Katie Jaynes Photography Blog





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For Brides

March 4, 2022

How to Plan a Wedding in Six Months or Less

Planning a wedding isn’t easy. We will not lie to you. There are so many pieces and choices to make. We’ve talked to so many young couples about planning a wedding and what advice we would give them.

One of our regrets, when we got engaged, was our long engagement. We were engaged for over a year. That’s such a long time. Now, back then we were only 21 and had just graduated college, so we needed the time, but it’s still a long 12 months of wedding planning.

One of our few regrets from our engaged season is exactly that – how long it was. It’s a fun and special time, but for us it was too long of a season. Now, every couple and situation is COMPLETELY different, but we want to show you that you can plan a wedding in 6 months (or less).

6 Months Before Your Wedding

Pick your Wedding Date

Everything hinges on what date you pick. You can’t start talking to vendors, or tell guests until you know when you’ll get married. Picking a wedding date isn’t easy, but it has to be one of the first things you’ll do when you’re planning your wedding.

It’s easiest if you start with a season. You probably already have an idea of what you want the weather to be, and it’s the best way to start. From there, widdle it down from month until you have a date.

Decide on your budget

Aside from picking the date, your budget is the next most important detail to tackle. It’s hard to start with vendors and picking a venue when you aren’t sure how much you can spend.

There are SO many line items to put on your wedding budget. A lot of expenses brides don’t think about. All of those “small” fees, decorations, and vendors and up quickly. To be honest, we tell every couple to spend A LOT of time talking about their budget before they start ANY planning.

The last thing you want to do is go WAY over budget and spend your savings account on your wedding day.

Pick a Venue

Now that you have your budget ready, the planning really begins. With 6 months to go, you obviously have to start with the biggest things first. What’s bigger than the PLACE you’re going to get married!?

You need to decide what kind of style you want and start looking around. If you want to get married in a barn or outdoor, make sure to think of the weather and the season.

Go Wedding Dress Shopping

If you’re anything like me this is the part you’ve been waiting for. You may already have an idea of what you want (or even know exactly what you want). While the actual shopping process may not take that long, but if your dress needs to be altered, you need to leave plenty of time for alterations and possibly more alterations.

Start Calling Vendors ASAP

You don’t have to have every single major vendor booked in the first month, but you need to get calling (or emailing). The sooner you can get in contact and get your names on their calendars, the less headache you’ll have. The closer you get to your wedding date, the more trouble you may have booking some of your major vendors like an officiant, photographer, videographer, wedding planner, and more.

Book Your Honeymoon

If you have a dream destination in mind, don’t wait to start booking your honeymoon. If you’re getting married in the off-season, you may not have any problems getting your honeymoon booked, but if you’re getting married and traveling during peak season, you will be surprised how quickly everything becomes fully booked.

You don’t want to miss out on the dream honeymoon simply because you waited.

5 Months Before Your Wedding

Book an Engagement Session

We are firm believers in having an engagement session. The engagement session not allows gives you great images of you and your fiance looking cute, but it also allows you to practice being in front of the camera.

Otherwise, on your wedding day, it would be the first time you and your boo would be posing together in front of a professional photographer. For some couples, this is no big deal and they feel natural in front of the camera. Most couples though like the practice and want to know what’s coming – this is why an engagement session can be perfect.

Make a Guest List

A lot of the wedding planning hinges on how many guests will be at your wedding. There are a lot of decisions that hinge on how many guests you’ll have.

If your venue doesn’t provide the tables or chairs, you won’t be able to get any kind of estimate until you’ve nailed down the guest list. Probably the biggest hurdle is finding a caterer, which will all depend on how many guests you have.

When you’re sitting down to make your guests list, it can easily get out of hand. COVID has changed a lot of things, especially weddings. We’ve seen much smaller weddings compared to what we were photographing before the pandemic. It’s not uncommon to see weddings half the size of a traditional wedding before COVID. The idea of a 500 person wedding is becoming rare.

When you’re making your guest list, remember that it’s YOUR WEDDING. So many couples feel guilty for not inviting certain people or they feel as if they have to invite some guests. The one question you should ask yourself is: will I be upset if this person was not able to attend my wedding.

Gather Your Bridal Party

Now for some fun. This is when you get to choose those wonderful humans who will be standing next to you during your wedding. Why should you ask these special people 5 months before the big day? Because being in a wedding is a big commitment and you should aim to give them as much time as possible.

The sooner you ask them to be in your bridal party, the less likely there is a scheduling conflict. You don’t want to wait just to find out your bridal party is already busy on that day with something they can’t move. Also, giving them more time to help plan and pay for being involved in a wedding will help as well.

If you’ve ever been in a bridal party, you know it’s no small feat. Aside from the time commitment involved (not only on the wedding day but also for the rehearsal), there is also the monetary commitment as well. Dresses and shoes are not cheap. Be kind to your friends and let them know with plenty of time.

Send Save the Dates

Hopefully, with 5 months left, you’ve already taken your engagement photos (if you’re going to take them, and you should!), and now is the time to pick one of those pictures and put them on your save the dates.

Just like with your wedding party, the sooner you can get these save the dates out, the better. Don’t wait till it’s too late to get those out.

Double Check your Passport

If you’re going on a honeymoon overseas, do NOT wait to secure your passport. If you already have a passport, make sure it hasn’t expired and that you know exactly where it is. This is an often overlooked step, but it can create a lot of anxiety if you wait.

If it’s expired, you can’t find it, or you don’t have one. Get started as soon as possible. The process is going to take several months and you don’t want paperwork to stand in between you and your relaxing honeymoon.

Find a Wedding Coordinator

Depending on how familiar you are with the wedding industry, you. may not understand what a wedding coordinator does or if you should invest in one.

First, don’t get confused between a wedding coordinator and a wedding planner, while they do share some responsibilities, they are not the same vendor.

For this, we are talking about a day of wedding coordinator. Someone who works with you leading up to the wedding and is there all day with on, from the moment you arrive at the ceremony until the final goodbyes.

Create a Wedding Website

Wedding websites used to be mostly for wedding registered, RSVPs, and to show off engagement pictures, but everything has changed.

Now that COVID has rocked the wedding world, wedding websites are SO much more than they have ever been. Your wedding website will be the go-to place for any updates on your wedding. When you send out your save the dates (see below), be sure to include a note about checking the website for more info or even FAQs about your wedding.

Bonus tip, you can create a QR code to include on the back of your save the date if you want to be REALLY techie.

4 Months Before Your Wedding

Mail Your Save The Dates

We hope you have your envelopes ready! Now is the time to have your guest list finalized and start addressing all of those save the dates. You want to get the save the dates in the mail with plenty of time. Give your guests more than enough time to get the day on their calendars, especially if they are coming from out of town.

Finalize Vendors

If you haven’t signed on the dotted line, make sure to do that with more than 3 months to go. While it’s not likely that a vendor would have to back out or they would have booked your date, make sure that you’ve finalized all of your vendor contracts and everything is squared away.

Why are you doing this with 4 months left? Because if something were to happen to one of your vendors, there is still plenty of time to find a replacement.

Create your Gift Registry

Now for one of the most fun parts of engagement (just kidding, mostly). Before you run off to Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond to start scanning everything (or just creating your wedding registry online), slow your roll and take an inventory. Sure, you can add thousands of things to your wedding registry, there is no limit we know of, but that’s usually not the best approach.

Honestly, it’s really hard not to get carried away when making your registry. But let us speak from experience on what’s going to happen if you do. You’ll end up with a lot of gifts after your wedding that you realize you don’t need and then you have to pack all those up and hunt down gift receipts to return them.

Save yourself the hassle and take stock of what stuff you already have to avoid ending up with things you really don’t need.

Additional tip: when in doubt, just ask for CASH! $$

3 Months Before Your Wedding

Buy Your Wedding Rings

3 months may seem early for buying wedding rings, but we promise it’s not. You might need the extra time depending on the wedding rings you’re buying.

One problem some couples run into is the ring they want is out of stock, this happens more often during the busy wedding season, especially if you’re shopping at a smaller, local jewelry store. Typically it will not take them long to get the ring ordered, but you need plenty of time just in case.

Send Invitations

Most wedding guides you read will tell you to send wedding invitations out 2 months before the wedding, or even 6 weeks. This is where we slightly disagree with a lot of other wedding traditionalists.

Here is why we think you should send them out earlier than tradition: because people are busy. We understand that 10-ish weeks before a wedding may seem like overkill, but if your guests are like most Americans, their calendars fill up very quickly. The sooner it gets on their calendar, the better.

Now, if you aren’t able to get them out that early, don’t stress. There is still plenty of time, but that’s why are start sooner rather than later.

2 Months Before Your Wedding

Get Your Marriage License

When you get your marriage license, everything starts to feel real.

A marriage license (or marriage licence in Commonwealth spelling) is a document issued, either by a religious organization or state authority, authorizing a couple to marry. The procedure for obtaining a license varies between jurisdictions, and has changed over time. Marriage licenses began to be issued in the Middle Ages, to permit a marriage which would otherwise be illegal (for instance, if the necessary period of notice for the marriage had not been given).

Thanks, Wikipedia!

It may seem daunting having to go apply for your marriage license, but we promise it’s a lot easier than you probably think. Every county is different in its requirements, but for the most part, you’ll only need to bring proof of identification, like a driver’s license and a social security card. That’s it.

The safest option is to call the county probate judge’s office to confirm exactly what you’ll need. They probably even have it on their website.

Create Your Seating Chart

1 Month Before Your Wedding

Pack Your Decorations

Most couples are bringing some of their own decorations to the ceremony and/or reception. This could be centerpieces, pictures, cake plates, and anything else you can think of.

Instead of waiting until the week of the wedding, start gathering all of those decorations. If you still have decorations to buy or make, get those done and have them packed away. Don’t wait until wedding week to get these done.

Pack Your Bags!

Don’t wait until the night before your wedding to start packing your bags. If you’re going straight on your honeymoon or a hotel after your wedding, you won’t have time after.

Our tip is to start the week of your wedding with things you won’t need. Get as much packed as early as possible. The closer your wedding gets, the more stress and anxiety you may feel trying to pack your bags.

Get it done early. You’ll thank yourself later.

Rest and Enjoy

Now that all of that is done, you can sit back and enjoy your engagement. Use this time to really soak it all in.

This is a good time to hang out with your friends, go on special dates, and enjoy those last moments of engagement before you start the newest journey together!

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