Wedding Planning Guide

There are probably thousands if not millions of websites that offer wedding planners, diaries and the like but we find a lot of these can be utterly daunting or, worse still, too simplistic to be of real use and ensure everything is covered.

And if you happen to be organizing a wedding with far less than their recommended forward planning time, you can be reduced to sheer panic at the mere thought of what needs to be done.

Having trawled through dozens of versions of wedding planners, we've culled the essentials for the simplest, most stress-free organisational procedure we can come up with to give bridal couples at The Mudcastle the maximum enjoyment of the whole period from engagement through to honeymoon. The idea is to use the following guide as a list to work through and customise to your situation - you may well opt to skip some items. Don't worry if you can't quite tick something off before going on with the next and you end up with several areas going at once - that's to be expected. And don't forget that we are here to help every step of the way (barring some Sunday afternoons and Mondays when we try and have some time out).

1. Set up a wedding file or box

Try to keep everything together in it while you work through the wedding style you want and the budget you will need. List names, telephone numbers and email addresses of all attendants and suppliers for ease of access.

2. Reserve your wedding date

Tentatively book The Mudcastle for your chosen wedding date or a couple of dates while you finally decide. (We will only need a decision made one way or the other if we receive another enquiry for the same date.)  Check with important family members as to possible date clashes. Go through our wedding cost summary to ensure you understand what is and is not included and what is optional.

3. Confirm your wedding venue and time

Firm up the timing of the day and confirm the venue booking with the required deposit (or cancel your tentative booking in writing please). If you have selected The Mudcastle, you have just got yourself an experienced wedding planner at no charge and your stress levels should have just halved.

4. Guest list 

Create a provisional guest list in consultation with both families.

5. Choose your colour scheme and/or theme.

6. Invitations

Choose/make your invitations and send overseas and out of town guests theirs with as much advance notice as possible. Include in the invitation any special notices eg. if you require your guests to pay for their own drinks at the wedding and our special requirement re heels.  Also, there is a map on our site that you may like to print off and include for guests not familiar with the area. Alternatively, including our website address allows guests to see where they are coming and to download their own map.

7. Stationery 

Think about the rest of the stationery required eg. matching placenames and thank you notes and order/make them at the same time if required. Design a matching order of service sheet (if you are having one) and menus for the tables (if you want them) but hold off printing them until all details are confirmed with the celebrant, attendants and caterer. Decide if you are going to send those unable to attend a piece of wedding cake and purchase some cake boxes. Note that this decision will determine that at least one tier will need to be fruit cake.

8. Select, ask or notify your "own team" as required:

Another aspect that can get out of hand is the etiquette behind who is supposed to handle certain aspects. Our advice is to decide who you are happiest and most confident with to organize each item, delegate what you feel comfortable delegating and don't get too bogged down with the "rules". Share the decision making and the organization between the two of you as you probably already do in other aspects of your life.

Your team could include:

Bridal party attendants - bridesmaid(s), best man, groomsmen, ushers, pageboy, flowergirl
Those to give readings, play pieces or sing solos at the ceremony
Master of Ceremonies or Toastmaster
Those from your circle of family and friends to give readings or perform solos at the ceremony 
Those to make speeches at the reception
Someone to pack up the wedding gifts after the wedding
Someone to  take the wedding dress for cleaning and return the hire suits
Someone to collect guests from and return to the airport

9. Book service suppliers

Book the "service suppliers" as required and confirm with deposits where requested. Note the timeframe of final payments for all wedding accounts to avoid late payment penalties. Service suppliers could include:

 - Celebrant/minister/priest
- Musicians/Soloists/DJ/jukebox for ceremony, guest entertainment over drinks and nibbles, reception and dance
 - Wedding cake decorator
 - Florist
 - Photographer/videographer
 - Bridal transport
 - Honeymoon travel agent
 - Wedding Insurance

10. Send out the rest of the invitations.

11. RSVP's

Set up a good system to record RSVPs including columns for other details to cover additional aspects at the same time. For example, note those guests requiring pickups from and drop offs to the airport, transport to the venue, accommodation and special food and add columns to record gifts received and thankyous sent.

12. Gift list

Compile a wedding gift list (but my advice is only send it out to those requesting it as it is a practice that can offend some guests).


13. Wedding clothing

Choose wedding clothing as required (although you have probably already made a start on this):
Wedding dress and accessories
Going away outfit/Honeymoon wardrobe (trousseau)
Groom's attire
Bridal party attire
Co ordinate mothers'wedding attire to minimize colour clashes with your bridesmaid colour and to ensure both mothers don't select the same colour or the same dress! 


14. Wedding rings

Choose wedding ring(s). Organise any engraving to be done.


15. Choose bridal attendant gifts.


16. Book personal services

Choose and book the "personal" service suppliers as required:
Hairdresser (for bride and groom)
Makeup artist
Skin care and beauty therapist
Personal trainer

Beauty tips from the professionals

  1. Start your beauty regime 4 - 6 months prior to your special day so your skin is used to deep cleansing

treatments and your hair is the desired length, condition and style.

  1. A good nutritional  and exercise  plan is essential (and now reasonably obvious) for you to look and feel your best. But it's also easily forgotten amidst all the rushing around so that's why it's included here.
  2. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin clear and your hair healthy.
  3. Facials are imperative for good skin and are needed every 4 - 6 weeks.
  4. For hair, regular trimming and conditioning treatments followed by using good shampoo and conditioner at  home is recommended for the best results. 
  5. For beautiful nails, have regular manicures once every two weeks. This will speed up growth and improve the strength of your nails.   
  6. Always show your makeup artist and your hair stylist the colour and style of  your dress so they can envisage and advise on how to best achieve the exact look you desire whether it be glamorous, classical or high fashion.
  7. Take lessons on relaxation - no one can deny that relaxation is the key to looking your best.


17. Your personal arrangements

Arrange leave from work and check passports, visas, exchange money, travellers' cheques. Visit doctor and dentist for checkups, vaccinations, teeth polishing and whitening.


18. Finalise menu

Once your wedding cake style is decided, meet with Kylie from Kudos Food Design to finalise menu requirements.


19. Fine-tune your venue detail

Once you have finalized your wedding colours, meet with Glenys at The Mudcastle to fine-tune details, decorative requirements and special requests. It is helpful if you bring with you an example of the invitation and a swatch of bridal fabrics. If necessary, check the transport time on the way. Advise expected arrival time of the cake, DJ, musicians etc. This  is generally a few hours ahead of the wedding.


20.Organise service details

Write your vows, apply for a marriage licence and/or meet with celebrant to organize service details. Finalise order of service sheet details if you are having one.


21. Final fittings

Final fittings all round and trial makeup run. Wear in your wedding shoes. Try on wedding dress with all accessories including  jewellery and makeup if possible. Slot in some pampering beauty sessions allowing time for any possible skin reactions.


22. RSVP follow-up

Chase up the late invitation replies - there are always some! Write or have placenames printed and draft your seating plan.


23. Confirm final numbers and guest accommodation

Early in the week of the wedding, confirm final numbers with The Mudcastle and the caterer.
Send through the numbers to be sat at each table to allow us to set up the Banqueting Turret.
Supply us with the list of guests staying overnight, the rooms you have allocated them and any bed configuration changes required eg. The Pink Room changed to a Twin room.


24. Jukebox

If you are having a jukebox, send through the jukebox CD selection to Kevin at The Mudcastle. 


25. Hens/Stag night

Have your hen's night/stag night functions preferably in the week prior rather than the night before.


26. Rehearsal

Ceremony rehearsal 1 - 2 days out (optional and doesn't have to be held on site) but this is a good time to check the timing of entrance music.


27. Confirm seating plan

Deliver and set out placenames and/or anything else you are supplying eg. the final version of the seating plan, menus for the tables etc.


28. Collect hire suits.


29.Pack personal items

Pack all items needed to get ready on site (if you are, that is).
Here is a recommended list of what to include in a bridal emergency kit.

Bridal emergency kit items:
 - Paracetamol, antihistamine, antacid
 - Any prescription or allergy medication
 - Rescue Remedy for nerves
 - Plasters and tweezers
 - Tampons and pads
 - Sunscreen
 - Hairspray, brush, hairpins
 - Tissues
 - Makeup, especially lipstick and makeup remover for mishaps (and groom's cheeks during photos)
 - Ring cleaner for a final polish of your engagement ring
 - Nail polish for touch ups and nail file
 - Safety pins, masking tape (for last minute ripped hems)
 - A sewing kit for unforeseen emergencies including thread for all garments in the wedding
 - Perfume 
 - Breath freshener
 - Earring backs
 - Flat shoes (for if wedding shoes become too uncomfortable or if they are unsuitable for The Mudcastle floors)
 - Extra pair of pantyhose (in case of runs)
Pack overnight bags for the honeymoon night plus luggage for your honeymoon if you are leaving the next day.  Delegate who is to be responsible for taking the luggage to the reception venue or honeymoon suite. (Make sure they can be trusted not to booby trap your room!)


30. Finally

Enjoy your day, your guests, The Mudcastle and each other to the max!

"Having our wedding at your wonderful Mudcastle was a fabulous experience! We really appreciated your easy willingness to accommodate all our wishes and we felt very relaxed on the day knowing we had such highly competent hosts. Of course, considering our history and romantic association with your establishment, it was only natural to be married there... We'll be back!"
Glenis and Gary Williams

Some helpful Wedding Websites