Today we are going to chat about one of my biggest pet peeves - the plethora of “one size fits all” wedding planning timelines. If you do a quick search on Pinterest or Google, you will easily find pages upon pages of graphics that tell you how to plan a wedding in 6 months, or 9 months, or 12 months, and while these can sometimes be a helpful starting point, I am here to tell you to stop following them like they are your wedding planning bible! There are so many problems with these timelines, which I’ll discuss, but the main issue is that they end up causing more stress, anxiety and FOMO than actual guidance and support. Here's why.
1. Most of these timelines are created for and posted to reach a national audience.
Your wedding here in Seattle may be nothing like a New Jersey or New York or Alabama wedding. Those locations have totally different peak wedding seasons, different trends, different spending habits and different vendors available. Try Googling “New York City wedding” and “PNW wedding” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. They have completely different styles! And that means very different priorities during the planning process which can impact your planning timeline. To give you another example, Southern regions will have very different seasons than places with harsh winters, and the length of warm weather in an area has an impact on the number of weddings happening during summer months. Here in the PNW, we get nice, sunny, warm weather from about July to August, and anything outside of those two months has a higher chance of rain. But, in places like Texas, their summer is much longer and the wedding season often extends much further into the spring and fall months, which gives couples many more weekends to choose from for a wedding with good weather. So, usually the shorter the summer season, the more weddings there are and the more competitive it may be to find available vendors and therefore, the longer you may want to plan.
2. These timelines assume you are wedding planning every single month, week and weekend.
Spoiler, life is still happening while you’re wedding planning. You have your job, family, social life, vacations and so much more that you need to plan around. It’s impossible to plan in every bit of spare time. Even the most excited couples get burned out on wedding planning eventually and will need a break. And that’s totally normal! Goodness, I’m a wedding planner, and I can’t keep going 24/7. I need vacations, too. These timelines, though, can get so detailed, and while their intentions may be good because they are trying to make sure you don’t forget anything, it gives you a massive to-do list which can easily take over all of your free time.
3. these timelines often make couples feel behind, even when they are actually doing a great job with planning.
The feelings of overwhelm are all too common when wedding planning, and most of this happens when your to-do list is long and FOMO begins to creep in. You may start looking at these one size fits all wedding planning timelines and they’ll include everything from save the dates, invites and wedding programs to guest favors, dress alterations, and beauty-prep tips, and suddenly you feel like you have to include all of these things in your wedding day, even if they don’t really fit your style, personality or budget. I’ll be the first to admit that my beauty regime leading up to my wedding day consisted of just trying to get a full nights sleep and remembering to shave my legs the night before. Everything else I left to my make-up artist and hair stylist to work their magic on. Now of course, if you are really into beauty products, that may be totally different for you, but I’m here to tell you that one person’s plan may not be the plan for you to follow, and some of the small details that work great at one wedding may seem out of place at your own. Don’t be afraid to cut things that just don’t fit for you or are causing you stress throughout planning.
Overall, most of these timelines are unrealistic to follow to a T, but I know many of you may be thinking, “oh great, what am I supposed to do now? What are my other options?”
My biggest piece of advice is to stop following them as if they are the end all be all to your wedding planning. Often times couples will search online and find the really detailed timeline that includes the most items, thinking that’s going to set them up for success, when in reality it becomes overwhelming and not a great match for their actual planning style.
1. Look for timelines that keep things fairly basic, and focus on getting the big pieces in place.
Once you have that, then you can always look for a more specific timeline that’s geared toward the details that you are looking for. So, let’s say you have all of your vendors booked, but you want to know when you need to get paper products designed, ordered, and sent. You can definitely find specific timelines for this, and often times, they will be created from stationary companies that actually know the ins and outs of that portion of wedding planning.
2. Try to find timelines or guides that are created by wedding professionals.
Anything that’s created from someone that planned their own wedding and suddenly thinks they have expert level knowledge to guide your wedding planning is not someone you want to follow. Wedding professionals are creating tools and resources based on hundreds of weddings, not one single wedding. Be aware of who is creating the tools that you are using!
3. Try to find resources and guides produced by local wedding vendors.
Almost all wedding planners have blogs, so do a quick search for planners in your area and scroll through their resources online. The tips they are providing are directly related to your region or city and will likely be much more applicable to your wedding. Not to mention, you may find a great, knowledgeable vendor to book in the process!
4. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to tailor the timeline to fit your needs and wedding ideas.
Make sure you are planning around the other things going on in your life, and cut the to-do list items that don't apply to your style or wedding day. Your wedding is unique to you, so make sure your planning timeline is unique to you, as well.