How to Plan a Wedding in Less than 6 Months
Have you found yourself overwhelmed with wedding planning? Are you engaged but simply READY to be married? Long engagements are great and give you ample time to celebrate and plan — but short engagements have their pros too! They are often more budget friendly as you can find last-minute deals — and you will also be married sooner and can begin building your life together!
We don’t claim for this to be an all-inclusive list of everything you need to do. But we do think it is full of information to help make the process more enjoyable. Keep these tips in mind when planning your wedding in 6 months — or less!
1. Set Your Budget
Always, always, always start the wedding planning process with setting your budget. Know exactly how much you are comfortable spending and make a list of priorities to ensure you stay on track. What is most important to you for your wedding? Having a formal 3 course meal? A beautiful venue? An open bar? A large guest list? Decor? This list will differ from couple to couple and your distinct priorities will make your wedding individual to you. You should know ahead of time the general price point of the venues you tour, caterers you interview, and florists you contact. Don’t waste your time with vendors who do not align with your budget and priorities. You do not want to fall in love with something and then blow your budget securing only one aspect of your wedding.
2. Book Your Venue
As with all wedding planning, booking your venue is very often your very first task (short from setting a budget). Booking your venue is essential in securing your date and can be extremely helpful in finalizing your theme and giving your general aesthetic a more distinct direction.
When you are exploring your venue options — keep in mind the size of venue and the packages that they offer. If you are planning on a quicker engagement, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, be prepared to be open to Friday, Sunday, or even weekday events. Some venues (especially in bigger cities) book years in advance. However, they often have availability on less traditional wedding days. This might seem weird to you at first, but when you are marrying the love of your life surrounded by your family and friends, the day of the week won’t seem to matter. Next, a more intimate affair is going to be your best bet. Find a venue that offers smaller event packages. These will be (a lot) easier on your budget, and a lot easier to plan. A smaller guest list will make it easier to find a caterer with availability, collect decor for your event, and will have a huge impact on your overall budget.
When it comes to planning on a quick timeline, you should also consider including as many “amenities” as you can that your venue has to offer. Checking off as many tasks in one place will ease your stress and simplify the process. If they offer catering, coordination, decor, florals, etc. (and their offerings fit your budget and style) — then book them upfront! That will free up your time to focus on other aspects of the planning process.
3. Find an Officiant
Contact your minister (or ordained family member/friend) ASAP with your wedding date. If having a specific person marry you is a high priority, make sure you move this to step two. If you are more flexible, have a few options on your list and secure your date with them as soon as possible. They may also require pre-marriage meetings, so make sure you get those scheduled right away as well.
4. Bridal Party Attire
Another way to reduce the stress of planning a wedding quickly, is letting your bridal party choose their own attire. Give them any specifications that are important to you such as length of dress, color scheme, etc. and then trust them to find something that matches your vision. This can go for bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ushers, etc. Letting them choose their own clothing will take that stress off of you — and you can always ask for them to finalize decisions with you as well. This route also allows them more flexibility to buy off-the-rack and eliminate the need for alterations which often take a few weeks to a few months to get back.
5. Skip It If You Can
Some wedding planning timelines have 18 months worth of steps — sometimes accumulating over 100 tasks. This can be overwhelming even with a year and a half to complete them. Shorten that to a few months and it is near impossible. Our advice? Skip it if you can! (Honestly, this is sometimes our blanket advice to our clients.)
When planning a wedding in just a few months, save the dates are not really necessary as the date itself is right around the corner. Invitations may not be either. We think it is completely acceptable to use your wedding website to invite guests as well as collect their RSVPs. Explain the circumstances and your family and friends will understand. This will save you the hassle of designing and sending invitations and awaiting replies. It can help you to get final counts quicker and in a simpler way. Just be prepared to give some of your guests a call and make sure they saw their invitation via your website or email and walk them through how to respond if it is new to them.
Other things you may choose to skip? Wedding favors, programs, individualized menu options, photo slideshows, or anything else you feel is unnecessary.
6. Buy Your Dress Off the Rack
Dress shopping is often one of the most special moments in wedding planning. You get to surround yourself with important women in your life, feel beautiful, and imagine yourself on your wedding day. We never recommend skipping the shopping process or simply ordering your dress offline. Dress shopping is a tradition that we feel every bride should get to experience. We do suggest, however, letting the boutique know that you are shopping for only off-the-rack dresses. Having a custom dress made or even awaiting alterations can take months. Buying off the rack will allow you to take the dress with you and check yet another task off. It also doesn’t mean giving up on style or your vision — you may just have to try on a few more selections — which is always fun!
7. Book Your Vendors
Again, starting with a firm and clear budget is essential in the wedding planning process. It will allow you to easily narrow down your search and make final decisions in securing your wedding-day vendor team.
Florist: You may want to find a florist who offers smaller packages (bouquets and boutonnieres) for your wedding. If full florals, arches, centerpieces, and decor are a priority for you — then feel free to splurge here! It may just be a little harder to find a florist with short-term availability.
Catering: You should quickly start contacting caterers to see who is available on your wedding day. Once you have decided on decisions like buffet vs. served meals, Italian vs. chicken and sides, etc. then focus on finding a caterer who is available and has your menu choices available. It is also becoming more and more popular to have a less-traditional reception including dessert and drinks only, a cocktail style spread, or a brunch wedding.
DJ: Again, always keep your budget and availability in mind. Book your DJ as soon as you can.
Dessert and Drinks: Lastly, but of course not least, make a decision on what dessert options you will have available as well as drinks. Will it be an open bar? Dry wedding? Cash bar? Make the decision and find a baker/bar service that has availability ASAP.
Once you have all the big ticket items in place (guest list, venue, food, drinks, dress, DJ, and florals) then you can free yourself up to focus on the smaller details. Make sure you have a plan in place for decor, buy gifts for anyone you feel necessary, create a seating chart, and plan your timeline for the ceremony and reception. Make sure you take a peek at full year planning timelines to ensure you have tackled all the big tasks. And always remember to enjoy the process!