Last-minute wedding guide

If you’re the planning sort and want to explore every possible detail, then setting a date for 1- or 2-years’ time might be for you. If you just want to get down that aisle and can’t wait to say ‘I do’, let us help you plan the ultimate last-minute wedding.

Taking into consideration time-restraints for a legal wedding, the ideal time frame you will be looking at is 8 weeks before your big day. You will need this time to make sure you have a registrar booked. This needs to be done before anything else is booked, as Registrars can be limited, especially in the popular wedding months.

Last minute wedding guide Manor By The Lake wedding venue 1

Why wait?

There are many practical reasons why people choose to not wait for your special date. One of the most popular reasons being the pending addition to your soon-to-be family.

For some, tradition is very important, so you may want to get married before giving birth or the adoption process is finalised. The good news is you usually get at least 8 months’ notice before their arrival. For the ladies, fitting in your dress may be of importance, so an 8-week wedding would be ideal.

Perfect for civil servants

Civil servants such as teachers, armed forces and even those in the NHS are really restricted when it comes to holidays and time off. A last-minute wedding could be for you…

If you book your date when you know for sure that you will be off school or in the country, then this can all be planned before usual work duties resume. You also have that holiday time to help plan and be involved, rather than only hearing the odd snippet of your special day during the planning process.

Picking the perfect time for your honeymoon

In the past few years, the wedding world has seen a shift in the importance of the honeymoon. Some are opting to spend less on the wedding day itself and more on their once-in-a-lifetime trip, whilst others ask for travel vouchers rather than wedding gifts.

If there is a specific location you are looking at for your honeymoon, the time of year you go can be of the essence, especially if good weather is on your ‘must-have’ list. The most popular destinations for honeymoons include the likes of the Maldives, Thailand, Bali and Bora Bora, all absolutely stunning locations; but with all that beauty comes monsoon seasons.

Thailand honeymoon

Wedding seasons

The most prevalent reason for our guests deciding to book a last-minute wedding is cost. Like any industry, with a last-minute decision comes fabulous savings.

This is the time when a last-minute wedding can be so exciting and a pure whirlwind of emotion. Book today, make quick decisions and lose all the drama that comes with intricate planning and over-thinking.

Last minute wedding guide real wedding 2

Jen Marino Photography

Can you stay over?

When booking a tour around your final shortlist of venues its always worth asking if you can stay the night before and the night after. This saves so much time in the morning and allows your day to be that much calmer.

You can enjoy the luxury of arriving the night before and waking up in your chosen venue. Just imagine being able to get ready in a leisurely fashion, eating a delicious breakfast and when it’s time, just strolling across to your soon to be husband/wife.

Last minute wedding guide manor by the lake honeymoon suite 3


Support of a wedding team

Another great tip would be to choose a venue that comes with a fully functioning wedding planning team. These wonderful people are the pros and they will talk you through every step, helping keep your head clear.

They will have a system in place which will help you plan to every little detail, ensuring that nothing is missed. They are experienced, creative and have enjoyed many weddings, so they know what needs to be done.

The great thing about having a wedding planning team is that they also know the latest wedding trends, so if you need to discuss ideas or in need of inspiration, they will be on hand.

Delicious food & drinks

Food has become a huge part of weddings. Long gone are the days of basic dining and we have welcomed a whole new realm of exciting canapes, delicious food carts and even live cooking.

This style of dining may seem a little overwhelming if you are trying to plan things last minute, but if you chose a venue with internal caterers, it’s as simple as making an order and leaving the pros to it.

Having a venue with food and drink collections in place will be a huge help.  Giving you some food’spiration and covering all the basics when it comes to feeding and watering your guests. These collections generally include a welcome drink, wedding breakfast, a drink for toasts, evening food and a glass of wine for each guest. However, each venue varies.


Good connections with local suppliers

Last but not least, find a venue who has good connections with local suppliers. They can recommend people who they have worked with in the past, so they know the venue. This will also help with booking, as the venue can give you all the contact details and names that you need from photographers and entertainment to Love Letters and florists.

When it comes to finding your perfect venue, choose a place that makes you fall in love all over again. Somewhere that makes your heart soar and makes you feel at home. If it suits your style, your budget and your dreams then it is the venue for you.

Seal the deal with the perfect ceremony

The beauty with modern day weddings is that there are so many ways that you can get married.  Whether you’re religious, spiritual or just want to be legally joined to your loved one. In the UK, 28 days is the shortest time frame for you to be legally wed.

Before booking your last-minute wedding, we would suggest checking the availability of your registrar or church. Without either of these, a legal wedding is not possible.

Last minute wedding guide Manor by the lake italian pavilion ceremony 4

Civil wedding

It’s important to check with the venue that the area you want to have your ceremony in or under is registered before booking.

If you’re not religious, then a civil ceremony is for you. They don’t include any hymns, religious readings or prayers. However, readings or songs of other styles can be included to make it beautifully personal.

To have a civil wedding, you will need to book a registrar. Each county is different, but during the busy wedding season, their availability can be quite limited. So, we would always advise booking them in at least 4 – 6 weeks in advance.

Can I book a church last minute?

Each parish is different, and a last-minute church wedding can be tricky, but can also be done. To enjoy a religious ceremony in your local church you much attend the Sunday service for three consecutive weeks to have your banns read. This signifies that you wish to get married. It is possible to skip this process; however, you will need to apply for a common licence.

Each church differs; however, they generally request that you regularly attend the services. If you only visit now and again, or not at all the Vicar may request you join a wedding preparation class.

A celebrant wedding

A celebrant wedding is a non-official ceremony held by an officiant. They are relaxed, informal and can be held anywhere.

There are no restrictions when it comes to a celebrant wedding, meaning it can be 100% in your own style. This is perfect for those who differ in beliefs or want to get married in a specific place. Your service can be as long, or as short as you like depending on the ceremony content you decide on.

To make your wedding official you will need to sign the register at your local registry office after (or before) the ceremony takes place. To do this, you will need to book the signing room, take along two witnesses and sign the documents.

The type of ceremony needs to reflect on your own beliefs and style. If you want to celebrate your faith as well as your marriage, don’t settle for anything less than a church ceremony.

Spread the news

Last-minute weddings come with time restraints. Your numbers and food choices need to be back in time for your final planning meeting so you need to get the good news of your pending nuptials out there ASAP. There are many ways to make inviting your loved ones easier and quicker, which doesn’t involve hours of design, glueing and address label making (although that is always fun). Why not use social media invitations or even a e-card?

Dress to impress

With many wedding boutiques asking for 9-12 months to secure the dress of your dreams, finding the perfect wedding dress at short notice may be your biggest area of concern. However, we’ve done our research and have rounded up several fabulous options that are far more readily available for a last-minute wedding.

Last minute wedding guide Lianna & Jonathan 5

Lee Allison Photography

Hit the High Street

There is a growing trend for High Street stores offering ready-to-wear wedding attire for brides, grooms, and their attendants. Not only are these options easy to source; they are normally much more cost effective than a designer gown from a specialist boutique and you don’t need an appointment to try them on!

As one of the first stores to offer an affordable bridal range, Monsoon offers stunning dresses from £229 in a wide range of styles, so whether you want a short and flirty number, or something more classical, this range is worth a look! They’re also a great place to go for bridesmaid and page boy outfits and fabulous accessories.

We think Debenhams is the ultimate one stop shop for wedding parties everywhere. Grooms, ushers and page boys will find everything they need to hire or buy from suits and waistcoats to cummerbunds and cufflinks.

If the groom is keen to sort himself, then pack him and the boys off to Moss where they’ll find a huge range of options for both contemporary and traditional looks.

Dying for designers

If your heart is set on a designer dress then there are still options available at short notice. Register your interest with all your favourite boutiques and brands so that you’ll be the first to be notified of any trunk or sample sales. You may just get lucky with an event in the lead up to your big day where you can snare your perfect outfit at a significant discount.

Another option is searching the buoyant second-hand market for your dream dress. With many popular designers such as Jenny Packham and Vera Wang charging thousands for their creations, there’s a healthy market for resale from brides hoping to claw back some of their very hefty investment.

Make sure the sellers have included lots of photos and ideally, travel to see the dress and try it on in person rather than buying unseen. Dresses that have been professionally dry cleaned and have all their original tags and receipts, as well as spare buttons and beading, are a good buy.

People in the know

When booking your suppliers, it is worth talking to your wedding planner or venue. They may have a list of suppliers who they recommend, saving you the time of searching through all the musicians, photographers and cake decorators in the UK.

One of the joys of booking someone that the venue knows well also means the supplier will know the venue as well.

They know how to get there and where to set up. It also means that suppliers such as photographers and florists will know the best places to decorate and where to take photos without having to book in a visit before the wedding

Last-minute wedding gifts

As with all our recommendations, the key to stress-free short notice wedding planning is to make everything as simple as possible. When it comes to your last-minute wedding gift list, the classic voucher is the ultimate choice.

If you’re hoping for a honeymoon, this could be the perfect opportunity to ask for vouchers from a leading travel provider such as Kuoni who offer a great scheme that works just like a traditional list.

You register and provide your guests with the list information and they can then make contributions towards your honeymoon fund and leave you a congratulatory message.

If you’d rather have a more traditional gift list to help with furnishing your first home together, or simply hoping to upgrade your well-worn crockery, then online company Prezola offer a fantastic directory that features over 50,000 gifts from hundreds of popular brands.

Did you know that Amazon do wish lists as well? You simply list what you would like, create a link to your wish list and send to your friends and family. Your guest will choose what they are buying, and it’s ticked off, so others can’t duplicate. Everything is anonymous, so you know what you are getting, but not who from.


Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Most couples say their wedding day passed in a haze and that they want to do it all over again, so take note; this day is to be savoured wherever possible.

In the days leading up to the wedding make sure your trusted attendants and family all have their ‘to do’ lists at the ready and are clear on their responsibilities for the day. Write a list of all your suppliers and their contact details and pass it to someone reliable so if there are any last minute checks to be made, it won’t be you that needs to make them!


Your journey starts on Saturday 25th May 2024 | Book your private tour today!

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