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If you’ve got a wedding to plan you might be asking yourself this question; how long does it really take to plan a wedding? I’ve been asked this question quite a lot over the years and here’s my honest answer – how long have you got? Most couples take the time they have available to them to plan their wedding. If you’re someone who completes projects ahead of deadlines, this won’t be you – you’ll have all but the last minute wedding planning tasks ticked off well in advance of your wedding day – but if you’re like a lot of the couples I work with, you’re more likely to fit wedding planning in around other commitments.

TRUTH: Most couples use the months they have to plan their wedding.

YOU CAN PLAN A WEDDING IN THE TIME YOU’VE GOT AVAILABLE TO YOU TOO. But, if you’re concerned that you won’t have enough time to plan your wedding, keep reading.

In this article you’ll get the answers to these Wedding Planning questions:

  • How many hours does it take to plan a wedding?
  • Can you plan a wedding in 6 months or less?
  • What are the drawbacks of less time to plan your wedding?
  • How fast can you can plan a wedding?
  • What order should I be planning my wedding in?

How many hours does it take to plan a wedding?

The average length of an engagement in Australia (according to a survey conducted by Easy Weddings) is 21 months. I know from my own experience of working as a Wedding Planner, most couples don’t get serious about planning their wedding that far out. It’s more common for couples to start at around the 14-12 month mark.

But let’s get clear on something before we go any further. Every wedding and every couple is different. Which means you can choose when you get started. I’ve worked with couples who started planning 18 months out and I’ve worked with couples who planned their wedding in a few weeks.

The more important thing for you to understand is that wedding planning will take time. There are ways to make it take less time (like hiring a professional like me to help). But regardless of how much help you have, you will need to devote time to planning your wedding.

These variables tend to influence how many hours it takes to plan a wedding:

  • The size of your wedding.
  • How consistent you are in applying yourself to your wedding planning tasks.
  • How comfortable you are making final decisions.
  • The demand for suppliers on the date of your wedding.
  • Whether you hire someone to help you, or not.

As a guide you can expect it to take you on average 250-300 hours to plan your wedding if you have a little bit of help from a Wedding Planner, Partial Wedding Planner or Wedding Day Manager. It could take 300-500 hours if you’re planning a bigger or diy wedding and you don’t have anyone helping you.

Can you Plan a Wedding in 6 Months or Less?

YES YOU CAN plan a wedding in 6 months. You can plan a wedding in 3 months. You can even plan a wedding in a few weeks.

Planning a wedding in less time is 100% doable and for some couples, 100% preferable. You’ll love planning your wedding in a shorter time frame if you’re someone who likes to put their head down and complete a task and then move on. Express Wedding Planning is also great if you want to avoid wedding planning fatigue, which can set in when you’ve been planning your wedding for a year or more. And it’s especially good if you’re someone who drags their feet when it comes to making decisions – there’ll be no time for that when you have a short time frame to plan your wedding in.

What are the Drawbacks of Less Time to Plan your Wedding?

A drawback of less time to plan your wedding is the possibility of limited availability of vendors. This isn’t always the case though – especially if you’ve decided to get married at a less popular time of the year, or on a weekday. But if you remain flexible, and stay open to thinking outside the box and getting creative where you need to, wedding planning hurdles become fun challenges to work through.

Here’s some tips to help you avoid any drawbacks of less time to plan your wedding:

  • Start your wedding planning together – determine your vision and priorities for the day so you’re on the same page from the get go.
  • Get clear about what has to be done (keep reading for some help with this).
  • Set aside time in your calendar to work on your wedding. Now is the time to prioritise wedding planning. 
  • Delegate! Whether that is dividing the list between the two of you or hiring a Wedding Day Manager, a little bit of help will go a long way.
  • Seek out vendor referrals. We offer our couples complimentary vendor referrals. But you can ask your friends and family too. Using a vendor who has been recommended to you will save a lot of time searching for the right one.
  • Create a dedicated email address for your wedding. Keeping all of your wedding related correspondence together in the one place is a simple timesaver. 
  • Use an online wedding planning tool to help you keep track of all the details. Our Wedding Day Management clients get access to a suite of online planning tools that save them a lot of time and keep all of their wedding planning organised.

How Fast can you Plan a Wedding

If you want your wedding to be ‘legal’ you must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage Application, at least one month in advance of your wedding day. Which means for a legal wedding, you need at least a month to plan your wedding.

Beyond that, you can plan your wedding as quickly as you choose. We recently worked with a couple who planned their wedding in 3 weeks.

The same tips for planning your wedding in 6 months or less can be applied to a shorter wedding planning time frame. I’d also recommend refining your wedding day vision into a beautifully simple day with a focus on what really matters to the two of you.

What order should I be doing things in?

Regardless of how long you have to plan your wedding you’ll have key wedding planning tasks that have to be ticked off. One of the best things you can do is start with a Wedding Planning Checklist. 

But don’t follow Wedding Planning Checklists blindly.

You should edit any checklist you’re using by deleting anything that doesn’t apply and adding in anything additional you need to plan for.

Once you have your tailored Checklist it’s simply a matter of working it through until everything is organised. And the best way to do that if you have less time, is to devote as much time as you can to planning your wedding as soon as you get started. Everything but the items that can’t be finalised until the weeks immediately prior to your wedding, can be done NOW!

Below is a ‘EXPRESS’ Wedding Planning Checklist that can be adapted to suit any length of time you have to plan your wedding and the specifics of your day. Use this checklist as a handy guide so you feel confident planning your wedding in less time. If you’d like a tailored version for your ‘express’ wedding planning, contact us!

Express Wedding Planning Checklist

Get Started with these Tasks Immediately

  • Decide on a wedding date
  • Create a wedding budget
  • Determine your wedding day vision and priorities
  • Select your wedding party
  • Make your guest list (no time for draft lists!)
  • Consider enlisting the help of a Partial Wedding Planner or Wedding Day Manager
  • Book your venue/s
  • Launch your wedding website (such a handy tool especially if you’re short on time to plan your wedding
  • Search for and order wedding day attire
  • Search for and book these vendors (edit to your requirements): Caterer, Photographer/Videographer, Officiant and any other vendors you’ve identified as a priority for your wedding
  • Order and send save the dates (if you’ve got 5-6 months prior to your wedding)

Don’t Stop – It’s Time to Tick These Tasks off Next

  • Organise your Gift Registry
  • Plan additional events and send guest lists to anyone helping you (for example Bridal Shower, Buck’s Night)
  • Purchase wedding bands
  • Book entertainment
  • Determine the reception menu – organise a tasting if you have time
  • Order a wedding cake – ditto re the tasting
  • Order wedding favours
  • Reserve room blocks for out-of-town guests
  • Plan your honeymoon 
  • Send wedding invitations (ideally 6-8 weeks prior to your wedding date – 10-12 if you’re having a destination wedding.
  • Book a florist
  • Book transport
  • Choose ceremony music and a reception playlist
  • Book a hair and makeup artist
  • Plan the order of ceremony 
  • Complete any DIY projects or outsource if you’re really short on time

1 Month Before your Wedding (or when makes sense based on your timeline)

  • Get your marriage licence
  • Check and double-check RSVPs
  • Confirm vendors and finalise payments
  • Purchase alcohol if required
  • Assign reception seating
  • Purchase gifts for wedding party
  • Create your Wedding Day Timeline (or let your Wedding Day Manager do it for you)
  • Determine where you’ll be staying the night before your wedding day and where you’ll be getting ready on the day. Book accommodation as required and organise food and drinks for everyone.
  • Venue Walkthrough to confirm styling and seating plans
  • Finalise any extra decor or styling purchases and pack in boxes ready for dropping at your venue/s (include packing lists for anyone who will be helping you with setting up and styling)

Week of your Wedding

  • Confirm all Wedding Attire is ready for the big day and that it fits!
  • Finalise ‘shot list’ with Photographer
  • Reconfirm vendors (or let your Wedding Day Manager take care of this).
  • Pack for your honeymoon, wedding night and the night before you’re wedding if you’ll be staying away from home
  • Attend your Wedding Rehearsal
  • Enjoy a spa day
  • Get plenty of sleep! And relax! You did it!!!!

Wedding Planning shouldn’t be stressful and it doesn’t need to take over your life. And the keyword is planning. Whether you’ve got 18 months or 3 to plan your wedding, approach it in a systemised way and have fun with it too.

Here’s some more articles that might help you plan your wedding: