From the moment you say, “Yes!” the thought of wedding dresses, invitations, linens and first dance songs will start swimming through your head. Oh the possibilities! With all of these details, both big and small, how much time should you really allow to plan your big day? Ultimately, this answer varies for each couple.

Friends and family might advise you to keep the engagement short or risk going nuts over anticipation. Then there’s wedding experts who might advise allowing at least a year to plan your wedding to ensure you get exactly what you want when it comes to your vendors, event rentals and wedding dress. Who’s right?

In order to answer this question, we must first ask you just a few more. How you answer will give you a better idea as to your wedding planning style and other factors that impact whether a long or short wedding planning process is better for you. Let’s get started!

Do you have “must-have” vendors?

Is there a venue, caterer or band that you can’t imagine not having as part of your wedding? If so, they should be one of the first calls you make after your engagement! They can tell you if they can accommodate a wedding in 3 months or if they’re booked two years in advance. This alone might determine the date you set for your wedding.

What’s your budget?

Another factor to consider is your wedding budget. A shorter engagement means you may end up paying premium for venue, food and event rentals because there are fewer options available. For example, you may have wanted a 50-foot wide tent, but only 60-foot and 40-foot are still available for your date. To accommodate guests, you would be forced into the large tent which adds an expense. The same goes for linens, tables and chairs. A greater selection means you have price options. The later you place your order, the more likely other brides will have reserved your preferred option in advance.

Big and beautiful tents, like this, tend to fly out of our warehouse during peak season.
Big and beautiful tents, like this, tend to fly out of our warehouse during peak season.

How big is your guest list?

The size of your guest list will affect your wedding budget, but it will also dictate how soon you should start planning your wedding. If you desire a large wedding with all of your extended family and friends in attendance, you want to give your guests ample time to receive first a save-the-date card and then a formal invitation. This ensures the date is marked as priority on their calendars. A shorter engagement gives guests less time to plan and it’s more likely another commitment could land on that same date. In thinking about response cards, you’ll also be grateful for the additional time when you’re waiting on 100+ RSVPs to arrive in the mail.

What’s your planning style?

This one is very important to consider. Are you Type A where everything needs to be mapped out months (or years) in advance? Does the thought of a well organized wedding binder make you happy? If so, you are likely to be more comfortable with ample time for planning, think 9+ months. On the flip side, if all of this wedding planning “stuff” makes you anxious or bored, a shorter engagement will speed up the process and make it (a little) less painful. Look at how you plan for any other occasion such as vacations or holidays. Whatever style you feel comfortable with is the same approach you should take with planning your wedding.

If you know you want to hand-pick every piece of dinnerware and type of flower, you will want ample time for wedding planning!
If you know you want to hand-pick every piece of dinnerware and type of flower, you will want ample time for wedding planning!

How much can you handle anticipation?

Are you the type of person who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve or becomes fixated on an upcoming vacation to the point you can’t focus on anything else? While anticipation is fun, it can also be maddening if you force yourself to endure it for months or years. Think about how you react to anticipation. If the wedding planning process is bound to command all of your attention, you may not want to prolong it (or risk losing your job, friends and sanity). Choose a shorter timeframe and savor the anticipation knowing the big day will be here sooner than later!

In the end, the decision to have a long or short wedding planning process is completely up to you. There are pros and cons to both scenarios so it comes down to what you are most comfortable with. And don’t forget – no matter how you choose to plan your wedding, you will run into stressful moments now and then. Ask for support from your family and friends and be sure to stay focused on what really matters about this special day – you and your fiancé!

When did or when do you plan to start planning your wedding? Share your thoughts on the “right” amount of time needed to plan your big day!

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