Every year, I have three or four couples that book me for a wedding just weeks away, so I know it’s possible and I’m sharing the tips from couples I’ve photographed.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: If your dream wedding is a hundred guests, in a specific venue you’ve loved for years, on a summer Saturday, with a designer dress and a huge bridal party, then you’re unlikely to be able to organise it in six weeks.
It’s likely you’ll need to compromise on some of your wish list, but if you’re prepared to be flexible, and happy to have a smaller or more relaxed day, then it’s very possible to organise a wedding in six weeks.
So, why do couples decide to organise a wedding in such a short space of time? The brides & grooms I’ve photographed had lots of different reasons, but they have included:
Your reasons may be the same or entirely different, but once you’ve decided it’s time to get wed and you’d like it to happen soon, where do you start…
It’s likely you’ll need to be flexible on some things, so you’ll need to decide on any deal-breakers. For example, if you have a particular venue in mind, but can be flexible on a date, then you’re more likely to be able to book your chosen venue on a mid-week day. Conversely, you may want to marry on a weekend, but happy to book any venue that has availability. Are you happy if people can't make your date, or are there key people you want to ensure are available? Which brings me nicely onto...
The majority of short-notice weddings that I’ve photographed have had fewer than thirty guests. In some cases, it's just a handful of close friends and immediate family. Before you decide on a date, check that everyone you would really like there is available in the weeks you’re looking at, and any dates that they definitely can’t do.
It’s also worth considering at this point whether you want a bridal party. Most weddings I’ve photographed that have been organised quickly, either forego a bridal party, or have one best man and one bridesmaid. Keep it simple by asking them to choose a favourite outfit to wear, rather than sorting bridesmaid dresses and suits.
First you’ll need to decide if you’d like a religious ceremony or civil wedding. For a religious wedding, you should contact the church or religious venue you attend and find out their requirements for giving notice.
For a civil ceremony, you must give notice 28 days before the date you intend to marry. Your notice must be given at the Register Office for the area in which you have lived for the last seven days.
Once you’ve given notice, you’ll need to check availability of the church or registrars for the area in which you wish to hold your ceremony. If you plan to have a civil ceremony at a licensed venue, then you’ll need to check the venue availability and co-ordinate it with that of the registrars.
As a Windsor wedding photographer, many of the weddings I photograph are in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. A list of licensed venues in RBWM can be found on the council website.
Decide if you would like a formal wedding breakfast after the ceremony (should you choose a licensed venue they may be able to provide options for this) or a simple meal at a favourite restaurant. Again, you’ll need to co-ordinate availability for your chosen date.
Once you’ve got a date and a venue, be sure to let your guests know! Save time by sending out electronic invites - there are lots of fab free templates available on Canva.
Organising a wedding at short notice may mean it is smaller and/or more simple. As such, some couples decide they don’t need flowers or a cake. You may get married in your favourite dress or suit, rather than hiring or buying an outfit specific for the day. This list is a starting point of things you may want to book for your special day, but equally may decide you don’t need.
|Wedding dress||With six weeks to plan, it's too late to order a designer wedding dress; however, if you'd like a traditional dress, it's worth contacting wedding dress shops to see if they have any samples on sale. Some high street shops, such as H&M, now sell wedding dresses. Alternatively, it's a great excuse to buy a gorgeous off-the-peg party dress!|
|Suit||Consider whether you need a suit and if you have one already you'd like to wear. Again, a nice excuse to go shopping if you'd like a new one.|
|Hair and make-up||With a small wedding, you may be content doing your own hair and make-up, but it's worth considering what you'd prefer. If you do decide to book a make-up artist, find out if you have time for a trial, and if not, ensure they clearly understand what you'd like.|
|Transport||Unless you're staying at, getting married and celebrating all in one venue, it's likely you'll need to consider transport to and from your ceremony. This may be as simple as a local taxi firm - let them know it's your wedding day as they'll be sure to send their best cars.|
|Florist||Flowers can be kept minimal, or become a huge part of your day: From a simple bouquet for the bride, and buttonhole for the groom, through buttonholes/corsages for key guests, to flowers to decorate your venue - consider what you'd like and what's important for you.|
|Cake||Again, there's a whole spectrum for cakes - you can order one from M&S (I've tried them and they're good!), or you may want a cake-maker to make one for you (you'll need to call a few to find out what's possible in the time you have) or perhaps no cake at all, or asking the venue for your meal whether they can supply something.|
|Photographer||Obviously, I think this one is really important! However, small or simple, this is your wedding day and you'll want to remember it forever. I offer smaller packages for weddings that are booked at short notice or on off-peak dates; starting from £445 for an hour’s photography including all your digital images, a set of prints and credit towards an album. If you’d like to find out more please contact me.|
|Accommodation||If you're marrying locally and all your guests are local, then this may not be a consideration for you. Equally, you may have space to accomodate anyone that needs a bed for the night, or may finish early enough for people to drive home. It's something to think about and you may wish to contact local hotels to see if you can block-book rooms if you need to.|
|Evening entertainment||More than half of the small weddings I photograph, follow their ceremony with a nice meal in a favourite restaurant. As such, evening entertainment may not be something you'll need, or you may be happy heading out for a drink after. If you have a bigger guest list and plan to party into the evening, then you may need to book a DJ.|
Depending on your reasons for getting married quickly, you may decide to have a very small affair now and celebrate more later. There are a few things that can be left to a later date, to save you time now:
Whatever your reasons for deciding to get married quickly, this should give you a good starting point of what you need to consider to get it organised. Once these decisions are made, there are lots of smaller details you may wish to consider (readings, orders of service, etc), but you’ll be well on the way to getting sorted.
Please do get in contact if I can share any more experience to help with planning your day, or if you'd like to discuss my smaller wedding packages for mid-week, off-peak and short-notice weddings.
Congratulations on your engagement and good luck planning your day!