There are plenty of reasons that couples may have a quick turnaround between “will you?” and “I do!” Maybe your fiance is in the military and scheduled for a deployment, or maybe baby makes three and you’ve moved up the date to ensure you can still fit into that custom bridal gown. Maybe you’re just drunk in love and never been more certain that the time is right. Regardless of your reasons for a short engagement, rest assured that you aren’t now forced to choose between elopement or the local courthouse; you can organise a beautiful event quickly and affordably with the following strategies.
1. Location, location, location.
The first order of business is securing a venue for your event, and depending on whether you’re trying to schedule six months, six weeks, or six days out, your options may be more limited than you’d like. Popular venues like country and golf clubs, ballrooms, and hotels may be booked for Saturdays a year or more in advance, but they may not be booked for every Friday night, or for Sunday afternoons or evenings. You should also consider less conventional spaces, like restaurants with large party rooms, theatres, or photography studios, or even your own home or backyard. Once you’ve locked down a location for your event, you can officially set the date.
2. Get those invitations out.
Now that you’ve booked your date and your space, it’s time to focus on the guest list and getting those invitations in the mail. It can be tempting to throw everyone you know on the guest list, but the number of guests you invite will be the single most critical factor in determining the cost of your wedding. You’ve got better things to do with your time than trying to figure out how to make money fast so you can invite your great aunt’s cousin twice removed. With the availability of online stationery services, you could probably get custom invites on a quick turnaround, but if you’re really on a tight schedule, drop by local stationery stores for pre-printed invitations or blank templates you can hand write to fill in. Don’t forget that it’s typical to get some regrets, but you may experience more than the average due to the short notice.
3. Get your dress.
Alterations alone can take three weeks for a bridal gown, so if you’re on a tight timeline there won’t be time for custom orders and tailoring. Thankfully, bridal salons and boutiques have sample sales and off-the-rack options that are every bit as beautiful as a gown you would have waited months to wear. Once the bride is provided for, head on over to rent a tux; if there are any bridesmaids or groomsmen participating, you’ll want to find solutions for their threads next, too.
4. Food, flowers, and photos.
If you’re pressed for time, you’re going to have to plan a simpler event — but that’s not a bad thing. One of the perks of planning a quick wedding is that you’re less likely to fall prey to the endless personification and extras that cost a fortune and don’t necessarily add any value to the day. “Some of this actually goes back to the way we used to do weddings,” says master bridal consultant Elise Enloe. “You don’t have to serve a seven-course meal and have a 20-piece band.”
5. Be flexible.
When it comes to planning a wedding quickly and on a budget, it’s important that brides don’t sweat the small stuff (and as the saying goes, it’s all small stuff!). Choose venues and vendors that offer package deals and can bundle services for you to save time and money. If you’re willing to compromise, focus on the big picture, ask friends and family for their help planning (or even cooking, photographing, or other wedding-related services), and be decisive and not second-guess every step in the process, you can save a lot of money and get the job done fast.
6. Whatever you do, don’t say “wedding.”
When talking to potential vendors about your needs, take care not to mention that you need their services for a wedding. This is because many florists, bakeries, photographers, and musicians mark up their services just for weddings. Sure, there can be some additional pressure and prep work that goes into servicing a wedding, but many times these inflated prices are high just because they can be. What’s more, many vendors will just outright refuse to fit in a “wedding” service at the last minute, even if they could realistically meet your needs. For example, if you call a bakery and ask for a tasteful two-tier cake for 100 people, it could be for a corporate event, retirement party, family reunion or another event a few weeks out. The bakery may be more keen on a reasonable quote — and fitting you into their schedule — than had you called to ask for a wedding cake for 100 guests.
With a little patience, a lot of hustle, and an adaptable attitude, it is totally possible to plan an affordable wedding on the fly. You don’t need a year-long engagement to get all your ducks in a row, and you don’t need to spend your life savings to have a stunning and memorable wedding day.