Spoiler alert: if there’s only one thing you take away from this article, let it be that you should never compare your wedding planning timeline with someone else’s. I see those pre-printed planning timelines plastered all over the internet and cringe every time. They’re making the assumption that everyone is getting engaged, planning for 8 -12 months, (with nothing but your sole dedication to planning, by the way) and then getting married. It’s so unrealistic.
So, how do you set a planning timeline? Well, first things first, you need to pick a date, or at least a month and year you’re aiming for, while simultaneously considering how long you want to be engaged. And this doesn’t mean just looking at the average length of an engagement online. This means considering what’s happening in your lives at this moment that will impact the engagement. Are you planning to move in together or buy a house soon? Is one of you in the middle of a job change? You know, those types of big life changes. I’ll use myself as an example - Eli and I got engaged in November of 2014 after 6 months of dating and just moving in together (yep, we’re a bit crazy). Eli had just changed jobs, which meant little vacation time. We had just moved in together, so we had a lot of unpacking and pet peeves to learn about still ;) Needless to say, we had a lot going on, and while we could have put together a wedding in 7-8 months for a summer 2015 date, we opted to wait a bit and plan for June of 2016. So, take time while you’re choosing your wedding date to consider the other things happening in your life. Choosing a short engagement doesn’t make you crazy, and choosing a long engagement doesn’t mean you’re any less excited about getting married. The length of your engagement should simply correlate with what’s going on in your life.
Now that you’ve chosen your date, count the number of months you have to plan.
If you haven’t prioritized your vendors, go back to my last blog post and do that immediately. With this list, try to assign 1-2 vendors you’ll focus on each month. This will help keep you from getting overwhelmed by email inquiry responses, consultations and appointments, and too many deposits needing to be paid all at one. If you’re on a shorter timeline, you may need to look into more vendors per month, but the overarching goal is to assign particular vendors to each month so you’re not getting overwhelmed and trying to reach out to everyone, all at the same time.
Your second goal is to have all of your vendors booked at least 1 month prior to your wedding date. (If you only have 1 month to plan, this clearly doesn’t apply to you, and let’s be honest, you probably don’t even have time to read the rest of this blog. What are you doing?! Go plan! You have a lot to do in a month’s time!). For those of you with a longer engagement, it’s completely acceptable, and encouraged, to get all of your vendors booked much sooner. Don’t quote this blog as a reason to procrastinate. I'm setting this rule because, ultimately, at 1 month prior to your wedding you want to be in “review and checking details” mode, not “making big decisions” mode. If you can hit that point sooner, it'll only make planning that much easier.
Remember when we discussed big life events a few paragraphs ago? Make sure you put those in the planning timeline. Let’s say you have 14 months to plan, but you have a 3 week vacation booked during that time. That’s great! Just be sure not to assign any wedding planning tasks during those 3 weeks. It’s completely fine to take some time off from wedding planning and live your “normal” life. Wedding planning always ebbs and flows. It’s one of the perks of having a longer engagement, you don’t need to be wedding planning 24/7. Work these breaks into your planning timeline, and either do a little more the month prior or the month afterward.
Other things to consider? The holidays. With travelling, gift buying, parties and events, finding time in your schedule for wedding planning may be tough. It’s very common for couples to ease up on planning during these months and jump back in to it in January. These winter months (January, February, and March) also tend to be full of wedding shows and open houses, so the timing is perfect.
Now that you have a rough outline for wedding planning, remember not to compare your plan to someone else’s. It causes FOMO, and no one likes that feeling. Instead, when other couples talk about how much they have to do all at once, you can sit back and smile knowing that you have a plan. And a plan means less overwhelm and less stress.
Thrifty Events offers wedding planning, event design, and day of coordination services.
Candi Block, Founder & Event Planner
Midwest native with big-family roots, now newlywed, entrepreneur, and new home owner in the PNW. Love being involved in the community, crafting, creating, and Netflix binging.