Want to plan a wedding in six months? It's a challenge, but it can be done. Most traditional wedding planning timelines are designed for a couple with a year (or more!) to get the details ironed out, sometimes that’s just not realistic—especially if you get engaged over the holidays and are dreaming of a summer wedding. But can you actually pull off a fabulous wedding in only six months? You bet! You might actually be surprised by how easy the process can be (you know, since there’s no time to second-guess your decisions).
Here’s exactly how to plan a wedding in six months, with the tasks for each month laid out for you.
Determine your budget.
First things first. Start by determining the budget for your wedding and figuring out who will be contributing (and how much). Now is a good time to make a list of your must-have items (like a certain photographer or a live band), since you might want to allocate extra funds toward these items. (Check out our guide to creating a wedding budget in five steps!)
Choose your venue.
While most traditional wedding venues book a year—or more—in advance, you can still find a fabulous venue on a short timeline. First, consider alternative dates like a Friday or Sunday, which might get you that ballroom or country club you’ve been eyeing. It’s also a great idea to look into nontraditional spaces, like a restaurant, art gallery, or even your parents’ backyard.
Secure your main vendors.
Just like venues, a lot of wedding vendors get booked pretty far ahead of time, so you’ll want to get yours lined up fast. Get in touch with photographers, videographers, florists, bands or DJs, and cake bakers ASAP so that you have a little time to consider your options and keep looking if the people you reach out to are booked up.
Choose your dress.
Custom-made wedding dresses should usually be ordered six or more months in advance, but can be purchased in a shorter time frame—just know you’ll have to pay a rush fee if you go that route. For a more affordable option, check out ready-to-wear bridal shops, salon sample sales, non-bridal ready-to-wear designers, or even rental sites for options you’ll be able to take home the same day or schedule for delivery. Schedule fittings for closer to your wedding date so your dress fits like a glove. (Check out our eight favorite bridal salons in New York City and make your appointment!)
Book a hotel-room block for guests.
If you have a lot of guests coming from out of town, you'll want to secure a room block. This reserves a block of rooms that only your wedding guests can book, often at a discounted rate since a potentially large number of people will be reserving them.
Schedule your engagement shoot.
You need to get on scheduling your engagement shoot as soon as you establish your photographer. That way, you can use your engagement photos on your wedding website or your save-the-dates, if you like.
Figure out your guest list.
In order to properly prioritize your budget (and choose a venue!), you’ll need to know how many people you’re hoping to have at your wedding. Sit down with your S.O. to make a preliminary list, then talk to your parents about any other guests they’d like to add. Think about the size and style of wedding you’re hoping for, and keep your budget in mind—more guests means more people to feed and a bigger venue to rent!
Consider hiring a wedding coordinator.
There are a lot of details to address when planning your wedding, and a short timeline can make all those specifics feel a little overwhelming. Set yourselves up for success by hiring a planner or month-of coordinator, who can help arrange your planning documents and to-do list and recommend vendors. Even if you’re taking care of most of the specifics on your own, knowing there’s a pro you can turn to will ease a lot of pressure and keep you moving along at a good pace.
Establish your wedding party.
You’re not the only ones heading down the aisle! If you’re asking friends to stand by your side at the altar, get them on board early. While bridesmaids’ dresses can be purchased and delivered on a shorter timeline than a wedding dress, they still take a while, so consider ready-to-wear alternatives or ask your ‘maids to pick their own dress in a specified color palette. Get rental orders for suits or tuxedos placed quickly, or go the same route with groomsmen and let them wear their own suit in a certain color.
Send your save-the-dates.
As soon as you have your venue selected, get those save-the-dates sent. You can opt for digital save-the-dates (since you’ll have plenty of time for custom invitations, but not quite enough for custom save-the-dates) or semi-custom printed designs from companies with a quicker turnaround time (think Minted or the Wedding Shop at Shutterfly). Some will even print your guests’ addresses on the envelopes for you, making mailing as easy as peeling and sticking stamps. For your wedding invitations, get working on the design early so that you can have them ordered and delivered with plenty of time to mail.
And don’t forget to get your wedding website (and your registry) set up before those save-the-dates go out!
Create your wedding website.
It's key that your wedding website is up and running before you send the save-the-dates, given that you'll want to include your site on the save-the-dates for your guests to reference. In addition to your love story and cute photos, make sure to include key information for your wedding guests, like maps, a dress code, venue details, and registry information.
Hire the rest of your vendors.
You’ve booked the major ones already, but there are other vendors to consider. Now’s the time to hire hair and makeup stylists, rental companies, and transportation for you and your loved ones.
Get your wedding bands.
Whether you’re getting married in six months or a year and a half, this is the latest you should shop for wedding bands. Like engagement rings, many are made-to-order, meaning it could take 45 days (or up to 90!) for your wedding band to be made and delivered. Start by shopping at the store where your partner purchased your engagement ring, especially if you’re interested in a matching set, or devote an afternoon to visiting a few different jewelry stores to find the one you love.
Do your menu and cake tastings.
You're halfway through planning a wedding in six months, and it's time for a treat to reward yourself for all the whirlwind planning you've accomplished. What better way to celebrate than one of the most exciting wedding planning tasks: tasting your menu and cake.
Plan your honeymoon.
After a whirlwind of wedding planning, you’ll be ready for some R&R after your wedding day! Worried about flight prices? Search within the U.S. (think Nantucket or Kiawah Island in South Carolina), where you can find great beaches and affordable flights. Try looking on sites like Airbnb anywhere across the world, as these spaces tend to need less time to book than many hotels or resorts.
Send the invitations.
You’ve already designed and ordered your invitations, so now it’s time to get them in the mail. For a destination wedding, send those 12 weeks before your wedding date. For a local celebration, eight weeks is the perfect amount of time.
Now’s the time for your bridal shower and bachelor or bachelorette parties. You shouldn’t have too much planning to do when it comes to these parties, but want to make sure they’re scheduled a month or two before your wedding so you’re not distracted by last-minute stress.
Order your marriage license.
That little piece of paper is a major deal. Plan your visit to the county clerk and get the marriage license.
Do a hair and makeup trial.
Your wedding day is not a time for surprises. Schedule a hair and makeup trial so you can make sure your glam team fully understands your wedding day vision.
Pack your bags for the honeymoon.
The excitement's building, and not only your wedding but your honeymoon are a month away. Take some time during these weeks to pack your bags so you don't have to worry about them the night before the wedding.
Confirm all the details.
Confirm timing and orders with all of your vendors. Make sure to create a wedding day timeline so all vendors (plus parents and bridal party members) are on the exact same page.
Finalize your seating chart.
By now, all your wedding RSVPs should have rolled in, and you can finalize your seating chart and have your escort cards printed.
Enjoy the moment.
Your engagement will have literally flown by, and you've managed to plan a wedding in six months (no small feat). This is your last month of being a fiancé instead of a wife, and it's a special time. Savor it and try not to stress!