Short engagements: How to plan a wedding on a short timeline
Today, it's not unusual for couples to be engaged for as long as two years. But, this is a relatively new idea. In the past, six months was considered to be a long engagement. More couples are heading back toward short engagements, some couples have short time frames because of pregnancy or military obligations, others just know that short engagements can reduce the stress of wedding planning, and can result in just as beautiful an event.
The most important things to remember when scheduling a wedding on a short time frame are to be flexible and decisive. Don't waste a lot of time making plans until you see what's available, and don't waste time mulling over every decision.
Do your research
Before you start signing contracts, make sure to use a site like OneWed.com to research potential wedding vendors and venues. Use wedding blogs like OneWed's Savvy Scoop and other online articles to get great wedding ideas, but once you've made a decision, stop reading! If you've already decided on a menu, there's no point in wasting time reading about other options.
Reduce the unnecessary
A lot of couples wind up with things like wedding favors that they don't want, just because they saw it on a wedding checklist and had time to do it. Luckily for you, you only have time to focus on the most important elements of your wedding. Those elements will be different for every couple, but knowing what you don't need will give you more time to focus on what you do need.
Consider a wedding planner
If you're shorter on time than money, consider hiring a wedding planner. A wedding planner knows all the hidden treasures of vendors and venues that might be available, and she isn't doing this for the first time, so she can move quickly.
Start with the venue
The first thing to secure is your wedding location. You've probably been told that all the 'good' places book up a year or more in advance, but that's not necessarily true. If you're willing to consider a Friday night or Sunday (day or evening) for your wedding, you may be able to snag even the most popular locations -- and possibly get a discount! After all, if they aren't booked yet, they may be willing to cut a deal. If you find an available hotel or restaurant, you've just saved yourself even more time since you won't need to find a caterer!
As soon as you have the venue and date secured, start working on your invitations. You need to mail invitations out six weeks before the wedding, especially if you're expecting out of town guests.
If you're worried that the timing is going to be tight, send out informal Save the Date postcards as soon as possible. These can be ordered from a stationary company or printed on your own
computer. To get everyone onboard even sooner, go to weddingpreparty.com and set up a profile and wedding website. You'll be able to spread the word about
the upcoming event and tap into your friends and relatives for ideas. Your Wedding Pre-Party also comes with a customizable checklist that you can use to assign tasks to others.
If you're on a very, very short timeframe (i.e. two months or less) you're going to have to be less formal about things. Make your guest list and get on the phone! Obviously, calling people to invite them to a wedding can be a little time consuming, so consider asking your parents or siblings to help with family invitations. If you have time, it would still be a great idea to send all the invitees a little note with the specifics.
Most wedding dresses bought from bridal salons take at least six months to order. Consider buying a vintage or 'once wed' dress. You will still need time for alterations, so don't leave it until the last minute.
Consider DIY or DBF (done by a friend)
DIY projects aren't generally considered time savers, but if you have helpful and talented friends, you might save time (and money) by getting them to help. Before going down this road though, spend some time thinking about what's important to you. If you've always dreamed of a perfect white wedding cake, then don't ask Aunt Helen to bake it, get it professionally made. But, if you don't really care about professional photographs, ask two or three friends to be your appointed shutterbugs for the night. Every couple has to make their own decisions about what requires a professional and what can be DBF.
One of the advantages of a short engagement is there's less time to stress, so don't cram all the normal wedding tension into a short time period.