Spoiler alert. There’s no set time frame to plan a wedding day!
If you’re reading this, you’re either newly engaged or trying to get ahead of the game. Either way, congratulations! You’ve got some really exciting times ahead, and hopefully, you’ll have plenty of time to plan the perfect wedding together!
But how long does it take to plan a wedding? Are 6 months enough? A year? Or should you quit your job, and plan this wedding full-time?! The answer is: it depends, but probably not the last one…
We know, vague answers are not what you’re looking for right now. But to be honest, knowing how long the average couple takes to plan a wedding won’t help you plan yours because every couple is different.
The time it takes to plan something as momentous as a wedding day, depends on so many factors, such as work commitments, lifestyle, families, friends, feelings towards weddings, and a little thing called, Covid-19! Yes, a pandemic can certainly take any best-laid wedding plans and throw them out the window.
But Seriously, How Long?
Ok, if you really want to know the average time it takes to plan a wedding, it’s about a year.
For an average, non-destination wedding, this should be enough time to complete all the wedding planning tasks, like booking the wedding venue, finding outfits for the bridal party, securing vendors, and crafting your homemade wedding favors.
But, a 12-month wedding planning timeline is not a rule, just an average! If you feel like you need more time, that doesn’t mean you’re taking too long.
On the flip side, if you only have 3 months until ‘I do’ day, then that’s also totally achievable.
No matter how much time you have allocated to the wedding planning process, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start.
So, today we thought we’d share a wedding planning outline to help keep your personal time frame in order.
When Do You Start Planning a Wedding?
Before diving headfirst into planning your dream wedding, it’s essential you stop, and enjoy the moment. This will hopefully be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion and one that’s wholly unique to the two of you. So why ruin it by immediately discussing wedding budgets and floral arrangements?
You don’t even need to tell your loved ones straight away. In fact, don’t! Keep this little secret to yourself for a couple of days, and enjoy having a piece of information that is just for you.
When the time is right, tell your closest friends and family, and celebrate together. Throw a little informal engagement party, or meet for drinks at a local bar; just enjoy being engaged — without any of the planning.
As soon as you tell the wider world, you’ll suddenly be bewildered with questions you might not know the answer to yet. When? Where? What? Am I…? And it’s not just questions, it’s suggestions too! You bet that as soon as your big news hits Instagram, you’ll be fielding advice from followers desperate to share their amazing wedding vendor recommendations.
So give yourself a month, let the excitement soak in, arrange an engagement shoot, and enjoy fantasizing about what type of wedding you’re going to have.
What Order Should the Wedding Tasks Be In?
The order of some wedding tasks within the planning process is interchangeable, time-wise.
However, some things need to be done in a particular sequence, so here’s the order of when to fulfill certain essential wedding tasks…
Find & Book a Wedding Venue
Finding your perfect venue first, no matter your timeframe is wedding 101!
The location you choose, and its facilities, will impact every other vendor and logistical decision you make subsequently.
For example, your caterers may not be allowed to work at your venue because they only use their own vendors.
Or, your wedding cake designer might not be able to deliver your cake to the venue because it’s too far away.
Also, the most popular venues get booked up early for wedding season, so if you don’t act fast, you may end up with a more limited choice.
Decide on a Wedding Budget
As a reference, Brides Magazine states that the average wedding in the US costs around $44,000. But remember that this is just an average! Your final budget may differ wildly in either direction.
Your wedding budget is fundamentally personal to you and needs to be thought through very early in the wedding timeline!
Begin by listing your priorities, and settle on the non-negotiable items. This could be anything from a sentimental location for the ceremony, to having an extensive craft beer selection at your wedding reception.
Then consider a maximum figure. What is the most you can afford to spend on your nuptials? Are relatives going to help out, if so, how much are they willing to give you?
Speak with fellow married friends, browse online and really analyze your financial situation — only after this will you be able to come up with a realistic and honest wedding budget.
Refraining from giving it careful thought means you could end up unable to pay various vendors, or worse, financially ruining yourself!
So, in the spirit of good forward planning, give yourself a financial cushion. Like any planning project, weddings do inevitably over-run money-wise so it’s not a bad idea to put 10% of your budget away in case of emergencies.
Find your Dream Wedding Dress/Outfit
If you’ve never shopped for a wedding dress before, it may shock you to know that your perfect dress may take some time to tick off your list.
This part of wedding planning has many different stages, with multiple people involved, so the earlier you start shopping, the better! In fact, 10 months before the big day is a good amount of time to keep in mind.
Once you’ve eventually found your perfect dress, it will probably need to be ordered. Each bridal brand has its own unique timeline, but it will inevitably take months to receive your gown, between 3-5, depending on the construction process.
The fun doesn’t stop when the dream dress does finally arrives at the boutique either! It will then need to be altered to fit you perfectly. This normally involves several rounds of fittings which will need to be scheduled around your schedule and the store/alterations team’s diary.
All of this takes time, so aim to order your gown no later than six to eight months prior to your wedding! You don’t want to incur extra charges to make sure it arrives on time, not to mention the extra stress heaped on your shoulders!
Choose Your Wedding Party
Some wedding magazines might say this task should be much further down the list of planning priorities, but we disagree.
When planning a wedding, you need your gang around you, helping every step of the way. Inspiring your choices, debating your decisions, and keeping you calm when things get a bit tense.
Establishing your wedding party early ensures the bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits can arrive and be altered in good time.
It’s also such exciting news to be told that you’re a part of the bridal party; why would you want to keep that kind of information hidden?! Surprise those lucky girls and guys, and make them feel as special you do.
Besides, it takes time to organize the ultimate Vegas Bachelorette party!
Hire Vendors that Match Your Wedding Vision
Whether you’re dreaming of a traditional wedding with a horse-drawn carriage and silver service reception, or a backyard wedding with food trucks and super cool DJs, you’ll still need to find a professional planner or a range of vendors who match your wedding vision.
Remember to always consider what your wedding priorities are, vendor-wise. Is there a wedding photographer that you’re obsessed with? Does your recommended full-service wedding planner only work 6 months of the year in your area? Are you set on booking this amazing makeup artist?
List all of these essential wedding elements down, and be sure to tick them off first before you start booking anyone else.
Send Out Save the Dates Cards
Giving the people on your guest list adequate time to make arrangements to attend your big day is kind of a big deal.
The last thing you want to do is plan the perfect wedding, only to realize that everyone’s busy because you didn’t let them know soon enough in advance. So be mindful and let your guests know essential information months in advance of your celebration, ideally even months ahead of your wedding invitations going out.
If you have members of your guest list traveling from overseas, or out of state, you may also want to book out blocks of hotel rooms nearby, or at your reception venue. This way you’ll avoid guests needing to leave early because they couldn’t find accommodation in the local area, plus it’s just considerate!
How Long Does It Take to Plan a Destination Wedding?
Whether you’re planning a big day away in the sun, or nuptials atop a snowy mountain, a destination wedding ceremony will take slightly longer to plan than a domestic one. Unless you’re planning an elopement of course.
Destination weddings are booked in specific seasons meaning they book up much faster. A spring beach wedding for example will be warm but not too hot, making it a popular choice. Autumn at a ski resort may also prove favorable because of its winter, but not a full-on blizzard, vibes.
Factor in your wedding guests’ travel arrangements and availability on top, and nailing down a date becomes a challenge!
So give yourself an extra 6-12 months to plan a destination wedding. You’ll be thankful for the extra time if any possible language barriers and/or issues arise along the way.
Ideally, also book a local professional wedding planner who can take control of the day-to-day activities and plan on your behalf. It will definitely give you peace of mind to have someone there looking after things, especially if you’re halfway across the world.