How long you need to plan your wedding all depends on what you want! There are no hard and fast rules on how long you need to plan your wedding BUT, if you have a specific vision in mind for your wedding, you want to be realistic on what will be available and how quickly everything will be able to come together.

In this episode, we are going over the pros and cons of a short engagement vs. a long engagement so that you can settle on a time frame that is right for you!

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Take your time deciding

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting days of your life! 

But settling on a date right after is really not something you need to rush on. You can take your time in making these decisions, and just enjoy being engaged. There are no rules for when you have to start planning the event after getting engaged, but there are some things to keep in mind if you have your heart set on a certain time of year.

Newly engaged, how long do you really need to plan your wedding
Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash

For example, here in Texas, October is an extremely busy month for weddings. If you have your heart set on an October date, you will want to give yourself about 18 months, or be willing to have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday instead. 

So, If you just got engaged and really want to just get to the altar as soon as possible, there are some things you may need to be willing to sacrifice to make that happen. On the other hand, if you want a large wedding with all of the bells and whistles, or you really want a Saturday, you will want to give yourself more time to plan it.

What you need to know about Choosing your venue

One of the biggest factors in determining your wedding date is choosing your venue. Venues run on a pretty tight schedule and book a long way in advance, so it’s absolutely the first thing you want to look into. 

Premium venues in your area will book up far in advance, so if you are looking at a shorter time frame, you will need to be more flexible on where you get married.

You also want to pay special consideration for why some venues have more availability during certain times of the year. For example, if you find an outside venue in Texas that is available on short notice for an August date, it is probably available because it is so hot in August that people pretty much spontaneously combust. By choosing this date, consider: are you willing to sacrifice the enjoyment of the day (think sweating, makeup melting, etc.)  in order to get married sooner?

 
You can read more about choosing the perfect venue in this post!

how long do you really need to plan your wedding
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Don’t forget to consider your guest count

Your guest count can be a factor in determining how much time you want to plan your wedding. For example, do any of the guests need to travel to get there?

If that’s the case, you will want to plan your wedding far enough out that long-distance guests can book their time off work, childcare, and book their hotel rooms. 

Are you booking a destination wedding with lots of guests? Your guests will need more than 3 months’ notice so they can plan their trip and book their lodging and transportation.

Guest list, how long do you really need to plan your wedding
Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash

Of course, if you are planning a small destination wedding and just want it to be you two and a few friends heading to the beach for the event, that can definitely be planned in 3 months or so! Lots of couples like this option because they would prefer to spend the money on a beach vacation along with their wedding, rather than a big reception. 

Whichever way you go, as long as it works with your timeline, it’s going to be amazing because it’s what you two want!

Choosing your dream dress

Choosing your wedding dress is one of the favorite parts of the planning process, but your time frame can really determine which dress you get, and when. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready to say yes to the dress: 

  • A custom or designer dress will take a long time to create and arrive. 
  • The process of choosing a dress can take a long time. It’s a big decision after all!
  • Once you find your dream dress, alterations can take months, depending on how much needs to be done, so if your wedding is in 4 months that might not work.
  • Alternatively, if your wedding is already planned and is only a few months out, you can decide to shop off the rack so that you know you will have it in time.

What does your wedding party look like?

In addition to your dress, you will also want to leave time for your wedding party to get theirs and make sure they are fitted. 

Now, if you are having a small wedding with one or two bridesmaids and groomsmen, it’s possible to get their outfits bought and ready in just a few months, but for a larger wedding party, you will want to leave more time for unexpected situations. There always seems to be at least one person whose alterations take longer than expected!

Bridal party, how long do you really need to plan your wedding
Photo by Carson Vara on Unsplash

If you are currently shopping for wedding party attire, read our tips in this post, or visit these two sites that we really love. The first one is Azazie. They have an excellent selection of bridesmaid’s dresses, flower girl dresses and more. Their customer service is amazing as well, so if you need any exchanges or returns, they will take care of it really fast.

 
For the men, The Suit Shop is the one we recommend the most. Not only do they offer virtual fitting so you don’t have to guess on the size, but their prices are excellent. You can buy a suit from them for the amount it usually costs to rent a suit elsewhere. You will still want to leave enough time to get the pants hemmed or the jacket taken in, but they really are wonderful to work with.

Booking your vendors

Vendors book based on availability. Usually there is only one person or a small team offering the service, and they can only be at one event at a time, so If you have your heart set on a specific planner, photographer, DJ, or caterer, you will want to ask about their availability early. 

Don’t worry about bothering them too early either, especially if you have your venue booked already. If your wedding date is set during a busy time of year they will book up fast!  We always say that if you are within 18 months of your wedding date, you are not too early. You don’t want to miss booking the photographer whose work you absolutely love because you waited too long to call them. 

Speaking of photographers, they are definitely someone you want to book early, especially if they are popular. This way you can make sure you get the engagement shots you want early enough that you can use them for the invitations or display them at the wedding!

Wedding vendors, how long do you really need to plan your wedding
Photo by Mariah Krafft on Unsplash

Consider your budget

When looking at your budget, decide, what are the most important elements to you? Do you want a 3 course meal or a simple buffet? Do you want a DJ for a big dance, or a playlist plugged into the sound system from a phone?

Deciding what your focus is, and how bougie you want to get with it will help you know how long you need to plan. For example, if your time frame is 18 months it can be a lot easier to budget for a bigger wedding than if you only have 5 months to put it all together. 

Weddings are expensive, and all of those bills are gonna stack up on you within that time frame. Some couples plan further in advance so that they can either make payments or they can pay all of the deposits up front and then wait to pay the rest later to allow the bank account to recover. If the budget is an area of concern for you and your partner, giving yourself a bit more time to plan can be very helpful, and can possibly allow you to spend more on the wedding overall!

Planning a backyard wedding

Some couples choose to save money and accommodate a shorter planning period by having a backyard DIY wedding. You can plan your wedding much quicker if you are doing it this way, because your cousin who does photography on the side is probably not booked up every weekend, and can accommodate whichever date you choose. 

If time and your budget allows, it can be worth considering hiring a professional for at least one or two areas, even for a backyard wedding.

DIY wedding, how long do you really need to plan your wedding
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

For example, you could hire a caterer so that your dad can enjoy more of the wedding than he would if he were busy behind the scenes getting the food ready. 

Another situation we have come across is that the mother of the bride wanted to hire a planner because the bride’s sister had gotten married two summers before and she had done everything. She found that it really took away from her enjoyment of the whole process, and this time she just wanted to enjoy the exciting parts of her daughter getting married and leave the planning to a professional!


Not sure what to hire out and what to DIY? Talk to one or two people that have gotten married recently and ask them what they would have done differently if they could! Or read our tips for an intimate backyard wedding to plan a day that perfectly suits you!

Looking for a genius to help you plan your timeline?

Now that we have talked about the timeline of your engagement, we are excited to announce that we have partnered with Timeline Genius to make the planning process even easier! It will be integrated right into our services to seriously uplevel your wedding planning experience. 

In our time in the industry, we have created hundreds of timelines, and just love how Timeline Genius holds your hand through the entire process in a way we have never seen before. 

You’ll have two options to use it:

  1. Click the link to Timeline Genius on our website, create your own account and walk through the entire process yourself, or;
  2. Book a consultation with us, and we will take you through creating the timeline with Timeline Genius, and give you tips along the way

If you are really trying to keep the budget in check, or just want some help with the planning process, we think that Timeline Genius will be a huge benefit to you!

We hope these tips have been helpful in helping you decide how much time to plan for after you get engaged. Just remember, however long you choose, there are things you can do to make it work and plan the wedding that is perfect for you.

Happy planning!

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