A Whirlwind Wedding - Planning Your Wedding in Three Months or Less

Don't elope! A guide to speeding up the wedding planning

Family beach wedding


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You've only got time to elope, but you want a real wedding in three months! All the bridal guides are talking about needing at least eight months, and the tear-out magazine calendars have a jam-packed year of tasks to be completed! Many brides and grooms find those job opportunities, military obligations, impending pregnancies, or simply unbridled passion necessitate a short engagement. But a short engagement doesn't mean you can't have a dream wedding. Instead of eloping, here's a list of what's truly essential and how to accomplish each task in a flash:

The Wedding Location

While many primo spots will be booked, plenty of locations should still be available, and may even give you a discount at this late date. Save time by scheduling your ceremony at the same spot as your reception. You'll want to look at non-traditional spots; consider restaurants for the all-in-one ease or non-wedding spots like photo studios and film locations. If you want a short engagement but are having trouble finding a wedding location, consider hiring a wedding planner. They can be indispensable in finding the un-booked gems – if you're tight on cash, consider hiring her for location scouting only. Be flexible on the date and time which will expand the options open to you.

The Wedding Dress and the Bridesmaids' Dresses

Traditionally, a wedding dress must be ordered at least six months before a wedding, and bridesmaids' dresses soon afterward. However, for the bride short-on-time, there are other alternatives. Visit a large bridal emporium like David's Bridal, where they have a wide range of sizes in stock, ready to be worn. Consider using a dress not intended to be a wedding dress or bridesmaid dress, including prom dresses. Also, JCrew carries a line of dresses suitable for brides and bridesmaids looking for a relaxed style. You might also ask your bridesmaids to wear dresses they already have or to purchase a gown in a particular color.

The Invitations

You'll need six weeks to mail your invitations, not to mention the printing time, stamping and mailing time. Look for a local printer who has a short turnaround time. If you can't find an amenable printer, why not do it yourself, quickly and easily? Find a software program like PrintingPress which will ease the design process, then use your home computer and printer to do the work.

The Food and Cake

Look for a site such as a hotel or a restaurant that already has cooking staff, or look for a large catering company that's less likely to be totally booked up. Don't stick to just French or Italian restaurants either: imagine the fun of having your wedding at a Mexican restaurant, barbecue joint, tapas bar, sushi restaurant, or a middle-eastern spot complete with belly dancers, particularly if it honors your family's heritage. If your caterer can't provide a cake, a local bakery should be able to whip up a wedding cake given a week-or-so notice. Save them time and yourselves money by getting a smaller display cake and serving the majority of guests from a sheet cake cut in the kitchen.

If this all still sounds like too much to you, there are also ways to elope and still eat cake too! With just a little planning, you can make getting married exactly the kind of celebration you'd like it to be.

Watch Now: How Long Does it Really Take to Plan a Wedding?