I got engaged on New Year’s Eve. We wanted to get married as soon as possible with a formal wedding, and we were able to do so in less than three months on March 18th of that year!
When we told folks we were planning to get married so soon, many were shocked. “You want to get married in March 18th of this year???”, some asked. Many couples take a year or more to plan weddings.
Of course, you can get married in one week, or one day if you go to Las Vegas! But we wanted a “fairytale” wedding in a wedding venue with a formal sit-down dinner! Most would say that is a tall order with less than three months of planning.
But, it really wasn’t too difficult to pull off because we found the right venue and cut out some wedding traditions that weren’t important to us. Check out these tips on how we did it.
1. Consider a Non-Saturday Night Wedding for Popular Wedding Venues
The first and most important part of planning your wedding is finding the right venue. Popular venues can be booked up for months or even a year if you want one in the middle of summer on a Saturday night.
We secured an amazing vintage wedding venue, the Ebell of Los Angeles, with less than two months notice because we were OK with having our wedding on a Sunday instead of a Saturday (this also got us a discounted rental rate by the way).
Not having your wedding on a Saturday night is probably going to be the biggest compromise you’ll have to make to get your wedding at a kickass venue on short notice. You might have to settle for a Sunday or perhaps even a Friday for busier venues.
But look at the bright side: if you have your wedding on a Friday, it will insure that only the people who really want to be there will show up, and your venue rental cost will probably be a little bit cheaper!
2. Choose a Venue that Has In-House Catering
Another huge time-saver was the fact that our venue had in-house catering and had lots of wedding experience. That took a huge management task off of our shoulders. No need to research caterers, coordinate with the venue, and so on. This also made the wedding itself run smoother.
3. Choose a Venue that Needs Minimal Decoration
Also, our venue was at the Ebell of Los Angeles, a historic landmark which needed minimal decoration. The only decorations we had were uplights (supplied by the venue), and flowers. Thus tons of design decisions and work was eliminated.
4. Skip the “Save the Date” Announcement
With less than three months to the wedding, “save the dates” are kind of unnecessary. Plus, it would be just one more thing getting in the way of planning the actual wedding. Just email the date to your most important guests, and spend the time on getting the actual invites out as soon as possible.
5. Skip the Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot
Pre-wedding photos are typically used for the “save the date” announcement (which you have eliminated, right?) and for your wedding website. We just used snapshots for our wedding website. Yeah, they were not professional-quality, but in the end, no one will care or remember that our wedding website photos weren’t professionally shot, especially if your shots are funny or endearing. I personally find pre-wedding photo shoots to look staged and contrived.
6. Paper Invitations, Digital RSVP’s
Because time is short, you’ll want to get your guest RSVP’s as soon as possible. Even saving a few days helps! We still sent out paper invitations, but they directed people to RSVP online. We used Minted.com and it worked out great.
Having online RSVP’s also made things more organized. We just exported the results to a spreadsheet, which saved time over paper RSVPs.
7. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
You’ll have to make hundreds of decisions for your wedding, ranging from what color the napkins will be to what kind of chairs to use, to the DJ’s playlist. Think about what is important and spend time on those and make quick decisions for the other items.
No one is going to remember the color of your napkins. Make fast decisions things like this rather than obsessing over them. Then spend your time on things that are important to you, like the DJ playlist, for example.
8. Avoid DIY Projects Like the Plague!
Do-it-yourself arts-and-crafts projects can be a huge time sink. Some examples include home-made decorations, party favors, programs, slide shows, and so on.
Party favors might seem like a great idea but they often get left behind or thrown away shortly after the wedding, unless they are truly valuable. It’s nice to want to give something back to your guests, but consider spending the money on open bar, better food, or better band or DJ. Multiply that simple gift bag by the number of guests and the project can balloon out of control quickly.
We also skipped the slide show. Not only did this save us the time to create it, but not having it helped the wedding itself move along more quickly which I think people appreciated.
9. Minimize the Size of the Wedding Party
For a do-it-yourself wedding, having a bigger wedding party is probably a good thing because it means more hands on deck to help. Because we used a “turnkey” wedding venue and because we cut out so much stuff, we actually didn’t have very many manual jobs to do.
We had the best man and maid of honor in our wedding party, that’s it. No groomsmen or bridesmaids. This saved time coordinating (and meant no bridesmaid luncheon to plan).
We also let them wear their own clothes, which saved having to pick out and buy bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos. In the end, no one cared that they wore their own clothes.
10. Combine or Skip the Pre-Wedding Parties (Rehearsal Dinner, etc.)
My wife had a bridal shower, but we skipped all of the other traditional pre-wedding parties like the rehearsal dinner, bridesmaid luncheon, and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Of course, that is up to you, but at our ages we had outgrown bachelor-party type of debauchery. Planning a whole Vegas trip would have delayed things for us.
Instead, we combined all of the pre-wedding parties into a single informal pre-wedding lunch with our closest friends and family. We got takeout food and had it at my condo with minimal fuss. People loved it. For the invitations to this, I just used evite.com.
11. Choose an Easy Honeymoon Destination or Delay It
We had our honeymoon in Hawaii because it required minimal planning. We booked our flights, hotel, and one helicopter tour and that was it. Other than that, we just showed up and found plenty to do since its such a common honeymoon destination.
If you pick a destination that requires lots of planning, that could eat into your valuable wedding planning time. If you want to go somewhere that requires a lot of planning, consider delaying your honeymoon and planning it properly rather than showing up under-prepared.
How Ours Turned Out
As you can see, we cut out a lot of stuff from our wedding to save planning time, but I think it still turned out great. Instead, we concentrated on picking a great venue with great food, along with having a streamlined ceremony with as few bells and whistles as possible. We got everything done on schedule and our wedding went very smoothly.
After dinner I gave a swing dance lesson which made our wedding unique. We had a good DJ and people danced late into the night and some even ended up going out afterwards.
Our guests told us they loved the venue, that the food was excellent, and that they had a great time. We kept what was important to us. You’ll have to decide what’s important for your wedding. No one complained about our choice of napkin colors or the lack of groomsmen or the amateur wedding website photos!
Did you plan a quick wedding? How’d you do it? Leave your comments or questions below! – Brian