Some women dream of a fairy tale wedding their entire lives. Others thought they'd never get married and a new engagement may come as a surprise. The question for either remains the same--how much time is needed to adequately plan a wedding?
As someone who appreciates peace of mind, I tend to favor starting earlier than later. Your preferred planner or venue will book up much sooner than many brides realize when they first get going so as a general rule of thumb, start planning your wedding as early as you can, within a 2 year window. The more time you have, the less stress you have, and more often than not booking early with vendors will save you money.
Begin with selecting 3 possible dates you and your partner would like to get married on. Factors to consider include whether you'd like to get married inside or out, whether your chosen date(s) would make travel difficult for your guests (i.e. holidays), and whether or not you'd consider an off-season or weekday wedding in efforts to get the most for your money.
Once you have some dates in mind, start researching planners and venues. Planners and venues can book as early as 2 years in advance so don't delay in interviewing consultants and visiting venues you'd like to consider. Many vendors will provide discounted rates and refundable deposits when booking early so the assurance gained when starting early is usually well worth the expenditure.
Before booking a venue, make sure you understand exactly what's included, if they mandate you use specific vendors, what their refund policy is for cancellations, and if an outdoor venue--what "plan b" options are available. A good planner will be able to suggest venues that match your vision and negotiate contracts that protect your wallet so if you intend to use a consultant, having one in place before booking a venue is ideal.
After a planner and venue have been determined, enjoy some down time and start gathering ideas for your big day. So long as you've allowed 12 months to plan the remaining, you'll be in good shape for your event. A professional planner will make sure you stay on track with securing vendors in time for your wedding.
For a breakdown of planning from 12 months down, please see our upcoming post "Let the Planning Begin!: A guide to planning 12 months in advance."
Jessica Bonanno is the owner of Happily Ever Florida, LLC - an event planning and custom décor company located in Fort Myers, FL. She is a wedding planner dedicated to providing 5 star service at affordable prices and works with brides throughout Fort Myers, Naples, Estero, and Bonita Springs, FL.