While it’s true that most couples take a year or more to prepare for their weddings, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan your nuptials in six months or less.
Yes, it’s definitely a challenge in a shorter time frame, but it can be done, and done well, as long as you stay organized and don’t second guess yourself.
If you want to learn how to plan a spectacular wedding in just six months, our six-month wedding planning timeline can help. Check out all of our handy tips and tricks to help you plan the wedding of your dreams.
How to Plan a Wedding in 6 Months and Stay on Schedule
The key to planning a wedding in a short amount of time is a six-month wedding planning timeline. Essentially a wedding checklist, the timeline breaks down essential tasks you’ll need to work on each month so you can stay on track.
A wedding planning timeline will help you stay organized as you delve into the planning process. Not only will your wedding checklist explain which tasks to tackle each month, but you’ll be able to cross them off and move on to the next item as they’re completed.
If you’re planning a wedding in six months, your first month will be your busiest. The top priorities on your wedding checklist this month will be:
Your Wedding Budget
Once you’ve settled on an approximate wedding date, your first priority will be setting your budget. Sit down with your partner and discuss how much you’re willing to spend and who will be contributing. If one or both sets of parents plan to help you pay for your wedding, find out how much they’d like to contribute so you’ll know how much you’ll need to kick in.
Once you’ve done that, craft a list of must-haves with your future spouse so you know what your priorities are. For instance, if your dress and a country venue are your two biggest priorities and the groom is most concerned about good food and music, you’ll be able to better allocate your money to those items.
Hiring a Wedding Planner
While many couples choose to take on all of the planning themselves, if you can afford a wedding planner, they can certainly make your life a lot easier by taking the bulk of the work off of your shoulders. If you want a professional’s help planning your wedding, now is the time to hire one. He or she will then be able to help you in your search for a great venue and vendors.
Your Guest List
While you certainly don’t need to have your list of guests set in stone at this point, you do need to know approximately how many people you’d like to invite. Having a rough guest count is essential once you start looking for a wedding venue — you’ll need to make sure your venue can accommodate your guests if you’re having a large wedding.
If you’re planning a smaller celebration, you’ll need to make sure that you can meet the venue’s food and beverage minimum — a specific dollar amount that you must spend on food and beverages in the selected space.
Your Wedding Venue
Once your budget is set, your wedding venue should be one of your top priorities. After all, you can’t get married without a venue.
Make a list of your must-haves. Do you want an outdoor ceremony? Have you always wanted to be married in a chapel? Do you want to party in a swanky hotel or resort? Once you know what you want, start an Internet search for sites in your chosen area and set up some visits at any of the venues that meet your requirements.
If all of your chosen sites are booked a year in advance, consider getting married on a less traditional day. Being a bit flexible with your dates may be the difference between booking the rustic country venue you wanted and being disappointed. By opting for a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon wedding, you may even get a discount.
With only six months to plan, an all-in-one event space is extremely handy. It will save you from looking for separate ceremony and reception sites and many of them come with an in-house caterer.
Your Wedding Vendors
Wedding vendors are often booked well in advance, making this a major priority for any couple who wants to plan a wedding in six months. If you’ve chosen an all-in-one venue with in-house catering, you’ll be a bit ahead of the game.
Even if you don’t have to find a caterer, you’ll still need to look for a DJ or band for your reception, a wedding photographer, a florist and a wedding cake baker. Getting your vendors nailed down early in the planning process will definitely lessen the stress you’re under.
Your Wedding Dress
A custom-made or designer wedding dress is usually ordered six or more months ahead of time. If you have your heart set on this type of gown, it’s still possible, but you will pay more for it. A rush fee can add a substantial amount to the final price tag, however.
If you want a more affordable option, bridal salons always have a ton of dresses to choose from off the rack. Online bridal stores — like BHLDN, David’s Bridal or Azazie to name a few — offer easy shopping and quick shipping as well as the option to easily return your gown and order something else if you don’t love it.
Now that you have some items crossed off of your wedding checklist, it’s time to dive into your five-month tasks. They are:
Finalizing Your List of Guests
The guest list is a vital part of planning a wedding. While you already have a tentative list in place, you’ll need to fine tune it to make sure you haven’t forgotten anyone.
Now is a good time to talk with your future spouse about if you’ll be inviting children or having an adults-only ceremony. You’ll also need to decide if singles can invite a plus-one. Before finalizing your list, check with both sets of parents to see if there is anyone they’d like added to the list.
Choosing Your Wedding Party
If you plan to have a maid of honor, bridesmaids or both, it’s better to ask the ladies you’ve chosen sooner rather than later. While bridesmaids’ dresses can be purchased and delivered much more quickly than a wedding dress, it’s not something that should be left to the last minute.
Rental orders for suits or tuxedos should also be done in a timely fashion, so make sure the groom talks to his best man and groomsmen well in advance too.
An officiant should also be contacted and booked by this point.
Creating Your Wedding Website
While a wedding site is strictly optional, it’s a great way to keep your guests in the loop about your big day. Your website should include wedding details, the location, the dress code and registry information. You can also include maps, hotel suggestions and other pertinent information for your out of town guests.
Ordering Your Invitations
You may not need to send your invitations out this early, but it’s a good idea to purchase your wedding stationery now, especially if you’re ordering customized invites. Be sure your invites include all of the important details: your names, the wedding date and time, the location of the ceremony and the reception and the dress code. Your invitations should also include a RSVP card.
Sending Out Save the Dates
Once you’ve locked down your wedding location and finalized your list of guests, it’s time to send out your save the dates.
E-mail save the dates are a great way to save some time and money. Just be sure you have your wedding registry and wedding website completed before your save the dates go out. If you plan to have a wedding website, you can include the URL on your save the date message.
Four months before your wedding is the time to take care of a number of smaller details. Don’t forget to:
Hire the Remaining Vendors
You may already have all of the major vendors booked, but there are a few more you’ll want to have for your wedding day. If you’re planning to have your hair and makeup done professionally, it’s time to start your search. If the ladies in your wedding party also want to have their hair and makeup done, you’ll want to look for a salon that can accommodate all of you.
If you want to arrive at your venue in stye on your wedding day, now is also the time to book your limo, horse and carriage or whatever mode of transportation you choose.
And last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to get in touch with a rental company. You’ll need this wedding vendor if your venue or caterer isn’t able to provide you with everything you need for your ceremony and reception. A rental company can provide tents, tables, chairs, linens and even dinnerware for your big day.
Buy Your Wedding Bands
No wedding day would be complete without the exchange of wedding rings. To ensure you find bands that you both love, now is the time to start looking. If you choose a made-to-order ring to match your engagement ring, it could take up to 90 days before it’s ready for pick up.
Now that you’re at the halfway mark — three months before your wedding — there are some vital details to iron out. Don’t forget to:
Plan Your Honeymoon
Don’t get so caught up in wedding details that your first vacation as newlyweds gets pushed to the back burner. Now is the time to plan your honeymoon. Think about where you want to go and book flights, vehicle rentals and accommodations.
Send Out Invitations
Grab your list of guests and get busy addressing your envelopes. If you’re planning a destination wedding, it’s a good idea to give your guests at least 12 weeks notice. Invitations for local weddings should be ready to send out at least eight weeks before your wedding.
Do Your Cake and Menu Tastings
This delicious and essential task will allow you and your future spouse to choose what size, style and flavor of wedding cake you want as well as if you want desserts served in addition to the cake. It’s also time to fine tune what will be on your menu.
In the last few months before your wedding, you’ll need to accomplish a number of tasks. You should:
Get Your Marriage License
Requirements vary by state, so call city hall or your county clerk’s office to find out what information you’ll need to provide to get your marriage license as well as how long the license will remain valid. Some licenses are good for 60 days while others run out after one month. Remember to secure the marriage license from the state where the wedding is being performed.
Get Your Party On
Two months before your big day is the perfect time to enjoy a bridal shower as well as your bachelor and bachelorette parties. While the bride and groom aren’t responsible for hosting these events, make sure your family and friends aren’t leaving these important events until the last minute.
Do Your Hair and Makeup Trials
Doing a test run on your wedding hair style and makeup is always a good idea. This will give you the opportunity to discuss the look you want to achieve with your makeup artist and hairstylist and also gives them a chance to offer suggestions.
Purchase Gifts for Wedding Party
Buying gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen is of the unwritten rules of wedding planning. It shows how much you appreciate the time each one has taken out of his or her busy schedule to support you on one of the most important days of your life. It also recognizes their investment in wedding garb, planning showers and parties in your honor and helping you with last-minute details.
You can buy personalized gifts with engraving, purchase a gift card for spa services or a restaurant or jewelry or cufflinks for them to wear at the wedding. Some brides also opt to pay for professional makeup and hair for their attendants in lieu of a traditional gift.
The month before your wedding will be a busy one. Here are the things you’ll need to keep in mind:
With just weeks to go before you say “I do,” now is the time to check in with all of your wedding vendors. Confirming the date, time and location as well as the details of your order is vital to ensure your big day flows smoothly.
Your vendors aren’t the only ones you should be checking in with. You should also go over the details with your parents and the members of your wedding party to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Make Your Seating Chart
You should have all of your RSVP cards by now, so go ahead and create your final seating chart and fill out your escort cards and place cards.
Pack for Your Honeymoon
Packing a whole month before your wedding may seem premature, but giving yourself plenty of time ensures you won’t have any unnecessary stress before your big day.
Have Your Final Beauty Treatments
If you’re planning to get a facial, a spray tan or your highlights touched up, make sure you have your appointments booked about a week before the wedding day. For waxing, manis and pedis, two days before is perfect.
If you’re worried about planning a wedding in six months, take a deep breath and relax. You have plenty of time to plan a wedding that’s fabulous as long as you stay organized and carefully follow your bridal planning checklist.