How to (Quickly!) Plan a Wedding

Time-Saving Tips for the Busiest Couples

Planning a wedding can be a time-consuming process for anyone. But if you’re a couple with an extra busy schedule or facing a short timeline to pull off your big day, it can be especially challenging. We hope these time-saving tips will help you prepare for your wedding as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Hire a planner

No time to research all those venues, caterers and other vendors? Consider hiring a professional wedding planner to help. It’s an extra expense, but these pros can save you both time and money in the long run. You can hire one to either handle a few tasks or to run the whole show for you (narrowing down vendor options, communicating with vendors, and even negotiating the best pricing for your budget). Even for the most hands-on brides, hiring a professional planner can shortcut many of the decisions and details that go into organizing a wedding of any size or budget.

Choose an all-inclusive venue

An all-inclusive venue is the time-crunched couple’s dream. With one stop, you can choose your ceremony and reception location. Often, these venues include options for food and drinks as well as rentals such as tables, chairs and a dance floor. Some venues offer a professional in-house culinary team while others allow for self-catering. Some venues also have onsite accommodations for all your guests. Visit our Reception Guide for a great list of venues.

Have an ‘off-day’

Can’t get a Saturday reservation within your time frame? Before getting discouraged, consider setting your date on an off-peak day, such as a Friday, Sunday or even mid-week. Suddenly, you may find that your dream vendors and locations are wide open and happy to accommodate you.

Delegate, delegate, delegate

Many brides agree: For saving time, there’s nothing simpler than delegating tasks on your to-do list to family and friends. Consider delegating those small tasks (folding ceremony programs, stuffing invitations, making welcome bags, etc.). If your family members and friends know your schedule is absolutely nuts, and they have volunteered to help with some of the planning, then don’t be afraid to ask them to handle bigger tasks for you­. Perhaps you could put your mom in charge of booking your cake baker, or your best man can figure out the logistics for the transportation company. Often, loved ones are eager to help with wedding tasks, so...let them help!

‘Save the date’ – and your time

On a short time frame but want to ensure your guests get all the details in time? Ordering and mailing “save the date” cards and wedding invitations take time, and waiting for response cards takes even more. With a wedding six months out, you’re safe to mail invitations, but for shorter time frames, consider getting a bit creative, and maybe even a bit hands-on. For example, hire a local graphic designer to create the invitations, design them yourself online, or use invitation templates that can save time and still be beautiful. No time to mail invitations and wait for response cards? Consider e-mail invitations – there are many beautiful options available. Or, create a wedding website that has the added bonus of allowing you to share all the details – including hotel accommodations, wedding registries and things to do for out-of-town guests – all in one place.

Skip the DIY

If you’re on a tight budget you might think that taking on a DIY project or two will save you money. But, trying to create wedding elements yourself can end up being a huge undertaking and much more time-consuming than it’s worth. Leave these to-dos to the professionals. Yes, you may pay a bit more, but considering that time is money, it’s money well spent. Whether it’s baking cookies as favors, creating your own centerpieces, or any DIY project in between, time-sensitive tasks can add up to a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure when on a short timeline, so think twice before taking on a DIY project for your wedding.

Buy off the rack

A wedding dress should be ordered several months in advance, plus you'll need to allow at least another month for alterations. Not sure you have that much time? Consider buying off the rack at bridal boutiques and then having the dress altered to fit. Also, consider using a dress not intended to be a wedding dress or bridesmaid dress, including prom or evening dresses. Also, check out local designers and makers for gorgeous custom accessories you won't have to wait weeks for.

Food & decor

Getting food, decorations and even a cake when you’re under a time crunch usually is much easier than finding a venue or dress, wedding planners say. If you need to hire a catering company, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a caterer available on short notice. The same goes for decorations and flowers. In a pinch, the floral designers at many grocery stores, such as Carrs/Safeway, create bouquets and centerpieces for weddings. For wedding cakes, unless you have an elaborate design in mind, you should be able to find at least one cake designer who can accommodate you. If not, look at other options, such as cupcakes or macarons – both will look beautiful on an elegant cake stand or tower.

Be flexible

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a wedding in a short time frame is to be flexible, and keep your expectations in check. Don't waste a lot of time making plans until you see what's available. Then, focus on making quick, smart decisions. After all, the more open you are to creative alternatives, the happier you’ll be with the end result.

Plus, there’s a bonus, says one recent bride, Janelle: “In hindsight, my engagement was short, but it was sweet. I realize now that having less time to plan a wedding meant I had less time to stress over every detail!”