Without years to organise the tiny details it sounds like mission impossible, but it can be done. We find out what it takes to go from engagement to marriage with no hanging about
Some couples really enjoy spending a long time planning their wedding and see no reason to rush; others, however, for all sorts of reasons, would prefer to get their married life together started as soon as possible. So what does it take to plan the wedding of a lifetime in just a few months? We quizzed a wedding planner, several dress boutiques, a venue and two real-life couples who did the impossible, and discovered it’s all about organisation, speedy shopping and watching the clock.
If you live by a list, planning a wedding in just a few months is going to excite your inner organiser. Grab a cute wedding planning diary, a good pen and get all your thoughts down on paper. Once you’ve sussed out a general idea of what you’d like, it’s time to start organising the key components of the day. “We always say: venue, caterer, celebrant and photographer,” advises Roni Hyslop of Edinburgh-based wedding planners All Wrapped Up. “From there, you can then go on to plan your theme, which determines the other suppliers you’ll use.”
Whether you’re taking three months or three years to plan your day, it’s vital to keep a close eye on your budget. “I always tell our couples to plan their spending wisely,” says Roni. “It’s so easy to let the budget run away from you.” When you have less time, though, you will have less scope to spread the payments – and it’s therefore more tempting to whip out the credit card. “Try to pay off what you can leading up to the wedding rather than being hit with a massive bill a month before!” stresses Roni.
While every item on your to do list will feel quite urgent when the wedding is fast approaching, one item has to take priority: the venue. Without a firm location in the bag, nothing else can really be confirmed. So make this your first decision.
It’s worth remembering too that a good on-site wedding co-ordinator can be a life-saver when you don’t have time to organise everything yourself. Just be prepared to be flexible! “We have a whole team of wedding experts,” says Lorraine Miller, the weddings and special events co-ordinator of the Macdonald Houston House Hotel in West Lothian. “We are there to offer advice and hopefully help to take some of the stress away.”
Back to that urgent to do list: you need to get on with the hunt for your dress ASAP. If you want a special order gown, bear in mind that it can take around four months to have the dress delivered to the boutique for your fittings. “Ideally, you’d start shopping for your dress six months in advance of the day,” says Lisa Cochrane of Dragonfly Dress Design. If this isn’t possible, you could always try your luck at a sample sale, and there are plenty of gorgeous off-the-peg dresses that can be altered for a perfect fit.
With a wedding on the horizon, everything will need to be timed to the minute, so get ready to fill your calendar with fittings, visits and tastings. You’ll have to keep on top of things to make sure it all goes like clockwork. Some things can be speeded up, though you might have to pay a little more in the process.
For example, if you’ve found the perfect dress but it looks as if there’s just no chance of it being ready in time, explain your situation to the boutique, who may be able to help. “Some designers keep a stock of gowns in their factory,” says Yvonne McNicol of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Bridal Boutique. “And some, for a small fee, can make sure the dress is with us within 13 to 15 weeks.”
Think you’re the only couple in the country trying to pull off the impossible? Think again. “Short engagements happen more often than you think,” says Lorraine. As a result, many venues can work with your timeline and will go above and beyond to make it the best day of your life. “We offer a Whirlwind package – it includes the DJ, cake and top-table flowers,” says Lorraine. This is a great idea – it takes the pressure off and means you can use the time saved elsewhere. Better still, she adds, “We also have recommended suppliers who offer their services and will match them to the high quality of the hotel.” Every little helps after all!