How Long Does It Take to Plan a Wedding? Step-by-step Guide

Did you get engaged recently and are you wondering how much time do need for planning your big day?

Although every couple is completely different, there are statistics and simple guidelines that can help with the estimation of the realistic timeframe for your wedding planning. Let’s dive deeper into the main question!

How long does it take to plan a wedding?

On average, it takes around 1 year to plan a wedding. According to the latest research, couples spend 6 to 18 months on wedding planning. It’s usually around 200 – 300 hours in total.

Time spend on wedding planning varies from couple to couple. Some couples care about every small detail and some are more easygoing. It also depends on the venue, its location, the type of wedding, and how much time you are willing to put into the wedding planning. Some couples were able to plan a wedding in 3 months, while on the other hand, we’ve seen 3-4 years long engagements.

How Long Does It Take to Plan a Wedding? Step-by-step Guide 1

Main factors affecting the length of wedding planning:

1) Finances

It’s pretty simple, the more money you can afford to put into a wedding, the easier it will be and the more time you will save. For example, if you hire a wedding planner, you can save hours and hours of planning. You just need to tell what your vision is and your wedding planner can do pretty much everything for you. There are also wedding vendors and venues that offer „complete“ packages, which can save you a lot of time.

2) Wedding coordination (hiring a wedding planner)

As we said a wedding planner saves you hours of your precious time. If you value time more than money, hiring a wedding planner is a must for you (unless you want to plan everything by yourself anyway).

3) Support from family and friends

Friends and family can significantly help you with wedding planning. If you have wedding-excited bridesmaids you can ask them and delegate them some tasks. Same with your family. For example, you might have pro-baking-excited aunties, that can help you with a sweet bar.

4) Your lifestyle and working hours

Are you super busy both at work and with your social life? If so, you may want to allow yourself more time to plan your wedding. On the other hand, if your career allows you to make things flexible, you’ll be able to get things organized much more quicker.

5) Number of guests

Another factor is the size of the wedding. A big celebration will require significantly more planning while an intimate wedding (or elopement) can be planned in a much shorter time.  

6) Flexibility

Many „famous“ places and wedding vendors are booked out quickly. Especially if you want to plan a wedding in less than a year, some venues can be already booked and you will need to be more flexible (with dates, venues, or vendors). So, if you have a dream wedding venue, try to book it as soon as possible.

Can you plan a wedding in 3 months?

It is possible to plan a wedding in just 3 months. You will only need to proceed with everything very quickly, and you might not find your „dream“ wedding venue or vendors, because some of them will be booked already.

Are 2 years too long to plan a wedding?

It depends on each couple. 2 years can be for some couples the perfect time to enjoy all the wedding planning and plan everything down to the last detail.

How long to plan a wedding after an engagement?

According to the survey (1), the average length of engagement is 13 months. Couples usually plan the wedding within 6 – 18 months. One year (or more) in advance is enough time to plan a standard, local wedding.

How Long Does It Take to Plan a Wedding? Step-by-step Guide 2

The Pros and Cons of a Long vs. Short Engagement

Let’s have a look at the most common reasons for both long and short engagements.

Why do couples opt for longer engagements?

  • Busy lifestyle
  • More time to plan everything out
  • More time to save for a wedding
  • Plan a destination wedding
  • Don’t hurry into marriage

If you prefer a longer time before the wedding, you will have plenty of time for planning, and booking your dream venues, band, decor, etc.  You will also more likely get more RSVPs. On the other hand, be prepared to potentially have to add people to your guest list (partners, kids, etc.) You might also get some unwanted feedback or comments.

Why do couples opt for short engagements?

  • Want to start a family soon
  • Plan a small wedding
  • Fill joint taxes
  • Prefer decisiveness
  • Can’t wait for their big day

Depending on how long in advance are you going to book venues and vendors, you might have a rushed wedding planning experience, or don’t get your first-choice venue or vendors. You might also receive fewer RSVPs due to the short notice.

How Long Does It Take to Plan a Wedding? Step-by-step Guide 3

When to start wedding planning?

First of all, is a good idea to discuss the general vision of the wedding and the couple’s priorities. Once you know when would you like to have a wedding, the best is to start as soon as possible (especially if you want to have it in less than 12 months). That way, you will have enough time to book all your dream venues, vendors, etc. In case you want your wedding to be in 1,5 – 2 years, you don’t need to hurry – simply enjoy that you are engaged.

What to do and plan first?

Before you get to actual planning, discuss with your partner the following:

  • A rough idea of when you want to have your wedding
  • A general vision and style of your wedding
  • A budget – how much you can afford to spend
  • The guest list or at least an approximate number of guests

The next important step is to book a venue.

We have prepared a step-by-step guide to plan you with the planning:

How Long Does It Take to Plan a Wedding? Step-by-step Guide 4

Wedding Planning Checklist – When to do What

12+ months before the wedding

  • Announce the engagement to your family and friends.
  • Agree on your wedding ideas (Should it be a small or large wedding? Church or civil one? Where do you want to take place? In nature, a castle, farm, or elsewhere? What will be the theme and overall style of the wedding? Etc.)
  • Choose a wedding date – Consider the seasons and holidays, you can also look at how to choose a wedding date according to numerology.
  • Create a folder for your „wedding project“ to have all the information in one place.
  • Set your wedding budget – create a spreadsheet where you will record expenses.
  • Make a guest list – it’s an important step for searching the venues. You need to know at least an approximate number of guests to proceed in planning further.
  • Consider the pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement
  • Consider whether to hire a wedding coordinator or organize the wedding by yourself (with the help of friends).
  • Choose your maid of honor and the best man

10 – 11 months before the wedding

  • Choose and book your wedding venue – once you are decided, don’t delay booking.
  • Hire wedding vendors – book your favorite photographer (and videographer), wedding band, or DJ.
  • Start looking for the wedding dress
  • Arrange the accommodation for the wedding night
  • Visit the wedding Expo – soak some inspiration at wedding expos or bridal shows.

8 – 9 months before the wedding

  • Send Save-the-Dates – Let everyone know when and where you’re making it official. 
  • Buy the perfect wedding dress
  • Choose shoes and bridal accessories – once you have your wedding dress selected, go ahead and buy the accessories.
  • Think about the program – get some inspiration from Unique Wedding Games.

6 – 7 months before the wedding

  • Hire an Officiant – If you aren’t marrying in a house of worship, you’ll need to hire someone to make it official. You can have a professional or ask a close friend or family member.
  • Create a wedding website – where the guests find all the information they need regarding the wedding venue, timing, or accommodation.
  • Make a list of wedding gifts – if you don’t want physical gifts, there is nothing easier than to tell your guest, that you prefer money as s wedding gift.
  • Create, print, and send out wedding invitations
  • Choose a catering company and a specific menu (unless you already have food arranged with a wedding venue restaurant).
  • Choose a suit and accessories for the groom – bow tie/tie, hat, shoes, cufflinks,…simply anything that you would like him to wear.
  • Start planning your honeymoon

4 – 5 months before the wedding

  • Choose the cake – it’s time to go cake tasting.
  • Prepare a wedding timeline
  • Choose dresses and accessories for bridesmaids
  • Meet with your florist and discuss the flower decoration and flowers for the bride, and bridesmaids.
  • Choose your wedding rings
  • Arrange and plan transport for the wedding day
  • Book a hair and make-up artist – it’s a good idea to arrange a hair and make-up trial before the wedding.
  • Purchase other necessary decorations
  • Arrange your flights and accommodation for the honeymoon
  • Arrange accommodation for guests – if needed.

2 – 3 months before the wedding

  • Choose the people that should give the toast/speech and ask them if they are willing to do so.
  • Preorder desserts and things for a sweet bar
  • Set a date for the bachelor/ette party and discuss your ideas with the best men/maid-of-honor so they know what to prepare for you.
  • Order wedding favors for guests – optional.
  • Prepare and print out the wedding printables (wedding newspaper, program, menu, seating chart,…)
  • Arrange a rental car – in case you want something special, like a limo.
  • Prepare a playlist for the DJ, or request songs for the band
  • Choose the song for your first dance and start practicing a choreography (if you want to).

1 month before the wedding

  • Contact wedding vendors – to be sure everything is booked for you.
  • Contact guests who have not responded
  • Make a final guest list
  • Confirm the final number of guests to the caterer
  • Create the seating chart
  • Get a wedding garter – if you want.
  • Don’t forget the manicure (and pedicure) – usually the day before the wedding.
  • Break in your wedding shoes

1 week before the wedding

  • Practice your vows out loud
  • Get in touch with wedding vendors once again
  • Pack your suitcase for the honeymoon

1 day before the wedding

  • Drink enough water
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Put all the boxes and bags in your car – double-check on rings and necessary documents.

You can download the wedding checklist here.

Why does it take so long to plan a wedding?

Wedding is a once in a lifetime event (at least for most of us) and we usually want everything to be perfect. In short, a wedding takes a long time to plan, because you need to take care of the flowers, wedding dress, decor, reception, catering, program, invitations, venue, officiant, vendors, and anything else you want for your big day.

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