Did you say "Yes!" just before ringing in the new year? We're here to let you in on a little secret: It's still possible for you and your love to say "I do" before fall comes around. With a little flexibility and plenty of organization, planning a wedding in six months (or less!) is possible, swears Laura Weatherly, founder of Washington, D.C.-based Engaging Affairs.
Since everything needs to happen in a compressed amount of time, she has brides with a three- to six-month lead-time write out weekly to-dos rather than monthly ones. "It can be overwhelming to list out all the things you'll need to do each month," she explains. "Breaking it down into weekly tasks makes it feel more manageable." And don't be shy about enlisting your squad. Getting your bridal party, relatives and obviously your future spouse involved can be invaluable, she says, just be sure to set deadlines for people if you delegate. Accountability is key when you have a short planning period." She outlines her other tricks for racing down the aisle here.
Book your venue ASAP.
By all means, finish that glass of celebratory Champagne, but once it's done, get to work finding a venue for your ceremony and reception. Since more popular properties tend to book up fast, you may need to get creative with your hunt. "Do you have a favorite restaurant that might be a great reception venue?" asks Weatherly. "Then see if you can buy it out for one night. Is there a fabulous art gallery or cultural center in your town? Ask if they'd be willing to host your event."
Get creative with timing.
If your heart is set on a trendy venue, you might need to be open to more out-of-the-box days. "Friday evenings and Sundays will have more availability than a Saturday," explains Weatherly. "And picking an off-season month can help in procuring venues and vendors. Usually January, February, and March are less busy than the peak wedding months in the spring, summer, and fall."
Bring in reinforcements.
While your nearest and dearest can be helpful, a wedding planner is invaluable when putting together your dream day under a tight deadline. Notes Weatherly, "A good planner will prioritize the process within the shorter timeframe and hunt down available venues and vendors."
Determine your must-haves.
Always dreamed of pulling up to your nuptials in a classic car? Have your heart set on a particular band? Check their availability before picking a date. To ensure you're happy with your vows, "it's crucial to prioritize what's important to you," says the expert. And for those hoping for a church ceremony, she advises checking in with your officiant "to make sure they will allow weddings within six months. Some don't."
Lock in high-priority vendors.
While a baker might be able to whip up cakes for several weddings on the same day and florists often handle multiple vows at once, "a popular band may be snapped up early," notes Weatherly. She recommends keying in on vendors who can only do one event per day, such as entertainers, photographers, videographers, and even popular hairstylists, before moving on to other tasks.
Skip straight to the invites.
Cross choosing a save-the-date off your to-do list if you're less than six months from your set date, says Weatherly, "Just send the invitations a little early." (FYI: Get started on those as soon as you pick your date and venue as the proofing and printing can take time.)
Think outside the bridal salon.
Because custom dresses can take four to six months to come in, the pro says it's smart to look into other options. She advises hitting up sample sales at salons ("They're a great way to find a dress as it's cash-and-carry"), visiting bridal consignment shops, or even ordering one online. For your bridesmaids, she says, consider renting gowns to save time on the ordering and alteration process.
Cut yourself some slack.
"It's important to focus on the elements that are important to you and not get bogged down by the temptation to do everything," says Weatherly. "If custom signage isn't at the top of your list, don't feel you must do it." Same goes with ordering personalized favors, perfecting your first dance, or even writing your own vows. If something is stressing you out, says the expert, skip it: "People will notice the things you focus on and won't know the things you decided not to do."