While the average bride might take over a year to plan her wedding, combing through every detail with a fine toothed comb, many brides choose to have a shorter engagement. Samantha Engleman, a designer who planned her destination wedding in Tulum in 4 months in 2018, said “Less time means less stress overall- even if it’s a lot to do, a short timeline lets you be decisive”.
These days, the COVID19 pandemic is encouraging smaller, more intimate weddings – which can translate into less lead time and less cost overall as well. You can plan an incredible wedding in 12 weeks, and we have compiled a timeline to help you stay on track.
So you have 3 months to plan your wedding. Where do you start?
Normally if you’ve booked a date, you’ve booked your venue. If not- think outside of the box or consider a non-weekend day. Many popular venues book up further in advance but there are plenty of houses and properties that may be OK with hosting a wedding – AirBnb even has a ‘suitable for events’ filter! Super helpful.
Sit down with your partner and make a list of what is most important to you, and decide on a budget. We recommend shared docs in the cloud or google sheets so there is a place to collaborate.
Buy your wedding dress! Many designer wedding dresses have at least a 6 month lead time, but you have options. Anomalie Collection gowns have a delivery timeline of 10 weeks from purchase – buy today and receive it in time for alterations. Alternatively, shop vintage or do a search for bridal boutiques that sell gowns off-the-rack, meaning they are ready to take home immediately.
Draw up a guest list to give your guests as much time as possible to plan to attend and so you can order your invitations. Remember, a smaller guest list means an easier wedding. Keeping it intimate might be the best way to guarantee pulling off your wedding without a hitch. Send electronic save-the-dates to give your guests the heads up.
Book your photographer – If there isn’t one available, reach out to friends and family for recommendations.
Check on how you intend to get legally married – the process differs depending on where you are and you want to make sure you account for any delays. Kaela Fonzi, a healthcare executive in NYC, was getting married in her home state of California in August 2020 but struggled to find a county clerk’s office in California who would issue a marriage license to a non-resident of the county.
Decide on the theme and color scheme for your wedding – this will be crucial for next week’s vendor list. Pinterest is a great place to start – peruse and see what feels right. We also suggest searching your venue and seeing what other couples have done with the space. Geotagging on instagram is your friend!
Book a caterer – Availability will be a big factor here but it’s not the only factor. For ease of planning on a short timeline, it would be beneficial to choose a caterer that can take on many of your tasks at once- many caterers handle the staffing, the dinnerware, the bar, and even the cake!
Book your vendors- Now that you have nailed down the vibe and the food, you can start reaching out to vendors that you think will fit the bill.
- Rentals and Linens
- DJ or Band – If you’re struggling to find available musicians, you can ask friends to put together playlists. It’s good to split it up by portion of the wedding- welcome drinks, reception, late night may all call for different music. Even if you do book a DJ- they will probably ask for some guidance on songs you want. Spotify playlists are a great place to start for wedding music inspiration.
Send invitations! Since you may not have decided the caterer or meals yet, give your guests a check box for them to mark “Vegetarian” or “Vegan”. With your tight timeline, there is nothing wrong with wedding evites-
Pick out your rings and order them so they arrive in time for the wedding. We love the beauty and affordability of Mejuri, who has simple yet stunning bands and an engraving option.
Arrange a hair and makeup test. In the digital age, most of the hair and/or makeup stylists you hire have instagrams or websites that can help you see if they excel at the look you’re going for- be it classic, glam, or relaxed and natural.
Book Wedding Transport. If you have 50+ attendees, especially if they are all staying at your recommended hotels from out of town, it’s a huge benefit to arrange wedding transportation. Keep in mind the parking situation at the venue as well to see if this is a worthwhile option.
Order the groom’s suit or tuxedo- Indochino recommends ordering a suit 6 weeks from the wedding day.
Make a table plan. We recommend a seating chart even for smaller weddings- it let’s the guests relax and focus on enjoying the party. With COVID at the top of mind for the next little while, it may be helpful to reach out to guests to see if they would prefer seating with their household or close family only.
Have a tasting and finalize menu with the caterer. Don’t forget the hors d’oeuvres! Check with the caterer about staff training and COVID preparation as well as any local guidelines.
Book a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, local or a friend or family members house. Be sure to plan who intends on giving any toasts or speeches so they have time to write!
Get fitted. If you ordered your wedding dress with Anomalie, it will be delivered this week! Take it in for your first fitting as soon as possible to leave plenty of time for alterations.
Make sure you have your shoes and accessories picked out as well, and bring them with you to the fitting so you can see your whole look with time to make any changes.
Call your vendors and confirm day-of plans. At Anomalie we believe in the saying, “trust, but verify”. Get a bridesmaid, your partner, or a parent to help call and triple-confirm the plan and day-of timelines. This can be a good moment to confirm final numbers, dietary restrictions and the seating chart as well!
Collect the suits – check for all accessories- ties, vests, cufflinks, pocket square, shoes can go missing and lead to a mad scramble on the day of the wedding!
Have your final fitting. Many tailors will let you leave the gown with them until you’re ready to take it home, but we know brides who entrust it with their MOH or a parent if they want to keep it out of sight of their partner. Plan to have a steamer on hand for the big day!