You’re in love, life is good and your partner just got down on one knee to pop the big question – you said yes! Now it’s time to get into 5th gear wedding preparation mode and make it happen.
Getting married and planning a wedding is an exciting and stressful time for any couple and their families. It’s certainly no easy task, even with months of preparations; however, for one reason or another people find themselves planning last minute weddings all the time. If you’ve found yourself in last minute wedding mode, let me take some of the pressure off by walking you through planning a wedding in less than 8 weeks.
Week 1: Friends, Family and Financing
First of all this guide could be pulled off in less than 8 weeks, if it weren’t for your friends and family, but who would want to miss your big day? Give the guests enough time to plan and prepare. 8 weeks is the least amount of reasonable time to ask someone to come to your wedding and give them the necessary time to RSVP. A company called RSVPify is a free website invitation and RSVP service. They have a wedding invitation example shown here:
Screenshot from RSVPify App
With less than 8 weeks to prepare, paper invitations simply aren’t an option to have made and sent out, while giving guests enough time to plan and respond. Creating digital invitations is the fastest way to let friends and family know that in 8 weeks you’ll be tying the knot, not to mention the fastest way to collect guest responses. You can even playfully let guests know that you’re aware of your last minute preparations while providing a firm RSVP date. Keep in mind that the more people you invite, the more people you’ll have to plan for in a pinch…my advice is to keep it small and simple.
Once the invites have gone out, you are going to need money to pull it all together. If the average wedding costs $26,000, pulling it off last minute can be difficult if not impossible. In many cases, couples working towards marriage and a wedding may have savings prepared for their big day. Others can ask family to support them and their wedding financing. If you are neither prepared with savings nor fortunate with financial-family support, you’re going to have to get financing. Credit may be your best friend if you have it or can get it, last minute loans can help as well.
Week 2: Location, Location, Location
If you wanted to get married at The Plaza Hotel in NYC, let me break the news you’re out of luck. Popular wedding venues, especially while in peak-wedding season, are not an option with 7 weeks left. While the style, type and level of tradition in each wedding is unique per couple, there are a few things to consider when choosing a venue last minute.
Think unconventional. Sometimes an outdoor setting in a park or relatives backyard, a reclaimed warehouse space or a converted barn can create a magical venue:
Screenshot from Pinterest
Unconventional venues are less likely to be booked up months in advance (sometimes even years) and can likely accommodate your reservation in 7 weeks time. These types of venues may also be cheaper because they’re in less demand and in other cases free (if you’re uncle happens to have a reclaimed barn on his property for example).
Week 3-5: Food, Fashion and Full-Time Help
Now it’s time for details. If you do have the budget, hire full-time help to catalyze calls to caterers, wedding bands and to help you pull it all together. If you’re on your own or simply working with friends and family to plan and pull off the wedding, focus on two important areas with them to maximize their help: food and fashion.
Try to delegate quotes to any helpers who are willing. Ask your mom to work on getting quotes for caterers, while your sister gets quotes on wedding cakes for example. You’ll need friends and family to help you run all the errands of a wedding-planner. If you’re on a super tight budget, throw a wedding prep party with your friends in week 7, where you provide wine for their help to make multiple platters of guest hors’ d’oeuvres that you can freeze. You can also learn how to bake a wedding cake yourself, but I highly recommend starting now with a test-run!
With food underway, it’s time to think fashion. Get your friends and family to help you work on what to wear. Hopefully you have your mother’s wedding dress and your fiancée already owns a nice tuxedo. If not you could both shop high-end vintage if it is available locally. Other times, wedding dresses can be discovered where they weren’t intended, meaning lovely white and even non-traditional colored dresses can be converted into dream gowns for the big day with the addition of jewelry and floral accessories. Tuxedos can always be rented or even borrowed.
If you have bridesmaids, you can choose a color or go to one of the many sites dedicated to pre-owned wedding and bridesmaid dresses. If you do order online, do this in week 3 to allow time for shipping and the unfortunate possibility of returns.
Week 6-7: DIY and Décor
The first place you should look for last minute wedding decoration ideas is the actual Pinterest board dedicated to these types of ideas. With a collection of different crafts and DIY projects featured there, there is at least a few ideas for every taste.
If you hired help and are working with a caterer, you may be well-off by this stage, you may even have tables and chairs included with the catering. If not, rent some locally after getting a few quotes. Worst-case scenario, you buy enough chairs for your guests to sit during the ceremony and then have a cocktail style reception. This type of service may be easier and cheaper to pull off last minute.
If you do decide to have full dinner service and your caterer or venue isn’t providing any items, you’ll have to think beyond tables and chairs to linens, cutlery and centre pieces. For these types of items go to large department stores to get a certain level of quality for a reasonable price. Think about porcelain butter dishes for each table, salt and pepper shakers etc. You could even go to the dollar store for smaller items like tea lights. Since you’re working last minute you’re going to have to do a lot of this run-around for small items yourself. If you have the budget, getting a floral company to create custom centerpieces for your taste can add a lot of personality and class to the venue.
Week 8: Rehearsal!!!!
When you’re working around the clock for 8 weeks on a last-minute wedding, a lot can go wrong. It’s critical that you rehearse the wedding and dinner, as this will illuminate any last minute touches that have been overlooked. Is there music for walking down the aisle? Did you remember the vegetarians? While you’ve been going for almost two months straight, take the time to breathe, approach the week slowly and gather any last minute items with poise.
Planning a last minute wedding means no temper tantrums and no bridezillas when something goes wrong. Something will always go wrong in a wedding, especially ones on the fly. If you don’t want to do a Vegas wedding, follow the pointers above in the recommended timeframe to pull off the essentials in 8 weeks or less. Keep your eye on what’s important, which is the union you are entering into and the day to symbolize that…But weddings, just like relationships, aren’t perfect. Know how to laugh it off and make memories that you’ll take with you for the rest of your life.