Too Early to Plan?


Hey All,

I just got engaged last Saturday (woohoo!!!!) and am so excited! We're planning a November 2010 wedding, giving my fiance time to work for a year after he graduates, and me time to work closer towards completion of my Masters degree. I'll be planning the wedding from a distance (8 hours away).

About how early do you think I should start planning? I've already drawn up a (very) preliminary guest list to start estimating our budget, but my family and fiance all think I've got plenty of time.

What are your opinions? What should I start with first? What can be postponed?

Thanks in advance!

Comments (6)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First, congratulations.

Two years is really more time than you would ever need. Whether you should start to book things now depends on your church (if you have one), the reception facility you may want and the time of year and where you live (not usually relevent for November). For example, do you want to be married in a historic church that has a very limited number of weddings or a huge number of people trying to book it? Is the reception facility you have your heart set on difficult to book?

In the town I grew up you would definitely book the church first, it was a popular place and difficult to get the prime time (5:30 pm Saturday) during May-October. Many people booked it at one year out, even 18 months. Once you have the church you can book the reception facility. Then I'd say you book the band. The wedding dress generally gets ordered about 6 months before (don't order too early, you'll find something else you like better. Once you order it, stop looking!).

Around here at least the number of weddings drops off dramatically after leaf peeping season. November would be an easy date to get. Make sure your date doesn't conflict with Thanksgiving (unless of course you want the Saturday after Thanksgiving because you think people will travel to where the wedding would be). Maybe you want the Saturday before Veteran's Day so people can turn it into a long weekend? Check with the parents or other significant people that there are no conflicts (dear Aunt Better and Uncle Bill's 50th wedding anniversary party, a cousin's already booked wedding, the anniversary of someone's death, etc.).

If I were you I would get some information on churches and reception facilities in the area (what time the weddings are held, the time blocks for the receptions, pricing, capacity, etc.) and then work out your guest list. The church probably won't require a deposit, but the reception facility likely will. You have the time to take your time. You could probably wait until 9-12 months before to book things, but if the deposits aren't too high I'd book a little sooner. It can all be done is far less time, of course. My wedding took less than 5 months to plan (and it was a very detailed, "custom", wedding). Of course, those were a very busy 5 months. But if you want to wait for some reason (such as to see where your finances will be), I'd say you could easily do it in 6 months.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Congratulations on your engagement. I'm a wedding planner. In my area we start planning about a year early if you want to have choices in locations and merchants. Initially you will book locations and merchants, make tentative decisons and pay deposits. Then about a month to 6 weeks before the wedding you will go back to each merchant and finalize the details.

This is a great time to attend wedding shows and begin collecting ideas and scoping out the merchants whose services you like. You will be able to taste food and cake samples, watch fashion shows, see floral arrangements, and generally get in the wedding planning mode.

I would look for a gown 9 months to a year out. If you have to order one, it can take up to 4 months to get it and you may still need alterations after that. Starting early also allows you to find an affordable dress that still looks wonderful on you.

Have fun with the process and do share it with your mother and your fiance's mother if possible. The planning can be a great bonding experience for all of you.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We did it one year out, and that was plenty. First is to book the church and the reception location. Before you book the locations and set your date in cement, poll the immediate family as to any special commitments you need to avoid. For example, we needed to avoid college final exams and graduation of one sibling and first week of law school for another. We knew the dates for those. Groom's family best friend needed to work around opening day of their football season as the friend was university president and had university obligations for that. Once that was noted, we had our choice of dates that worked for the bridal couple and were able to select the best time of year for an outdoor wedding.

Between now and then, buy bride magazines and study the wedding gowns and bridesmaid gowns. I learned that the mothers of the bride and groom need a lot of time to get their dresses too, especially since most of them are so ugly. Finding a pretty bridal dress was a snap compared to the MOB dress.

My daughter was 10 hours away, and I wanted to spare her the extra cost and time of flying down to do everything, but I wanted her input on all of it (even though she basically put it in my lap to do). So every holiday or birthday that she came home for, we worked out the next thing to select. She never had to make a special trip home that way except for the final fitting of her dress a couple of weeks before.

So now when you are home, visit wedding reception sites. When you find the place you want, ask to visit prior to a wedding to see the kind of setup they do if you can. Then you can get an idea of what you like in decor, flowers, etc. for that room.

Browse through bridal shoppes after that for an idea of where you might want to shop and for bridesmaid dresses. We were able to eliminate some shops we had assumed would be good and found one that had everything.

Visit some florists, go to bridal fairs, look at china and crystal and silver. Look at the kind of cookware you might want. This way you won't be rushed and can slowly decide what you might like.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Excellent advice from sheilajoyce about checking for other family events with which you don't want to conflict. When you know your date, let close family know ASAP.

You have loads of time, so nothing has to be done soon soon soon. The location and the band, and sometimes the caterer, need to be booked the farthest ahead, in my experience. Florists can usually do more than one event in a weekend, though. The rest can wait a long time.

In the meantime, you can start saving money. It occurs to me that if couples started saving a couple of years in advance and also started thinking and reading about wedding choices long before making decisions, they would spend a lot less, both because the novelty would have a little time to wear off and because the slow process of saving up that money makes people less eager to spend, spend, spend. My son just told me that he and his girlfriend are "engaged to be engaged" and figure on marrying in a little under 3 years. I wonder if that is how it will play out for them.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


It's never to early to start planning so you'll know just what you want when it's time to start putting it together.
Theme, colors, who you want for maid of honor, you need to know where you want to marry, church or park or wherever, the list goes on. Think of it as pre-planning. It's always fun to plans things out and maybe by the time it's time to start for real it will go smooth. Talk to your fiances about it, ask for his in put on what your wanting. If he thinks it's to soon to start planning, tell him your pre-planning so it will go smoother for both of you. Make a list so you have it in writing, then when the day comes to start putting it together go back over the list with him and check off the do's and do not's. It does take planning and time so don't feel bad about wanting to get started.
Best wishes, Barb

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Congratulations. I would spend the first part of your engagement talking with your fiance and your families about the type of wedding you want to have.

For example, DH and I decided we wanted a small wedding with close family/friends and no strangers, with the guest list defined by "we'd be really sorry if so-and-so wasn't there." There were under 60 people.

We knew we wanted a plated meal and to invest in good food for our guests. We didn't care so much about a fancy photo package, didn't want a video, and didn't care at all about a limo, favors, etc. I hated the snotty (and expensive) first florist I met with and got lovely flowers from a local neighborhood florist for half as much.

That was us. What about you? Think about what's important to you and your fiance, and do homework. Then you'll be ready to book a ceremony and reception location about a year in advance and then look for a gown.

Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Holidays 5 DIY Holiday Gifts to Start Early
Handmade gifts for the home can be the most meaningful of all, but a rushed DIY project can bring on stress and mistakes
Full Story
Remodeling Guides When Retirement Came Early, a Couple Headed for the Hills
A Seattle pair turn their part-time home into a full-time one, remodeling it to gain views and help it stand up to snow, sun and wind
Full Story
Houzz TV Favorites Houzz TV: See How Early Settlers Lived in This Restored Pilgrim House
Passionate restoration and preservation efforts give a 1665 home an honored place in the present
Full Story
Inspiration for some backyard chats
Inspiration for a warm welcome
Inspiration for dinner time under the stars
Inspiration for a little quality time
Inspiration for making that best pizza ever
Step into a Ferguson Showroom and you'll be surrounded by the latest styles in kitchen, bath and lighting design... Read More