How to Plan a Wedding in Six Months or Less

Photograph by Nichole Meredith Photography.

How do you pull off a wedding when planning time is seriously limited? We reached out to Laura Weatherly of Engaging Affairs (who have put together weddings in as little as nine weeks) for her professional take on a six month and a three month wedding planning timeline. 

Related: 5 Washington Wedding Venues to Try When You’re Planning a Last-Minute Event

Six-Month Timeline

6 Months Out: Book your venue, major vendors (photographer, caterer, hair and makeup, music, florist), and hotel-room blocks. Unless you’re marrying in February or March, most popular venues will be full, but smaller hotels and restaurants might be available. Order your gown and bridesmaid dresses. Either skip save-the-dates or order them immediately so they can be mailed out at once.

5 Months Out: Mail save-the-dates, order invitations, and book minor vendors (day-of transportation, day-of paper goods, ceremony music, rentals). Zero in on three or four categories—hire a great band, or snag a top caterer. Focus on doing a few things very well.

4 Months Out: Order favors and
accessories. Make decisions efficiently—there won’t be time to consider multiple options for each category. Trust your planner to direct you to the best vendors.

2-3 Months Out:  Stuff and mail invitations, purchase bridal- party gifts, schedule mani-pedis, and finalize the ceremony order for programs. Make sure there’s a sound system at your rehearsal dinner venue if you intend to have toasts.

1 Month Out: Set the day-of timeline, assign seating, pick songs, make final payments, pick up your marriage license, and give final guest counts to vendors.

Three-Month Timeline

3 Months Out: Hire a planner—they’ll know how to keep you on track. Lock down the venue (restaurants work great, or check hotels and other venues for cancellations), order invitations (no engraving or letterpress), and secure the photographer, hair and makeup, florist, music, and caterer. The ship for ordering a gown from a traditional bridal salon has pretty much sailed, but you can ask salons if they are selling sample gowns or if any of their designers offer
extreme rush service.

2 Months Out: Skip save-the-dates and, if the guest list is short, handwrite the invitations. If you can’t fit in an engagement session, post-wedding photo sessions are gaining in popularity. Finalize logistical items such as the RSVP tally, ceremony schedule, and seating charts.

1 Month Out: Set the day-of timeline, pick up your marriage license, make final payments, and give final guest counts to vendors. If a couple wants to DIY part of the wedding, there’s time to put together favors and welcome bags.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.