If you're one of those brides who wants a short engagement, we can't say we blame you. Getting married in four months or less sounds pretty appealing—probably due to the fact that there's a faster road to happily ever after, less time for people to give you unsolicited opinions, and a lot of fun pre-wedding events in a row. But let's face it, a shorter engagement doesn't mean any less pressure. If you're planning your dream wedding in just a few months, start with organizing everything into a checklist. Then, follow these party-planning experts' best tips to pull off your dream wedding without the stress!
Hire a Planner
"If this is in your budget, this will be a huge timesaver (and lifesaver)," says Julie Savage Parekh, founder and creative director of Strawberry Milk Events in Washington, D.C. "Instead of spending hours upon hours looking up venues and preferred vendors, your planner already knows you and has an idea of what you need and are looking for." To top it off, a planner can help facilitate phone calls and contracts with vendors that they work with on a regular basis.
Eliminate Must-Haves From Your List
"Many vendors and venues will already be booked, so be open to eliminating a few of your must-have items," says Barbara Hearne, wedding specialist of Barbara's Brides in Austin. The same holds true for photographers, bands, DJs, and caterers. If you absolutely can't bear to cross someone off your list, book them as soon as possible—before their calendars fill up.
Consider Your Dates and Venues
Don't feel tied to traditional ideas for dates and venues. "The key is to be flexible," says Gabrielle Stone, founder of Stone Event Planning in Boston. "Because vendors and venues can book many months in advance, consider marrying on a Friday or a Sunday. Instead of a hotel, country club, or museum, consider a restaurant, private home, or community arts center as the backdrop for your wedding. These kinds of locations are likely to be available on short notice."
Set Your Budget Early
"Be clear on your budget because you don't have the time to waste on bad choices," says Hearne. A budget will also help you focus your attention on the big checklist items, and figure out which tiny details you can skip worrying about.
"Once you've made a well-informed decision, stop looking, reading, and researching!" says Parekh. "If you've already decided on a wedding dress, there's no point in wasting time browsing other options. The same goes for vendors and providers you've hired." In short: You don't have time to change your mind.
Clear Your Pinterest Board
Along with being decisive, it's important to have a clear vision for your wedding. So curate your Pinterest board and magazine tear-outs carefully with your fiancé. "Your Pinterest board should be helpful to your planner and florist, but it shouldn't be cluttered so they can't see your vision clearly," explains Hearne.
Guest List Comes First
Nothing can get done—including choosing your venue, catering, or invitations—before you know how many people are invited to the big day. "Work on your guest list with addresses immediately," says Hearne. "Then, send out a simple save the date, with an invitation following a month or so later."
"Start with the big items first—save the little items and details until last," says Parekh. That means venue, food, and photographer come before those cute DIY table numbers and monogrammed cocktail napkins. "If they don't get done because you don't have enough time, it won't be as big of a deal as say, not having music booked for your ceremony."
Think Outside the Box
If you've hit a wall with vendors who are booked up months in advance, don't get frustrated. Instead, turn your attention towards more available providers, who might also save you money. For instance, if that ceremony guitarist is booked, "ask a local music school if they have recommendations for students or professors who could play at your wedding," says Stone.
It's Not Always All in the Details
Weeks of combing through magazines and websites can lead you into an endless spiral of gotta-have-this décor. While it's great to have sentimental, personal touches, focus on the ones that really reflect you and your fiancé and have the most impact. "I always say details make the design, but opt for a few well-thought-out details that will pack the biggest punch," says Parekh. "Don't feel like you have to replicate every little detail and idea you've seen on Pinterest."