You’ve been looking at bridal magazines and he’s finally popped the question. He’s ready to get married tomorrow. You want the pretty white dress. So how long does it take to plan a wedding?
- Justice of the Peace. You, him, and your marriage license.
Planning time: Probably three days, depending on your state’s turnaround for licenses and how quickly you can find a gown.
- Intimate family gathering at home or church. Home-catered reception.
Planning time: Same as above, plus travel time for you or family members, plus enough time to pick a gown that doesn’t even hint that your daddy forced this marriage on your young man.
- Destination wedding. You pick a favorite spot, from Italy to a Caribbean island to DisneyWorld, and tell a travel company or resort, “I want the wedding package.” Although this approach requires little time from you, it requires a lot of upfront time for destination booking and guest travel booking.
Planning time: You make your arrangements with the resort or travel agency up to 12 months in advance, depending on how popular a destination you have chosen. Send invitations early enough to allow guests 4-6 months to plan their travel.
- Big wedding with all the trimmings. This is the kind of event where things get really busy for everyone concerned.
If you’re planning a big wedding, here are the top time-eaters on your “To Do” list:
- 6-12 months in advance: Invite by phone your immediate family and the people you want as members of your wedding party.
- 6-12 months in advance: Set your wedding budget. Make sure you and your family (if they are helping) are agreed about how much to spend.
- 6-12 months in advance: Book the halls for the ceremony and reception.
- 6-12 months in advance: Schedule the officiant. If premarital counseling is required, schedule it.
- 3-12 months in advance: Book your honeymoon trip. This is typically the groom’s responsibility; but it needs to be done sooner than later.
- 3-9 months in advance: Plan your reception. Find out if the reception hall requires the use of specific caterers. Book any catering (cake, finger foods, meal, beverages).
- 3-6 months in advance: Select your invitations. Order them or print and assemble them yourself. It’s convenient to obtain “Thank you” stationery at the same time.
- 2-6 months in advance: Select your gown and headpiece and have the gown altered as necessary. Wedding gown alterations typically require about one month.
- 2-6 months in advance: Select bridesmaids’ gowns and have them altered if necessary. If it’s possible for your bridesmaids to be with you, choose gowns with them that are comfortable for them. Groomsmen should also be fitted for their tuxes at least one month in advance if possible.
- 2-6 months in advance: Order flowers for bouquets, boutonnieres, and any arrangements for tables, aisles, and other locations.
- 1-2 months in advance: Invite your guests at least four weeks before the wedding. If a calligrapher is inscribing addresses, allow additional time.
- 2 weeks-1 month in advance: Receive the RSVPs. Be sure to follow up with anyone you are surprised has not responded. Their RSVP may have gotten lost in the mail and there’s nothing worse than being short a plate at a formal reception.
So that’s your answer. Planning a wedding takes from three days to 12 months. It just depends on what kind of wedding you want.