Do you need years to coordinate everything for your big day, or can you walk down the aisle next month? That all depends on what you have in mind! We’ll go over the average time it takes to plan a wedding below, along with other tips on creating your ideal wedding planning timeline.
What’s the average time to plan a wedding?
According to a study from The Knot, the average couple takes around 15 months to plan their wedding day in 2022. But keep in mind: This is just an average, not a guideline.
As we all learned from 2020, sometimes the best-laid wedding plans get postponed for a year or two. You might also need or want to plan a wedding in under a year — which is totally doable, by the way. Some Ling’s couples planned amazing weddings with only a 6-month timeline.
When do you start planning a wedding?
You don’t need to dive into wedding planning the day after your proposal. It’s totally fine to take a few days or weeks to savor the moment of being engaged. Even though you’ve got the ring on your finger, it still might not feel real. So, take as much time as you need for the word fiance to sink in.
Alternatively, if you started browsing wedding Pinterest after your first date, that works too! When you’re ready, you can share your vision with your fiance and start discussing your wedding planning timeline.
How long does it really take to plan a wedding?
Here’s the thing: Just because 15 months is the average amount of time to plan a wedding, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you spent 15 months planning non-stop.
For example, Ling’s couple Emily and Jackson got married six months after their proposal. However, they booked most of their key elements for their wedding in about a month. The rest of their time was spent coordinating smaller details, like thrifting decorations. “I think the biggest thing to do first is find your venue,” Jackson advised on our podcast.
Photo by RachaelKreidPhotography
Wedding venues often book dates at least six months to a year in advance. That can also be true for more popular wedding professionals, like photographers and bakers. So, if you’re planning a wedding in the busy season, you’ll need to act early to reserve a spot on their calendars.
Additionally, you can also plan a wedding much faster if you’re willing to be flexible with key wedding elements. For example, your local barn venue may be booked up until next year, but the old barn on your grandmother’s property is available year round. (And it’s free, unless grandma decides to charge you a rental fee.)
What to consider when choosing your wedding timeline
Beyond booking your wedding vendors in advance, the following factors can also play a role in your wedding planning timeline.
If you don’t currently have the funds to plan the wedding ceremony of your dreams, you might prefer to delay the date in order to build up your savings. Additionally, some couples may also get financial help from their families. So, if you already have your wedding money ready to go, you can start planning faster.
Your wedding season
Consider the season when you’d like your ceremony to take place, then contrast this with the date of your proposal.
For example, say your fiance proposed on New Year’s day, and you’re dreaming of a spring garden wedding. While you’d technically only need a few months for the season to be right, you might have a hard time booking the venue and vendors on such a short timespan. So instead, you might choose to wait until spring of next year to have a more comfortable planning process.
Your wedding size
The size of your wedding will also make a difference. Do you want a grand ceremony full of family and friends, or would you be content with a smaller, more intimate affair? Larger ceremonies generally cost more and need more extensive planning than smaller ceremonies since you’ll have more guests to invite and more resources to gather.
Your guest availability
Speaking of wedding guests, consider the availability of your family and friends when choosing a wedding date. Will they be able to make it with only a few weeks notice, or will they need a longer timeframe in order to attend? It’s customary to send invitations six to eight weeks in advance for local weddings and a few months in advance for destination weddings.
How to plan a wedding years in advance: Tips & Tricks
There may be a time restraint that keeps you from tying the knot as soon as you’d like — such as school or work commitments, a military deployment, or even a global pandemic. In cases like these, you might prefer to plan your wedding two or three years in advance.
While years of wedding planning sounds like a daunting task, it also lets you take your time planning at a more relaxed pace. Here are a few tips to start the process with a longer engagement.
Keep it general
Here’s the good thing about having such a long time to plan: You don’t need to make any key decisions right now. Instead, you can take a more passive approach to planning in the early days and simply gather inspiration and information.
It’s always good to book popular wedding vendors in advance. But at the same time, many of them won’t commit to a deadline that’s years away. So, instead of researching and booking specific wedding vendors, keep your planning more exploratory in the early days and focus on the aesthetic and vibes you’d like to create.
Be open to changes
At the same time, wedding trends move pretty fast. What’s popular now might be all-but forgotten two years from now. For that reason, it’s a good idea to stay flexible and open to changes in your aesthetic as your wedding date approaches.
That said, if you don’t care about trends or want a more timeless aesthetic, go ahead and plan to the beat of your own wedding march!
Order items in advance
If you’re itching to accomplish something for your wedding a few years in advance, try focusing on shopping instead of booking vendors. For example, you could go ahead and make appointments at bridal salons to look for your wedding gown or hit up thrift stores for decorations.
Your guests won’t know how long your dress spent hanging in your closet before your wedding day. Plus, you’ll have more time to spend on other elements later on.
Rely on DIY
With a wedding years away, you’ve got all the time in the world to bring a more unique vision to life. So, why not take advantage of this opportunity to create DIY projects for your big day?
Pro tip: Consider using faux flowers for your DIY projects. You can order them years in advance, and they’ll still look as fresh and colorful as the day they arrived at your doorstep. You can craft your bridal bouquet, centerpieces, and more without having to worry about wilting or special storage conditions.
How to plan a wedding on a short timeline: Tips & Tricks
On the flip side, some couples would like to tie the knot sooner rather than later. After all, a long engagement can feel like an eternity if you want to start your happily ever after as soon as possible. If that sounds like you, here are some key tips to plan your wedding day on a shorter-than-average timeline.
Outsource your planning
When you’re working with time constraints, taking care of everything by yourself can feel overwhelming. Instead, you might prefer to outsource to a wedding planner or a trusted family member or friend.
Taking just a few tasks off your plate can make the planning process feel more streamlined and stress-free. And when you have someone taking care of more technical details, like booking vendors, you can focus on more fun tasks, like shopping and making DIY projects.
Be flexible with your venue
Since popular venues need to be booked well in advance, you might need to explore alternative wedding locations if you only have a few months before your ideal wedding date. However, that doesn’t mean the local courthouse is your only option.
For example, Ling’s couple Dylan and Maria hosted their wedding ceremony and reception on a dinner cruise ship, which helped them finish planning on a tight six month timeline.
Photo by @imfg.photography
Other venue options to consider include:
- Local parks: State and national parks make fantastic last-minute wedding venues. For example, Great Smoky Mountains National Park only requires that couples submit an application two weeks prior to the start of their event.
- Your backyard: Your backyard is always available for events — and it’s totally free! Plus, hosting such a special event at home can feel extra cozy. If you don’t have a yard of your own, consider asking a family member if you can borrow theirs for the day.
- Hourly rental platforms: Instead of booking a wedding venue by the day, consider finding a space on a peer-to-peer rental platform like Peerspace. Depending on the host, you may be able to book a location only a few weeks in advance.
Reduce the guest list
Like we said before, smaller wedding ceremonies are easier to plan, since they require fewer resources and time. Dylan and Maria’s wedding had a guest list of 50 people, which technically makes it a microwedding.
That said, you don’t necessarily need to cut back in order to plan on a tight timeline. Ling’s couple Emily and Jackson had 250 guests at their wedding, despite also having a six-month timeline. It all depends on what you can handle on your plate!
Photo by RachaelKreidPhotography
Find premade wedding decor
If you want to elevate your wedding venue on a tight timeline, consider foregoing DIY projects and decorations in favor of premade wedding decor options.
Once again, faux flowers would be ideal. You can order premade faux floral decorations from vendors like Ling’s Moment only a few weeks in advance. Many of our premade styles are ready to use right out of the box — little to no arranging required. Your floral decor will look fabulous, and you won’t need to pay a florist’s expensive rush fee.
How long does it take to plan a wedding: Conclusion
The average couple takes around 15 months to plan their wedding day, but that’s just a general guideline, not a rule. Your personal wedding planning timeline can vary, depending on your schedules, budget, wedding size, and more.
If you need to plan a wedding years in advance, you can take a more relaxed approach with a longer exploratory period and time spent making personalized DIY projects. Or, if you’d rather plan your wedding on a tighter timeline, you can meet your deadlines by outsourcing tasks to planners and family members, choosing more flexible venues, and relying on premade decor items.
If you’re looking for more tips and tricks on planning your wedding day, check out Ling’s blog for budget guides, planning checklists, and inspirational photos from real couples. Plus, check out our selection of DIY faux flower kits and pre-arranged decorations, which can elevate a fabulous wedding on any timeline.