by Shawna Schofield

Planning for your wedding doesn’t have to start immediately after you say “I do.” Depending on how long you have until your planned date, you can allow yourself some down time, for a least a couple weeks, before diving head first into your wedding planning. Allow yourself some time to bask in your engagement, and just relax. The one thing you should talk about with your partner is exactly how long you want to be engaged, as there are pros and cons to short and long engagement periods. This part is up to you, and what exactly your vision is for your perfect wedding. Obviously, larger gatherings might warrant more time and preparation than smaller more intimate ceremonies. Consider what you are looking for, and set your date based on what feels right for you.

More than a year away?

If your wedding is more than 18 months away, than you definitely have time to sit back and relax. With so much time you can have your pick of any venue over a year in advance, so there is not need to rush to reserve a space. You could truly stand to wait a couple months before staring anything in earnest. Some of the pros of having a long engagement can include:

• Having more time to save up money that can go towards making your wedding everything you want it to be.
• Having more relaxation time in-between planning. Without worrying about a deadline creeping ever closer, you can take your time and not sweat the details.
• You have your pick of (most) venues without worrying about booking conflicts. Unless the place you are eyeing is highly in demand with a year long wait list, you will more than likely get what you want.
• This surplus of time also gives you and your fiancé to talk honestly about the goals you have for marriage and what you both want to strive for once you seal the deal. Open dialogue now can benefit you both for years to come.
• This will also give you all the time needed to make your DIY dreams come true. If you want custom invitations, party favors, floral arrangements, or first dance routines you have the time to think up and work out just what will work best for your dream wedding.

Having a wedding that is more than a year away allows you a lot of freedom in planning that can help alleviate any unnecessary stress that may arise from trying to plan a wedding in a couple months. (Though that can be done!)

Less than a year away?

If you have less than a year to go before you wedding, than you can afford to relax for about two weeks, give or take, before you dive into planning. You still have more than enough time that you don’t have to stress the little stuff.
• The venue that you want is more than likely still going to be available, and you have more than enough time to book it and get it into the shape you envision.
• You have time to go over vendors and caterers about what you want and how many people need to be accounted for.
• You have time to work on and perfect your first dance choreography, which is more important than you may think. Having a stunning first dance can leave a lasting impression on all your guests, and its an accomplishment that you can feel proud of for years to come.
• You still will have time to DIY a few things without worrying about the deadline.

Having an engagement that lasts under a year can be beneficial if you are engaged in December, but want to have a fall wedding. If you don’t want to wait almost two years, you may consider having the engagement period last under 12 months. It is completely doable without an uneasy amount of stress.

6 months away?

It’s estimated that 19% of weddings are planned in 6 months or less, and while it may seem like not enough time, I assure you it can be done. Though there are a few tips to make it a bit easier on you.
• Start a check list, but don’t be afraid to customize it to fit what you need. A lot of lists are available on line, and while they can give you the basics, don’t hesitate to add on or omit things that either you want, or that don’t apply to you.
• Consider finding a wedding planner who can help you handle the small things. Having someone who’s versed in navigating wedding preparation can help make everything run a bit smoother, and take stress off of you so that you have more time to focus on the details you care about most.
• At 6 months you are at the perfect place to begin practicing for your first dance together. It’s recommend that couples begin prepping for their first dance between 6-3 months out from their wedding date, this gives you time to work on your technique while not letting it sit too long in your mind and get rusty before the big night.
• Taking care of the venue should also be done relatively quickly at this stage, as depending on then location you might be verging into the risk of having it booked by someone else. While taking care of this you can also see about booking out hotel rooms for any out of town guests who might need them while staying for the ceremony.
• This is also a good time to start picking out and booking everyone who needs to be booked. Caterers, photographers, bakers, and musicians or DJ’s, depending on your preference.
• Consider looking for the dress of your dreams at this time as well, depending on what modifications that could be needed, it best to get that ball rolling as soon as possible.
• If you have a lot of guests coming for a good distance away, try to send out save the dates as soon as possible so that work and travel arrangements can be made.

Just because there needs to be a little more urgency to your planning at this state you could still stand to allow at least a week of basking in your engagement before getting into all the little details.

3 months away?

Now, you may be thinking that it is impossible to plan a stunning wedding in 3 months or less, but trust me it can be done. Take a couple days after they pop the question to marinate in the bliss before getting down to business.

• If you are looking for a vendor at this time, consider booking a date that isn’t on a weekend, as these times won’t be as “in demand” as weekend spots. If you can’t get the venue that was your first choice, don’t sweat it, look into off beat locations around you can can offer unique and personalized experiences. Sometimes it pays to go off the beaten path when picking a venue.
• At this stage you may definitely want to consider hiring a wedding planner to help you get everything squared away. If you have a decent sized guest list a planner can help you wrangle together proper vendors and designers to make everything go as according to plan as possible.
• At this stage you can still look into getting a few dance lessons to better prepare for your first dance. While it doesn’t have to be intricate, starting now and working with an instructor up until your wedding can ensure you have an unforgettable performance to treat all your guests to, as well as a fairytale moment for you and your fiancé.
• As with the 6 month wedding planning, try and get as much taken care of as you can, and making off a check list can help accomplish this, while serving as a visual track sheet of what you’ve done and what still needs to be tackled.
• Confirm with guests who will be attending so that you will have an accurate count to give casters and vendors.
• Acquire your marriage license, this one should be at least 2 months out, just to account for any unforeseen hassles. (You know how government offices are.)
• Plan the honeymoon if you are going away, or even if you are staying local. A honeymoon doesn’t have to be a trip to the Bahamas, there are cozy places all around that can offer a romantic and quaint getaway without having to go so far away.
• Finally, don’t stress the deadline, it may seem too close for comfort, but you will be fine! What matters most is the memories with the loved ones around you. So, even if you don’t have time to book the venue you originally wanted, your guests and you can still have the time of your lives, and the memories you make there will be just as unforgettably special.


Depending on the date of your big day you can have a lot of time to sit back and relax on the details, or you might have to move with a bit more urgency; however, more urgency does not have to mean more stress. If you feel that you will be overwhelmed, look into hiring a planner to help shoulder the responsibilities, that way you can have more time to focus on the details that you really care about more. Regardless of it you have 18 months or 3, you can rest assured that your wedding will leave a lasting imprint in the hearts and minds of both you and your guests.