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Is it possible to plan a wedding in 1 month?
Yes, you can plan a wedding in a month. The typical time frame to plan a wedding is 12-18 months in order to accommodate vendors who might be booked far in advance and give your guests enough notice to attend. You can absolutely plan a wedding in less time.
Have even less than 30 days? We have a dedicated resource for you with all of the things you need to do to plan your wedding in just one week.
How do you plan a wedding in one month?
Here’s our week-by-week check list.
Set your budget
The first thing you’re going to do is nail down your budget. Think about how much money you have in savings that you can spend on your wedding without depleting your emergency fund. Add that to how much money you are getting from family members.
If you’re coming up with nothing there, think about how much you could reasonably save in a month to put towards your wedding. Maybe think about a side job you could take on for a few weeks to add a few hundred dollars to the pile. Do not go into debt to pay for a wedding. It is not a smart financial move just to keep up with others in different circumstances.
You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.
Craft your guest list
Make a list of everyone you’d like to invite. Since you’ll only be giving people a few weeks notice, remember that you don’t need to go too far out of your close circle of friends and family if you don’t want to. You can use the fact that you planned on short notice as an excuse for why you needed to keep things small.
There isn’t a maximum recommended number here. But of you find that your list is 200+ people, you may want to rethink that. Smaller will be easier to plan and easier on your wallet. Do yourself a favor and make a few cuts.
Hire a planner / ask for help
Now is the time in your planning to recruit a trusted friend, family member, and/or your partner to help you with planning. You can also reach out to wedding planners or day of coordinators to ease some of the burden in planning this yourself in such a short window. If you can’t lock down a planner by the end of the week, don’t let it stop you from booking things like your photographer or venue. You’ll need to keep things moving if you want to make it through the list on time.
Find a venue
This is the first vendor you need to book in order to set your date and fill in all of the remaining planning pieces. So it’s really important that you complete this in week one. Most traditional wedding venues like catering halls or estates will be booked up a year or two in advance (which is why couples have such long engagements!) You’re going to need to look outside of the box in order to find something to accommodate you.
Some suggestions for venues:
- a local restaurant (with or without a private room)
- church recreation room
- neighborhood social club (ask family who are members to help you book it)
- family member’s house or back yard (better for smaller weddings)
- your own house or backyard (keep it small please!)
If there’s a venue you’re absolutely crazy about, and know fits in your budget, you might have luck if it’s an off time of year or if you’re willing to do a day during the week. (See our tips for weekday weddings here.)
Book your ceremony
Now that you have the reception figured out, plan the ceremony. This can be a courthouse appointment for you and your partner earlier in the day. It could be hiring an officiant to marry you at the venue. Or you can find a church / temple near the venue to get married in.
Churches and other places of worship often book up far in advance and have requirements to getting married in them. So, it might not be possible within the deadline. It really depends on the individual place of worship and what they can accommodate. Doesn’t hurt to call and ask if you want to get married within your religion.
Send out invitations
You now have all of the information you need to send out invitations. You definitely don’t want to wait any longer to send them out. I highly recommend digital invitations since you’re only 2-3 weeks out from your wedding. You don’t want to be waiting on the post office to deliver your invites and again to deliver RSVPs. Speed things up by purchasing a template or creating one for free and send out an email. You can collect RSVPs on a wedding website or with a reply.
We have recommendations for the best digital templates here.
Decide on your wedding party
Recruit your maid of honor, bridesmaids, and other wedding party members as you’re sending out invitations. If you expect them to help with any planning, let them know upfront so they can let you know if they can’t fit it in on such short notice.
I don’t recommend matching outfits or even colors with this timeframe. It’s too short notice to ask people to find and purchase anything specific, especially if they’re helping out in other areas of the wedding planning.
Hire a photographer
Major professional wedding photographers will be booked far in advance but if there’s one you love it doesn’t hurt to call and see if they happen to be free or have a cancellation. You may need to go a step further and hire an aspiring photographer from a local art school.
As an alternative, you can ask a friend who has a camera and a good eye to be your photographer. Or you can leave disposable cameras out on tables for your guests to help you capture moments from your big day.
Order catering, drinks, and a cake
One last step for this busy week! If you’re not having your reception at a restaurant, you’ll need to book a caterer. Local restaurants or grocery stores are good sources for last minute catering. You can even outsource this task to a friend / family member if you want to get something off your plate.
Check your venue’s rules for alcohol. If you’re allowed to bring in it and serve it yourself without a license then buy in bulk from stores like Costco that will allow you to return any unopened containers after the wedding. Or ask your venue for a recommendation if you need someone with a liquor license to supply bartending services.
For the cake, go with a sheet cake from the grocery store or a simple cake that can be picked up from a local bakery without customization. Don’t expect to order a multi-tiered custom design in less than two weeks. Your baker will laugh you out the door.
Shop for a wedding dress and suit
Off-the-rack all the way. You may be able to squeeze in some minor alterations but you don’t have time for online shopping or made to order gowns. Head into a David’s Bridal or call ahead to a bridal salon to see if they have ready to wear styles in your size. If you or your partner are wearing a suit, you can buy a new one that’s ready to wear or use an existing one with a new tie and a new shirt.
For other reasons why off-the-rack dresses are a good choice for last minute brides, check out this article.
Buy any additional accessories
Don’t forget the shoes, veil, jewelry, something blue and any other items you want to pick up for the big day.
Book hair and makeup
You should be able to book yourself a last minute appointment at a local salon. If you’re not finding any or just don’t want to travel on your wedding day, book someone who can come to you. If you’re in a city with GlamSquad, it’s a great service and pretty affordable. Otherwise you can find freelance make up and hair stylists on Thumbtack.
Plan your music
The easiest thing to do is to create a Spotify playlist. you can even find an existing one and just add your favorites to save you even more time. Put a wedding party member in charge on your wedding day and don’t give it another thought. If you have your heart set on a DJ, band, or ceremony musician and the venue allows for that, you still have time to squeeze it in if you’re willing to make some calls to check availability.
Update your wedding website or guests
If any details have changed or were not known when you sent invites, this is a good time to check in and update everyone through email. This is also a great time to follow up with anyone who hasn’t responded to your invite with a call or text so you can lock in the guest count before you go shopping.
Pick out any decor items
It’s crunch time! You’ve got one week to go and it’s time to decorate. Pick up anything you need for the tables as centerpieces, silverware and plates (if you have to bring them), serving ware, napkins, tablecloths, candles, etc. Try to keep it simple where possible.
You may have noticed that we haven’t talked about flowers yet… my best advice would be to pick up some from the grocery store the day before your wedding and not stress about it too much. After all, you just planned your whole wedding in less than a month. You can save a ton of money and time by skipping the massive floral arrangements. And trust me, no one will even notice that you didn’t decorate an altar with a thousand dollar’s worth of peonies. It is going to get thrown out later that night.
If you do want to place an order for a bouquet and a boutonniere for your partner, now is the time to ask your local florist for a favor and make you a simple arrangement with flowers they have on hand for next week. Again, you have enough to worry about so I recommend skipping this.
Get a manicure / pedicure or any other spa treatments you need
This is not the time to get a brand new haircut. But a bang trim, your usual wax, a new set of gels, maybe a massage to relax? Yes, please!
The Day Before
Pick up flowers and cake
These are great items to delegate if you can to any friends or family members willing to help. Have them snap a picture if they’re bringing it straight to the venue for you. Both of these items can be last minute grocery store pick ups if you didn’t order any in advance. Don’t save it until tomorrow. Keep them both in the fridge overnight.
Have your rehearsal
Depending on how you booked your ceremony, you’ll either have a planned rehearsal time already with the church or venue or you should run through a quick rehearsal of the day with your partner, officiant, day or coordinator or anyone else helping out on your wedding day. This can be in person or a phone call.
Make sure you cover the basics of who is bringing what, how people are getting where they need to be, what time to wake up, get dressed, travel to the location, etc. And go through a basic timeline of the wedding itself with any speeches, dances, and other important moments slotted in so you don’t run out of time. It’s okay if things veer a little bit off schedule the next day but you want a plan you can fall back on.
The Big Day
Enjoy your wedding! You earned it. Carve out some time for photos of you and your new spouse, and plenty of time to party with your guests.
Send thank you notes
You can splurge a little on your thank you notes since you didn’t send out formal invitations. Write each person a heartfelt thank you note and personalize your stationery with a photo, your date, your names, or an illustration of your location.
Plan your honeymoon
Hopefully you have a little bit longer to plan your honeymoon and can take your time planning it. If you’re heading off for a mini-moon right away, you can have a great time somewhere relatively close by that you haven’t had a chance to explore. And really, you’re not going to leave the hotel room much right newlyweds?
How to make your last minute wedding special
Brides today often forget that this is how people USED to plan weddings. They didn’t have destination bachelor / bachelorette parties and rent mansions and fill them with 300 people. My parents had their wedding in my uncle’s backyard 30+ years ago. That was normal. And for a lot of the country that’s still a normal way to plan a wedding. Don’t let bridal magazines and Instagram comparisons rob you of your joy. Your day is already special because it’s filled with the people you love, celebrating your new life as a married couple.