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How to Plan a Budget Wedding in 3 Months

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Is it possible to have a beautiful, budget wedding? It certainly is! My husband and I made it happen with the help of the community around us. Planning a wedding is an adventure. Technically, we planned the wedding in four “batch planning sessions”, but from the time he proposed to the time our wedding came, it was about 3 months.

We both lived life on our own for before we met. We had a good idea of what we were looking for in a spouse. Once we knew that we wanted to spend our lives together, we figured, why wait to “tie the knot”. We had both vowed to keep ourselves sexually pure till marriage, and also shared our first kiss on the alter. You have your own unique story, so let that shine through in your planning decisions and timeline. The ideas I share below are simply a framework to help you get started. I’m sharing the approach and process we implemented and it turned out smooth! 

Set Your Highest Priority

You can’t have everything. Most of brides are on a tight budget and trying to be thrifty anywhere you can manage. Setting a top priority for your wedding will help focus your energy and drive your decisions. Your top priority will be that “thing” that, if nothing else was happened (other then getting married of course), you’d still want that top priority item. It’s that area where a larger part of your budget will likely go to. Take time to come to an agreement on this with your future spouse. It’s important to be on the same page because the details can muddy things up. This priority will be your shining star when the choices come, and they certainly will. Wedding planning is an exercise in learning to communicate and make decisions together. 

Batch Plan

My husband and I started planning soon after we got engaged (the same day actually, lol). We set a time, went to a coffee shop with a inspiring space, free wifi, delicious coffee, and we got to work. Plan chunks of time to talk about wedding planning. This allows you and your future spouse to not be consumed by wedding planning through the whole engagement. Being engaged is still about building a deeper friendship/relationship with the person you are going to be spending the rest of your life with; wedding planning and the wedding day is only one event in that exciting lifetime. To make the most of your planning time, have specific pieces that you make decisions on.  Start with big picture elements (like setting your priorities), then work your way into the details of how the details of the day can become a reality. The biggest thing to keep in mind is – don’t get stuck on details that don’t matter -. If you don’t agree, move on to the next piece and come back to it later. If one piece needs research or answers from another person, table it and keep moving:

Batch Planning Date 1: Pick a Date, Set your highest priority, budget, timeline (hold this loosely), & talk about big ideas for the look, select Bridal Party

Batch Planning Date 2: Inspiration Images, Color Pallet, Create a mood board, table center piece ideas, flowers, Bridal Party attire, list of volunteers to ask, Invite Bridal Party

Batch Planning Date 3: Book venue, decor rental, wedding coordinator contacted, ask around for free decor you can round up, honeymoon spot booked & planned

Batch Planning Date 4: Wedding coordinator & volunteers confirmed, getaway vehicle, Bridal Party attire ordered/arrived/reserved, venue details, flower strategy confirmed, Wedding Booklet finalized & in the hands of coordinators for each area (wedding coordinator, flower, decor, food, set up/tear down).

In between the last two planning dates, we coordinated details and toured some venues. It may seem like an intense planning schedule, but we made decisions quickly and didn’t allow ourselves to get hung up on things were not really important. We decided at the beginning to be collaborative with the process and to work together on the planning – us against the challenges, not the challenges between us-.

Document it All

We put our ideas on paper! This goes beyond a full Pinterest board. You may have specific ideas for the table settings, where flowers go, and the order of events. Create a booklet (this could even be done with Google Sheets) that brings all your ideas and plans into one place. Make diagrams of where all the tables go (or even a floor plan). Show pictures of the table center pieces and other details that are important for the setup crew to know about. Do you have inspiration pictures and a color pallet you can add? Make your own mood board to put in the booklet too. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it only needs communicate your design intent. Do you have people that volunteered for specific activities, add that in too! Your wedding coordinator will be so grateful and you’ll be glad you communicated what you wanted in advance. 

Side Note: I highly recommending hiring a day of wedding coordinator. If you can’t hire a coordinator for the whole planning process, having her there for your big day will allow you to relax knowing your plans are being implemented well.

Let It Go

Once everything is on paper, hand it off to your wedding coordinator. This person should have experience planning & coordinating weddings. Hand off the decision making to a few key people who will be present from start to finish. They should take their role seriously and other volunteers should know they are the go-to people. Allow them to run with your ideas. It will take the stress off you and allow them the creativity to do their part well. No one likes to work under a micromanager.

Do you feel empowered to get your wedding planned now? Your timeline may be a little different then 3 months, but the same planning concepts can apply. Rather then four planning dates, stretch the to-do’s out across more dates. Or, if you’re ready to finish the planning quickly, follow the timeline and then take time to relax before the big day. You can’t please everyone and there will be hard decisions to make. Do what you can and know that, it’s a day to celebrate the marriage of you and your spouse. Make the process fun and enjoy the people you’re with along the way. Capture those candid moments and soak in the bliss of this season! 

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