Wednesday, March 12, 2014

how to plan a wedding in 100 days or less

When people ask about Husband and I and our love story, we have to condense it a bit because this is our 3rd time together after having known each other for a little over 6 years. When we get to the part about how we got back together this time around, and get to the timeline of how quickly it all came together, jaws drop a little.

We first spoke again after 2 years of silence on March 24, 2013. Our first date was two weeks later. On April 24, 2013, we made it official and declared ourselves dating again. On September 24, 2013, Husband got down on one knee and gave me the most gorgeous engagement ring ever. On January 4, 2014, we said I do. It was all very very fast.

No, it wasn't a shotgun wedding. A few people did ask if I was pregnant because of how short our engagement was, but really we just didn't believe a long engagement was right for us. I was ready to say I do the minute I said yes to his proposal. We almost didn't have a traditional wedding--there was serious talk of us and immediate family taking a trip to the beach about 3 weeks after the proposal and us coming home married. Finding my wedding dress was seriously the one thing that convinced me I wanted a traditional wedding. But I still wasn't going to spend much more than 3 months planning.

All the time I hear people talk about how you need AT LEAST six months to plan. This is false. Unless you are absolutely dead set on having THAT venue and nothing else will ever ever ever measure up, you don't need a long timeline. What you do need: a plan of action, a little creativity, and about a week set aside to book all your vendors.

So here are my top tips for planning a wedding in 100 days or less:
  1. Do the hardest thing first. Set your budget and divvy it up before you do anything else whatsoever to plan. Every other decision you make for your wedding requires you to know how much you have to spend in what category. It also determines how large your wedding can be. We had about $10,000, so we knew we were capping the guest list of invites at 90 people (this was actually a stretch for me--anything over about 75-80 made me super uncomfortable because I don't like crowds or being the center of attention).
  2. Do the second hardest thing second. Determine your guest list. Not just a general number. Make a spreadsheet of exactly who you will be inviting. Do not leave room for more than 5 add-ons in case you forgot someone. Work with your parents (especially if they're footing the bill) and your groom (and his parents if they're helping with the expenses) to determine who HAS to be there first. Then decide who you really really want there, then go to who it would be nice to have. If the number gets higher than what you can afford, start cutting with the "nice to have's". This is not a fun part of planning. It is stressful. But believe me, you need to get it out of the way.
  3. List out what vendors you need to find. Do whatever you can to book them all as quickly as possible. My parents and I were able to book every vendor in 4 days because I was moving 2 hours away ten days after we got engaged. This will be stressful, but fun, because you're designing what you want! Start negotiating with what you would absolutely want to have--not what you think you can afford, and see how you can get what you want to fit in your budget. (ex--I couldn't imagine not having roses, but didn't want to pay for flowers for every table, so we got bouquets and boutonnieres in roses and three bags of rose petals to scatter on tables. HUGE savings.)
  4. Decide what is worth DIY and what isn't. For a smaller wedding, it's not hard to put together your own centerpieces. We got vases super cheap at Hobby Lobby and filled them with pearl beads and the sort of shiny stones you find in the floral section at craft stores, and then put twigs in the vases. It took me about 2 hours to make these in multiple sizes for cocktail tables, 60" round tables, and a few for miscellaneous locations. Since I do graphic design, I also did all of our printed materials, including designing and printing my own invitations (with a short engagement you have no need for a save the date--another money saver) and programs. I also DIY'd our favors--packets of wildflower seeds with "Let Love Grow" written on the front and instructions for planting on the back. This project only cost me $40!
  5. Buy your dress and maid's dresses as soon as possible. Bonus tip: try on dresses you can buy off the rack in your size or one or two sizes up. It's much easier to take a dress in than let it out, and do so without a major time crunch if your're not having to wait for it to come in. I got mine on clearance (which sounds strange when talking about a wedding gown, but it was the most gorgeous dress I'd ever touched and I didn't know it was clearance until we were ready to buy it) and ordered maid's dresses that same day. However, we didn't use the dresses we ordered. A week before the wedding, we all three hated the original dresses so much that we went to Dillards and found Mom and Erica each their own dress that matched their personal styles and figures, and came in the same color. You don't have to have dresses that are labeled as "bridesmaid dresses."
  6. Limit the activities and showers. Do you really need an engagement party, three showers, and a bachelorette, all while living your regular life and trying to enjoy the season of preparing for marriage? No, if you're honest. Mom hosted my only bridal shower, and Erica did my bachelorette. Besides the wedding, these were the only two extras. Don't overschedule yourself during this time of your life! You won't regret doing less but you will regret having too much going on and not being able to appreciate it all for the celebration of love it is.
  7. Do not focus the entire 100 days on planning your wedding. Plan your marriage with more fervor than you plan this one day. You have one wedding, but a whole lifetime with this other person. Invest in your marriage before it begins. Go to premarital counseling. Read good marriage books (we recommend Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll and 12 Questions to Ask Before you Marry by Clayton and Cherie King). You're not getting married so you can have a wedding. If you want a wedding more than you want this marriage, don't get married. If the wedding is a celebration of marriage, you're on the right track.
  8. Have fun. Feel what this process is about. Feel the love from your spouse-to-be, your family, your friends. Celebrate the gift of love. This is a beautiful, once in a lifetime season. Look for the beauty of it, especially when you are stressed.
  9. Get a flu shot. This sounds dumb, I know, but trust me. This goes for every bride. GET A FLU SHOT. Having the flu on your wedding day sucks. You don't want to be ten minutes from walking down the aisle praying you won't throw up in the middle of your vows. Get a flu shot. I should've listened to Husband telling me the entire engagement to do this. My wedding was amazing, but it would've been awesome not to have been so ill that our first argument was on our wedding night about whether we were waking up and going to the hospital or to our honeymoon.

A beautiful wedding can be planned in 100 days or less. It's not the easiest thing in the world, it will be stressful sometimes, but you won't regret it. I certainly don't. It was the most wonderful day of my life, filled with more love and joy than I could've imagined, and I wouldn't change a thing. Except getting a flu shot.

Do you have any short engagement tips? How did you handle your wedding? And if you had a long engagement, what made you decide to do so?


  1. Holy moly. 100 days?!?!!? I just cannot even fathom, but good for you!

    That stinks about the flu! Very good recommendation for people getting married during flu season! Eeek!

    PS - Tried to respond to the comment you left on my blog, but you're a no-reply blogger, so I couldn't :( I can help you fix that, if you email me!

    1. I had no idea I was no reply! Thank you!

      Husband is a nurse and studying to be a nurse practitioner and spend the whole engagement trying to get me to get a flu shot. I refused because I'm a baby and I hate needles. He was right.

  2. Wow! I can't imagine planning a wedding in 100 days. I was stressed to the max with over a year! Your tips sound super helpful though, and a big kudos to you for following your heart, doing what you want and doing it so well!

  3. I just saw where Brittany highlighted this post and I love it! We also had a short engagement (60 days), so I did get a few weird questions, too. We did all of those suggestions--minus the flu shot, which is a great one! The guest list was SO hard and I threatened to elope several times, but in the end people told me it was the best wedding that they'd ever been to, which wasn't my goal, but made me happy. I would add, accept help! I accepted help from my mom and Etsy.


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