couple outside city hall
Little But Fierce Photography

While the average couple takes 14 months to plan their wedding, some couples are on a much shorter timeline. There are many reasons why a couple would need to think about how to plan a wedding in 30 days, whether it’s a pending military deployment, work schedules, or just wanting to say “I do,” like, yesterday. Turns out it’s totally possible to plan a wedding in a month or less—you just have to act quickly, keep things as simple and small as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. A short engagement can be super-romantic and fun (and very easy on your budget!)—you won’t have time to stress out, so you’ll be able to just enjoy the process!

Without further ado, here’s how to plan a wedding in 30 days.

Are you eloping?

If marrying in a secret, private ceremony sounds totally romantic to you and your partner, then eloping might be your best bet. Elopements usually take place quite suddenly, with no invited guests, and can be planned very quickly. You’ll first step is to decide if you and your partner want to elope or if you want to host an actual wedding with guests on a short timeline.

Are you okay with missing out certain traditions?

Yes, there are certain advantages to planning a wedding in 30 days or less, but it also means you won’t have time to enjoy certain wedding traditions, like having a wedding party, attending a shower or bachelor or bachelorette party in your honor, setting up a registry, shopping for attire at a traditional bridal salon, and more. If you’re okay with going this nontraditional route and skipping these traditions, a super-short timeline is probably the right move.

Create a budget.

When you’re planning a wedding on a tight timeline, it can be very easy to overspend. If you’re paying for your wedding yourself, you and your partner will need to decide how much you can spend on your big day. Because time is of the essence, you’ll likely be paying for most of your wedding upfront and within a short period of time, so only set aside money for your wedding that you have right now. If your parents or other loved ones are contributing, be sure to have discussions regarding how much they’re contributing ASAP.

Read up on your state’s marriage laws.

Before officially setting a date for your wedding, you’ll want to learn more about your state’s marriage laws. Your best bet for planning a wedding on a super-short timeline is to have your ceremony at your local city hall or courthouse, followed by a casual reception nearby. But to do this you’ll need to know if you can just walk in to city hall and get married the same day, if there’s a waiting period, if you’ll have to reserve a space at the government building in advance, etc.—it all depends on the state where you’re marrying. Doing this research as one of your first steps will save you stress and surprises later on.

Set a date.

Most government buildings are only open during the week, so if you’re planning a city hall wedding, you and your loved ones will likely have to take the day off work and get married on a weekday. This can actually be a blessing in disguise for those thinking about how to plan a wedding in 30 days or less. Most venues and vendors are booked far in advance on weekends, so the few vendors you need will likely be available on a weekday.  

Not eloping? Reach out to your nearest and dearest.

If you’re figuring out how to plan a wedding in 30 days, you’ll have to keep your guest list small and you likely won’t have time to send out formal save-the-dates or invitations. Reach out to your closet loved ones (like your immediate family and best friends) and find out if they’re available on your desired date. With such a short timeframe, it’s likely that certain loved ones won’t be able to attend—and you have to be okay with that. As long as your VIPs (like your parents, for example), will be able to attend, you should move forward with your desired date. You can always host an informal celebration of your marriage with a bigger guest list at a later date, if desired.

couple outside subway station in nyc
Sascha Reinking Photography

Find an all-inclusive venue.

Couples planning a wedding in a month or less will likely go the city hall ceremony route, which may or may not require advance booking. After your ceremony, you, your new spouse, and your loved ones will likely be in a celebratory mood—so instead of trying to plan a formal wedding reception, opt for a reservation at a nearby restaurant. Many city hall weddings take place on weekday mornings, when the government building first opens, so call a few area restaurants to see if they can handle a larger party for lunch or brunch. You might also opt to exchange your vows privately, followed by dinner reservations with loved ones that evening. Because restaurants are usually all-inclusive—your menu and décor will be taken care of, they’re a good bet for these types of last-minute weddings.

Hire your vendors.

Hosting a city hall ceremony followed by a celebratory meal means you won’t have to hire a lot of vendors—but there are still a few you’ll want to book. Your officiant will likely be provided by city hall, so you won't have to worry about that aspect of planning. It’s a good idea to have a professional wedding photographer on hand to capture the moment, and you might enlist a florist to create a bouquet and/or boutonniere to add a festive touch to your wedding-day look. You might also want to hire a professional hair stylist and/or makeup artist (or visit your favorite salon!) to ensure you look your best on this special day.

Shop for off-the-rack attire.

When it comes to finding attire for your wedding, you’ll have to be creative. If you have your heart set on wearing a traditional wedding dress, you might be able to find a sample gown from a bridal salon and have it tailored in time for your big day—but the timing will probably be really tight. Alternatively, consider purchasing a short white dress or gown at a department store like Nordstrom or online retailer like Net-a-Porter, or even renting attire from websites like Rent the Runway. For those wearing a suit, a department store or suit shop with in-house tailoring is your best bet.

Buy your rings.

Head to a local jeweler to purchase wedding bands. You’ll want to do this as early on as possible, as it might take a few weeks to get your rings sized. Another option is to order your rings online from a retailer like Blue Nile. There are also a variety of Etsy sellers that create beautiful wedding bands you can purchase on a shorter time frame. You’ll need to get your fingers sized in advanced to ensure the rings you order will fit, though.  

Plan a mini-moon.

If you’re planning a wedding in 30 days, a traditional honeymoon may have to wait. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a special trip to celebrate your new marriage. A weekend getaway at a hotel within driving distance (otherwise known as a mini-moon) is a great option for some much-needed R&R.   

Get married!

It’s time to celebrate! Yes, your planning timeline might have been abbreviated, but that only means you’re able to say “I do” that much quicker. You’re now officially married, and can look forward to a lifetime of happiness.