We deliberately decided to do a six-month engagement (the shortest amount of lead time our church would permit) because a) we’re impatient to be married, and b) we felt like a shorter engagement allowed less time for expectations to escalate. There’s a certain amount of craziness inherent in planning a wedding, but just keep repeating to yourself, “less is more.” A couple of tips:
– if you consult bridal magazines, the Knot, etc, remember that they are primarily vehicles for advertisers and therefore they have an interest in getting people to think they “should” have a long engagement because they “need to” plan a really elaborate affair with a fireworks show and ice sculptures and dancing elephants and you need twelve months in order to get the custom-made gown with six different appointments for fittings and alterations and yadda yadda yadda … you don’t need all that. If you really want it, okay – but we don’t, and we’re not doing it, and I’m delighted about that. (In fact, my goal is to pull this whole thing off without setting foot in a bridal shop, and it looks like I’ll be able to do so!)
– decide what your priorities are, and then dispense with/minimize the things that are not priorities. For example, I care a lot about the music for the wedding ceremony, and I’m putting my time and energy into organizing my musician friends, selecting pieces, etc. By contrast, I really don’t have strong feelings about flowers. I found a florist I’m happy with, we discussed our budget, I gave her some general guidelines about colors, etc., and then I told her, “you’re the professional, so I’m going to get out of the way and trust you to do your job.” She sent me some pictures and ideas, based on what will be in season at the time of our wedding, and I said, “Great! Run with it!” Basically, there are 3-4 different (but similar looking) varietals of roses that she is going to choose from, depending upon what she can get from her wholesaler the week of our wedding without having to make a special order. I would be happy with any of them, or any combination – frankly, I wouldn’t know the difference (and neither would any of the guests) if it … smacked me in the face. So, I’m outsourcing the details of the decisions about flowers instead of micromanaging them. I’m less stressed, my florist is happy, my Fiance is happy because it keeps the “flowers” segment of our budget extremely reasonable – yay! Same with the cake – I have a friend who is a baker, and I’m hiring her. I’ve seen her work, it’s fantastic, and I’m giving her a few general parameters and then trusting her to do her thing, and I know we’ll be happy with the result.
– if you’re comfortable going this route, we also opted to keep the wedding party very small (just my siblings and an equal number of his friends) and we outsourced all the decisions about dresses, etc. to them. We told them our colors, and then asked the ladies to find a dress in a shade, style, and budget range that suited their tastes and preferences. (They did send me pics before they bought anything, just to make sure I liked them.) We asked the guys to just wear a black suit and find a tie of the appropriate color (again, in a shade they liked, etc.) Our main request was that they find something they’d be able to wear again in the future. (We don’t like the wastefulness of single-use bridesmaids’ dresses, etc.)
– Instead of ordering a gown from a bridal shop, my mom and I went to a Brides Against Breast Cancer charity gown sale. Some of their gowns are pre-owned (it’s a good place to find vintage gowns), and some of them are brand new (donated by bridal shops and designers for a tax write-off, or to move discontinued styles to make room for new items, etc.) That was a really wonderful experience – the event was staffed by volunteers who were extremely helpful, the gowns were priced much more reasonably than they would have been in a retail store, they had seamstresses on-site to offer suggestions re. alterations, etc., and I actually found a dress I love that was a perfect fit, no alterations needed! I was also really happy that the money we spent went toward a charity supporting women with cancer – my mom was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, so that was meaningful to her as well. There are also a lot of gowns on this site, Recycled Bride, PreOwnedWeddingDresses, even Craigslist. It’s not the “gown shopping experience” that gets hyped all the time – but I’m kind of skeptical of that hype.
Anyhow, sorry, getting down off my soapbox … Just wanted to reiterate that yes, you can definitely do this in six months – or less! Just define some priorities for yourself, and then be unapologetic about limiting or eliminating things that are not as important. Ultimately, the marriage matters a LOT more than the wedding, and, contrary to the assumption that it’s “the greatest/most important/best day of your life,” it really is more of a beginning than a culmination. After all, you wouldn’t want to peak on Day One and then have it be all downhill from there, right? Yes, you only get married once (one hopes!) and you – or at least I – only want one opportunity to wear the gown and the veil, etc. – but they’re just clothes. They’re not magical. The magic is in the people – you and your Fiance, and the gathering of friends and family, the people that matter most to you in the world. The rest is just “extras.”
Best wishes, best of luck, and I wish you a wonderful marriage!