Most couples tend to start planning between 1 and 2 years before their big day. However, time isn’t a luxury that we all have when planning a wedding. Even so, don’t worry. You can pull off an amazing wedding in 6 months or less. If you follow our timeline, you are sure to impress your guests and create an unforgettable day that will leave you with some of the best memories of your life.
Don’t skip a beat because you don’t have time to spare. Follow this plan step-by-step and you will be on track to having the perfect wedding day.
6 Months Out
Stay organized and create a checklist of things you will need to do over the next several months leading up to your wedding. While this timeline covers a lot of things that you would have on a checklist, it shouldn’t necessarily be used as a substitute for one. You should still consider putting together a more thorough list to cover all of your bases for your specific wedding needs.
First thing on your checklist should be determining your budget. Discuss how much money you will need for your wedding with your partner and family (if they are paying for a portion). Figure out how much money you will receive from family and how much you are comfortable spending as a couple. Be realistic on how much you can afford.
If you make your budget too small, you will likely have to go over budget to be able to include all of the vendors you will need. If you make it too big, you may end up inflating your expenses because it’s easier to overpay than negotiate fair prices with an appropriately sized budget. Be sure to consider all of the essentials you will need such as a venue, caterer, musician, MC, and officiant.
Does hiring a wedding planner make sense for you? An experienced wedding planner can make your life easier by guiding you through the process and ensuring that you don’t forget a thing. While a wedding planner can relieve some potential stress, you will need to account for the additional cost of hiring one.
In order to begin your search for the perfect venue you will need to write up your guest list. Each venue will have a maximum number of guests it can accommodate. Also keep in mind that the larger the wedding, the more that the catering and the venue will cost. Because size matters, make sure to start your guest list by creating a primary group list that includes your closest family and friends. Then you may add subsequent groups accordingly.
Worried that you may forget someone important? Make it easier on you by including your closest family and friends when compiling the list. The more heads, the less likely you will miss anyone.
Often venues are booked a year or more in advance. If you realize that it’s difficult to find a venue that isn’t taken, try searching less traditional locations such as upscale restaurants or large estates with well landscaped grounds. Alternatively, you can consider a wedding date on a Friday or Sunday. As an added bonus, these days of the week will typically be less expensive to book than a Saturday.
If you have specific bands, DJs, caterers, or entertainers already in mind, you will want to snag them as early as possible. In this bride eat bride world there are no guarantees your favorites will still be available. Book them now. You want to give yourself the best opportunity to hire the vendors you always pictured at your wedding. The alternative is that you will need to take more valuable time later searching for quality substitutes. The vendors you aren’t as picky about can be taken care of a little later if need be.
Alterations to wedding dresses can take quite a few months to be completed. The more alterations and customization required, the longer it will take to be wedding day ready. If you don’t have enough time to wait on a custom wedding dress you can look into ready-to-wear wedding dresses or sample sizes. Some bridal shops may offer rush service on orders but you will be paying additional fees that could be significant.
The bride won’t be the only one that needs a fitting for a dress. Depending on the style of dress chosen, the bridesmaids’ dresses could take quite a bit of time as well. Soon after the bride chooses "the” dress, she can pick out the other dresses for her bridesmaids which will match her style and color scheme.
Save the Dates:
Is your guest list complete and your venue booked? If so, this is a good time to have the save the dates sent out. Premade printed designs should be time friendly but custom printed designs may need attention sooner. Then again, some companies have quick turnarounds and offer fulfillment services such as delivering in envelopes with the guests’ mailing address already printed on them. Simply add a stamp and off they go.
5 Months Out
If the bridesmaids haven’t finished their fittings yet, you will probably want to take care of that before moving on to the next item on your checklist.
Fortunately, the groom and his groomsmen have more predictable suits or tuxedos to take on. After knowing the bride’s and groom’s preferences, the suits should be able to be picked out and altered in less time than their counterparts.
By now you should have hired at least your essential vendors. Now it’s time to choose the rest of the vendors you’ll need to complete your wedding team. Similarly to booking a venue, vendor calendars can fill up quickly too. Be sure to cover all of your bases such as photographers, florists, DJs, wedding cakes, equipment rentals, and all of the other usual suspects as soon as possible. The earlier you start looking, the better chance you will be able to hire your top choices.
Wedding Website & Registry:
Your birthday and the holidays are not the only times to receive gifts. Scoot a little closer to your partner and get cozy because it’s time to build a wish list for your guests. Customize your wedding site template with all of your wedding details and include a gift registry that you created together. Any good wedding site template will include your gift registry. Once complete, your guests can easily search for either of your names and find your wedding site with registry.
As most choose to go the registry route, others may want to receive money instead. If you prefer to replenish your bank account after spending big on bringing your dreams to fruition, you may want to convey this on your wedding site and possibly on your wedding invitations. A more tasteful message may be something like “Living on our own for several years has blessed us with an accumulation of everything we could possibly need to complete our home. While we greatly appreciate the gesture of receiving housewarming gifts, we kindly request no boxed gifts.”
Once your save the dates have been sent you should switch your focus to ordering the official invitations. If you would like to have a custom design, approve the final draft so the vendor can print appropriately. If you need to save time, many of the vendors should be able to offer fulfillment services similar to processing save the dates. They can prepare everything necessary including the printed envelopes with individual mailing addresses. Some may even offer to mail out the invitations themselves for an additional fee. We will revisit mailing the invitations 3 months before your wedding.
4 Months Out
Ordering wedding bands is not much different than ordering an engagement ring. If you are looking for a band that matches the engagement ring, you should probably buy from the same jeweler to ensure the closest match. As with chefs and dishes, handmade bands tend to look unique to the master jeweler that crafted them. To your benefit, you may be able to get a discount for making a second purchase from the same vendor. Keep in mind that it may take up to 12 weeks to receive your custom fitted ring.
You have been so busy planning for the day of your wedding that you may have lost track of what comes after the wedding: your honeymoon. It’s a good idea to start doing some research. Talk with your partner about where you may want to go, how long you want to go, and how much you want to spend. Just as you would with any other big vacation, you will want to plan ahead to see pricing trends on flights, resorts, and hotels. Once all of your ducks are in a row, book away!
3 Months Out
Assuming things are moving along smoothly, you should have received your wedding invitations by now. Simply put, this is a great time to mail your invitations to your guests. Stamp ‘em and send ‘em!
Tastings and Trial Runs:
Your wedding is on track and it’s time to get a feel for what’s to come. Schedule an appointment to have your hair and makeup done as if it was your wedding day. Be sure that everything is exactly how you like it. Remember, this is your day so speak up if there is something that you don’t like.
This is also a great time to meet up with your caterer and cake vendor for tastings. If you aren’t satisfied with a flavor, have adjustments made to the menu. Not only will you choose cake flavors, you may want to add or subtract side dishes too.
Browse some of our other articles with helpful wedding ideas:
Destination Weddings: Common Questions from Engaged Couples
Great Ideas for Bridal Shower Games and Activities
How to Plan a Bachelor Party
How to Plan a Bachelorette Party
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