What to Do if You’re Planning a Last-Minute Wedding


Getting engaged is such an exciting time. However, the exhilaration of saying “I will” can quickly be replaced by the overwhelming concerns surrounding planning a wedding.

I designed my Smart Start series to take the worry out of planning your wedding. Smart Start will be delivered to your inbox every week filled with tips on the business and the art sides of planning a wedding. It will break up your tasks into easy-to-accomplish segments so you can enjoy the planning process.

If you have questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me at susan.southerland@pwg.com. You may also find back issues of the Smart Start series by clicking HERE.


Most people think of wedding planning as a lengthy process. For a number of reasons, such as needing to spread out payments, or certain venues and vendors booking up well in advance, having months to plan your wedding is almost a must. If you’re a couple who finds yourself in a situation where you’re planning a last-minute wedding (due to military deployment, for example), here are some tips to help you with your planning:

1. Establish the budget. Even last-minute weddings need a budget. Your first conversation should be with each other, then with your families. Set your overall budget and make sure you’re clear on any parameters set by financial contributors, such as specific guests they want invited.
2. Make the guest list. This is your second most important task. Remember, the smaller the guest list, the more your budget will stretch. Narrow the list down as much as possible and don’t second-guess yourself. It’s time to make quick decisions.
3. Invite your wedding party. I recommend a personal invitation whenever possible. Maybe set up a lunch date with the attendants you’d like to invite and ask them there.
4. Find the venue and set the date. If you have a specific style in mind for your wedding, start with venues that fit the look. The more flexible you are with your ceremony date and start time, the more likely you’ll find a venue at the last minute. If the venue is looking to fill in slow times, you might even be able to negotiate a discount!
5. Extend invitations. Depending upon just how last-minute your wedding is taking place, you may have to forgo formal paper invitations and head right to the phone or e-mail. While I recommend paper invitations whenever possible, you have to be practical, too.
6. Hire your vendors. You may want to consider hiring a wedding planner who has vendor connections to make this task as easy as possible. If you’re hiring your vendors on your own, be sure to do your research so you don’t make any costly mistakes. Your venue may have a preferred vendor list to help you narrow down your options.
7. Purchase or rent your attire. You and your wedding party will likely be purchasing your wedding attire off the rack if you’re really close to the wedding date. Most suit and tux rental places will have more flexibility, so gentleman may want to start there. Brides, don’t be stressed if the local bridal salons say they can’t accommodate last-minute requests. Hit up Google and look for wedding and bridesmaid dresses in your area. You may be surprised at which stores carry wedding attire on their racks.
8. Register for gifts. These days you can set up registries online in a matter of minutes. Take an hour or two with your future spouse and register for gifts, then spread the word to guests so they know where to shop.
9. Plan the honeymoon. If you’re having a honeymoon, decide where you’d like to go and see what kind of last-minute deals you might be able to get. A professional travel agent can be an amazing asset for this. Don’t forget to make sure you have updated passports if you’re leaving the country!
10. Handle the details. If you don’t hire a wedding planner, you might want to have a planning party with your families and/or wedding attendants to knock out the smaller details like putting together favors, deciding on floral designs, choosing the reception menu, and printing out wedding stationery items.
11. Create the wedding day agenda. Your vendors will all need to know where they need to be at what time. Communicate with all of them regularly to confirm their service details and put it together in a wedding day agenda that gets distributed to all of them.
12. Hand everything over and enjoy your day! I highly recommend handing your wedding details over to a professional wedding planner or someone else you trust who isn’t attending the wedding. That way you and your treasured guests can relax and enjoy the big day!

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