One of my best friends is engaged (my maid of honor in our wedding) and is in the process of planning her wedding. I love wedding planning, and am over the top excited about this one. I planned my wedding in 3 months, not on purpose, but it just worked out that way for us; a date happened to be available and all our vendors fell into place. I realize this is both rare and hard to do in the age of pinteresty-perfect weddings, and I wanted to offer my best tips for planning a wedding on a short time frame (and on a budget). 

1. Know your vision

For me, this was easy. I had a clear idea of what I wanted the day to look like, from the venue to the flowers even before I started the planning process. I always dreamed of an outdoor wedding at my grandparents' lake house, and our date happened to be available. We booked it immediately, and I could check off the ceremony site, reception site, and wedding date all in one phone call.

2. Get organized

From there, I made lists on lists on lists. The checklist suggested by the knot proved to be too in-depth for me and overwhelming, so I created my own thanks to searches on Pinterest and wedding planning books. I had spreadsheets and highlighters, and I was as organized as I possibly could have been to stay on top of all the details. 

3. Make a decision, and move on

If you are the kind of person to second guess your decisions, now is the time to not do that. With only three months to plan, for each detail, you weigh a few options, make a decision, and move on. Becoming decisive will be your best asset in efficient wedding planning. 

4. Delegate

For tasks that can be completed by other people, ASK THEM. Your bridesmaids are great resources for running errands or helping make DIY projects. Your fiancé will likely feel useless unless you give him specific tasks to complete, even if that just means grocery shopping or doing other errands you don't have time for. Utilize all the help you can get. 

5. Hire a day-of coordinator

When we asked people about their wedding planning experience and their best piece of advice, we'd hear over and over again about those magical day-of coordinators, and the rumors are true. We got married outside and had a completely DIY ceremony and reception, so I knew this was key player for us. We got married in a tiny town in Northern California (population 2,000) and I hired Jodi Drysdale of CES Weddings and Events in the nearest bigger city, and she was the best investment I made for the wedding day. More than just a day-of coordinator, Jodi was an amazing resource that helped me find multiple vendors, went through all the details to make sure I had thought of absolutely everything, and helped our ceremony and reception run smoothy. A good day-of coordinator is my number one recommendation for brides on their wedding day. 

6. Pick a color scheme/theme

Determining your style will give you a framework for planning, everything from your attire to your bridal party, to the food and decor. Our wedding has a rustic/preppy/lakeside feel to it, some of those details played out in navy lace bridesmaid dresses, simple and neutral flowers for the bridesmaids, a giant, loose, mostly neutral bouquet for me, grey suit bottoms for the guys with navy checkered shirts and no jackets, my hair was down, we ate tacos, and danced outside under strands and strands of lights. I loved seeing the vision come to life, and it was so very fitting for us as a couple. I love that there are a thousand ways to have a wedding, and your day gets to be however it works best for you.

7. Have fun

As stressful as it was to pull off really quickly, it was mostly a fun stress. I really enjoy the process of planning for all kinds of parties, so it felt natural to me. If wedding planning just isn't your thing, hire on someone or enlist the help of a friend who loves to do it. The day is really all about your marriage, not the color scheme or the striped straws, and if you can remember that one piece, it will make the whole day much better. See more on how to handle any wedding catastrophe graciously (hello, pouring rain) in this post here

On Weddings Not Going As Planned

Typically, pouring rain and outdoor, uncovered weddings don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but sometimes the least desired outcome is actually the best.

We planned for our wedding to be an intimate, 80-person celebration at the very end of summer. I always dreamed of my wedding on the shores of Lake Almanor, a remote lake in Northern California where my grandparents own a lake house and my family has visited every summer. We pictured an outdoor and uncovered ceremony and reception, not booking a tent on purpose. It was an extra couple thousand dollars, and with the average temperature for late summer being in the nineties, we decided it was an unnecessary expense.

Our wedding weekend came, and we had a warm, sun-drenched day before the wedding filled with boating, lawn games, and iced drinks. We all went to sleep full, happy, and tan. We awoke the next morning to partly gray skies, but no one expected it to rain. Then, immediately following the ceremony, just at the start of the reception, it rained. And by rained, I mean, downpour storm. We had no tent, no inside venue, no backup plan. 

There was no Plan B.

There I was, a brand new wife next to my handsome new husband, in the middle of unexpected, unplanned for, seemingly unfortunate circumstances. We had just said our vows and had committed ourselves to each other for life, and we found ourselves facing our first literal storm. I knew that this was a defining moment in our lives. We could choose to be upset about it, or we could choose to embrace it and have fun. We chose the latter and I am so glad that we did.

Since my husband and I both enjoy the dance floor and can follow a routine, we picked Beyonce’s choreographed dance to Move Your Body as our first dance. A far cry from traditional slow songs, and so perfectly fitting for what was happening all around us. The music started, the rain poured, and we danced our hearts out. The crowd was cheering and screaming, everyone was taking photos and videos, and we were dancing our choreographed first dance while splashing in puddles with me in my wedding dress and my husband in his suit. It was SO MUCH FUN. 

That memory is within the top ten moments of my life so far. A perfect picture of a near catastrophe happening all around us, and my husband and I side by side, deciding to make the most of it and turning a worst-case-scenario into The Best.

The rain continued to pour, the DJ was killing it, and everyone immediately joined us on the dance floor. How my husband and I chose to respond to the near dire circumstance set the tone for the night, and everyone seemed eager to follow suit. We had everyone out on the dance floor, from grandparents to babies, all soaked from the rain, dancing like crazy, and having the time of their lives.

In the age of pinteresty-perfect, over the top weddings, I’m thankful for a wedding that taught me a valuable life-long lesson: that nothing in life goes as planned. We get to choose how we react to every situation, and our actions will influence those around us.

To the newly engaged bride to be I say: Congratulations! You are about to embark on the most exciting, wonderful, fulfilling, lifelong adventure of your life in marriage. Remember that your wedding day is about your lifelong commitment to each other and not the color of the napkins, having peonies in your flower arrangements, or the thousands of other details we brides agonize over before the wedding. Realizing this can change your entire perspective on your wedding day. Things might happen that are unplanned, not ideal, and possibly just plain awful. This is ok, and can even be good, depending on how you react to them. Your guests will look to you for how to act on this day. If you’re having fun, they will too. When our expectations are set to perfection, they become unattainable. Keeping a level head and remembering the entire purpose of the day (you get to marry the love of your life) will help you stay grounded, and allow you to enjoy the day to the fullest, even if you find yourself caught in a pouring rainstorm.

Photo by Kate Price