Whether an accelerated timeline for wedding planning is due to choice or circumstance, the shorter time frame does not mean you cannot have the wedding you’d like. You can plan a fabulous wedding with only six months. Some of your top choices might not be available, so flexibility and creativity will help. Being organized also helps, so use this as a guide for the months leading up to the big day.
The Basics of Planning a Wedding in 6 Months
These three items form the foundation and set the parameters for the entire event and thus must be decided before any planning begins. Take some time to discuss the following with your partner:
- Budget: Decide upon the funds you’ll have available for the event. Once you know the limit, you can figure out the right amount to spend on the various items along the way. Knowing the budget for each item helps limit options and make decisions.
- Theme or style: Your desired aesthetic for the wedding will guide other decisions, from choice of venue to caterer. If you want an intimate affair, then your guest list will need to be limited.
- Must-haves: Share your top priorities for the wedding. For example, you might want a pro photographer and a ceremony on the beach; if those are your must-haves, then your planning should reflect those priorities.
- Ceremony: Since popular wedding venues frequently are booked years in advance, your first choice might not be available in just six months. To increase your options, consider having the wedding on a different day of the week or at an earlier or later time of the day.
- Reception: Combining the ceremony and reception into one venue simplifies planning, since coordination of dates and transportation won’t be necessary.
- Wedding dress: Buying a gown through the traditional wedding dress salon typically takes eight or nine months, so you’ll want to begin the process as soon as possible. Custom gowns can take six months to make; a custom-made gown can be made in under three months, but the expedited process will come with a large price tag. More affordable and quicker options include designer sample sales or ready-to-wear bridal shops.
- Bridesmaids’ gowns, groom and groomsmen attire: Shopping for the rest of the wedding party’s wardrobe won’t take as long as the wedding dress, especially if the men plan on renting their tuxedos.
- Bridal party: As soon as possible, decide on whom you’d like in your bridal party.
- Groom’s party: The groom needs to select his best man and other members of his party. Be sure their suits or tuxedos are ordered in time.
- Officiant: Lock in the officiant presiding over your ceremony as soon as possible.
- Guests: Set a guest limit early in the process. The number of guests impacts several items, including catering prices, venue options and the size of the cake. Send digital “save the date” announcements as soon as a date is set, and mail invitations two months before the wedding. Request RSVPs electronically to help keep track of the guest responses and to save on postage.
- Photographer: Once the date is set and the venue is booked, secure a photographer. Review portfolios to make sure their style matches your aesthetic. If you prefer an unobtrusive photographer ask about the use of flash and your photographer’s methods.
- Baker: As soon as you know the style of your wedding and the number of guests, reserve your cake with your bakery of choice. You will need to review many cake options, from flavors to decorations to design, will need to be reviewed with the baker and reviewed against your budget.
- Florist: Order floral arrangements at least a month before the wedding and, ideally, several months in advance.
- Caterer: If your reception venue doesn’t have in-house food service, then you’ll need to shop around for available caterers. You’ll need to decide whether to serve alcohol as well as whether to offer an open bar.
- Music: Line up a DJ or band for the reception as soon as your venue is booked. Don’t be afraid to have a list of songs not to play as well as playlists of songs you’d like to hear.
- Beauty: Choose a hair stylist and makeup artist and arrange for consultations a few months before the wedding. Have a trial run four to six weeks before the wedding. Book a manicure and pedicure the day before.
- Honeymoon: If you plan on taking some much-deserved rest and relaxation right after the wedding, then book your travel a couple months before the date.
- Gift registry: Around the time you send invitations, you might want to register for gifts at a couple sites, both online and brick-and-mortar. Be sure to include a range of price options.
- Time off work: Don’t forget to ask for time off from work. If possible, request a couple days before the ceremony to give yourself time to relax as well as to take care of any last minute details.
- Thank you gifts: Small gifts for your wedding party serve as tokens of your appreciation for their time, effort and participation in your special day.
- Marriage license: The time to obtain a marriage license varies by locality, but it generally takes less than a couple weeks. Make sure you and your partner have all necessary documentation to prevent any delays.
- Vows: If you choose to write your own, don’t delay. And if you prefer a standard ceremony, make sure you approve of your officiant’s script.
If your timeline is a more typical 12 months or more, check out our Definitive Wedding Checklist for a timeline and tips on how to plan your wedding!