In honor of the fabulous dates in September that are still available (September 7 & 14), I thought that it might be helpful for a seasoned planner to share some words of wisdom on how to plan a wedding in the blink of an eye, without creating too much stress for you, your fiance, and your families. Read on, and then call me ASAP to secure on of these sunny Fall dates at the Lodge!
How to Plan a Wedding in Six Months (in Six Little Steps)
Rebecca Pfiffner of Be Hitched, Event Planning & Design
1. Repeat After Me: Big Decisions Don’t Have to be Difficult Decisions
I recently came across an article about the way in which our brains function when we’re faced with a big decision (choosing a new house, buying a car, planning a wedding…). We naturally assume that if the decision is important, we must go through a grueling and arduous process to get to the right choice. Which is all fine and good, except for one small thing — it’s not true. The number one struggle I see drain couples of their time and energy isn’t a struggle with families or guest list. It’s the struggle they have with themselves when they know what they want, but keep hemming and hawing and researching and meeting because they think the big decisions need to be hard. Before you dive into planning, remember this: you know when it’s right (I promise). Be smart and do your homework of course, but remember to listen to your gut. If you and your partner meet with a photographer and you love their work, they fit your budget, have great references, and it just feels right, it is. Let big decisions be easy decisions.
2. Start With Budget
The advice I’d give a couple planning a wedding six months out is the same advice I’d give a couple planning their wedding 18 months out. Start with budget. Sit down with your families and determine a budget that everyone is comfortable with. This will help guide all of your planning decisions going forward, and help keep everyone’s expectations realistic. And it should actually make things easier for you — you won’t waste time meeting with that florist whose work you loved on Style Me Pretty if they have a minimum of $6K when you know the budget for your small, intimate wedding is $10K!
3. Seek Out (The Right) Support
Okay, okay, obviously I’m biased (I *am* a wedding planner, after all), but if your budget allows for it, consider working with a professional wedding planner who is experienced in the city or town where you’re hoping to get married. A good wedding planner can not only help you get started and put together a planning roadmap for you, but they will be a huge time saver for you when it comes to venue and vendor research. They’ll be able to provide you with custom (and trusted!) recommendations based on your needs, taste, and budget. If your budget doesn’t allow for a planner, seek out support from friends and family who do have the time and energy, and who you trust to make decisions based on what you and your partner want, not what they like. Be specific about what tasks you need help with, and when you make the ask, be clear about deadlines. You might ask your friend who works at a restaurant to help you research caterers, but if you need a list in the next 3 weeks, ask if that’s doable for them. The people in your life are really, really excited about your wedding, and want to help — don’t be afraid to ask!
4. Place Before Pinterest
As much as I love Pinterest and recognize it as an amazing tool for planners and couples alike, at six months out, I recommend putting the kibosh on pinning for a while. Pinterest can easily make you lose focus and feel overwhelmed, and your focus should be on finalizing the next big item on your to do list — securing your venue. To help ensure smooth sailing in the months to come, seek out a venue that hosts weddings consistently throughout the year, with a full-time staff member dedicated to supporting special events. The venue and location should be one that you and your fiancé love and one that inspires you exactly as it is. You want to avoid a space that has to be completely reinvented to match your vision. Another tip: a venue with an exclusive caterer can be a huge benefit, since it means one less vendor to research and choose. But just make sure to do your homework. You want to be sure the food and catering/bar service are of the caliber and quality you’re hoping for!
5. It Takes A Village – Secure Your Wedding Team
After venue comes securing what I call the Big 7: Caterer, Photographer, Officiant, Music, Florist, Hair/Makeup, Dessert. Especially in the Bay Area, some of the earliest vendors to book up (besides wedding planners) are caterers, photographers, and florists. And let me tell you, securing these seven will be like breathing in a huge sigh of relief. You’ll have more flexibility to think about creative DIY projects and soaking up this time with family and friends once your vendors are secured. A planner can do the work of checking availability and pricing for all of your vendors, but if you’re doing the work on your own, remember to reach out to your village (friends, family, peers in your area) rather than the internet as your starting point. A personal recommendation from a trusted source is always the best place to start.
6. HAVE FUN and Remember What It’s All About
Guess what — being engaged is fun (no, really!). Yes, it can be stressful, and yes, there are a lot of decisions to make. But if you’re feeling a lack of joy in the process, use that as a signpost to stop, step back, take a deep breath, and be honest about what’s giving you the most stress. Then see Step 3. Take a look at your to do list, and think about how you can make those tasks more enjoyable. If you have to choose a signature cocktail, try testing recipes at home with your fiancé. If you need to choose a rehearsal dinner location, invite your parents out to dinner and while you’re taste testing a possible prix fixe menu, ask them to tell you what getting married was like for them. You’ll be checking things off your to do list while remembering what the wedding is all about in the first place — and it has a little something to do with love