This is a question that I get very often and I wanted to address it in this blog series. The shortest answer is the sooner the better. However, to be more helpful here are some fact that you want to consider:
Once the couple gets engaged they can start planning the wedding budget. This should be your first step, and the reason is because your budget will determine what you can afford. Some couples prefer to get married sooner rather than later, and are willing to make sacrifices in their planning to make that happen. Others prefer to wait and save more money to be able to get the wedding or honeymoon of their dreams.
There are couples that are set on a venue or photographer or a specific chef. Most times these are emotional decisions. For example, they might want to get married at the place that they got engaged or the location of the first trip they took together. Or it could be as simple as a fascination with a professional, like a certain photographer or a chef. These preferences might make it necessary to plan far in advance. There are venues that are so popular that they can be booked 2 years in advance for a specific season. Which brings me to my next point.
Many couples are set on the season that they want to get married in. If they are flexible with the other details of the wedding, it is possible to plan a successful wedding in 1 years. However, the more specific the requirements that the couple might have, then more time may be needed.
Sometimes couples choose a wedding date with a deeper meaning such as when they started dating or when they got engaged. For instance, I had a groom whose mother had passed away, and he wanted to honor her by getting married on the same date that his parents got married. What a beautiful tribute, keeping in mind that this type of meaning behind a date could make it more challenging and might require a bit more time for planning.
Usually I would say that 12 to 18 months is ideal. This gives enough time for the couple to figure out the big and important details, and still have time to plan accordingly. The last thing you want is to run out of time to plan. Here is a great example of planning accordingly. Many engagements occur during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and these couples might desire to get married during spring or summer. That means for them, that they might have to wait for 18 months to get married. The venue, I would say, is the biggest reason why couples should plan months in advance. Think of this scenario, you have set your budget and season to start off the planning process. Based on your budget and estimated guest count there are 3 venues that will fit your criteria. At the first one, you are not a huge fan of the location – too far, hard to get to, limited parking or inconvenient for the guests that may want to drink and not have to drive. With the second location, you are not a huge fan because of the many restrictions – maybe they don’t let you bring in an outside catering company, or you must use their rentals. Maybe you are leaning towards the third option, you like the location and the contract is reasonable. However, you decided to get married in the busiest season for this venue and they don’t have your date available. They ask you if you are flexible with the date, and you decide to talk it over with your partner and life happens, you call them after 3 weeks. The next time you call them, they tell you they are all booked up for the season that you wanted, or the photographer you liked is no longer available on that date. Now how do you choose between vendors? This whole headache and unnecessary stress could be avoided if you give yourself enough time for the planning process.
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