This is one of the #1 questions we get from brides who write in (aside from how to plan a wedding on a super tight budget, which we are working on next!). But the good news is that planning a wedding in a short period of time is not as hard as you think. Sure, you’re going to have to deal with things on a much faster pace, and you’re going to be disappointed that some of your favorite vendors or wedding venues are already booked, but you can definitely do this! Here’s what you should work on as soon as you get engaged and know you want to get married sooner rather than later. We’ve used a time period of roughly 30 days, below, to help you figure out what to do and when. If you have more or less time you can either combine the first two or three weeks or add in however many you have to work with.
Check out our wedding planning checklist for brides that have a year or more to plan!
How to Plan a Wedding in 4 Weeks
Establish a Budget:
Whether you have a year or 30 days to plan wedding, this is the first thing you need to do. Your budget will (and should) influence not only where you get married but how many people you invite. I know, I know. It’s super anoying to hear that a wedding of 300 people is way harder on a $10,000 budget, but it just is. Once you establish your ballpark wedding budget you’ll have a general idea of not only the wedding venues you should look (our wedding venue reviews include an average base cost!) but how many people you can invite, which leads us to our next item…
Establish a Guest List:
If you’re planning a wedding in a matter of months (or even a month) your guest count will most likely be lower if people have less time to plan for it. However, that could end up being a good thing for you (see above). Just know that the more flexible you can be with this number, the more you’ll open yourself up to different types of wedding venues, food service options, and yes…you will save your budget big time.
Our Advice? Keep your guest list to 75 and under to keep things as easy as possible. Find out how to set up your wedding guest list here.
Start Your Venue Search and Book a Date:
If you’re planning your wedding in just a few short months, your favorite ballroom, estate, or other popular wedding venue could very well be booked. To give yourself the best possible chance of finding a wedding venue you love, look at unexpected wedding venues like restaurants, galleries, lofts and other performance spaces. And while you might have a wedding month or even week in mind, keep yourself open to a Friday wedding or Sunday (except on a holiday weekend, those go fast!), because they are more likely to be available than a prime Saturday. Items you’ll need to check off your list once you have your venue are:
- Food/Beverage: Can you BYOB? If so use our wedding alcohol calculator to figure out how much you’ll need. Otherwise work with your venue to come up with a menu for your wedding day.
- Rentals: You’ll need tables, chairs, linens, serveware, and lighting if not provided by your venue
Our Advice? Go with a restaurant so you don’t have to worry about searching for an outside caterer or other rentals.
Begin Booking Your Remaining Vendors:
Once you have your venue and date in place, start your search for your photographer, florist, wedding DJ/band, baker, wedding hair and makeup artist, and month-of or day-of wedding planner or coordinator. Once you find one wedding vendor you love they usually have recommendations for other great vendors. Also take advantage of your venue’s Preferred Vendor Directory if they have one. It can make things A LOT easier to go with a vendor that already knows the space you’re getting married in.
Book Your Wedding Officiant
Whether you’re getting married by a rabbi, priest, or public official, you’ll want to start this process. If you want a friend or family member to marry you, it can take a couple days via places like the Universal Life Church. Read more about the different types of wedding officiants here.
Inquire About Hotel Room Blocks and Transportation
It might be too late to arrange for a discounted group rate at a popular nearby hotel or two for out of town guests, but it never hurts to try. If your venue is an easy drive away for most guests (whether from their hotel or home) then a shuttle is not always necessary and guests can ideally take an Uber or Lyft there. If not, you’ll want to look into this as well and start getting quotes.
Register and Start Your Wedding Website:
Yes…even if you only have a few weeks to plan a wedding you should still start your own wedding website AND register. This will allow you to easily update guests if any plans change and will also allow you to track RSVPs digitally, something you might want to consider having guests do exclusively online if you’re only working with a few weeks planning time.
Send Out Your Wedding Invites:
Skip the paper the Save the Dates and go right for the wedding invitations (if your wedding website lets you mass e-mail your guest list, you can also send an informal Save the Date that way in the meantime). For quick wedding invitations you can find great options on Minted that you can get in about a week for standard shipping, or next day rush delivery for around $35. Figure out your correct wedding invitation wording here with our awesome tool. Here’s a helpful timeline of when to mail your wedding invitations.
Our Advice? Go with the rush option if possible, and also take advantage of their free add-ons such as guest address printing. Anything that will help you save time!
Buy Your Wedding Dress, Suit or Tuxedo and Accessories:
You’re going to want to look for an off-the-rack wedding dress that needs very little altering, and ideally you can find one that you can pick up that day or in a couple days. If you’re going to have bridesmaids, suggest a color palette for them to wear (IE: navy or blush) and have them wear a dress or skirt/shirt combo they already own. You’ll also want to coordinate with your mom and future in-law to see if they need any help or input on mother of the bride dresses or mother of the groom dresses.
The same goes for the groom’s tux and the groomsmen. Have them all wear black suits or white dress shirts they already own and maybe get them all matching ties. If your groom does not already own a suit or tuxedo, there are a lot of great options. Read the pros and cons of buying a wedding tuxedo here.
Get an idea of the wedding dress style you’re looking for ahead of time, and then read these 12 tips nobody tells you about wedding dress shopping here.
Plan Your Honeymoon
If this is something you want to delay a few weeks or months, great! This is one thing off your list. But if you want to plan something shortly after your wedding, you might be able to take advantage of great last minute trip offers. Here’s a few of our favorite ways to save on your honeymoon.
Shop for and Order Your Wedding Rings
Read our helpful guide to buying mens wedding bands here!
Exhausted yet? LOL. Don’t worry you are almost there! These are the remaining items on your list this week:
- Buy wedding favors (or skip them altogether. It’s one of the best ways to save on your wedding).
- Finalize your wedding songs.
- Have a combined bridal shower/bachelorette party day into night! And also offer your groom some ideas for bachelor parties that, err, don’t involve a strip club.
- Shop for additional wedding decor and finalize your designs with the florist.
- Create your wedding day timeline with your planner or coordinator and other vendors.
- Start writing your wedding vows.
- Buy gifts for your wedding party.
- Organize your seating chart.
Yay! You’re in the last week. You’ve worked your butt off to get here and you’re doing great. These are the last things you’ll have to do.
- Get your marriage license (be sure to read what the requirements are for a marriage license in your state here).
- Do any last-minute wedding dress fittings and pick up your dress if you haven’t already.
- Finalize your wedding vows.
- Prepare your wedding vendor tips.
- Distribute welcome bags.
- Hand over any paper goods (such as seating cards) to your planner or venue.
Day Before/Day Of:
You’re right on track! Read our wedding checklist for the last two days and hang on tight AND remember to breathe. This is definitely going to be hard but YOU CAN DO IT.
Also! Have a wedding question? E-mail us at hello [at] womangettingmarried.com and we’ll do our best to answer it!.
Are you planning a wedding in 30 days or less? Let us know what you’re doing from this list or skipping altogether in the comments section, below!
Photo by Looking Glass Photography