So, you’ve set a date, and this is really happening! Wow. Your long-awaited wedding day is just on the horizon, and you are finally able to dream through your wedding day Pinterest board you’ve had for years! Now, let take a deep breath, and get down to business. There is a lot to be done, but don’t get too ahead of yourselves, we have already compiled the to-do list for you below!
Talk it Over
Meet with your wedding planning party. This could your mother, future sister-in-law, wedding planner, or just your best friend. Whoever is present, make sure that you know who your help is for these next few weeks. We are going to recommend that you do not plan a full-fledged wedding all on your lonesome, for many reasons!
While there is a lot to do, all in a short timeline, this is not a one-man job. Come up with your loose vision, a game plan, and move on then you can move on to the first step.
Create a Budget
While creating a “budget” has a negative connotation, hear us out. Planning a wedding is pricey. And if not documented along the way, it is easy to spend much more than anticipated. The average cost of a wedding is over $30,000. When you are planning on tying the knot, the expenses from alterations, Airbnbs, and tableware add up quickly.
Allot an estimated budget for each thing (i.e., flowers: $3,000, venue: $7,000, wedding photographer: $2,500, etc.) And give yourself a little wiggle room on these numbers because your estimates may be surprisingly lower than the actual cost. If you plan high, and you end up under budget, you will have money left over and under budget. If you under budget, you may find you don’t have enough money left to pay your DJ, or bartender, which could raise some planning concerns.
For help creating a budget, look up average rates for each type of item or vendor online. Then talk through with your fiancé what items are a must-have for the both of you, like food type, or florals, and then be sure to mention any normal expenses that may not be necessary for either of you.
Tackle the Largest Questions First
You need to know as soon as possible how many people will be attending, and where (or if) there will be a reception. If you are planning a real deal wedding in a month, there will be a LOT of questions that all need answering all at once. Make sure that all this early energy is spent finding your venue and narrowing down your guest list. You cannot hire catering without a headcount estimate, and you can’t buy chargers unless you know how many place settings there will be. So just pump those breaks, and quiet those screaming voices in your head.
If you are having trouble focusing on what needs to be done first, write out all of the “to-dos” you need to tackle. We like to call this a “brain-dump”, because once those ideas are out of your head, and on paper, you will be able to think much more clearly and focus on what currently needs your energy. You can also use websites like Zola or The Knot to help you condense down your to-do list, and manage your RSVPs like a champ.
Send out Invites
If you’re not eloping altogether, the first thing you need to do is make a guest list with your partner, and send out those invites! One way to do this is to send out an email invite by creating an online PDF or graphic. Many Etsy vendors have virtual save the dates you can customize in no time at all.
Look into your State’s Marriage Laws
This one is important because sometimes, depending on your state, you may need a little more time to get your wedding license than one would think. Don’t wait until days before to get your legal paperwork sorted out. Be sure to check out your county clerk’s office website to check for office hours, and schedule an appointment if possible. Many offices will not let you apply for your license less than a week or two before the big day!
Find a Venue (The More Inclusive, the Better!)
If you can find a beautiful venue that has a bridal suite, tables and chairs, and an on-site DJ, you may have just hit the jackpot. Think of it like this, the more that is included in that price, that is less work on your end. Once the night is over, if your venue is the owner of the majority of your rentals, you get to leave all those tables and chairs behind for someone else (that isn’t your bridal party) to tidy up the next day.
Create a Website
With less time to organize, sometimes it's easier to kill two (or ten) birds with one stone. One hack that we love is making a simple website to host your virtual RSVP list, link in your registry, share your love story, and collect photos from the big day from your guests!
This can also be used as a real-time invite that can be updated as things (may) change the closer you get to your date!
Find a Dress or Suit
With such a short time before the big day, off the rack is the best option for both you and your fiancé. It will save lots of time and money! If you are specific about what you may want (such as a custom-made suit) schedule a few appointments as soon as possible to see what courageous tailor might be up for the job!
We recommend letting shop owners know your date as soon as you walk into their salons, and kindly ask them to not let you try on any options that will not be ready to wear (including alterations) by your date. While it may sound a little rude, it will save both you and the shop workers a lot of time and stress.
Buy your Rings
If you haven’t gotten them already, don’t forget those wedding bands! Since time is running out, get into a jewelry shop as soon as possible to make sure any rings you order fit perfectly. Don’t risk losing your ring after “I do’s” by ordering the wrong size!
Find your Remaining Vendors
At this point in the planning process, you should have a good estimate of who is coming to your wedding, or not. It may take an evening of calling loved ones and asking individuals if they can make it, one by one. But once you have that (estimated) headcount, you can move forward with phase two of planning! Now is time to pick catering, dessert, large rentals, bartender, and DJ.
Keep in mind, florals, baker, signage, lighting, and rentals for finishing touches are next. Keep a close eye on your budget, and make sure that if your estimates were incorrect, that you balance that budget as you go.
Order or Rent Tableware
Maybe you are ordering online, or you scored and found all of your chargers at The Dollar Tree. Either way, make sure that you have these items in your possession (and not floating around in the shipping world) as soon as possible. Don’t forget plates, utensils, glasses, goblets, and napkins!
And lastly, one of the most commonly forgotten items is cake-cutting utensils! So make sure to check those off the list too!
Pick an Officiant
Now is the time to make sure your close friend that you want to marry you both gets their proper paperwork in order (if necessary). Allot some time closer to the day that you sit down with this person to make sure your ceremony is all you dreamed it would be.
Plan a Mini-Moon
This all happened FAST, so don’t forget, your wedding night can (and SHOULD) still be special. The romance shouldn’t have to end there. Go ahead and plan yourselves an intimate “Mini”-moon. This could be a quiet weekend at a local Airbnb, or a weekend escape to the nearby beach or mountainscape.
If the post-wedding budget is looking a little tight, use this honeymoon hack to save for your dream getaway, while not emptying every last penny from your accounts.
Relax and Be Married
You are almost there. It's the week before, you have somehow managed to book all of your vendors, and only a few fires started along the way that have now been put out. You may have cried more than you thought possible, but guess what, you are there. You get to marry your best friend and be together for the rest of your lives.
Be sure to take a breath and enjoy this process. It can be so overwhelming that you forget what you were doing all this for in the first place.
Hire a coordinator. Just do it. You will thank us later.
Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Cut yourself some slack and call in reinforcements when needed.
Schedule time for you and your fiancé to have date night amidst the whirlwind of things to do. This will help you both maintain perspective. We recommend a couples massage the week before, a date night in a box, or a simple cuddle time scheduled in. You’ve got that right, pencil in time with your partner. Believe it or not, you will forget to do anything that isn’t in writing with all that’s going on!
This is YOUR wedding. Stay true to yourselves, and who you both are as a couple. Don't let the decision making stress force your hand, and cause you to settle for less than you both have been dreaming for.
Congratulations on your engagement. We wish you well! You can do this!