I used to have a love-hate relationship with weddings—loved going to them, hated that I hadn’t had mine yet. It was more than that, of course. Most of us dream of a storybook romance, being swept off our feet by that perfect someone, and I was no different. So when my “time” finally came, I wasn’t about to miss a single aspect of it. You might have called me a Do-It-Yourself Bride. (My mom called me a control freak once or twice.)
But no matter how hard you try to slow down the experience and enjoy every second of it, it still flies by way too fast. My husband, Greg, and I were engaged for seven months before the big day. I tell everyone that our engagement was the perfect length—long enough to get everything planned but not too long to wait. Looking back, I could have planned and planned and planned forever! I had so many ideas but only one wedding.
The reality is: there is no right or wrong when it comes to the length of your engagement or the amount of time needed to plan a wedding. I know one Bride that was engaged for two months. They wanted to get married in February and didn’t want to wait. They planned a church wedding, a dessert reception and party that night. A good time was had by all!
Some things to consider:
Money. Finances often decide wedding timelines. If you don’t have the money available to host the type of wedding you desire, then you/your fiancé/your family will need time to save for the occasion. If this is the case, it is crucial to first prepare a budget. Determine what is needed and how long it will take to reach that goal.
Older Relatives. When my husband and I were talking wedding dates, one of the factors we considered was the health and age of some of the most important people in our lives. This may sound morbid, but we hated the thought of not having our grandparents, for instance, with us on our day. That eventually trumped a special anniversary, which was more than a year away.
A Special Date. If you have your heart set on getting married on Valentine’s Day, or your parent’s anniversary, or the anniversary of the first recorded marriage, then your timeline will essentially be decided for you. You may want to consider the following year before setting the date. Four months versus 16 months is a big difference.
Your Priorities. If you have always dreamed of a larger-than-life, 250-plus wedding, then you probably shouldn’t skimp on the planning. If you are a Do-It-Yourself Bride and plan to create handmade invitations and favors; if you stress easily; if you love the idea of being engaged—give yourself at least eight to 12 months to plan. I could have used a few extra weeks to tie it all together and would have avoided the crazy running around the week of the wedding.
On the other hand, if you are planning small ceremony with just your closest family and friends, or even a destination wedding with everything included, you might opt for a shorter engagement. Why wait? I read that the “year-plus engagement” is a contemporary thing and that at no point in history has there been so much time between the engagement and the wedding.1 Dare to be different!
Regardless of the length of planning time, there is help. I found pre-made checklists for every timeline. WeddingWindow.com offers a To Do List that you can customize. Just choose your wedding date and a timeline (six, nine, 12 or 15 months), and a personalized list will be created for you. You can add your own items to the list, and you can export the list to your computer or cell phone. There are other sites out there that offer similar lists—just Google “wedding checklists.” I downloaded all the lists I could find to create a list that worked for me. I also found helpful lists in various bridal magazines and books.
All things considered, do what makes the most sense for you and your fiancé.