I just planned my wedding in 2 months because my Fiance and I live out of the country and I won’t be back until a week before the wedding. It is totally do-able. Though it was exhausting and stressful at times.
Decide on your per person budget. Remember that most places (where I am anyway) charge 20% service and some (7 here) % tax on top of your total. Day of the week and afternoon vs evening wedding effects price as well. Decide if you want ceremony and reception both at the venue or if you want ceremony elsewhere. If you want both at venue, decide if you want outdoor ceremony or indoor. Then from there, you can look only for venues that have rooms you like for the indoor ceremony or places with beautiful outdoors if you want that (make sure you’re ok with their back up indoor option for in case it rains). I only wanted outdoor ceremony/indoor reception at the same venue so that narrowed it down. I did lots of research online for different venues and emailed each I liked asking A. if they had any of the dates I was considering available and B. for their rate cards. After lots of research and reading weddingwire and projectwedding reviews of venues, I chose 3 that I loved and wanted to actually visit. I did all of this and CHOSE the venue within about 1.5 weeks. All 3 had beautiful but different outdoor ceremony options, I chose the one I did because they had the best reception room and back up idea of indoor ceremony in case of rain. The venue I loved most for their ceremony space had terribly low ceilings which was a deal breaker for me. And the 2nd one the reception room was very awkward and not square. I wasn’t thrilled with any of the carpets but that seems to be the standard for venues.
Other than venue, photographer, DJ/band (choose which – DJ is significantly cheaper), and videographer should be your next things to tackle. These are vendors that book up far in advance so you will need to search online for ones you like in your area and email for avaialbility and rates. One piece of advice we were given consistently was not to skimp on the photographer – if you’re going to spend money somewhere, (besides the venue), this is where it should be. Everyone we know who went with a cheap photog regretted it. I compensated by getting a reasonably priced videographer and DJ but both of which I think will be fantastic based on what I’ve seen of their work. (photogs and videographers and even many DJ’s have samples of their work on their website or youtube nowadays)
Make a To Do list of EVERYTHING you need to book and buy. Go through it every day and schedule time in your week to do everything.
Once you know exactly what your dress will look like, go bridesmaid dress shopping. Usually they need 3-4 months to get them in if you order them. That may put you in a situation where you can’t order to have them for March. But check with some bridal shops. You would need to definitely do this NOW if you want to order them. Otherwise consdier having the girls get their dresses from somewhere like Macy’s or something where they can buy off the rack. Some girls just pick a length or color or something like that and have the girls just pick their own dresses which might be easier for you.
Ceremony music if you want something other than your DJ (or if you’re getting a band then you could have a couple of them do it – I’m sure they charge extra for it)
Tuxes are easy but either pick one near your house or near the venue or hotel. Have your Fiance go and pick out what he wants for each part.
Get recommendations from friends who’ve gotten married recently or wedding review sites for hair stylists and makeup artists. Book a trial! You want to make sure they do what you want well and it leaves no surprises on the wedding day.
Hire an officiant. You may want to talk to 2 or 3 and have them send you a copy of their ceremony written out (mine did that anyway).
Go to 2-3 florists with your ideas or pictures for what you want. Prices can vary significantly so shop around just a little. Again, get recommendations from friends who were happy with theirs.
Check out a few hotels nearby to your venue – book a block of rooms for your guests based on an estimate of how many you think will stay at the hotel.
Cake tasting and choice – easy – all my venues included the cake in the price so check for that – if they do you just have to pick the kind of cake(s) (we did diff layers) and decorating you want.
Little things: garters, menues (if you want them), wedding programs, shoes (I have shoes and am getting white platform flip flops in case my feet end up hurting), ring bearer pillow/box, flower girl basket, bridesmaids gifts, parents gifts, cake topper, fabric swatch for the bridesmaids if you want them to get dyeable shoes dyed to a specific color. before you send out invites Register for gifts, if you want say in what your mom wears – schedule time to go dress shopping with her for her dress
I actually finished planning pretty much everything in 7 weeks. I only have small things to do like order the garter (I’m waiting because I think I’ll lose weight and I want it to fit right – custom ordering from etsy), make and send our postcard save the dates (already booked the photo shoot), send out the invites (we already have them printed though and they’re being caligraphed now), etc.,
I swear I should just be a wedding planner now.. haha
Hope that helps!!