Congratulations! You’ve just gotten engaged and can’t wait to start planning your wedding. Besides being a creative process, wedding planning also allows you to put your organizational skills to work.
Contrary to popular belief, wedding planning can get hectic as it takes lots of negotiations, comparing different options, changing plans, and dealing with inevitable setbacks.
That’s why most engaged brides would prefer to start planning early to ensure everything is in place, but how early is too early to plan a wedding?
Though the excitement is difficult to ignore, sage advice says to wait a few months before making any ceremony plans.
Our detailed guide looks at the average time it takes to plan a wedding. We also give you a timeline for the wedding planning process to help you prepare in advance.
How Early is Too Early to Start Planning a Wedding?
It’s too early to start planning a wedding immediately after you’ve become engaged.
Wait a few days before talking to your partner about your preferred wedding date. Decide on whether to have a short or extended engagement, as this will determine your wedding planning timeline.
What’s the Average Time It Takes to Plan a Wedding?
It takes 12-18 months on average to plan a wedding. However, various factors determine the time required to prepare.
Some couples are fine planning their wedding six months before their big day, while others prefer starting a year in advance.
Factors That Determine Your Wedding Planning Timeline
While specific wedding planning tasks can be done quickly, a few require extra time to get sorted. Some of these tasks that may require up to a year to plan include:
Finding a Wedding Venue
Finding a venue is one of the tasks that will take a lot of time.
Remember that you not only need to compare the different preferred venues, but you’ll also have to do a site visit and discuss the packages available, how many guests the venue can hold, charges, location, and other extras involved with different venues.
You also want to find a venue available on your preferred wedding date. That means you must start your search early before the venue is booked.
If you have a specific list of vendors you’d like to work with on your big day, you need to inform them early and book in advance.
Some vendors must be booked a year in advance, including cake bakers, florists, caterers, and photographers.
Getting a Wedding Dress
Another factor that affects your wedding planning timeline is your choice of wedding gown. It would be best if you had ample time to shop around and compare available options.
You may find the perfect dress quickly, but it may need a few alterations to make it just right on your big day. These alterations require time, and you may not have this option if you plan your wedding too late.
Furthermore, if you opt for a custom-made dress, you need to give the designer at least six months to make it and accommodate any alterations you may need.
Planning your wedding in two months or less means you may have to settle for something off the rack or pay expensive rates to get your preferred wedding dress.
You must send out wedding invites early to allow your guests to set your chosen wedding date aside. It would be best if you planned on sending your “save the date” reminder at least six to eight weeks before your wedding.
Note that when sending out the invites, you need to have compiled your guest list and talked to your partner about who to include and who to exclude. That’s another task that takes up a lot of time.
Plan a Honeymoon
It’s best to allocate at least six months to get a good deal on hotels and flights.
Planning Around a 12-Month Timeframe
Wedding planning takes an average of one year. Here’s a detailed wedding planning timeline and checklist you can use if your wedding is 12-18 months away.
Start by setting aside your budget for the wedding. Determine who will cater for which costs and if your family will chip in to help with the wedding costs. Planning your finances makes the process less stressful.
You should also start compiling your guest list. The guest list will determine your wedding venue and may influence other aspects like catering. Also, decide on a final wedding date to help schedule and book a venue.
Deciding whether to plan the wedding yourself or hire a wedding planner is also essential. Going the DIY route might save money, but it can get hectic. A wedding planner can help you navigate the planning process easily due to their vast experience.
If you’re planning on having a bridal party, this is the right time to choose who to include to give them enough time to prepare.
In the 12 months leading to your wedding, you should start looking at wedding venues once you have compiled your guest list and have a budget.
At this point, you should also decide on your wedding theme and color(s).
At this point, you should be looking for your wedding dress and the groom’s outfit. Shopping for your outfit early gives you enough time to make the necessary alterations and find accessories that match your gown.
Furthermore, it gives you time to sample different bridal stores and find something unique within your budget.
You should also talk to your florist if you have an idea of the choice of flowers you want for your wedding. Compare with different vendors and see what your budget can accommodate.
It’s also best to start choosing your photographer and videographer. Find experienced people who understand your needs and can deliver based on the set budget.
Six months before your wedding, you should be planning your wedding invitations. Decide on the style, colors, and number of invites you need.
You can also have the engagement shoot at this point with your preferred photographer. That will help you decide whether you want to proceed with the same photographer for the wedding or change.
It’s also the best time to decide on the wedding cake style and flavor. If your venue doesn’t provide rentals like seats, tables, linens, and decor, you should arrange for these things at least six months before your big day.
Send out your wedding invites two to four months before the wedding date. Ensure you have details like date, time, and location on the invites.
Apply for a marriage license and find out the wait time, which varies by county and state. It’s also an excellent time to buy wedding rings.
Now is the time to also figure out your wedding day transportation. Determine who will chauffeur the bride and the bridal party to the wedding venue.
It would help if you also went for a dress fitting to ensure the alterations made are adequate. If you’re planning on having a bridal shower, it’s best to do it in the fourth month leading to your wedding.
With only a month to go, it’s time to get in touch with your vendors to ensure everything is on track.
You should also work on writing your vows. Set aside the final weeks of your wedding for personal grooming. The groom should get a haircut, and the bride/her team must have their hair, nails, and other grooming needs to be done.
Give your photographer a list of must-have photos, where to take those photos, and who to include in the posing images.
With only a week to your wedding day, you should make any pending vendor payments and tips, cross-check that your marriage certificate and rings are ready, ensure everyone has their outfit ready, and attend your bachelorette party.
While it’s possible to start planning your wedding as early as two years in advance, a few venues and vendors may recommend booking only a year prior to give them time to plan and see how things turn out.
Remember that it’s never too early to start thinking about or saving up for your wedding. Consider the above factors and tips on scheduling essential wedding tasks around a specific timeline.