How to Plan a Wedding in 3 Months

Here's your simple wedding checklist that's part cheat sheet and part secret weapon for planning your wedding in three months.
by The Knot

How do you plan your wedding in three months? As overwhelming as it may seem, the key to getting it all done is to cut out all the panic-inducing extras and focus on the big planning tasks at hand. So the next time you feel like you'll never get it all done, rest assured—it's simpler than you think. 

  1. 90 Days

    White and blush wedding table settings
    JOEL SERRATO | FILMS + PHOTOGRAPHS

    1. Knock out the three big essentials: wedding budget, guest list and style.

    What does your dream reception look like? A small, intimate dinner at your favorite restaurant? A dressy cocktail party? Take our Style Quiz to find out what you gravitate toward the most. At the same time, figure out how much money you have to spend. The average wedding cost in 2017 was $33,391, not including the honeymoon. A big budget influencer is the wedding guest list. It costs more to invite more, so keep that in mind. Also, the average number of guests is 136 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 wedding website on TheKnot.com and having one is by far the best way to get info out to your guests quickly (and three months is quick!). Once you've set up your registries, link them from your website so guests have an easy way to find out where you're registered.

    4. Send out wedding invitations.
    Sure, you could email your guests, but we think a paper invitation is still the best route for a wedding invitation, no matter your timeline. You likely won't have time for custom invitations, but check out stationery stores around your area for preprinted invites, or look online (Shutterfly 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.
    Planning a wedding in three months means there probably won't be time for multiple 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 carry wedding-worthy white dresses. 

    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, and we mean it when we say this is a simple wedding checklist.

    7. Pick your bridal party and tell them what to wear.

    We recommend choosing a wedding color and style and then asking your best friends 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, since you're planning your wedding within three months. At the very least, you're going to want to find a florist, photographer, videographer, cake baker and band (or DJ). Search pros in your area on The Knot Marketplace, or 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.

  2. 80 Days

    S'mores cupcakes wedding dessert
    One Love Photography

    9. Book your photographer.
    This goes for all your wedding vendors: Call references and peruse the web to get firsthand reviews. Ask any and all questions you might have about their services before you sign a contract. You may have some tight deadlines within your three months of wedding planning, but that doesn't mean you don't have time for clarification.

    10. Book your videographer.
    We can't stress it enough: Your wedding will go by in a blur, and you'll remember it better with a video. At the very least, get someone to capture video of the ceremony. If your top pick is booked, ask them to recommend someone else who can help you. Maybe they have a talented second shooter who's available.

    11. Book your cake baker (and caterer if it's not a part of your reception contract).
    Beyond frosting color, flavor and filling, there are a few other details to hash out during your design meeting. Once you've decided what your wedding cake should look like, figure out how and where you want to display it in the reception room.

    12. Book your florist (and arrange for any rentals).
    Typically, a wedding florist will present you with a flower proposal. Then as you firm up details and plans, he or she will tweak and edit the proposal so that it meets your style and budget requirements. To expedite the process, you have to be extremely communicative and up front about your budget (usually 8 to 10 percent of your total budget should go to décor) and style (bring lots of pictures to your meeting).

    13. Book a hair and makeup artist.
    We highly recommend scheduling a trial run midway through your three months. This is your wedding hair and makeup we're talking about, after all. The good news is if you end up booking a hairstylist or makeup artist, the money you pay for the trial usually applies to the day rate.

    14. Book your reception DJ or band.
    You probably won't have time to track them down and hear them live before you book, but at least listen to demos. Make sure they're from recent weddings. If it's a band, make sure the demo is representative of all the musicians who will actually play your wedding.

  3. 60 Days...

    Engagement ring in pink velvet ring box
    Emily March Photography

    15. Plan the marriage ceremony with your officiant and outline the program.
    If you have a minister or rabbi, you can follow along the traditional ceremony outline, add in your reading and song picks and call it a day. If you want a friend to oversee the ceremony, you'll need him or her to get ordained in order to make it official on the marriage license. Don't worry though—it's a pretty fast turnaround time to get ordained online. For example, you can apply to the Universal Life Church and have a confirmation ordination email back from them usually within 72 hours.

    16. Decide on your honeymoon and book flights and hotel rooms.
    We're about halfway through your simple wedding planning checklist, and it might seem a little odd to be planning the honeymoon already. However, the best deals can be found well ahead of time and online mid-week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That's when airfares are typically at their lowest rates. If you don't have the patience to book through a travel site, call a travel agent. It sounds old-school, but agents can help you get a trip booked with low-hassle and most of them are affordable or even free (many will take a cut from the hotel or airline instead of you).

    17. Shop for wedding rings and order them.
    If you can't get the one you want in time, order the ones you love anyway and find a placeholder for the ceremony. Pick up a pair of inexpensive silver or gold bands at a jeweler in town. Or have a little fun with it and find your place holder wedding bands at an antique store or flea market.

    18. Plan the rehearsal dinner.
    This doesn't have to involve a five-star dining experience. Go casual and pick a restaurant with fun built-in décor (read: no extras needed). Simply call to reserve the back room or several tables. Ask about a large group menu or put in your order ahead of time and let the restaurant do the rest.

  4. 50 Days...

    Hydrangea escort table centerpiece
    Amanda Megan Miller Photography

    19. Check in with your wedding vendors and finalize plans with each of them.

    Confirm the marriage ceremony outline with the officiant, run through the reception with your caterer or reception manager, iron out the flower proposal, choose the menu and cake, make a list of must-play songs and do-not-play songs, create a must-have list of photos, and figure out your hair and makeup look.

    20. Buy your veil, shoes and accessories.

    Decide on your "something old, new, borrowed and blue."

    21. Get your final guest list count of who's coming and assign them to your seating chart (if you're having one).

    Create a seating chart tool with The Knot Guest List Manager—another way of keeping it simple with your wedding checklist's tasks.

    22. Work on day-of paper elements including the marriage ceremony program and escort cards.

    Print them yourself or take them to a local printer who will be able to get the job done for you on the spot or within a day.

  5. 20 Days...

    Local honey wedding favors
    Cassidy Carson Photography

    23. Confirm every last detail with your vendors.

    This means all final payment amounts, delivery and location times with your wedding vendors.

    24. Buy gifts (or favors) for guests, bridal party, parents and each other.
    Have gifts wrapped in the store if that's an option. You'll save time and the headache of tracking down wrapping supplies last-minute.

    25. Shop and pack for the honeymoon.

    Check out our master packing list.

    26. Prepare your wedding toast or thank-yous to family and friends.

  6. 5 Days...

    Bride and groom ceremony exit
    The Schultzes

    27. Create a day-of schedule and contact list for parents, bridal party and vendors.

    Your Aunt Judy shouldn't be calling you for directions on the day of—make sure everyone has a key player to go to for any questions. 

    28. Apply for your marriage license together. You usually can't do this until a few days before the wedding anyway.
    Go online to find out what the cost and process is. Typically you'll have to pay a fee for a marriage license and apply in person at your local county clerk's office or courthouse.

    29. Put together an overnight bag for the wedding night.

    Don't forget a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, regular toiletries, medications, any special lingerie, a change of clothes for the morning, cell phone chargers and other basic items you’ll need.

    30. Put final payments and cash tips for vendors in envelopes and give to a friend to distribute.

    Trust us—you don't want people looking for you to give them their payment while you're in the midst of celebrating. 

    Get married!

    See? We told you it was possible: Thanks to this simple wedding checklist, you know how to plan a wedding in three months. Happy planning!

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