You’ll have to make decisions quickly, so set realistic expectations (Picture: Getty)
Wedding planner and venue owner Alison Rios McCrone helps solve your dilemmas, no matter how big or small, in a weekly agony aunt column.
My partner and I got engaged on New Year’s Eve and I’ve jumped head-first into wedding planning.
We’ve had a dream venue for a long time, and last weekend, we went and had a look.
It really does have everything I want in a wedding venue: a historic reception area, beautiful fields for photography, a space to get married outside and a courtyard for food vendors.
But there’s a catch – it does not have much availability for this year or early 2025, except for one weekend – in 12 weeks time.
Is it possible to turn around a wedding in this period? Ideally, I’d like to have eight months or so, but do you think I could make it work?
What kind of sacrifices would it involve from me and my partner? Do you think we can have our dream wedding?
My parents think we’d be mad to book the date, but I honestly don’t want to wait over a year for another slot.
Do you have a wedding problem you need some advice on?
Weddings are joyful occasions – but they’re also incredibly stressful. Whether you’re a bride or groom, best woman or man, family member or friend of the couple, the run up to the big day can be very tense.
If you need a bit of help with your quandary, Alison, who has run a venue for 10 years and helps couples plan weddings, is here to offer a helping hand.
Email [email protected] to share your issue anonymously with Alison and get it solved.
Thanks for writing in with your dilemma.
Organising a wedding in a short timescale can feel overwhelming, yet it is possible to get it done.
I planned my own in 12 weeks several years ago, and if I could turn back time, I would do it the same way again!
We wanted to get married that year and I had a business trip planned where I would be overseas – so we had to make it happen.
I had a few challenges as my fiancé, now husband, needed a visa to be married in the UK, so he was not available to help until he arrived in the UK two weeks or so before the wedding.
I had never considered getting married, so I had to start from scratch to find a venue, suppliers, and outfits.
And just 10 days before our wedding, a problem came up at our venue, so we had to find an alternative place to host our celebrations, which we did.
I was lucky to secure an award-winning wedding photographer, and a venue for great photographs; they provided the catering, the local florist provided the flowers, and a family friend – who happened to be a professional baker – made the cake.
It was my dream wedding, although we had to change a few things to make it work.
But that didn’t matter because it was more important for me to be married, celebrate our love with friends and family, and live together as a couple, than it was for everything to be perfect.
Ultimately, the decision of when to go ahead is yours and your partner’s (Picture: AKP Branding Stories)
It was intense planning in such a short timescale, but I was lucky that someone close to me wanted to be my wedding planner. As my time was limited due to work, she was a great support and helped make it happen.
Friends and relatives helped with things like making our own stationery and favour boxes. I would not have been able to do it without them.
Over the last 11 years at our wedding venue, we have seen several couples do the same thing, all for various reasons.
Some due to terminal illnesses of close relatives, availability of loved ones living overseas, our venue not having availability for future dates, family members about to have major operations or medical treatment, the couple relocating overseas for work soon after.
The main challenges couples face are pulling all the details together to make the wedding happen.
It takes a lot of work, but with help and support it is definitely possible.
The first step is to prioritise what matters most to both you and your partner. Take some time to weigh up your options and discuss them. Is the venue truly the critical factor, or are there other non-negotiable elements of your wedding that you must have?
Inevitably, some important guests may be unable to attend due to prior commitments, especially as your wedding will be around the Easter holidays – this is sad and I know it can be a deal-breaker for some couples.
However, it can be difficult to find an available and convenient date at a popular wedding venue, so if you have found an opportunity and it is really your dream location, consider everything you need to do to make your wedding happen in a short timescale.
You must be willing to compromise on details or be flexible with your preferences. You’ll have to make decisions quickly, so set realistic expectations.
Firstly, look at your budget. You may need help with money – could this come from loans, or can you make credit card payments? Can you ask for contributions from parents and family members? Remember not to overstretch yourselves trying to make it happen.
Planning now means you can take advantage of winter sales, which is a good time to source everything you need for your special day (I managed to buy all my bridesmaids’ dresses in sales).
Consider making your wedding as digital as possible, including building a website that informs the guests of all the details, email invitations, and setting up WhatsApp groups to provide and obtain information as needed.
This will save valuable time and the more DIY involved in a wedding, the less expensive it will become. Alternatively, consider hiring a wedding planner who could provide valuable insights and free up your time with the organising elements, allowing you to enjoy other celebrations in the build-up to the wedding.
When it comes to your wedding dress, look for companies with shorter lead times than normal and for budget-saving options. Also, think about charity shops and second-hand or wedding resale sites.
Bridal shops may have sample dresses that they will sell occasionally, or you could find an off-the-shelf dress that fits perfectly so you won’t have to set aside extra time for alterations. A skilled dressmaker could also make your perfect dress in the allotted time.
You may find you have to compromise on your first choice of suppliers, such as caterers, florists and photographers, as they may already be booked – but there will be others if you are willing to do some looking.
Importantly, you will have to have your paperwork ready to submit to the Registrar’s office as you must submit 29 days before the wedding, and finding birth certificates and other information can be time-consuming.
Your parents’ concerns about a tight schedule are valid and come from a place of care. They may be worried about the stress and pressure of a shorter planning timescale.
It is thoughtful to consider their advice, but stay true to your vision and remember that they may also be able to help. Ask your wedding party, friends, and family to assist with tasks and delegate as much as you and they feel comfortable organising.
Ultimately, the decision of when to go ahead is yours and your partner’s. Does the possibility of having your wedding in 12 weeks, at your dream venue, fill you both with joy and determination – or does it feel overwhelming?
The most crucial aspect of your wedding day is celebrating your love and commitment, surrounded by those who matter most to you.
Wishing you both a beautiful wedding day, whenever it happens.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Share your views in the comments below.
The first step is to prioritise what matters most to both you and your partner.