If you’re recently engaged, one of the first things you’ll want to establish is your wedding planning timeline. You may already be wondering if you can relax and enjoy your love bubble for a few more months, or if you should dive straight into checklists and Pinterest boards!
Every couple (and every wedding!) is totally different, but some simple guidelines can help you map out a realistic timeframe for your day. Keep reading as we explain how much planning is involved in the average wedding, and whether a long or short engagement is the best option for your lifestyle, wedding vision and budget.
It’s difficult to put an exact timeframe on how long it takes to plan a wedding, because no two couples are ever the same! With this being said, research shows that most couples spend approximately 12 – 18 months planning their wedding, which usually adds up to between 200 – 500 hours in total.
Now, your ideal wedding planning timeline might look longer or shorter than the “average” couple – which is absolutely fine! We’ve seen weddings planned in 3 months, and engagements that lasted 5 years. The right timeline for your wedding will all depend on a few key factors.
Before you lock down your wedding date, you’ll want to consider the following things:
1. Lifestyle and career
Do you and your partner both work full-time with busy social lives and family commitments? If so, you may want to allow yourself more time to plan your wedding to accommodate your lifestyle. On the flip side, if you have plenty of free time, you’ll be able to get things organised much quicker!
Do you already have some money set aside for your wedding, or will you need some extra time to build up your savings? If so, how much time will you need to achieve your savings goal without any financial stress? If you haven’t already discussed your wedding budget, this is a great place to start.
3. Wedding vision
Have you considered the kind of wedding you’ll be hosting and the overall vibe you want to create? An intimate wedding or elopement can be planned in a much shorter time frame, while a big celebration or destination wedding will require significantly more planning. If you’re not sure what your wedding vision looks like just yet, grab our free worksheet here to nail it down.
Are you flexible with things like your wedding venue, date and vendors, or do you have your heart set on specific elements already? Many in-demand venues and vendors book out quickly (we’re talking 12+ months in advance), so you may need to adjust your timeline to secure your dream team.
Do you have family and friends who are willing to help out with the wedding planning, or will you be organising everything solo? If you’re able to delegate tasks and ask for help, you can factor this into your timeline.
6. Personal preferences
Finally, consider the wedding planning timeline that best suits your personality and preferences. Are you someone who likes to take things at a relaxed, leisurely pace – or do you thrive on organisation, checklists and getting things done? This should give you a good indication on a realistic timeline that will work for you.
What Does a Sample Wedding Planning Timeline Look Like?
Now that you have a rough idea on your wedding planning timeline, what does this actually look like in action?
Whether you’re planning a leisurely 2-year engagement or getting things organised in 6 months or less, your wedding planning timeline should be created according to your priorities for the day. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to create a master checklist and order your tasks and deadlines by priority. The most important tasks (like securing your venue, vendors and creating a guest list) should be first on the agenda, while smaller tasks can be actioned closer to the day.
Let’s say you’re working with a 12-month wedding planning timeline. Your month-by-month breakdown might look something like this:
- 12-10 months: Choose a wedding date. Research and book your wedding venue, photographer and celebrant. Create a wedding budget and savings plan. Draft up a rough guest list.
- 8-10 months: Continue to book other wedding vendors (eg: caterer, rentals, florist, entertainment, stationery) according to priority. Choose your bridal party members and pop the question.
- 6-8 months: Find your dream dress. Finalise your guest list and send out your save the dates. Start planning your honeymoon.
- 4-6 months: Create a wedding website and fill it with essential information for your guests. Attend cake and menu tastings. Organise your pre-wedding beauty appointments.
- 2-4 months: Send your wedding invitations. Choose wedding rings. Attend hair and makeup trials. Confirm music selections for the day.
- 1-2 months: Confirm RSVPs and finalise invoices. Create your seating plan and wedding day timeline. Attend dress fittings and alterations. Touch base with all vendors to confirm responsibilities on the day.
For a more in-depth look at the different tasks involved at each stage of your wedding planning, you can find our ultimate wedding planning timeline here.
Planning a wedding on a longer or shorter time frame? No problems! You can simply adjust your timeline according to your priorities. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from pulling a wedding together in as little as 3 months – you’ll just need to be organised and flexible with the decisions you make and the vendors you work with.
The Pros and Cons of a Long vs Short Engagement
Still unsure about a long vs short engagement? Consider the following pros and cons to help you make a decision:
Planning a long engagement may be the best option if you have busy lifestyles, or need extra time to save money for your wedding. A long engagement also allows you to plan your day at a more relaxed pace while taking into consideration your career and other commitments. Plus, with a longer lead time, you’re much more likely to secure the venue and vendors you want.
On the flip side, a longer engagement does give you more time to change your mind, and you may find it difficult to make decisions so far in advance. Some couples also describe a feeling of “wedding burnout” due to a long engagement, but this can be easily mitigated with a few wedding planning breaks along the way. You can read our guide on dealing with wedding planning stress and anxiety here!
Alternatively, planning a short engagement might be the best option if you’re ready to get married ASAP! A short engagement means you can start this new chapter together sooner rather than later, which will make the process feel super exciting. With less time to plan a wedding, you’ll likely also find it easier to make quick decisions, set priorities, and focus on what’s really important. Many wedding suppliers actually welcome last-minute bookings, and may even offer some flexibility with pricing.
However, a short engagement does mean you have lots to do in a short amount of time, which can feel overwhelming without a good plan of attack! It also means you’ll have less time to save, so you’ll be relying on the funds you already have. If you’re planning an interstate or destination wedding, you may also find that some guests are unable to make travel plans at short notice.
Remember, neither option is better or worse than the other, and there’s no right or wrong way to plan a wedding! Ultimately, it all comes down to your own unique set of circumstances and priorities for the day.
Own Your Decision
Our final tip? Don’t let anyone else dictate how long you think you’ll need to plan a wedding. You know yourselves best, so trust your instincts and create a timeline that makes sense for you. As long as you remain calm, organised and flexible, we have total faith that everything will fall into place exactly as you’ve imagined. You’ve got this!
No idea where to begin with your wedding organisation? Read our ultimate guide on how to project manage the sh*t out of your wedding here to get started!