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Ultimate 3 Month Wedding Planning Timeline & Checklist

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of long engagements and therefore, being able to plan a wedding quickly is extremely important. It’s totally possible to plan a wedding in 3-months, in fact, more people do it than you might think. All you need is a little organization and flexibility and you’ll be on your way to a 3-month wedding plan.

This is a pretty long list of to do’s but it’s completely doable. Just take one thing at a time and work through everything until it’s done. Here is your quick and easy guide for planning the wedding of your dreams in 3-months.

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3 Months To Go: The Important Stuff First

Here are a few things to get out of the way right away. Remember that you might have to be flexible on of a few things in order for this to work in 3-months. Most of the stuff that you get done in the first month after getting engaged will be the important things that need to be planned the farthest in advance. These things need to be done in the first month.

Pick a preferred date. You should have a good idea of what date you would like to get married in. In order to get a good venue and the vendors you want, you may need to be flexible on the date. This will all depend on the time of year you plan on getting married and the availability.

Get your engagement pictures taken. If you can afford to hire a photographer for your engagement pictures, I highly recommend it. The pictures will be a fun memory and you’ll likely want to use them for your wedding invitations and wedding website. You could also just grab a friend with a smartphone and head to the park for some inexpensive pictures as well. It’s a happy time in your life and you’ll want the pictures to look back on years down the road.

Decide on your wedding budget. We all know that weddings are expensive and it’s easy to let costs get out of hand. Before you do anything else, make sure you sit down with your fiance and decide what the budget is going to be for your 3-month wedding. Be aware that to get some things in short notice might end up costing you more, so be sure to do your research well. Here is a great guide for setting up your wedding budget.

Get your team together. Decide on who you want to help you plan this wedding. Even if you decide to hire a wedding planner, you still need your trusted few to help you make decisions. This could be your mom, your future husband’s mom, your maid-of-honor, your bridesmaids, sisters, etc. Find your trusted bride-tribe and ask for their help.

Settle on your guest list. This needs to be done before looking at venues so that you know how much room you need. You may want to settle on a smaller guest list so that you have more options for venues, but if you’re getting married during the off season, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a good place that will fit everyone.

Hire a wedding planner or buy a wedding planner book. It’s not always in the budget to hire a full-fledged wedding planner, but you can’t afford not have a wedding planner book at the very least. This will help you keep all your plans in order and help you stay on track with everything that needs to be done. If you can afford a wedding planner, you need to interview them, read their online reviews and get their references and make sure that they can work with your short timeline.

Ask your closest friends and family to be a part of your wedding party. With a 3-month timeline, a helpful and understanding wedding party is extremely necessary. Check out my guide to choosing your wedding party for more information. Just make sure you pick people who will be there to help you get everything done in short order. Your maid of honor should be well organized and your bridesmaids should be ready to jump in and help at any time.

Find and book your venue. To make your life easier and the process less stressful, try to find a venue that is all-inclusive. This means they provide all the tables, chairs, tableware, catering, etc. By finding an all-inclusive venue, you can save a lot of time not having to look for other vendors to take care of your reception details. Also, if you’re booking a venue during the peak wedding season, look for unique places that may have more availability and can serve you just as well.

Decide on your wedding theme and style. With your venue chosen, you can decide on what wedding theme or style will look best in the space you have. You can do something that relates to the season or something that just fits your personality. Here are 101 ideas that will help you pick a wedding theme.

Pick your wedding colors. Now that you’ve found your venue and decided on a theme, you’ll have a better idea what colors will work with the space you have. Choose your favorite colors that will best compliment your venue. You need to make this decision and stick with so that it doesn’t hamper the next few steps. This will be pivotal in deciding your bridesmaid dress colors, cake, flowers, and decorations.

Find and hire all your vendors. Even if you have an all-inclusive venue, you’ll need to hire other vendors that most venues do not staff. With a shorter timeline, it may be difficult to find exactly who you want, but you can recruit your family and wedding party to help you find the best people on short notice. Here is a list of vendors you may want or need to find:

  1. Officiant

  2. Photographer

  3. Videographer

  4. DJ

  5. Ceremony musicians

  6. Hair and makeup stylists

  7. Florist

  8. Caterer

  9. Cake baker

  10. Transportation for out of town guests and from the ceremony to reception if they are being held in separate locations

Shop for wedding attire. You need to find the wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses, groom’s attire, and the groomsmen’s attire. This might be one of your more indecisive moments, but it’s important when you’re trying to plan a quick wedding to make a decision and stick with it. For the wedding dress, visit local bridal shops and see if any of them are having sample sales or clearance. You can also check out Dressilyme for discounted dresses online. You can even order your bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride dress, and flower girl dress online to make things quicker and easier. For the men’s suits or tuxes, Men’s Wearhouse has a super easy online rental checkout that makes finding and renting men’s attire so quick and easy! You can see all of my recommendations for wedding attire here.

That all probably felt like a lot to get accomplished but the hard stuff is over. The rest should be fairly quick and easy… stick with it, you’re getting closer to the big day and it’s going to be amazing!

2 Months To Go: The Fun Stuff

Now that the really really important stuff is taken care of, you can breathe easy for a little bit and set up things like your menu, registry, wedding website, honeymoon, invitations, etc. These things need to be done in the second month of your engagement.

Decide on your reception menu. You can go from very formal plated dinners to casual buffet style to anywhere in between. Your reception menu should match your personality and theme. If you’re looking for budget friendly options, you should go with buffet style and a breakfast/brunch theme. Many people don’t like the “breakfast for dinner” theme, so it’s completely up to you but it can be money saving to go that route.

Set up your wedding registry. Thankfully, you no longer need to go into all your favorite stores to set up your wedding registry. You can sign up online and get all your registries up and running in just a couple of hours. Make sure to set up your registry on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target. That should allow you to get to cover everything you need for your new home.

Start communicating with your guests. At this close to the wedding, don’t worry about sending save the date cards through the mail… by the time guests get them, it’ll be time to send the actual invitations anyway. However, you can set up a wedding website to share the exciting news with all your friends and family and share your initial wedding plans. Guests who need to travel will want to book their travel and hotel accommodations as soon as possible. Make sure to include your blocked hotel rooms or nearby options for them.

Schedule a trial for your hair and makeup. You probably already have a favorite hair stylist (and she probably knows a great makeup artist). Schedule a trial to go in and figure out how you would like your hair and makeup done for the wedding. You can make this a fun activity by bringing your favorite girls with you and having their hair done too!

Have your cake tasting. If you haven’t already done this, it needs to be done now. You’re probably already researched good cake bakers in your area and you should set up a few cake tasting appointments to find something that both you and your future husband like. Also, don’t count out home bakers who do wedding cakes. They often look just as amazing, taste wonderful, and are less expensive. Here is a great guide on picking cake flavors.

Purchase wedding rings. It can take 4-6 weeks for your wedding rings to be ready, depending on how extravagant they are and if you’re having something custom made. You’ll want to give yourself enough time to pick them out and order them so that they arrive in time for the wedding day. Here is a great guide that I put together for choosing the right wedding rings.

Make sure your wedding party has ordered their attire. You’re bound to have a few people that drag their feet and the last thing you need is the stress of someone not having their dress or suit in time. You won’t have to worry about this if you’re footing the bill for their attire, but most likely you’re having them pay for their own. Give your guys and gals a little nudge to make sure they get their order in ASAP!

Have your bridal shower. You’ll want to make sure that your registries were complete a few weeks in advance of your bridal shower so that guests know what to get for you. Your maid of honor and bridesmaids will likely plan this for you, you just need to show up and show your appreciation.

Start planning your honeymoon. Depending on your budget, you can take a long honeymoon or a simple weekend get away. Either way, you should take some sort of honeymoon so that you can privately celebrate your new union as a married couple. Start making plans and booking reservations for flights, hotel stays, etc.

Make a plan for your rehearsal dinner. Having a rehearsal dinner is a great way to thank your wedding party and family for all their help with planning the wedding. You can have a small intimate rehearsal dinner or a large get together for your closest people. The rehearsal dinner is where you usually give gifts to the wedding party for their participation, so you also need to purchase these. The task of planning the dinner might be one that you’ll want to delegate to someone else while you focus on other details.

Get your marriage license. Every state and county is different, so you’ll want to check ahead of time to see what you need to do to get your marriage license. You also need to see if there is a wait period before you can submit it, etc. There are different fees and requirements in each county.

Send out your wedding invitations. Your invitations need to be sent about 6-weeks in advance of your wedding day – this applies whether you have a 12-month engagement or 3-month engagement. Guests need enough time to plan ahead, check their schedule, make travel arrangements, etc. You should also include either RSVP response cards with your invitations or a link to your wedding website where they can RSVP online. This will save time and postage by having an online option.

Meet with your photographer and determine which shots you want taken. Your photographer has a lot of ideas but you probably have a few of your own too. Have a meeting and make a plan of when pictures will be taken and what pictures they will take. This will make picture time quicker and less complicated on the day of. Ask to view samples of their work and show you your wedding photography Pinterest board (we all know you have one 😉 ) so she knows what you’re looking for.

Make your wedding day plan/timeline. The best thing you can do to make things go smoothly is to write out your wedding day timeline. This should include everything you’ll be doing on the day of, including:

  1. what time you’re meeting for breakfast

  2. who is helping and what time decorations are being put up

  3. when hair and makeup is being done

  4. who is in charge of getting everything to the ceremony venue

  5. who needs to be where to get ready

  6. what time pictures are being taken

  7. when the first look will take place

  8. what will happen between the ceremony and reception

  9. who is taking care of transportation

  10. What is the order of events at the reception

  11. what time is the final send-off

Make a copy of your finalized timeline and give a copy to your wedding planner and wedding party so that everyone knows what to expect and can plan accordingly.

You are so close to the big day! Everything should be ready to go at this point and you just need to tie up a few loose strings and make sure everything is going according to plan.

1 Month To Go: The Last Minute Stuff

We’re getting so close and most of the hard work should be done. All you need to do now is make sure that everything is on course. These things need to be done in the third month of your engagement.

Write your wedding vows. If you’re planning to wordsmith your own vows, now is a great time to work on them since most of the stressful plans are done. Take a few minutes to research ideas online and write out a list of things you love about your future spouse. Put into words your feelings and affections for him/her. You can choose to write your vows together as a couple or write them separately. If you decide to write them separately, you’ll want to have your officiant read them ahead of time to make sure they flow well together and come out being similar in length. They can offer suggestions to the content of the vows as well.

Get a final head-count and make a seating chart. You’ll need to let your venue and caterer know what your final head-count is about two weeks prior to the wedding. You should have all your RSVPs in by this time. If not, hunt down anyone who hasn’t RSPV’d and ask them to let you know as soon as possible so that you can make final arrangements. If they don’t reply, assume they’re not coming and move on. If you’re planning on having assigned seating, you can now start working on the seating chart for your reception (since you should know everyone who is coming).

Confirm details and plan with your vendors. It’s a good idea to reach out to your vendors with a couple weeks to go to make sure that everything is going according to plan. Make sure that you both understand the day-of events and how everything is going to run on your wedding day. When is the cake arriving? When are the flowers arriving? What time is your photographer going to show up to start taking pictures? How late can you be at the venue? etc.

Go in for your final wedding dress fitting. Depending on how you handle stress, it’s not uncommon for brides to either gain or lose weight in the months and weeks leading up to the wedding. You should plan on having a final dress fitting a week or two leading up to the big day to do any last minute adjustments.

Party on at your bachelorette party. A few days before your wedding, you should plan a party with all your girls. This doesn’t have to be limited to your bridesmaids. If you have other girlfriends who were not asked to be in your wedding party, this would be a great time opportunity to include them in something to help ease any hurt feelings.

Your wedding day is here! All the quick decisions and rushed planning probably just about put you over the edge, but as you’re walking down the aisle to the man of your dreams, it’ll all be worth it! I promise.

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Hi, I’m Kristin. While I haven’t found my Prince Charming yet, I’ve been dreaming of getting married for a long long time. I started this site as a place to record all the things I’ve found and researched in preparation for my own wedding someday. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

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