We planned our wedding in six months, and you can, too! Here are the three main things you need to focus on when planning a wedding or any event in a short period of time.
When we got engaged in May of 2018, I started working off a fairly standard one-year timeline. At the suggestion of most resources, we immediately booked the first venue we thought we could afford in my husband’s small hometown, Lebanon, TN. Then, life happened. I spent the summer driving all over town shopping for the elusive perfect wedding dress to no avail. We bought a house and got a new building for our church about 45 minutes away in Smyrna. And our venue caught on fire the weekend before we were able to see it for the first time. By October, we had burned five of the twelve months we had to plan and things just weren’t falling into place.
We were intent on getting married soon, and it happened. We even moved our wedding date UP a month, and our big day still managed to be a success. I learned a lot during this process, and I’m here to encourage you that it is possible to plan a great wedding in 6 months or less and share some tips on how to do it.
Be Focused and Organized
Think about planning a wedding as a project, like moving or launching a new product at work. There is a gazillion moving parts and contingencies to keep up with so it’s not something to approach haphazardly. You’re going to want to get someone you trust to help you and get organized. We couldn’t afford a professional wedding planner, so, my mom, my husband and I had to share the load and work smart.
WeddingWire was indispensable. I’m usually partial to a paper planner, but this is one project where digital planning worked better. I used their interactive checklist and other tools to stay sane on track.
Most checklists floating around the internet assume that you have 12 or more months to plan. In order to plan your wedding in 6 months, you need to be laser-focused on what is necessary and willing to let go of your expectations should you realize they are no longer realistic (think SMART goals). Here are just some of the things we skipped:
- Engagement Party
- Physical Save-the-Dates
- Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
I even had to cut some of my DIYs at the eleventh hour because I didn’t have the lead time I needed. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you don’t HAVE to do ANYTHING except get married. Everything else concerning the wedding is optional. Don’t waste too much valuable time feeling sad about things you have to give up for time or budget. Keep your stress down and your eyes on the prize.
One more note – lots of hands make executing your wedding plans easier, but you’ll want to minimize the people helping you plan on the front end. Planning a wedding is a process that can be stressful and emotional, with lots of expensive decisions to be made. You don’t need a million voices clouding your judgment.
Be Flexible, But Know What You Want
Let’s be honest – half the fun of planning a wedding is scrolling through Pinterest all day. That’s great and all, but it’s the wedding equivalent of going to the grocery store without a list. The constant overload of new ideas and can be overwhelming and encourage indecision. With six months or less to plan, you need to get clear about certain things ASAP so you can easily rule out what you don’t want, and focus your energy on what you do want. For example:
- Budget – This is going to drive just about every quantifiable decision you make.
- Wedding Date/Location – As I’ve stated before, you don’t have a date until you have a venue, and you can’t confirm a bunch of other things until you have a date
- Guest List Size – This will determine how far your money will go and how big your venue needs to be
- Wedding Party – You need to let people know early so they can clear calendars and get their money together
- Wedding Guests – Ditto for the wedding party.
To my original point about Pinterest, having a good idea of what you want your wedding to look like can keep you focused as well. (If you need help thinking through all of this, check out my FREE Wedding Brainstorm Worksheet.)
With that being said, know your non-negotiables, but understand that you may have to be flexible on the rest. For example, if you have your heart set on a venue, you may need to be flexible with your dates. Or if your date absolutely cannot change, you need to have second- and third-choice options for your big vendors.
Streamline With Package Deals
Based on previous research, we had assumed that all-inclusive venues would be out of reach for our budget, but my mom, being who she is, suggested that we just check with hotels to see what they could offer. In doing so, we not only found it to be the most bang for our buck but it automatically centralized and delegated several parts of our wedding plan.
This changed the winds of the entire planning process for us. In just one step, we secured the venue, the food, half the decorations, and accommodations for our many out-of-town guests. We instantly went from having multiple points of contact to one. This allowed us greater flexibility to concentrate on other things. It also reduced the amount of wrangling that had to be done day-of. Even if you don’t end up going with a fully inclusive vendor, anywhere you can consolidate steps (ex., hairstylist that does makeup, a venue that provides catering, etc.), you’re gonna save time and energy from start to finish.
If all else fails, ELOPE!
I’m just kidding…or not. Hear me out. Whether you have six months or two years to plan, there may come a point in the process where you just don’t care anymore. I would bet the farm that half of all couples consider ditching their wedding plans and going to the Justice at some point. And I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with it at all. In a world that has been forever changed by a global pandemic, I’ve seen a lot more people opting for the most intimate of intimate gatherings, and they were equally as special and beautiful. Do what is best for you and your budget.
At the end of the day, planning a wedding or any other large event in six months or less comes down to your preparation, your willingness to pivot quickly, and eliminating unnecessary steps. So, if your heart is set on a wedding date that is less than a year away, don’t fret. DO IT. And live happily ever after.