Are you planning a wedding in say, 4 months or so? While any seasoned wedding professional should be able to keep you on track with a stress-free 4 month engagement, many brides are put to work with this task on their own. Here are a few tips that I can offer you to keep you from ending up like this...
1. Make a design plan and stick with it. Head to a fabric store or even the paint section at your local home improvement store and make some design choices. Grab swatches or samples of colors that you love and keep these in your wedding binder. Also, take the time to find photos in magazines or online of ideas that you love (especially flowers!) and keep these in your binder to take to vendor appointments. Sticking to a design plan eases the process for everyone involved.
2. Go ahead and mark some wedding planning days off on your calendar. Whether it is a Saturday or an afternoon off of work, take the time to knock out several things at once. When you determine what days you could do this, go ahead and call to schedule appointments with the vendors you hope to see that day.
3. Prepare yourself (the head and the heart) that some vendors that you LOVE may already be booked. Many brides book vendors up to a year in advance, so have your second and third options ready to contact them immediately if your first choice is not available for your date.
4. Once you have secured the "biggies", such as venues and photographer, take care of things that take processing time first. These are items such as your bridal gown & bridesmaids dresses and invitations. Order these as quickly as possible if you are in the 4-month time frame. Again, keep in mind that you may need to be flexible with your selections due to your time constraints. Designer dresses and custom invitations do require a longer ordering time period than others.
5. Attend vendor appointments with the following information already prepared: Your names (of course!), Your contact information, The date & time of the wedding, your venues for ceremony and reception, the number of guests you expect to attend, the number of people in your wedding party, and your budget for THEIR PART of the wedding. They will love you! Just go ahead and have a print out of all of this information to hand over to the vendors when you walk in the door.
6. If possible, go ahead and pay in full. You are so close to your wedding date that remembering what balances are due when, and taking the time to write those checks and get them in the mail can be a tedious task. If possible, and you feel comfortable with the vendors, go ahead and pay in full. The balances are going to be due in just weeks, so go ahead and check it off of the list.
7. Stay organized & maintain a checklist in your bridal binder. (Tip #1 should have been "Go Purchase a Bridal Binder!") Make lists when you think of things that you need to do, or your brain might just go into overload. Keep a notepad and pen specifically for wedding tasks at your desk, in your car, and on your bedside table. You'll probably dream about something you forgot to do.
8. Always remember the BIG PICTURE! The purpose of this whole process is to marry your sweetheart, not to make sure that every last chair has a perfectly tied bow in a perfectly matching apple green satin sash. There will be bumps along the way. Just stop and ask yourself, "Self, does this keep me from marrying my honey-bunny?" I guarantee you that the answer is 99.9% always going to be "no." Keep moving forward!
Enjoy this process. Just because you have a shorter planning time doesn't mean that you are required to be a big ball of bridal stress. Enlist the help of some friends and have a great time planning! Hopefully you will avoid looking like the bride at the top, and end up more like this...
Thanks to Jason Hudson for this great photo!