This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Just got engaged? Looking to get married sooner rather . than later? This is the primer you need to plan a wedding in a short timeframe!
The average length of engagement in the U.S. is 14.5 months, but you can plan a wedding in substantially less time”a few months, or even weeks, if necessary.
Want To Plan A Wedding In A Short Timeframe
1) Be Flexible
This is the number one key to planning a wedding in a short timeframe. If you have your heart set on a certain date, venue, or vendor, your odds of success are much greater the further in advance you are able to book.
There are only so many weekends in a year, and many venues and vendors book more than a year in advance. So if you have a short timeframe, be willing to quickly move on from a venue or vendor that is not available.
You might also consider getting married on a day other than Saturday. Friday evening and Sunday afternoon are the two most common alternates, but people have been known to have mid-week weddings. Just keep in mind that not all of your guests may be able to attend a wedding on a Tuesday.
2) Be Decisive
Don’t try to meet with four DJs, three bakeries, five photographers, etc. It’s good to have comparisons, but you will have to limit your search. If you find a vendor you connect with, book them and move on to the next item on your to-do list!
The same goes for your wedding colors, décor, stationery, favors, etc. If you already have a pretty good idea of what you want your wedding to look like, these decisions will be easier. Don’t fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole!
3) Hire a Wedding Planner
The best way to streamline your vendor search is to hire a wedding planner who is familiar with your market. She will know the best vendors already, and she can connect you with them quickly.
A planner can also make aesthetic suggestions, such as color schemes, décor and favor ideas, stationery wording, and anything else you haven’t had time to figure out. She can also run wedding-related errands for you, manage communication among all your vendors, prepare your day-of timeline, and generally take care of all the details you won’t have time to worry about.
4) Buy Off-the-Rack
Shopping for your wedding gown can be very time-consuming if you let it be. Going from one boutique to another, trying on dozens of gowns can really wear you down. And even when you find The Dress, it can take upwards of six months for your dress to be delivered. That doesn’t even include time for alterations!
Dress manufacturers only cut the fabric and sew the gowns when they have a certain number of orders for a particular pattern, which is why it can take so long for your gown to come in when you order it from a salon. The alternative is to buy off-the-rack, which is exactly what it sounds like”you’re buying the dress in the store, hanging on the rack.
Bridal salons and boutiques occasionally sell their sample dresses at a discount; just keep in mind that you’re buying a dress that’s been tried on potentially hundreds of times. It may require substantial work to clean and repair a sample dress. Sample dresses are also only available in limited sizes. It can be expensive to dramatically alter a gown down in size, and nearly impossible to size up.
Stores like David’s Bridal specialize in off-the-rack sales. They carry hundreds of gowns in a wide range of sizes, so each dress has been tried on fewer times than a boutique sample. Online bridal retailers such as BHLDN offer a variety of gowns, plus easy shipping and returns.
5) Limit Your DIY
If you plan to hand-craft favors or décor for your wedding, a short timeframe is not for you. It can take months to collect the necessary materials and assemble the pieces. Family and friends can be very helpful when it comes to DIY projects, but no one wants to spend their entire weekend for two months helping you craft birdhouse centerpieces!
6) Plan for an Intimate Gathering
If everyone you know lives in the same town, then gathering your nearest and dearest on short notice will be easy. But anyone needing to travel to attend your wedding will need some time to plan. You may have to accept the fact that some people will not be able to make plans on short notice.
Similarly, it’s easier to plan a wedding for 60 guests than it is to plan one for 300. You need fewer invitations, favors, programs, and escort cards, and you have more flexibility with venues. Many venues can’t accommodate very large weddings.
7) Use Technology
Wedding sites like WeddingWire and TheKnot can be a great resource for finding your wedding team and keeping track of details. And they offer mobile apps so you can keep all your planning notes with you wherever you are.
Ordering your invitations (and save-the-dates, if you have enough time to send them) from an online retailer is significantly faster than visiting a traditional stationery shop. Online retailers such as Minted and WeddingPaperDivas can also provide escort cards, menu cards, programs, thank you notes, and any other stationery you need.
You can also create wedding registries online. You miss the thrill of wandering around the store with the scanner, adding things willy-nilly, but on the upside, you can create your registry in your pajamas with a glass of wine! And honeymoon registries like Honeyfund are a quick and easy way to register for intangibles.
Skype and FaceTime can also be invaluable tools when it’s hard to find time to interview potential vendors or meet with them once they’re hired. This is especially helpful if you don’t live in the area where you’re getting married.
Planning a wedding in a short timeframe requires some effort, but it can be done if you follow the advice above!
Bio: Risa Weaver-Enion is the owner and Chief Wedding Planner of Risa James Events, based in Sacramento, CA. She and her team offer full-service planning and day-of coordination for weddings of all sizes. They love working with brides to help them achieve their perfect wedding! They offer several service packages, and you can read more advice from Risa at http://www.risajamesevents.com/blog/.