Whether you’re planning an elegant wedding or a down-home hoedown, here are some guidelines on determining what your planning timeline should be.
The first question you should ask yourself is: “When do we want to get married?” Most wedding guides recommend a year to a year and a half, but the truth is, if you know your end date, you can always make adjustments accordingly. Check out the free resources at The Knot for some help, or view the wedding checklist at RealSimple.com.
Some brides opt for a short engagement, like one bride I interviewed for a wedding book I’m researching. She was engaged in August and married in December!
If you’re looking at a shorter planning period, consider personal venues such as a family member’s home or the banquet area of your church. Most traditional wedding sites — such as hotels, banquet halls and parks — are booked at least a year in advance. You might, however, squeeze in by having your wedding on a less common day, such as a Friday night. Just keep in mind that some long-distance guests may not be able to attend as a result.
While bridal shops require six months to order gowns, if you tell your bridal associate up-front about your schedule, you may be able to buy a floor sample or a discontinued dress for a faster turnaround. Your choices, however, will be more limited. Or you can shop online and have a dress delivered directly to you, as long as you’re certain what you want.
Of course, for spur-of-the-moment folks, there’s always a Vegas wedding. Some good friends scrapped their original wedding plans and booked a Vegas wedding within about two weeks. That meant paring down their guest list to just close family, but they saved themselves a lot of hassle and some money, too.
While most brides I’ve interviewed have stuck to a traditional schedule of about a year to a year and a half, one friend planned her wedding at a more relaxed pace. She was engaged for four and a half years as the couple worked to pay off credit-card debt and get themselves into a better financial position. The longer schedule allowed her to shop around for the best deals on everything from photographers to locations, and then to book exactly what she wanted.
How much time you take to plan each aspect of the wedding is related to your priorities. Spend your time researching, making decisions, and doing legwork for those aspects that matter to you, and spend less time on the rest!