the theory and practice of short engagements @TrinaHolden on @YLCFAs a wedding planner, one of the first questions I tackle when talking with a client is “When are you getting married?” Often there are significant factors to consider, such as housing to prepare, schedules of extended family, or even a cross-country move. But I often encourage brides to consider another important factor: the timetable of the relationship. When does the couple feel like they will be ready for marriage?

All the wedding experts say six months to two years are needed to get everything order. But if you’ve already decided to get married — you’re committed! Why put it off? Engagement begins a season in which emotional commitment quickly deepens and the relationship is on a fast track toward oneness. Drawing out this season puts a strain on the couple and the families. For most couples, a few months is enough to set up housing, receive premarital counseling, and lay a foundation for their life together. A short engagement is more natural, putting the wedding in step with the couple’s own growing attraction and commitment.

Another reason to plan a short engagement is the money you will save. Statistics show that the longer you spend planning a wedding, the more money you spend. Additionally, wedding service providers and venues may be willing to offer you last-minute deals in order to fill vacancies in their schedule.

But can one pull off a wedding in a few months? As a coordinator who’s helped that very thing happen multiple times, I say, “Yes!”

So, we’re back to picking a date. But wait! Don’t pick a day and try and make everything else match. When planning a wedding in a shorter time frame, venue and photographer availability determine the date. Often your venue may be booked or your photographer already busy at this shorter notice. The strategy here is to pick a handful of dates within a 4-6 week window around the time you want to get married and then begin to see which day fits best with the main details. Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a Guest List: Come up with a rough estimate of how many guests you are expecting or willing to host so you know what size rooms you are looking for.
  2. Call photographers: You should have first, second and maybe even a third choice for photographers. Put a call into each of them asking what their availability is within your date range.
  3. Find a venue: At the same time, begin the search for a venue. Again, within a shorter window the most popular wedding venues in your area may be booked already — but think outside the box as to when and where a wedding could be held. Saturdays, Friday evenings, or even Sunday afternoons are all acceptable, and weddings can happen anywhere from a gym to a state park!
  4. Set your date! When you find a date that works for your photographer and venue that’s available, don’t hesitate! Pay your deposits and write it on the calendar. The biggest decision of your wedding has been made!

With only a few months to plan your wedding, you will need to have a clear idea of what your main focus is so that you can simplify and dismiss any details that don’t mean a lot to you. Next time I’ll share with you how to craft a vision for your wedding so that you and your guests will enjoy your special day as much as possible.

17 Comments

  1. I am in such agreement. At first, my fiance and I seriously considered an early December wedding (after getting engaged April 3rd), and then it was like, um, why wait? ๐Ÿ™‚ So we went through 12 venues and 5 different wedding dates (around a 3-week window). Then the apartment we wanted AND his time-off request came through for the same day and bam, June 11th here we come!

  2. I really like this and totally agree. My husband I were married 4 1/2 months after engagement. We tried for 3 1/2 but his brother could not make it so we waited for one month. The way I see it is if you’re not ready to get married you should be engaged!!! The only thing the engagement time should be for is planning the wedding! (of course there is the exception if you have prior commitments you have to finish.)

  3. All of my older siblings were engaged no longer then 6 months. My oldest brother got the prize for the shortest engagement at 6 weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

    One of my brothers had a 5 month engagement. Somebody had the gumption to ask if they were having a shot gun wedding. No sir!

    My parents always have encouraged if you know your going to get married go ahead and do it, before other things get the best of you…

    I don’t want to day dream about my wedding to much, but on one hand I know having a few ideas will be helpful for when that special times.

    I’m all for short engagements myself, but if God is going to teach me patience I guess I will handle that too.

  4. This post made me smile. When I became engaged in July of last year, and told people we were planning for a September wedding, people universally assumed we meant September of NEXT year. Well, two-and-a-half months was a little short, and made the planning stage VERY hectic, but it was either that or a year’s wait, and both my husband and I felt that waiting a year, when we were already committed and financially able to proceed, was no fun and absolutely not necessary. Still, such a short engagement is definitely not for everyone, by any means! It’s nice to know it’s practical and possible, however.

    1. Joanna, congrats on pulling off a wedding so quickly! Yeah, it’s a little hectic, but I’ve never heard a couple wish they had a longer engagement. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Laurel West says:

    Agreed!! My husband and I had a 4 month engagement….. and have often said that we wish it had been shorter. After God leads you through a process of getting to know one another and then makes marriage the clear, logical culmination, why wait? The blessings and lessons of marriage are too precious to delay!

    Having a shorter engagement allowed us to focus on the actual marriage instead of sweating over insignificant details of the wedding day that almost everyone would have forgotten after just a short time. The wedding day is only 24 hours, the marriage is for life. That is where our time and hearts should be invested!

  6. ๐Ÿ˜€ we were planning a long engagement until we realised that wouldn’t work with the development of our relationship… excellent blog post!

  7. Thank you so much for this post! My fiance` and I have been engaged since December and have tried to set two dates already but everyone around us seems to think we need to stretch it out and wait two or three years {or just flat out break it off}. Its been a real struggle so far. This post is very encouraging. Thank you!

  8. Hmm, the pastor of the church we were going to at the time we got married required that the wedding date be set one year in advance and like Gretchen said above, the marriage preparation classes took that whole year. But once I finally decided I was ready to get married (my husband more or less had made it clear that he wanted to marry me within a few months of meeting me, but I took seven years to say yes), we wanted to get married as soon as possible. We ended up getting married by his mom’s pastor four months after our intial meeting with him. I can see the wisdom of a year wait for couples who are are younger/haven’t known each other very long, but there definitely needs to be some flexiblity…and I can see how a shorter engagement would defintely be a cheaper.

  9. We had a 9-month engagement because I had to finish a teaching commitment before moving 700 miles. In our pastor’s opinion, however, this was a short engagement! The course of premarital counseling which he has built after many years’ experience takes one year, and we had to work very hard to get it done in 9 months.

    You can make a case for the wisdom of a long or short engagement (and you make a very good case for a short one!), but I think it would be wrong to say dogmatically that one is always better or more Biblical than the other.

  10. The only trouble with this post is that it makes me want to plan a wedding! ๐Ÿ™‚ Friends think I’m crazy for wanting a short engagement, but I do and this post reminds me why, it’s so sensible! What good advice for “someday”. Thank you for sharing! I’m looking forward to reading about “crafting a vision for a wedding” too!

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