I have a few wedding and event planner friends and none of them will ever say that their job is stress free. Fun? Yes. Calm? Not a chance. And they’re professionals!

So when the party planner is you (the novice) and the party is only the most important day of your life (your wedding), the stress factor multiplies tenfold.  Add a tight timeline into the mix and you’ll be having martinis at 4pm every day. We kid, we kid. Actually, it is very doable to plan an ultra amazing, fabulous wedding in three months (or less). With a little organization, some guidance on how to prioritize and some help from the experts, the accelerated wedding planning process can be stress free and, dare I say, enjoyable?

The shotgun wedding planning process is conveniently broken out into three parts.

  1. First are the do immediately tasks. They’re the don’t waste another nanosecond, get on the phone, send out some emails, scout out some venues, have the conversation get it done type of tasks.
  2. Second are the do the first month tasks. These are the major ones – the time consuming, difficult decision making, must be organized tasks. Except for wedding dress shopping. That should always be a fun experience.
  3. And all the rest? Just the details. The pretty stuff, the little touches, the smaller tasks that all add up to making the wedding a reflection of yourself.

If you’re in need of some serious organization help, do check out our “newly engaged” and “where to find” sections for recommendations on where to get started and where to find the things you need. So happy planning to you.

[Download: Wedding Timeline & Checklist from RusselandHazel.com]

May you be calm, organized and efficient throughout this process!



Set your budget. The sooner you can have the money discussion out of the way, the sooner you can start making decisions and signing contracts. Both you and your fiance (and anyone else who will be footing the bill for the wedding) should have a very clear picture of who will be paying for the wedding, what your budget is and how it breaks down. And once you have arrived at an agreement, make sure everybody is clear on it and on the same page because the one rule in wedding planning (especially on a tight timeline) is NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING. Expect miscommunication. Expect things to fall through the cracks. But if you confirm, double confirm and spell things out, there won’t be any confusion among the key financial players.

Prioritize & Answer the Hard Questions: You will need to make a lot of quick decisions over the next few months, so now is the best time to prioritize the things that are important to you and get rid of the rest. It’s an interesting time for weddings – the majority of planning happens online, things move quickly and the old rules are becoming obsolete. There are many traditional brides out there, but there are also a growing number of unconventional brides who make up their own rules for their wedding. Remember, there’s a difference between being courteous and respectful vs. hanging onto old traditions for the sake of it… just some food for thought as you sort out your wedding priorities such as:

  • How many guests?
  • Are kids included?
  • Do you want your ceremony and reception to be at the same place?
  • What are the three things that are important to us? Booze? A band? Flowers? More booze?
  • Where are the three areas that we can save money on, assuming budget is tight?
  • Will you have a rehearsal dinner? Who is paying for it?
  • Are you going to have an engagement party?
  • Are you going on your honeymoon directly after?

Lock Down Your Venue. Hopefully you won’t need to scramble for a venue, but if you are starting from scratch, you need to get on the phone and start calling around immediately. The popular venues will likely be booked up, but if you really love a particular place, it can’t hurt to reach out especially if you are open to a Friday or Sunday wedding or something earlier in the day. Who knows – they might have last minute cancellations or a random opening. Don’t fret, there will be plenty of options to choose from, no matter where you live.

If you’re willing to be a little more creative, consider:

  • A private room at a restaurant
  • Backyard or someone’s home
  • A zoo, park or garden
  • Your alma mater
  • An art gallery
  • A newly opened venue
  • A bowling alley
  • A nightclub
  • A venue in a smaller town

I’ve heard stories of people getting married in parking garages to laundromats to old warehouses, so don’t be afraid to to be unconventional.

[If you are strapped for time, now is the time to hire a wedding planner, who can help you find a venue, assemble a team of great vendors and keep you on track. A good wedding planner will know all of the great local spots, have a reliable network of professionals to partner with and can help you execute on your vision. ]

Send Save the Dates. It can be as simple as an email announcement, but with the wedding just months away, you do need to compile your guest list and let them know when and where your wedding is to take place, especially if people will need to travel for it. Some resources to look at:

  • Google Docs is our favorite for compiling and storing all of your guests and addresses. Share it with your fiance, your maid of honor, your mom who can all help add to, refine and perfect the list.
  • WedOverHeels allows you to get a free, full page, ad-free wedding landing page announcing your engagement and wedding date.
  • For pretty online save the dates, Paperless Post has dozens of free and paid options

Accommodations: If you are having a destination wedding or have a number of out of town guests, do make some hotel recommendations and, if you can, arrange for a special room rate for your guests so that they can reserve well in advance.

Once you’ve finished these crucial wedding planning tasks, you can breathe a quick sigh of relief and move on to part II which is all about vendors, attire & guests! 

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