pressure on yourself will pay off. All you have to do is enjoy the celebrations and not worry about a thing.
Weddings at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace
Your wedding will undoubtedly be one of the most important days of your life. Whether you plan it in five months, twelve, or more; such a landmark occasion deserves a showstopping setting. Nestled in the heart of London and just a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace is a sophisticated city venue perfect for romantic, timeless weddings.
From the book-lined walls of the Reading Room – ideal for ceremonies up to 60 – through to the Wolfson Room with its light, bright spaces and gold detailing, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more elegant space for celebrations in central London. If time is of the essence, our wedding offers include catering, furniture hire, assistance from a personal venue coordinator, and more – planning your special day doesn’t have to be stressful! For further information, get in touch with the team here or give us a call on 020 7969 5224.