bride and groom run down the steps after getting married at a courthouse

A 6 Month Wedding Planning Timeline for Couples Getting Hitched in a Hurry

May 22, 2023
By Wedding Spot

Congratulations, you’re engaged! If you’ve found this post, it sounds like the wedding date isn’t too far away. While planning a wedding in six months may seem like a lot to handle, as long as you stay organized, optimistic, and open to the unexpected, you can do it—especially with a detailed 6-month wedding planning timeline to guide you.

This post covers the ins and outs of planning a wedding on short notice. We take you step-by-step through a six-month wedding timeline (month-by-month), so couples know when to find a venue, hire a caterer, book entertainment, and more.

Stay organized with this 6-month wedding planning timeline

After celebrating the engagement, it’s time to get to work! If you plan on getting married quickly, start figuring out the basics as soon as possible. First things first: create a wedding planning checklist to keep you on track. Craft a custom checklist after reviewing this timeline, or download one of many free printable wedding checklist templates available online. Use your list to keep track of essential information, upcoming tasks, and monthly planning goals.

The essentials

Next, start working through big-picture wedding information. Before digging into the details, it’s important to establish the essentials, as they will influence every part of the planning process.   

1. Establish your budget: Figure out how much you have saved for the wedding and your overall spending goal. Determine if anyone else will be contributing, like your parents or other relatives. Is there enough money in the budget to hire a wedding planner, or will you be planning the event yourself?

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2. Pick a date: When planning a wedding on a short timeline, many high-demand dates—like Saturdays—may no longer be available in your area. Are you open to a weekday wedding or a morning ceremony?  Would you be willing to get married on a Friday or Sunday instead? Pick a date or a range of potential dates for the big day.

3. Estimate guest list size: While you don’t need a final count at this time, having a fair understanding of the size of your wedding will make it easier to locate a venue and vendors who can accommodate your guests.

Now that you have a big-picture idea of the wedding you want to plan, you can begin working on executing your 6-month wedding planning timeline. Below, we’ll guide you through each step of the wedding planning process month by month, showing you how to get everything done on time and in style.

Six months before the wedding

The preparation process starts with a booking frenzy when working with a 6-month wedding planning timeline. You’ll have plenty of time to get to the fun stuff—like decor and dresses—later.

• Find a venue

Until you’ve booked a venue, your wedding date isn’t really set, so get that done first. Because you’re working on short notice, booking an all-inclusive wedding venue could help mark many items off your to-do list at once. If you can, look for a wedding venue that offers in-house catering and bartending services.

• Book major wedding vendors

As soon as the venue is locked down, shop for other major wedding vendors. Research, locate, and book vendor services as soon as possible to ensure you’ll have the assistance you need when the big day comes. Additional vendors you may want to consider booking now include:

Caterer: Select a preferred food service style for the event (e.g., buffet, table service) and look for a caterer who offers it. Confirm important follow-up dates with your chosen caterer, such as the deposit due date, special request cut-offs, and when to provide a final guest count.

Officiant: Who will marry you? Are you shopping around for an officiant, or do you already have one in mind? Do you plan to ask a loved one to officiate the wedding? If so, this process can take months, so look into the requirements in the district where the wedding will take place right away.

Florist: Discuss design ideas, budget restrictions, and your wedding timeline with local florists. Gather multiple quotes to find the best price, and save money on your wedding flowers by choosing in-season blooms.

Photographer: Find and secure a photographer for the wedding day, and schedule an engagement photo shoot ASAP if you plan to have one.

Videographer: If you want a wedding video and your desired photographer doesn’t offer videography services, you’ll need to hire a videographer separately.

Cake baker: Contact cake bakers to see which shops are available to take on an additional project. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box, either. Experiment with unique dessert ideas—like donuts, mini-pies, or cupcakes—and build creative confection displays to wow your wedding guests.  

Entertainment: If you want to hire a live band or DJ, contact entertainers early to inquire about availability.

• Announce your engagement

Share the good news with friends and family. Start building a guest list as you announce your engagement. If you already have a wedding date selected, consider combining your engagement announcement with a “Save the Date” note. If you’re not prepared to announce the date, organize guest addresses along the way, making it easier when the time is right.

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• Reserve a hotel block for wedding guests

Find and reserve hotel rooms for out-of-town wedding guests. This block will only be available for wedding guests to book within, making it easy for overnight travelers to book affordable accommodations.

Request room block quotes from multiple hotels, resorts, and other accommodations convenient to your wedding venue. Look for a hotel that offers fair rates, numerous room types, and excellent customer service. Inquire about shuttle service to and from the wedding venue.

• Select your wedding party

Decide which friends and family members you would like to be in the wedding party, and invite them to take part in the big event. If you anticipate asking your bridesmaids or groomsmen for lots of help—which is common when working with a 6-month wedding planning timeline—be upfront about it from the beginning.

• Send Save the Date cards

Because a six-month wedding is already short-notice, inform guests of the event date as soon as possible. After confirming a date and booking a venue, send Save the Date cards so your loved ones can start preparing. Let them know to expect official invitations and additional information very soon. Feel free to use e-announcements, as they can save busy couples valuable time.

• Order invitations

Choose the official invitations you will send to future wedding guests. Custom invitations may take a while to arrive, so order them five months out. Order online to save time, or visit a local stationer who can provide hands-on assistance.

Five months before the wedding

With the most critical items marked off your to-do list, you can start working on some of the more fun, creative aspects of wedding planning.

• Start shopping for attire

Look for and find the attire you’d like to wear on the wedding day. Whether shopping for a bridal gown, bridesmaid dresses, suits for the groomsmen, or a tuxedo, start looking early. Providing yourself with plenty of time will ensure you can complete any alterations needed in time.

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• Purchase accessories

After selecting your wedding attire, start shopping for one-of-a-kind accessories. Look for jewelry, hair accessories, shoes, undergarments, pocket squares, and other accouterments.

• Book remaining day-of vendors

With the major vendors booked, you can start securing additional services and vendors you may need for the big day, including:

  • Makeup artist
  • Hairstylist
  • Event coordinator
  • Transportation

A day-of wedding coordinator is in charge of ensuring everything runs smoothly during the event. They greet guests, collaborate with vendors, manage transitions, and more. For couples with extra money in the budget, spending a little extra on day-of assistance may be worth it.

• Create a wedding website

Streamline the communication process by creating a unique wedding website with all the important details. Tell your unique love story, share hotel block information, recommend transportation services, detail the dress code, and post other wedding-related information guests will find helpful.

• Build a wedding registry

Make gifting a breeze by setting up a wedding registry and linking it to your unique wedding website. Build a wish list of essential items every newlywed needs, or create a “HoneyFund” registry to help finance the honeymoon.

Four months before the wedding

Two months down, four to go! Now, you’ll start to manage some of the more technical aspects of the planning process, like sending invitations and securing transportation.

• Confirm your guest list and send invitations

Finalize your wedding guest list and send out wedding invitations no later than four months before the wedding date. If your invitations are ready before then, mail them out earlier—the sooner, the better.

• Book entertainment

If you plan to hire a DJ, live band, singer, musician, or other live wedding entertainment, secure their services a few months in advance. Discuss your selected wedding song, playlist requests, and the timeline of wedding events.

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• Secure event transportation

Secure wedding transportation services for guests, the wedding party, and the stars of the show. Couples planning a big entrance or epic sendoff may be in the market for a horse and carriage or vintage luxury car rental. If the ceremony and reception are at different venues, provide a shuttle service, town cars, or other transportation for wedding guests.

• Organize bachelor/bachelorette parties

Save time by delegating these planning duties to the maid of honor and best man. On short notice, planning a lengthy getaway or an entire bachelor/bachelorette weekend may be challenging, but you can still bring everyone together for a wonderful time closer to home.

• Plan the rehearsal dinner

Like the wedding, planning a rehearsal dinner takes time and effort. Begin looking for a host venue, such as a restaurant, banquet hall, or hotel, to host the rehearsal dinner at least four months before the wedding.

Three months before the wedding

Month three will be full of appointments, so keep your calendar as open as possible.

• Shop for wedding bands

Confirm your ring sizes and wedding band budget. Wedding rings are the quintessential symbol of marriage, so spend time looking for pieces you both love.

• Cake and menu tastings

It’s time for wedding tastings! Meet with your cake baker to taste cake options and select your favorite flavors. Schedule an appointment to review the reception menu with your caterer or venue—whoever will supply food for the event. Discuss the cocktail menu, and consider selecting a signature cocktail that matches your theme.

• Plan the honeymoon

Start booking transportation, making reservations, and planning the vacation of a lifetime, because the honeymoon will be here before you know it!

• Prep guest favors

Decide what kind of wedding favors you’d like to give guests. From edible to decorative to homeopathic, there are so many unique wedding favors for couples to choose from. If you’re ordering custom wedding favors, place the order at least three months in advance to ensure they arrive on time. Save money on guest favors by making them yourself; just be sure to give yourself enough time to acquire all the necessary materials and put them together.

• Test run hair and makeup

Schedule a test run with your wedding stylists. Run through the hair and makeup look you want for the day to make sure you’re happy with it. If any adjustments need to be made, you can discuss them ahead of time, preventing a last-minute wedding day upset.

Two months before the wedding

With two months left before the big day, start putting the finishing touches in place.

• Build your wedding playlist

These days, many couples choose to forgo live entertainment and save money by creating a wedding playlist. Build a list of hits that fits your aesthetic and will last the length of the reception. Consider playing instrumental music before the ceremony starts, and confirm which songs you’ll play for major wedding events, like the—

  • Bridal entrance
  • First dance
  • Father/Daughter dance
  • Mother/Son dance
  • Cake cutting

• Purchase wedding gifts

Select thoughtful gifts for members of the wedding party, your parents, and close friends or family members who helped plan the wedding. Look for meaningful gifts that display your gratitude.

• Order marriage license

Confirm the laws and requirements to obtain a marriage license in your state. Licensing laws vary from state to state, so make sure you’re up-to-date on the costs, time restrictions, and legal requirements required to procure a marriage license in your area.

• Host bachelor/bachelorette parties

Two months out gives you enough time to plan the event (but don’t invest too much time into planning these events when in a time crunch) and enjoy the parties without adding any last-minute stress to wedding events.

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One month before the wedding 

Because you stuck to your 6-month wedding planning timeline, there shouldn’t be too much left to do in the month leading up to the wedding. Spend the last few weeks making final preparations, double-checking supplies, crossing your t’s, and dotting your i’s.

Four weeks before

• Check in with vendors and suppliers. Contact wedding vendors, suppliers, and entertainers a month before the wedding date. Confirm venue check-in times, review the day-of timeline, and tie up any loose ends.

• Create a table plan. After following up on any outstanding RSVPs, you should have the final guest list prepared. Use this information to create a seating chart for the reception. Don’t worry if you can’t find a place for everyone immediately; it may take a couple of tries to get it right.

• Start writing thank you notes. At this stage of the wedding planning timeline, you’ve probably received a few gifts already. If you have extra time, get a jump on thank you cards.

Two weeks before

• Pack for the honeymoon. Avoid last-minute packing and relax, knowing everything you need for your trip is organized and accounted for. Keep an eye on the weather in your honeymoon destination, just in case you need to change things up.

• Write your vows. Don’t leave vows or speeches to the last minute. Prevent added stress by starting them a couple of weeks before the wedding.

One week before

• Prepare attire and accessories. Add any last touches and pack everything away, so it’s all together and ready for the day.

• Pack an emergency kit. Prepare for the unexpected by packing a wedding day emergency kit. From tweezers, tissues, and other grooming essentials to hand sanitizer and extra chargers, this emergency kit has everything you need.

• Pamper yourself. The week before your wedding, treat yourself to a bit of pampering. Get a manicure, pedicure, and facial, or enjoy a trip to the sauna with the wedding party. Let go of the wedding planning stress and celebrate all of your accomplishments.

What should you do on the day of the wedding?

Enjoy it! All your hard work and planning paid off, so enjoy the special day. Soak up every single moment.

That’s our 6-month wedding planning timeline to keep you on track

With an organized 6-month wedding planning timeline at your fingertips, you’ll be hosting the wedding of your dreams in less than a year. If you’re looking for additional tips for saving money along the way, join us as we explore 60 wedding budget tips and tricks next.

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Wedding Spot

Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.