1. Knock out the three big essentials: budget, guest list and style.
What's the dream reception look like? A small intimate dinner at your favorite restaurant? A dressy cocktail party? At the same time, figure out how much money you have to spend. The average wedding in 2015 cost $32,641, not including the honeymoon. A big budget influencer is the guest list. It costs more to invite more, so keep that in mind. Also, the average number of guests is 139 people. Because you're working within a short time frame, and potential guests may have already made plans for the month, you'll probably end up with a smaller than average guest list.
2. Find and book a reception site, and set a date.
The popular venues (country clubs, ballrooms and hotels, for example) might already be booked for Saturday night, but call them anyway to try for a Friday or even Sunday afternoon or evening. Also, think outside the typical wedding venue and consider nearby restaurants with event spaces or large rooms that can be sectioned off.
3. Start a wedding website and set up a registry.
It's free to
create a website on TheKnot.com and having one is by far the best way to get info out to your guests quickly (and 30 days is quick!). Once you've set up your registries, link them from your website so guests have an easy way to find where you're registered.
4. Send out invites.
Sure, you could email your guests, but we think a more personal alternative is still the best route for a wedding invitation. You won't have time for custom, but check out stationery stores around your area for preprinted invites, or look online (Wedding Paper Divas and Minted have a ton of designs). If you have an extra small guest list and good penmanship (and patience), you could even send handwritten notes. Just don't forget to include your wedding website on the card so everyone knows where to go for more info.
5. Find a wedding dress.
There won't be time for fittings and custom orders, but that doesn't mean you don't have any options. Bridal salons host sample sales all the time where, if you're lucky, you could take a designer gown home with you the same day as your purchase. Or check out any number of popular ready-to-wear stores that are now carrying wedding-worthy white dresses. There's BHLDN with dreamy vintage-style dresses, Ann Taylor for classic and simple silhouettes, and even Nordstrom for the variety factor to name a few.
6. Decide on a suit.
Similar to the wedding dress, there won't be time to go custom, but you still have the option to rent a tux. If you want to buy a classic suit, try Brooks Brothers or check out any number of stores like Zara or Top Man for affordable and totally on-trend styles. Don't want to leave the house? Searching for a tuxedo online has never been easier, if that's what you're into.
7. Pick your bridal party and tell them what to wear.
We recommend choosing a color and style and then asking your best girlfriends to find the closest match. Have everyone find a flowy chiffon dress in pink, or a knee-length dress in navy and any neckline goes (to name a couple options). Or, if it works with your style, just ask them to wear their favorite LBD from their closet. The guys can rent tuxes, or you could have them wear their own suits and then buy them matching ties to coordinate the look.
8. Create an outline of the other vendors you need to hire, and start inquiring about your date.
This is probably going to be your toughest task by far. At the very least, you're going to want to find a florist, photographer, videographer, cake baker and band (or DJ). Your best bet here: Let one vendor lead you to the next. If you find a photographer you love, ask them to recommend the rest of your vendors. Or check out GigMasters to find and compare prices for entertainment, rentals and tons of other vendors.