Some couples prefer a long engagement, while others opt to say “I Do” quickly within a few months or less than a year being engaged. And as you scour the internet for timelines to help whiz you through a condensed planning process, you may find it difficult to discern which tasks will provide the best ROI for your time and resources.

Yes, you can efficiently plan your special day in a short period of time and on a budget, but the secret is spending your limited time to really review the key decisions that will most affect your overall wedding day, budget and guest experience. Everything else is as they say, fluff.

In fact, many professionals often plan 300+ guest weddings in 3 months or less. The only difference is that they already know how to navigate the lengthy and detailed planning process. 

No longer are the steps Wedding Pros take a mystery. Below you’ll find your cheat sheet for making key wedding planning decisions. This will speed up your overall planning process and is ideal if you’re hoping to plan your wedding in 6-9 months.

What you’ll learn:

  • Most important tasks to tackle
  • Biggest budget impacts
  • Creating lasting memories for you and your guests
newly engaged

Most Important Tasks to Tackle First: (As soon as you’re engaged/6-9 months)

Wedding planning on a tight schedule is possible, but keep in mind that you may be limited on some of your options and have to make faster decisions. In a previous blog post, ‘Where People go Over Budget by Vendor’ you’ll find the questions to ask to vet your vendors. This will be extremely helpful for you to cut to the chase in your planning and be able to hire the right vendor team quickly.

You’ve said yes! Now it’s time to start meeting and speaking with the vendors below These are the ones who can book up fast, so it’s important to ensure they’re all available on the same date.

wedding venue

Start With Finding Your Venue

  • Check dates, availability and pricing right away. You’ll want to have what’s available on hand as you talk to your other important vendors below. 
  • Ask how many dates you can hold without a commitment, then place the most desirable dates on hold.
  • Compare against your budget, then start negotiations.
  • Before signing, make sure your desired date works with your other top vendors.
finding your wedding photographer

Choosing Your Photographer & Videographer Comes Next

Couples hire their wedding photographer and videographer based on their look and style. These vendors often only shoot one wedding on any given day. If you have your heart set on a particular vendor, you’ll want to reach out right away to check availability as it may affect your venue and more.

Hiring Music/Entertainment should be Your Next Vendor Hire

Again, DJs and Bands play one gig an evening. As your date closes in, there may be limited availability with entertainment options, so you’ll want to start finding your DJ or band right away.

Saying Yes to the Dress Takes Time – Plan Ahead

If you’re not ordering ‘off the rack’ or ready made, a wedding dress can sometimes take months to be ordered and made. And this doesn’t even include the time it takes to search and try on your dress. On top of all this, you’ll need enough time to schedule 2-3 fittings prior to your wedding so your dress will look as if it was made for you. So add dress shopping to the top of your wedding planning punch list.

What Comes Next (3-6 months prior to your wedding)

Most of the vendors below can easily service multiple events in a day or are items with more leeway. If you’re hosting your wedding in a remote destination, then tackle the list below as soon as possible too.

  • Florist
  • Invites – perhaps consider an e Save the Date
  • Wedding Cake
  • Caterer
  • Rentals
  • Linens
  • Groom’s Attire

Keep in Mind These Biggest Budget Impacts:

Once again check out the blog post ‘Where People go Over Budget by Vendor’ to see how each vendor estimate can affect your budget. Since you have to make quicker decisions to get things done in time, it’s important to keep track of some of your biggest ticket items to stay within budget.

  • Venue and Catering – This tends to make up 40% or more of your budget, so don’t rush this decision and make sure the numbers work.
  • Vendor Meals – Depending on how many people are working your wedding day, this can increase your food & beverage tab and affect your budget.
  • Food & Beverage ++ – This is tax, service charge and/or gratuity which quickly adds up to 20-30% on top of your quoted estimates. Make sure this is included in any estimates you receive from your food & beverage vendors.
  • Photographer & Videographer Hours – Sometimes these vendors don’t quote you enough hours to capture your wedding day and overtime can quickly add up. 8-10 hours is the suggested amount.

Remembering Special Touches for Lasting Memories:

You may be planning your wedding on a condensed timeline, but that’s no reason to miss out on creating a memorable day for not only you, but your guests as well. Download our free guide 5 Things Your Guests Will Remember About Your Wedding to include these affordable special touches.

A couple of our favorites from The Guide:

  1. Ceremony Beverage Station – Your guest’s first impression as they arrive at your wedding.
  2. Desserts – Because there is no better way to celebrate than with cake and desserts!
  3. And there’s 3 more in The Guide with affordability tips, expert questions, worksheets and more.

Now you know the secret to planning on a tight timeline like a pro. What’s most important is knowing what to tackle first so you can make the most of your short planning time frame. Most couples run straight to the flowers or other items that actually are not the priority in planning a wedding in less than a year or even 3 months.

Once you have the important pieces in place, so you can start finding your secondary vendors and finishing your planning.

Keep in mind at all times, even though you are making your decisions quickly, it’s still important to vet your vendors and know that you are making these quick decisions within your budget. There’s always time to slow down to double check numbers and details.

And lastly, quick wedding planning does not mean a less memorable wedding. Even with your condescended timeline in place, there are still so many ways to pepper in memorable guest experiences.

Now off you go, start tackling the key planning items!

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