I have been hired by a number of clients who came to me two months, one month, even three weeks before their wedding, looking for a miracle. There are any number of reasons for their last-minute approaches (and, no, it never has to do with a “shotgun wedding”); certainly the most common are moving, or an illness in the family. In any case, it’s no rarity for some couples to come to me in a panic to plan their wedding, with no time to spare. Just this week, a couple from Ohio reached out to me, asking for their Montreal-destination wedding to happen in seven weeks.
Panic? Nope. Stress? Nope. I have it under control. And if you need to plan a last-minute wedding, follow my advice and you will be excited and not freaked out.
Before I start, let me warn you that wedding vendors may try to convince you that you have no choice but to pay more, because of the urgency of the scheduling. Untrue! If they do say this, keep your cool and remember that they want your business and will negotiate within reason.
The Last-Minute Wedding Venue
Churches and reception venues are typically booked up to one full year in advance, so expect that this venue search may pose a challenge (if not, you’re lucky!). If you end up exhausting all options, get creative and secure a non-traditional (but still cool) venue: a friend’s huge house; a gorgeous park; a romantic wharf; an architectural library. Not just different and interesting, these venues are wallet-friendly as well!
The Last-Minute Wedding Dress
Of course, your dress is one of the most important first things to consider as well. Forget designer gowns that will require several fittings, and head straight to the dress rack. A very popular off-the-rack wedding dress supplier is David’s Bridal. Wherever you choose, while you’re there, pick out your bridesmaids’ dresses and leave with everything on the spot (or within a day or so of quick adjustments).
The Last-Minute Wedding Officiant
You will need someone to perform the wedding service, which is often difficult on short notice. Consider hiring an officiant. Some provinces and American states allow people to get certification online (just think… you can have your dearest and oldest friend or a close relative perform the service!).
The Last-Minute Wedding Invitations
Last-minute wedding? Get the word out right away! I always recommend invitations be sent out eight weeks prior to local guests, 10 weeks to guests in the U.S. and at least 12 weeks for those overseas. Some clients have opted for evites and this reduces costs to almost zero and speeds up the RSVP process; however, I always advise brides and grooms to keep in mind that not everyone is online, even in this day and age. So, if you choose to be traditional and send out invitations, forget meeting with a designer to prepare custom invitations and purchase them online instead (saves you money, too). Online vendors provide quick digital samples for you to view, after you have customized your invitation via their site’s software; they can also ship to you in days or even overnight (with paid express shipping).
The Last-Minute Wedding Flowers
Every wedding needs flowers. If you find a florist that can book your wedding and promise you flowers at the last minute, great! Still, beware of the extra costs that may be applied for the rush orders and speak with your florist about what is in season and readily available, to cut on unnecessary costs. If you want to really save on cost, round up some help from your wedding party and fill up mason jars or other clear containers with stemmed flowers, decorate with ribbon, paper or personalized labels, and there you go: different, unique centerpieces. For your bouquet, a hand-tied bouquet with fabulous thick satin ribbon easily does the trick.
So, if you do find yourself in this kind of last-minute situation, just remember: don’t panic! Simply prioritize and know what you want — and refuse to accept the idea that you don’t have options. There is always a way, and even if you find you have to leave the traditional route, you can still have the most amazing, refreshing and unique wedding!