A Short Engagement: How to Plan

Do you want a short engagement?  The below list is not an exhaustive list of short engagement tips, but they are 10 important tips, I think. I know that a lot of people want long engagements, or the timing isn’t right to get married quickly. That’s the beauty of relationships–every single one is different!

short engagement

The Knot’s website would lead you to believe that everyone is engaged for a year or more. All of the wedding checklists that I looked at estimated planning time and work that could be so intricate that you would need a whole separate planner, from your daily planner. As I Googled for information on short engagements, there was little information to be found, sadly.

When Brian proposed last fall, we knew that we wanted a short engagement. Not only did my health not allow for tons of wedding planning–I simply couldn’t drive to and from venue to venue and make decisions. An elopement was talked about, but we really wanted our families to be a part of the special day.

short engagement


10 Tips For a Short Engagement:

  1. Remember that you’re planning a marriage, not just a wedding. No matter what your wedding ceremony and reception look like, in 10 years, your marriage will not be affected by it.
  2. Find an officiant. Make sure that you know all the requirements for marriage and schedule your counseling sessions and meetings. A short engagement can put a time constraint on fitting in the sessions (we needed 6), so we had to make sure to have them all prescheduled.
  3. Pick a venue. You can look at tons of them, but a little internet research should narrow it down for you. Your short engagement will mean that you should only look at the venues in your price range that are available on the dates that you are thinking about. You may need to be flexible with your date. Remember, too, that a lot of specialized venues will either overcharge for food or require you to obtain an ABC license. If you are going to need an ABC license, start that process immediately.
    Talk to friends and family about using any land or buildings that they already have available. In my case, my parents’ house was the perfect place for a reception. I’ve had other friends who were able to use lake front land that belonged to family friends or even their relative’s backyards.
  4. Set the guest list. It’s your wedding. Talk to your respective families about how many family members need to be included. From there, you and your fiance will need to fill in the rest of the list. Do it quickly because you won’t need to bother with Save the Dates.
  5. Set up a wedding website. Since you won’t be doing Save the Dates, having a website is essential. In fact, we sent out the website ahead of time, once we finalized the guest list. We still had people RSVP through the mail, but all the relevant information was on the site.
  6. Find a dress. I found a great place in Charlotte where the salespeople don’t work on commission. I went in with an idea of the type of dress that I wanted, but told them not to show me anything that couldn’t be ready by my wedding date. I ended up placing an order for my dream dress, but had a back up in case they couldn’t get that one in time.
  7. Skip the non-essentials. I didn’t have a bridal shower. My bachelorette party was at Wine & Design. My husband didn’t have a bachelor party. We didn’t take engagement photos, and I didn’t do bridal portraits. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Instead, I feel like I gained a lot more by preparing for our marriage through counseling and reading books, plus spending time with my husband-to-be.
  8. Research, research, research. I did a ton of research from the comfort of my own recliner. You can use lists from The Knot to remember what you’ll need, like a photographer, caterer, etc. The best parts of our wedding came from referrals from friends. We worked with the best photographers ever, who were personal friends of a friend.
  9. Keep it Simple. I was blessed to have my mom be able to do most of the planning for me, since I was sick and working. Since it was at her house, she took over decorations. I bought some things on Etsy, but she did a great job making the house look like a dream. We gave her free control over the food. We stipulated BBQ, but other than that, we didn’t care. Instead of going back and forth on menus, cake flavors, and what drinks to serve, we just asked her to make a decision and stick with it. If I had been doing that part of the planning myself, I would have gone with the same approach.
    Also, you aren’t going to remember the little details. Your guests might comment on how cute they are, but no one will care. Seriously. The only little details that I remember are because the photographer captured them in a photo.
  10. Have fun! It might be a short engagement, but you can still enjoy it. As one coworker of mine told me, my wedding day would be the happiest day of my life, until I had children. On the day of the wedding, I barely ate any of the food, enjoyed chatting with my bridesmaids, and of course treasured marrying the love of my life.

Since I didn’t do engagement photos or bridal portraits, my talented husband is going to take bridal portraits for me around the time of our one year anniversary. I’ve lost 30 pounds so far, since the wedding, so we’re just going to clip it in the back. Honestly, I think that I will be much happier with them. Once we’ve finished with the dress, I will be donating it!

Categories: Tips, Wedding |
  • I love these tips and they’re so true! My engagement is short and we absolutely love it that way. I couldn’t imagine talking and planning for longer than we have already – it’s exhausting lol!

    • It is exhausting. I like to make decisions and stick with them. I remember a friend from college once saying that he’d rather die than have a long engagement. When I got engaged, I totally understood haha

  • Great tips, girl!

  • Great tips!! Short engagements are the best.

    • You would know 🙂 Hahaha

  • That’s so fun that you are going to take some pictures in your dress! I didn’t get bridal portraits done either but our photographer allocated a little extra time on the day of the wedding to get some shots of just me before the ceremony. They turned out just like a bridal session and I was very pleased with them. So that’s another option too!

    • I did a few pictures like that beforehand, but I am really unhappy with how I looked because I started a new medication 2 months before the wedding that made me gain a ton of weight, so I kind of want a redo!
      My one regret is having photographers from out of town, so they actually left to shoot another wedding before we left, so we have no exit pictures!

      • How great for a chance to re-do! You are going to look stunning 🙂
        What a bummer about the photographer leaving. I feel your pain to some extent – my husband lost our camera on the second-to-last day of our honeymoon. While the photos weren’t professional quality or anything, they were important to me and it was hard to lose them. But now the honeymoon lives on brightly in my memory. While not having pictures really stinks, I hope that your exit can be a super special moment that you re-live in your mind and cherish as really being ‘in the moment’ at the time!

  • how fun to do your bridals at the first anniversary! 🙂 these are great tips! our engagement was 9 months and it was LONG! i had everything pretty much done in the first month. – luckily because i was out of commission for 2 months due to a surgery. but then it was like we were just waiting months & months for it to get here! short engagements are the way to go!

    • I heard the exact same thing from someone who had a 9 month engagement. He said they got all of the planning done right away, then they just had to sit there and wait!

      • yes! it makes waiting hard!

        p.s. i recognize that waterfall!! 🙂

  • Great tips. I didn’t have a short engagement per se (9 months), but I was out of the country for 6 of those months and unable to do any planning. So while I did all the big stuff before I left (booked a venue, hired photographer, etc), all the “little” things I was able to do in the two months when I was back. I’ve had many friends that have had 1-2 month engagements. It can happen! 🙂

    • Being out of the country would make it hard! I think the advantage of a longer engagement is getting to book the exact venues that you want. I had a friend who knew that she had to book the church at her college a whole year in advance, so they had a one year engagement because the venue was so important to them!

  • Great tips! I’m not engaged yet but I’m sure I will be coming back to this list down the road!

    • Thanks! I liked the short engagement just because we didn’t have any life circumstances that necessitated a longer engagement. In fact, due to my health, a short one was easier!

  • These are some great tips. I am not engaged, not even dating, but will keep this in mind if that time comes.

  • Neatly-Packaged

    Excellent tips! Even with a year wedding planning can get super stressful! Thank you for sharing 🙂


    • Doesn’t it seem like it’s stressful no matter what? I totally see the beauty of the prepackaged elopements. I’m not going to lie. I looked at a lot of them.

  • We got married after 7 months of being engaged and it was the best decision ever–wish it could’ve been shorter! These tips are great.

  • I got married after two months!!! It was the best decision ever! Every time I go to a wedding I think this took HOW long to plan!?

    • Hahaha! That’s awesome! I definitely couldn’t have pulled it off without a ton of help from my mom and her friends, but I am so thankful that they helped us get it planned!

  • I got married 7 months after our engagement and it was awesome! I got really stressed toward the end, though, because I was running behind, but it all came together perfectly!

    • I do think that work schedules and all of that can make it hard to pull off, even in 7 months! I’m glad that it worked out! I think that even without half of the things we had, I would still have thought it was the best day ever.

  • Nina W

    When my boyfriend and I get engaged, we will most definitely be having a short engagement. I’m bookmarking these tips!

    • Yay! I hope you’ll have fun planning it!

  • These are all great tips. My husband and I were engaged for about 6 months, and both out of the country for the last three. I think the most important tip you gave is the first one- you are planning a marriage, not just a wedding. The wedding is the (in my opinion!) least important part of that- you have already met, fell in love, realized you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together, and made the commitment to do so! By far the most important tip. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Samantha! I remember when my college roommate was getting married and we were waiting on the ceremony to begin and she wasn’t nervous at all (it was the first time I’d been with a bride before a wedding). She told me that she wasn’t nervous because she had been committed to her husband-to-be in her heart for a long time already. This was just making it official before God. (They were college sweethearts).

  • Great tips! I’ll becoming back to look at these later. My sister was only engaged for five months, but she still had some of those non-essentials like parties. Of course, the most important thing is the marriage. That’s the whole point, yet people forget. Thanks for the reminders!

    • I do wish that I’d had some more parties, but our wedding was so small (50ish people) with so many out of town guests, that there wasn’t really anything to do!

  • Thanks for sharing your tips! I’ve noticed the same trend, you pretty much have to start planning your wedding a year in advance. However some people have different circumstances and they don’t have an opportunity to plan it out over the course of the year, so it’s good to know that it’s possible to plan a wedding within a few months 🙂

    • Yeah! It definitely takes a lot of help to plan a wedding in a short amount of time, if there is going to be a crowd of people, but I think it was worth it. Actually, those elopement packages that you can get in Savannah look pretty nice, too haha

  • Pingback: Plans For Our Wedding()

  • Pingback: T-Minus 3 Weeks – Mary Ann Kirkpatrick()