We weren’t pregnant. Common and slightly personal question when you announce your engagement and how soon your wedding will follow. But my husband Carlo and I planned our wedding in 10 weeks from the day he popped the question in the Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys. Most of the reason was financial – we wanted to be married before moving in together; I had a lease that was soon expiring when we got engaged, and his had just been renewed a few months before. His apartment was nicer and larger, and neither one of us favored a long engagement, so we chose to get married sooner rather than later.
Oh, did I mention he proposed in December? So….we were planning this during the holidays. The. Busiest. Time. Of. The. Year. And we were both working overtime every week.
Everyone’s story is different, but this is how we did it. And had a lovely wedding. In 10 weeks. On a roughly $3000 budget. It took largely two things: prioritizing and reality checks. What needed to be done FIRST to ensure the important things happened? Is this something that we CAN realistically do? It forced us to pick what was important to us, and honestly, I think kept us from having any big regrets.
1. Like most girls these days, I created a Pinterest board for my wedding. As a general practice, I pin WAAAAAY more stuff than I’ll ever use, but that is because I use it to “sift” my thoughts. I like a lot of different styles that often don’t quite go together, so I pin a lot of ideas, then go back a few days later and look at it, scrolling for patterns. This helps me see what I really like (I want that in MY wedding) versus the “impulse pin” (wow that was a neat idea for THEIR wedding). I also read a LOT of articles (like this one that I’m writing for you) to glean advice from other’s successes and regrets.
2. We picked a date and venue right away. We knew we needed to get invitations out ASAP, which needed those two items! So we knew we needed to make those two decisions first (prioritizing!). And then we ordered our invitations immediately. I’ve heard of couples spending endless afternoons reviewing venues; we didn’t have that luxury of time so we quickly narrowed down our options to places we already knew (we were looking for something outdoors), and actually scored a family friend’s lake house!
Side note – EVERYTHING is more expensive than you hoped when you’re planning a wedding, so if you’re on a budget, consider was realistically matters. Example: fancy invitations? Or quality photos? Go with what’s going to last. Your invitations will likely go in the trash after the wedding. Your photos you will have forever, so put your cash in what matters more. We got ours from an Etsy shop. No fancy RSVP cards, gold lettering, or little charms tied in satin ribbon on each one, but they were “us” and got the job done. They told people we were getting married and how to celebrate with us. Which is what we needed them to do.
3. We enlisted a lot of help. For someone who wanted to elope, Carlo wanted 6 groomsmen, who he dubbed his “merry men”, so I picked 6 bridesmaids. Which turned out to be fantastic, because it gave us 12 sets of talented hands that were more than eager to help us put our wedding together! And spouses of the talented hands who were also excited to join in the planning as well.
The wife of one of Carlo’s merry men basically became my coordinator – she would text me every couple of days with little things to remember to do, and kept everything running smoothly behind the scenes on our Big Day. She was amazing, and I gained a deeper friendship with her as a result. Double score! We actually just finished our first Disney half-marathon together in January (her second, my first). Oh and she’s the one who helped us get our DJ since my shaky-to-begin-with music plan didn’t quite work out at the last minute, and got us tablecloths from her workplace.
So many of our other friends helped us too. One of my bridesmaids gave me her Big Day’s line up (she had gotten married the year before) so I knew roughly how to plan out the timing of the vendor arrivals, order of the ceremony, who was in charge of what, etc. Another two helped make bouquets. Three girls from work decorated for us. Several of the guys helped set up our chairs and display tables and reception area, and then made sure they were cleaned up and ready for pick up after we left.
4. We booked our photographer. Again, we didn’t shop around (which I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t know the professional doing your shoot). I’ve heard horror stories of photographers not showing up, or disappearing with your photos after your wedding. Yikes! It was a blessing that Ryan and Julia, husband and wife duo of Akins Photography, and I had worked together at camp for a couple of summers. I knew the quality of his work because he was our camp photographer/videographer. I contacted him, asked him for a quote which included their travel down from the big ATL, and secured our deposit. He recommended starting a board on Pinterest with the type of photos we liked so he could get exactly what we wanted. And our photos were BEAUTIFUL.
5. We did only the essentials. We didn’t have the budget to do a big sit down dinner, or even a buffet. We planned it for 4:30 in the afternoon so we could do cupcakes and some appetizers (which his mom and stepdad graciously helped us with). As a result, this also saved us from having to purchase/rent/create centerpieces, tablecloths, cutlery, and decorations for 15ish tables. And spend a thousand hours creating seating charts.
6. We took care of all the other details as small projects each day. Boutonnieres for the guys one night, bouquets for the girls another night. Cupcake tasting on a random afternoon (which Carlo and I counted as a date – score!). Researching rentals for chairs and tables by the pool. By doing things in small chunks, it made planning such a big event seem much more manageable.
7. As we completed projects, I placed everything in boxes/bags and stored them in a corner in my apartment. All together. So when the day came to decorate, everything was in one place.
8. I forgave myself for the projects I didn’t have time to do. I kept my wedding board as a secret board on Pinterest, largely because I didn’t want everyone asking me about it before we were actually engaged (it was pretty much finished and ready for action by the time he asked me to marry him). That helped me be ok with not getting every. single. thing. done on that board. I picked the projects I really wanted (and the DIYs Carlo really wanted), did those first, and as I ran out of time, I let myself be ok with not completing every pin. Because no one had seen the board, no one knew what was “missing”.
As we pulled away in my husband’s Scion, he put his hand on my leg, and said, “I’m glad we decided to go with a ceremony. You did a good job.” And that’s what was important. We enjoyed ourselves. Our friends enjoyed themselves and helped us celebrate our happiness. Oh, and it wasn’t just me that planned it – when I said “we” in all the above steps, he helped all along the way. 🙂