I have helped plan many a wedding in my time. Some from start to finish, some just helping with timelines. Living in Utah makes wedding planning a little different from the rest of the world: our engagements tend to be FAST.
No judgement here people! I am a huge fan of long dating times, short engagement times. If you were fortunate enough to have some time to plan your wedding, more power to you, and I’m sure your mother thanks you. My husband and I dated for nearly a year, but once we decided to get married, we had one time determining factor: rent contracts. Living in utah county, single housing locks you in for a full year. You can try to sell the contract yourself, but depending on semester timing for college, most people are settled in and not looking to take that contract off your hand.
We decided we were getting married during the month of April and were officially engaged by May. Neither of us wanted to get locked into another “student housing” contract, so that meant we needed to be living together and married before fall semester at the end of August. Three to four months is all we had to pull off a wedding. Luckily, Utahns also don’t follow the pomp and circumstance as the rest of the nation, so less was required. I think it has to do with quick engagements and many children getting married close to each other… it restricts our budgets. Still just as married!
Once you decide to get married, where do you turn? To Pinterest of course! First search: wedding timelines. Suggested timelines? “12 months before: Start Wedding dress shopping, hire photographers, find venues. 10 months before: Finalize guest list, start wedding registry.” I’m sorry, WHAT? 12 months? If you have that much time, GREAT! If you don’t, check out my checklist for the expedited bride:
4 Months Out
The number one priority is your dress. If you have chosen a date that is within 4 months, find and solidify your dress first. Dresses take about 3 weeks to ship in, so if you find the perfect dress, but it isn’t available off the rack, you have no time to waste! If you are lucky enough to find your perfect dress straight off the rack, you will need alterations. Alterations can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. If you get engaged over the holiday season, don’t wait until January to get your dress altered. The busiest dress seasons in Utah are January, March, May, and August. Alterations will take longer during these months.
Top of my list would be your engagements. Depending on the month, your weather can be unpredictable. Most people use their engagements for their invites, guest book, canvases, and anything else you can think of. Utah has a lot of photographers, but the ones who do your exact style may not be available for your wedding if you don’t lock them down quickly.
Along those same lines, choose your bakery. I had my heart set on one person doing my cake, partially because of her price, but when I called her 2 months out, I was out of luck. I looked around at other bakeries, but didn’t have much luck. I actually ended up getting the “White frosted” red velvet cheese cake from the Cheesecake Factory, decorated it with left over flowers from my bouquet, and was really pleased with myself (and my price point). It tasted good, so no complaints, but if I had started earlier, I may have had a real wedding cake.
2 Months Out
I recommend booking your honeymoon 6 weeks before you actually go, since thats when flights are the cheapest. If someone gives you your
honeymoon as a gift, 2 months should still be your sweet spot. We went on a cruise, which I approve of because you NEVER have to think about food. Road Trips, single destinations, camping, or anything you like will be great, but its nice to not have to stress and find everything booked because you waited until the last month .
As for finding your housing, this one is more specific to people who don’t live together before marriage. We tried to find an apartment to move into as soon as we got engaged, but we were not wanting to move in until a month before the wedding. Since we were still college students, we were thinking in terms of semesters, like single housing. Single people move in and out around semesters, but book their next place months in advance to guarantee their spot. When couples or married people look to move, they want to move right away. If you don’t want to pay rent for months before you need the place, look for lodging 2 months out, which will allow for the leaving tenants of your new place to get out and you only need to pay for 1 month of rent.
1 Month Out
Hopefully by this point you already have all the wedding items in your possession. Gather together your centerpieces, decorations, etc together to be reading. Ironing table cloths and getting all your last minute items will consume a lot of this month. If you are a stickler about the groom not seeing your dress before the wedding, its ok to not do bridals, but I HIGHLY recommend them. You wedding day should be one of the happiest days of your life, but if you spend half of your waking hours posing for pictures, that day will get very long, and your feet will hurt. You can still have that moment of him seeing you in your dress even if its not on the actual day. Its also nice to have bridals/groomals as decoration or part of your guest book. Break up the photo sessions onto different days and you will thank yourself later!
The honest truth? You may have to pick and choose what you can fit in. If you have it in the budget to hire a wedding planner, DO IT! They may actually help you SAVE money as well as make your life so much easier. If you are doing this by yourself, think of what is MOST important to you. Will your guest notice if you have one center piece vs another? Probably not, as long as something is there. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t HAVE to have a gift for everyone in your bridal party. You may not need colored candy in addition to deserts or full dinner spreads. I had plenty of pictures (as part of my centerpiece) but didn’t have a video.