How to Plan a Wedding in 30 Days or Less

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We’ve spoken to the experts across all aspects of wedding planning for the lowdown on how to prepare for a short-notice wedding and what it really takes to get married with a quick turnaround. This is how to plan a wedding in 30 days, or less! 

Is it really possible to go from popping the question to saying ‘I do’ in less than a month?  The short answer is, yes! But that doesn’t mean that planning a wedding in 30 days is not without it’s difficulties. Sure, they pull it off in the movies, but in reality a lot of time and effort goes in to planning a wedding.

With the average length of an engagement said to be around 12 to 18 months, 30 days doesn’t exactly leave you much wiggle room. However, recent events have thrown the wedding planning norms into disarray.

The spread of coronavirus and global lockdown measures have meant many couples are postpone weddings, or have resort to cancelling their big day altogether. As a result, dates for the autumn months and summer 2021 are already getting booked up, and quick. Future brides have had to get creative when it comes to rebooking and setting a wedding date.

Continue reading below…

Once the lockdown measures are relaxed, you may find you need to fast-track your wedding planning process for a fast turnaround. Think less shotgun wedding and more starting your new chapter as soon as possible.

How to plan a wedding in 30 days or less

We’ve consulted experts from all different aspects of the wedding planning process to give you some top tips for getting married with a quick turn-around. From the cake to booking your venue, here’s everything you need to know about planning a short-notice wedding.

Know when to give notice for marriage

First things first, if you’re planning a civil ceremony as your legal marriage, you will need to give notice. Both you and your partner will need to complete marriage notice forms. All the relevant documents, declarations and fees will then need to be given to the Registrar of Marriages for the council district where the you intend to legally marry.

The minimum period to give notice for marriage is 28 days before your proposed marriage date.  Only in exceptional circumstances will the Registrar General allow a marriage to take place if less than 28 days’ notice has been given.

However, if you leave things too late, you could be faced with the need to postpone your marriage.

“The alternative is to have a non-legal ceremony conducted by a celebrant and then hold a legal ceremony at another date,” explains Bernadette Chapman of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners.

Plan-wedding-30-days-Katie Ingram Photography
Credit: Katie Ingram Photography

Bring in the professionals

Planning a wedding in 30 days? You need professional help… and by that we mean an experienced wedding planner.

“Consider hiring a wedding planner who will already have that little black book of contacts and, as such, can organise a wedding very swiftly with you,” adds Bernadette. “The beauty of this is you will be reassured they have already vetted the suppliers on your behalf, they will do all the admin so you can concentrate on the fun planning tasks.”

Go virtual with your supplies

You should also check whether you can hold virtual or digital meetings with your wedding planner and various suppliers.

“Ask if you can do zoom meetings with suppliers to speed up the process, maybe the florist can show you samples of flowers, containers and size of arrangement on video,” Bernadette suggests.

Look for last-minute venue deals

While this strange time has meant desirable dates in the future have already been booked up, it could also mean that more dates will become available at short-notice, once the official lockdown is relaxed.

No-one really knows how long we’ll be in this situation for, and everyone’s health is the main priority, but it is worth regularly checking for last-minute available dates when we’re given the go-ahead.

“Keep an eye out on venue websites to see what last minute deals they have,” explains Bernadette. “Some will have cancellations or the odd date available and as such offer a fantastic whirlwind offer for you.”

You should also be willing to think outside the box and consider and ‘alternative’ wedding venue.

“Choose a venue that is off the beaten track of ‘traditional’ venues,” says Holly Patrick of Heyyholly. “These will [sometimes] have more availability and be more likely to go out of their way to help you get things done beautifully and quickly.”

Holly also suggests splitting the wedding celebrations up: “Why not do the legal bit with a small amount of people a day before then have a big party with friends and family to celebrate somewhere like a beautiful London pub, a Victorian railway arch space, a member’s club like Soho House.

“These invariably charge a minimum spend and minimal (to non-existent) hire fees. So not only does this allow you to be creative with the venue but also with your budget.”

Wedding cake tips for a short-notice wedding

“You may need to limit your ideas a little,” explains Debbie Gillespie from Debbie Gillespie Cake Design.

“Large wedding cakes, especially those with lots of sugar flowers, can take days and even weeks of preparation. Booking in such a tight timescale may leave little time for preparation and also your chosen supplier may have other wedding commitments.”

While no one wants to compromise on their dream wedding, if you’re planning a wedding in 30 days you will need to be realistic with a timescale and try to think logically when it comes to design and size.

Top tip: Break away from tradition. Avoid a specially made fruit cake as these require a minimum of eight weeks to mature properly. But new wedding cake flavours such as red velvet or salted caramel can be whipped up quickly and tase delicious

Get creative with wedding stationery

Your invitations and wedding station can often be sorted with quite a quick turnaround, and is definitely one of the wedding tasks you can still be getting on with while stuck at home.

“Whilst you are in lockdown, you can still be planning your wedding,” says Vaishali Shah of Ananya Cards. “Identify your stationer and they can start working on the designs so that they can be printed as soon as lockdown is over.

“You can use technology such as Zoom to have a consultation. This way you can have either a bespoke or off the shelf design, as printing can be turned around quickly.”

You can also make the most of the all the digital invitation options. These can be designed online and sent out via email, or you could even make a website for guests to directly RSVP to. This can also serve as a great hub for all your wedding details.

Kate Nielen Photography - stationer-short-notice-wedding
Credit: Kate Nielen Photography

“To save time consider emailing and phoning guests to invite them to the wedding, and just follow up with key information once they confirm their attendance,” adds Bernadette Chapman.

Holly Patrick goes one step further and suggests a personalised video: “Why not create a video message for all of your guests and team up with a content creator and brand that you love to help create these?

“You can still provide all the key details in the video description on the platform that you choose or via the video embed email.”

On-the-day wedding stationery can also be turned around within 30 days, but again you need to manage your expectations and think logically about the detail involved.

“Choose a pattern or motif from your stationer’s existing collection of designs to save time and then use this across all your reception stationery, from place cards and menus to table numbers and table plans,” adds Vaishali.

Planning a wedding in 30 days: Catering tips

“Rather than going down the 3-course meal route why not change it up, make it fun and support small business’ too,” Holly Patrick suggests.

“Food trucks or pop-up catering is a great way to bring some cultural queues and can be turned around (literally) fast.”

Wedding cakes for a short-notice wedding

“You may need to limit your ideas a little,” explains Debbie Gillespie from Debbie Gillespie Cake Design.

“Large wedding cakes, especially those with lots of sugar flowers, can take days and even weeks of preparation. Booking in such a tight timescale may leave little time for preparation and also your chosen supplier may have other wedding commitments.”

While no one wants to compromise their dream wedding, if you’re planning a wedding in 30 days you will need to be realistic with a timescale and try to think logically when it comes to design and size.

Top tip: Break away from tradition. Avoid a specially made fruit cake as these require a minimum of eight weeks to mature properly. But new wedding cake flavours such as red velvet or salted caramel can be whipped up quickly and tase delicious.

wedding-cake-planning-wedding-30-days-DisneyBraveWS-214

Short-notice wedding hair and makeup tips

Obviously, if you’re planning a wedding in 30 days or less you may not always have the luxury of knowing exactly the time of year you will be tying the knot in advance. However, if your wedding is in the autumn or winter months – you could be in luck with securing a hair and makeup stylist at the last minute.

“Availability varies from supplier to supplier but overall winter months in the UK are the wedding industries down time or at least slightly quieter resulting in venues offering a reduced fee,” explains Sally-Kate Duboux of Hair by Duboux.

Additionally, you can turn to the DIY method.

“Hairstyling lessons 1-2-1 are increasingly popular for those that have time and budget restraints, these lessons give you skills and confidence to be able to style your own hair for the big day,” Sally-Kate adds.

“Online services are proving extremely popular alongside the how to tutorials during the lockdown period. If time is literally of the essence, why not book the bridal hair stylist for an online lesson, using zoom for video calls can work perfectly within everyone’s schedule.”

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