8 Tips for Planning a Last-Minute Wedding
Five months out, we recently made some cost-cutting changes to our wedding plans.
Scaling back makes the most financial sense for us, and we left ourselves enough time to plow ahead with a cheaper and equally enjoyable reception with our closest friends and relatives. (See also: Alternative Wedding Ideas for Big Savings)
But the decision to pivot and shift plans left us feeling stressed, despite the 150-day cushion. What about those who don’t have the luxury of time?
For a host of reasons, some consumers, especially younger military members, may find themselves with a narrow window to plan and execute their nuptials. If the unexpected or simple circumstance creates the need for an accelerated wedding day, you don’t have to choose between elopement or the local courthouse. Here are a few ways to craft a great wedding on the fly.
1. Create a Checklist
There are a lot of sites like My Wedding Reception Planning that offer checklists for wedding planning. Many have timelines based on how far out the wedding date is. You can follow one completely or look through and narrow it down to fit your needs. Either way, a checklist will help keep you organized to get the required and desired done.
2. Location, Location Location
If you have the means to hire a wedding planner, it may be beneficial to let them focus on booking a location. Planner or not, consider booking a place that can host both the ceremony and reception. On short notice, your best options may be restaurants or unconventional spaces like a photography studio.
You’ll need an on-site minister to officiate, but the double-purpose location will serve your stress levels well. In a military chapel, you can save yourself time on finding a minister and use the chaplain without a fee. Unfortunately, the chapel typically books a year in advance, so be prepared with a Plan B.
3. Invitation Creation
Before you invite your guests, prepare to be turned down on such short notice. That being said, if there isn’t enough time to order invitations, you can consider printing or handwriting your own. You can even launch your own wedding site on eWedding to ease communication.
4. Nix the Cake Order and Bake
Ordering a cake can be time consuming and expensive. Involve a family member by asking them to bake and decorate a cake or cupcakes. You can also consider nixing the cooking altogether and set up a table full of sweets from a bakery.
5. Provide for the Bride
Wedding dresses can require three weeks for alterations alone, so attempting to shop for dresses not guaranteed in stock is plain dangerous with a limited time frame. Consider heading to retail outlets like David's Bridal, where the dresses are in stock (and often kind to your budget). Ensure your hair and makeup look great by booking appointments as soon as possible and doing trial runs. Military consumers should always inquire about discounts.
6. The Groom Costume
If your groom is in the military, he’s got his service dress, which would suit the occasion well. If you prefer to have the traditional tuxedo, be sure to rent a tux as soon as possible. That way sizes can be taken with enough time to prevent any mishaps in measurements.
7. Those Beside the Bride
Just like the bride’s dress, ordering bridesmaids’ dresses can take too long for a quick wedding. An alternative can be buying formal-looking dresses from a department store or asking your bridesmaids to buy a dress of a certain color on their own.
8. Food, Flowers, and Photos
Catering companies require booking in advance, but many restaurants offer platters that you can order a day or two beforehand. And if your reception is in a restaurant, you’re set with deciding food.
For flower bouquets and decorations, check your local supercenters or farmers markets. Typically flowers in season are cheapest, so if you’re flexible with the look you can go seasonal and save some money for the honeymoon.
Save yourself some time and stress, and scratch the professional photography by asking a family member or friend to be the designated photographer. Also, you can get random, candid photos by leaving disposable cameras around the guest tables.