Timetable for planning a wedding

(not engaged BTW) When you got engaged, how far out did you start planning? How much advance time did each decision need to be made?

Moved MPSIMS --> IMHO.

We were in Elko, Nevada. Her father said what are you going to do today. She said we might get married. He picked up the phone and called the judge. Fifteen minutes later it was done. Seems to have worked fine for about 30 years now.

Hmm, lets see. We weren’t quite that fast. My husband proposed on November 4 and we were married the following July 4. If memory serves most of the planning was done around March, and it turns out that we barely scraped out our wedding venue and wedding cake at that time. I sent out invitations six weeks before the wedding, the way I was told to. We had a picnic wedding with “catering” by the soul food restaurant that was willing to work July 4 for such a big ticket, and didn’t get that arranged until less than a month beforehand. There was no band, just an iPod and some nice speakers.

We live in New York City. We got married outside the city but the same basic rules applied.

-Venues which are reasonably priced, convenient and attractive go FAST. Book at least a year in advance to get a weekend date in the spring or summer, Christmas, or in the pretty-leaf season of fall.
-Photographers who do good work at a modest price book about 8 months in advance. You can easily book a photographer on a shorter timeframe but you’ll probably pay more.
-The story seems about the same for DJs (we did our own music though, so no personal experience here)
-If your venue isn’t a caterer you’ll need a caterer; I know nothing about this since our venue did our catering. Oh wait, that’s not true, we hired a caterer for the rehearsal dinner (it was a clambake). I started getting quotes in March for a late Sept wedding, signed a contract maybe in May? (confirming the location took a while, see next entry)
-we reserved a park picnic shelter for the RD, which was really cheap in and of itself, but it actually took quite a bit of research to find a park with the right combination of facilities and policies (ie, allow a caterer on site, allow non-residents to reserve, etc.).
-live musicians, I think we booked about 4 months out (string trio for the ceremony & cocktail hour). They were really helpful in selecting processional music, so, though it wasn’t strictly necessary, it was nice to have them in my back pocket for advice.

ETA: finding an officiant was a bit of a bother, but we had some fairly specific requirements.

um… that’s all I can think of. We did our own flowers too, and my brother designed the invites and had them printed by an online printer, so I don’t know how it works with “traditional” engraving or florists.

My brother got married outside San Francisco and it was about the same deal.

A lot depends on what you want. If you want a big shindig, or to get married in a particular church (many require counseling first), or want to get married during a popular time of the year for weddings, you will probably have to plan farther out.

I was proposed to in mid-February and we got married at the end of May. That was quick for a church wedding, but it was a small Protestant church and we kept it simple.

My husband was stationed in Spain at the time, and flew back to the US on June 6. He proposed when I greeted him. We got married on the 9th. Yes, that’s three days. We only waited that long because of the blood test.

I got married at my parents’ house, in a street dress and shoes (blue grey, not white) and had a quick reception afterwards.

When I was working in a dress shop in Las Vegas, we’d occasionally get women rushing in, frantic for a white dress or white skirt and top, because they were getting married in half an hour. And they’d get pissed because we didn’t have much of a selection. Nevada didn’t require blood tests.

El hubbo proposed in late November, we were married the following August. We picked the date largely on the availability of our photographer who’s a personal friend. All-in-all, I think we started working on it maybe 4-6 months beforehand.

We’re pretty flexible, and weren’t set on a specific venue or church or anything. We got married on a boat, had some friends play for the ceremony, had piped music for the reception (on the boat itself). 4 hour cruise, done and done.

Traditionally, you take about a year. (That’s what all the wedding books and magazines and such tell you.) Of course, that means that at the beginning you have to make a bunch of really expensive and important decisions RIGHT NOW (venue, caterer, photographer) to get the dates you want, and the rest of it is a lot more laid back with spread out decision making until the last month when you go crazy again.

We got married eight months after we got engaged, but I can’t remember at what point in those eight months we actually started planning. The minimum here (Ireland) is three months, probably more: you have to give official notice of your intent to marry at least three months before the wedding - whether it’s a church ceremony or a civil one - and the appointments to give notice get booked up well in advance.

I think a lot of the rest depends on how traditional you’re going. If you want an official wedding dress (which I didn’t), you have to order it something like six months in advance, who knows why. And if you want a really popular reception venue, they book up like a year in advance. But if you’re having a civil ceremony in an unusual location and a reception in a restaurant, and she’s wearing a nice dress and he’s wearing a nice suit and you’re handwriting your own invitations and so on, the three months would be plenty.

We met in late Aug, 1963, bonded on the weekend of Nov. 22, 1963, formally engaged on New Year’s Eve (eve of 1964), tentatively set a date in June 1964, but by late February we were tired of waiting (believe it or not we were both virgins on our wedding night! Autre temps, autre moeurs). There were certain limitations in the Orthodox Jewish over when you could get married and it turned out that we had to get married by mid-March or wait 50 days. This meant nothing to either of us, but her mother and stepfather were making the wedding and it was terribly important to him. So we got married on a Saturday night two weeks later. Forty eight years later, we are still happily together.

My daughter got married about 6 weeks after deciding to. They had been an item for nearly three years and living together for two. They bonded around 9/11/01. History repeats! My son, who had been married for 12 years by then, gave this advice. Get a wedding planner and simply ignore everything you were supposed to up to six weeks before and carry out all the later advice. I guess they did that. It went off very smoothly at any rate.

It depends on a lot- including how flexible you are. When I got married 25 years ago, the standard advice was plan at **least **12 months ahead- but that’s if you want a particular date, a particular venue etc. If you don’t much care about the date , you can do it in less time. I found a reception hall I liked and they had a date open 6 months later. I put down a small deposit to hold it for a few days to make sure the church was available and then booked it. Of course, this meant I got married in November, about a week before Thanksgiving. If I had wanted a really popular venue in June, I probably would have needed to book it two years in advance.

I had one big country club wedding with the dress and the flowers and the open bar…

About a year - most of it comes in waves. A year out if you want a popular spot or a popular time of year (or both) you need to have a venue books (a lot less if you want to get married, as a friend did, on a Tuesday night). It took multiple weeks to pick out a wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses - which then needed to be ordered and delivered (six weeks) fitted and altered (four weeks) with “make sure this isn’t right up before the wedding.”

Other things we had time on. We had “some” DJ, there are plenty of those and although I suspect I booked six months out, I wasn’t worried about not getting one. Likewise, although I had a well known local bakery do the cake, it wasn’t imperative that they get me on the books agesout, they have quite a bit of capacity. Flowers generally need some lead time. Honeymoon was booked three months out for best pricing, etc.

The biggest issue for most people is venue. If what you want to do is be married in your back yard, or a Vegas chapel, you don’t need to schedule around the venue. But other people have other issues - I’ve been to weddings that were rushed because a parent or grandparent was dying - and a quick wedding and backyard reception with Mom or Grandpa there was WAY more important than a “dream wedding.”

Don’t get married in June, or on or near Valentine’s Day unless you’re planning everything out two years in advance. Even with plenty of advance notice, everything is going to be pricier during those two times, because all the wedding businesses are going to be slammed, so they WILL charge a premium.

I did it in six weeks, my friend did it in five. Most of that was the 32 days notice you’re required to give by law.

Not necessarily - I could have walked out of the store with the one I bought, no problem. The thing is, most salons don’t have many sizes in stock (really only one per style, although often that’s the only one there IS so you have to take it on faith when they tell you that the dress they’ve rubber banded you into that you couldn’t actually step up onto the podium in can be altered to fit you) so that’s why all the ordering.

And you will have to have it altered even if it fit perfectly (which they don’t - for some reason they’re always big in the shoulders.) I had no idea when I started this whole thing, but the bustling is ALWAYS added in alterations! I just always assumed dresses came with bustling points, but they don’t. And you have to decide what kind of bustle you want, which is one of those things that you don’t know there are different kinds of when you start out but a week later you are a worldwide expert on.

I agree with Dangerosa on the venue. We got engaged in May and got married the following May – in fact, we had a 366-day engagement. We booked the reception hall sometime in August or September, and that chose our wedding date for us – the church hall was available that day, so that became our wedding day. Then we did not do another thing until after the first of the year, when I started looking for a dress. (Well, I got a ring.)

My co-workers harassed me about getting a dress, getting a florist, caterer, etc. We just got around to it in the spring. One of my co-workers was getting married about the same time I was and she was constantly on the phone doing her wedding crap (and one of the main ones harassing me about mine) and one day she had a total shrieking meltdown because the printing on her cocktail napkins was not in the same color as the printing on her invitations. She went in the break room and sobbed.

I got my dress in March sometime, and that’s about when we did all the rest of our stuff. We did all the work together and it wasn’t really all that hard.

Heh. Bustling. Since I was getting married on a boat, I had them cut any sort of trailing material off the back of my dress. The seamstress gathered up the yard or so of satin, cocked her eye at me, and asked, “Are you sure?” Yep, I’m sure. I’m sure she was worried that I’d come back in a week all, “What have you done?!” Good to double check.

My sister-in-law’s bustling was a true puzzle; no idea how that worked at all.

It took us about a month to put it together. We got married the day before Thanksgiving in 2002.

I had NO IDEA. I mean, you got your French bustling, you got your underbustle that isn’t a French bustle, you got your Australian bustle, you got your overbustle, you can even bustle sashes and stuff… the thing is, you’re going to spend a lot more time bustled than you are with the train, so you have to like the way it looks!

And seriously, I had no intention of buying a dress with a train either. It was $180 and flattering.

ETA - Bustle is definitely one of those words that sounds weirder every time you say it. Bustle.