Chances are, if you’re flipping through a bridal magazine, you’ll see a timeline that breaks down the wedding planning process. And as old fashioned as it may seem, there’s a reason why the timeline is still around – it’s because it works!
We live in an age of Internet gratification – buy something and it’s downloaded to your computer or shows up next day at your doorstep. If you’ve lived with that mindset, you may think you can plan a wedding that way. Or maybe you feel that, thanks to the Internet, if you don’t look at every website and read every review you’ll miss out on something that could have made your wedding dream come true.
Immediate gratification and procrastination are not your friends when it comes to wedding planning. Great venues and vendors are often booked six months to a year in advance. And if you don’t have a venue lined up how can you really set a date? Unless you’re buying your gown off the rack, it will take months for your dress to arrive at your local bridal salon – and then you’ll need to schedule time for fittings and alterations. Bakers need time to work with you on the design of your cake; floral designers need time to develop a décor vision.
The sequence to planning is just as important as the time frame. The “Big Three” to knock out early are the selection of your venue/caterer, gown, and photographer. Once you have a reception plan and gown style nailed down, you can then focus on your décor, entertainment, and cake. And your venue selection will also play a role in the style of your wedding stationery.
Can you plan a wedding in less than six months? Absolutely – if you’re willing to make some compromises. If you have your heart set on a particular season or a specific venue, consider holding your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. If you can get that Saturday, but not in the evening, consider a wedding brunch. Champagne and crepes are a great way to celebrate! And go with that sample wedding gown. The beauty of bridal is that the styles don’t go stale after six months.
As a short-timer, you may think you need to go the DIY route. Keep your “Crafty Cathy” to a minimum – the last thing you need is to get bogged down with the glue gun and spray paint. And if your budget permits, hire a competent wedding planner. A good one will save you time, stress and, in the long run, money (because they keep you from making budget mistakes). If you’re stuck in a holding pattern because you haven’t looked at every website and review, do yourself a favor and ask for referrals. Planners have relationships with vendors they trust and venues have lists of preferred wedding professionals.
Finally, whether you’re taking 18 months or 18 weeks to plan your wedding, remember this: Sit down with your beloved, hammer out a budget and figure out what are the three to four most important things you want for your wedding day. Put your time, energy and money into those and the rest will fall into place.