Shorter Engagements: Planning Weddings with Less Time

April 8, 2024

< back to blog home

Welcome back loverves! Today, we’re talking about weddings after shorter engagements (when you have less time to plan!). Sometimes you just don’t have 2 years to plan a wedding. Your maternal clock is ticking or you’re in medical school and you just need to get married THIS YEAR. Today we are sharing eight important topics to consider when planning a wedding on a shorter timeline.


wedding planning tips for shorter engagements








Apple Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Spotify  | iHeartRadio

You can also listen on your Alexa-enabled device. Just ask “Alexa, play the Ask the Planner podcast.”


  • First, Set Your Priorities [3:50]
  • Be Intentional With Your Guest List [5:37]
  • Consider Your Wedding Party Size [7:43]
  • Change Up The Roles of Your Wedding Party [10:27]
  • You May Need to Be Flexible With Your Venue [13:09]
  • Your Timeline Can Be More Flexible [15:20]
  • Vendors Might Not Necessarily Be Cheaper [17:02]
  • Consider Live Streaming [19:22]


And if you prefer to read, here's the summary of the podcast episode!

Planning a wedding, no matter how long you have to plan, is a journey filled with decisions, dreams, and let's be honest, a little bit of stress. But here's the good news, by focusing on what truly matters to you and your partner, we are here to help you create a day that reflects your love story in the most beautiful way. So grab a cup of coffee or your favorite tea. Now, let's dive into the heart of planning a wedding with a shorter timeline, and by shorter timeline I'm referring to around five to eight months, maybe even shorter.


First, Set Your Priorities

One piece of advice I always love to share for ANY kind of wedding, big or small, whether you have a longer planning timeline or it’s shorter, you need to set your priorities straight from the get-go. Sit down with your partner and have a heart-to-heart about what you both want. Due to the shorter planning period, you’re going to have to be very intentional with how you spend your time and who you want to be there on your wedding day. 

Knowing your ‘why' will be the guiding star throughout your planning process. It's not just about agreeing on the color scheme or the playlist; it's about aligning your visions for the day. When you both understand and agree on the reasons, it makes every step that follows so much smoother. This is one of the reasons I love the Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist! Find out why it's our best seller here.


Be Intentional With Your Guest List

Diving into the guest list next, I really want to stress that being super intentional can really make your small wedding shine. Every invite matters, and each person you choose to include becomes vital to the experience. Many of our weddings have typically smaller guest lists ranging in size from 120-150, and we love them. 

With a smaller guest list, you're not just inviting people to witness your love; you're inviting them to be a part of the very fabric of your day. These are the folks who will bring the energy, the laughter, and the tears to those moments you'll treasure forever. So, take your time with this. Sit down with your partner and really consider who makes you feel loved, supported, and joyful. These are the people who should be there, sharing in the magic of your day.

Want to cut your guest list without the guilt? Head here next.



Consider Your Wedding Party Size

Opting for smaller wedding parties or even deciding to forgo them entirely is a new trend we’re seeing in the industry regardless of whether you have a longer planning timeline or a shorter one. It's a shift that reflects a move towards more purposeful and intentional celebrations, and it's something to seriously consider, especially if you're planning a wedding in a shorter time period because it’s fewer people to coordinate.

Here's the thing – having just a maid of honor and/or best man, or skipping the wedding party altogether, can create a sense of cohesion and intimacy that reflects the overall vibe of an intentional wedding. It keeps the focus on you guys as the couple and the meaningfulness of the vows being exchanged, rather than spreading the spotlight too thin. 

As wedding planners, we've observed that when couples opt for a smaller wedding party, the whole day feels more relaxed and low-stress. Fewer people are vying for your attention and you don’t feel like you’re herding cats around the property and during photos.


Change Up the Roles of Your Wedding Party

Regardless of the size of your wedding or how long you have to plan, I want to remind you that you have a beautiful opportunity to break away from the conventional roles that add both meaning and a touch of whimsy to your celebration. For example, one of our favorite trends right now is asking grandparents to act as flower girls and ring bearers – aka flower grandmas. But I’ve also seen grown men distribute flowers at the beginning of the processional and grandfathers act as ring bearers. These unique twists can bring a smile to your guests’ faces and also honor the people in your life who matter most. 

You can also consider asking a friend or family member to officiate your wedding ceremony, or act as your emcee instead of the DJ or band, which is typical for Canadian weddings. Don’t be afraid to include more members of your family into unique roles on your wedding day instead of trying to fit them into what has been “traditional” for larger weddings in the past. 

A word of caution: if you tap a friend or family member to officiate or act as your emcee, make sure they’re fit for this role. Make sure they will dedicate the time needed to prepare for it, as well as be professional about it on the wedding day.

I have definitely seen some run-away mic situations and it’s not good, so avoid this at all costs. I recommend putting together a detailed script that you both work on together to ensure they’re comfortable but that there are also no surprises. 

With our couples, we require the officiant script and any speeches be sent to us ahead of time for review and approval. To be honest, I do this for multiple reasons:

  1. I don’t want any embarrassing surprises for the couple
  2. I need to ensure it fits within the time allotted in our schedule or we can adjust for it
  3. We print everything out for them so it’s neat and not on a wrinkled piece of paper they pulled out of their coat pocket which looks terrible in photos.


You May Need to Be Flexible With Your Venue

With a shorter timeline and potentially a smaller guest list, you will likely need to be flexible with your venue options, we touched on this a little bit in episode 136, where we talked about what a luxury micro wedding really costs so head there next to hear us talk about food and beverage minimums and how they can be cost-prohibitive for weddings with smaller guest lists. However, rather than letting this be an obstacle for you, you can also use this to your advantage.

Choosing a unique or unconventional wedding venue can elevate the entire experience. You've got this incredible opportunity to think outside the traditional venue box and select a space that's as special as you guys. Your backyard could be an option, or you can consider renting a home, an estate or a castle. We dive into those options in episode 135 if you want to learn more about them.

The truth is, when it comes to finding the right space, you may need to make some compromises depending on how much time you have to plan and if that falls during a time that’s in high demand for that area. At Verve Event Co we have started working with couples as far out as 24 months before the wedding date before the venues released their calendars. But we’ve also worked with couples with only 6 months to plan a wedding. Both types of weddings turned out beautifully and were exactly what the couple wanted, but with a shorter planning period, you may not be able to find a venue that ticks all the boxes.

Spoiler alert: Even if you have 24 months to plan a wedding, you may still not find a venue that ticks all the boxes for a number of reasons, like budget, or guest count, etc – the key is always to find a venue that ticks the MOST boxes. 



Your Timeline Can Be More Flexible

If you choose an unconventional venue or time for your wedding due to certain constraints, maybe you’re hosting a brunch instead of a traditional dinner or you’re having a wedding on a Sunday instead of a Saturday because that was the only date available. 

Don’t forget your wedding timeline can be flexible. While there are reasons we typically have the ceremony before the reception, whether it’s brunch, lunch, or dinner, feel free to be creative with your day as long as it makes sense logistically and doesn’t make things more challenging for your guests to attend or for your vendors to accomplish. 

However, it’s worth noting that certain choices will require advanced planning. For instance, if you’re dreaming of a charming brunch wedding, the concept itself might lend to a more relaxed timeline, but remember, the setup still requires plenty of time and effort. Early morning light can make for stunning photos, but it might also mean your vendors need to start setting up at the crack of dawn to bring your gorgeous wedding day design to life. This could potentially lead to early setup fees, given the unusual hours. 


Vendors Might Not Necessarily Be Cheaper

When planning a wedding with a shorter planning timeline, or I guess more like a piece of advice, is to keep in mind that, like the venue, you may need to have flexibility in the vendors who you can work with. 

Typically, the best vendors get booked further in advance. However, I also know some vendors, including planners, photographers, and florists, who have a typically higher price point and will get booked further in advance because they’re higher in demand but will also have some last-minute availability because they skew on the higher end and fewer people are able to book their premium pricing.

On the flip side, there are also vendors who charge very little for their work but also have very little experience and have lots of availability. 

This is where enlisting the help of a planner can really be of great value because they will know the difference between a vendor who is experienced and reliable and does a great job but may have a last-minute cancellation versus a person who is a hobbyist and you will basically be a guinea pig for them. 

So what I'm saying is if you are planning a wedding with a shorter timeline, you may not get the first choice or the second choice that you want for the vendors for your wedding day, but do not despair because it is possible. It just depends. So as long as you're flexible, you might be okay. Spoiler alert, I do recommend having a planner if you're doing a shorter planning timeline because it's a lot more stuff to do. 


Consider Live Streaming

When you’re planning a wedding with a shorter planning timeline, sometimes not all your loved ones can make it. One tip I always love to share is considering live-streaming for your celebration. This is a fantastic way to bridge the distance and include those who can’t make the journey, ensuring that no one misses the joy and beauty of your special day.

Technology has this beautiful way of making the world feel a little smaller, bringing your loved ones together, no matter where they are on the globe. And don’t worry, setting it up is often simpler than you might think. Many professional videographers offer live streaming as part of their packages, or you can even set up a high-quality webcam yourself with a little bit of planning.

However, we do recommend having a professional company do this because it is very stressful to do a live stream. As you probably know when you're on a video call and the image and audio isn’t great, imagine dealing with that on your wedding day. So having a professional that's in charge of this is very helpful and important and something that I don't like to leave to just some random person on their cell phone.

Here on the podcast we tested out several live-streaming options with our couples and love the team at LoveStream. If you use them for your wedding, whether it’s local or destination, listeners of our show get an extra 10% off any package. You can use the code Ask10 during checkout to qualify. 





And just like that, loverves, we've wrapped up another episode filled with tips for planning your wedding. From setting your priorities and being intentional with your guest list, to knowing where you’ll need to be flexible or not, we've covered a lot of ground today. 

Before we sign off, I want to thank each and every one of you for joining me today. Your support means the world to me, and I hope that our journey together brings a little more joy and inspiration into your wedding planning process. Whether you're listening in your car, at the gym, or while sharing a quiet moment with your partner, remember that this journey is all about celebrating love in its most authentic form.



If you have any questions, DM me on Instagram at @asktheplannerpodcast, call the wedding planning hotline at 585-210-3467, or drop it in your review on Apple Podcasts.

Plus, don’t forget to check out the Wedding Planning template shop, including my new Wedding Day Master Organizer which includes the same spreadsheets we use in our day-of production books.

And for all my planners out there, check out my new wedding planner coaching service! Whether you’re in the first 1-2 years of your business and you don’t know how to increase your prices, build a team, attract your ideal clients, find your brand’s voice, or you’re a little further in your career and you want to take it to the next level with a digital product, start a podcast, or something else, I would love to help you build the dream wedding business you deserve!

Learn more and schedule a call with me to see if this is what your business needs at verveeventco.com/coach.




wedding planning tips for shorter engagements