Almost all the guides out there start the countdown at 12 months. A couple will go so far as to mention 18 months out, but itâ€™s pretty rare. So, if youâ€™re settling in for a nice long engagement (18 months, 2 years, maybe 5 if youâ€™re wanting to walk across that stage and get your PhD before walking down the aisle to get your MRS), can you really start planning that far out?
Yes and No
Yes, absolutely, you can start making lists and pulling together inspiration and maybe use this extended time frame to adopt some healthy habits or ditch some unhealthy ones, all in preparation for starting the next chapter of your life. Go for it!
But can you put down deposits and buy a dress 3 years out? You could, but Iâ€™d advise against it.
Things change over time–styles change, wants changes, trends come in and out of fashion–and putting down dollars sets things in stone. Or at least risks cancellation fees. Iâ€™m not overly worried about a trend going out of favor but still wanting to use it 2 years from now, but it’s worth a thought that a location you scout and reserve today might not even be in business 2 years from now! And with the economy still taking its time to bounce back, so many places close up shop or get new owners, itâ€™s just not smart to pin your hopes on location A or Dress Z with so much lead time involved.
So what do you do in the mean time?
But, wait, you just said we canâ€™t plan because what it someone closes or someone else comes up with an idea we want to do instead and might have wasted our moneyandohmygodijustdonâ€™tknowwhattothinkanymorewhereâ€™sthechocolate?!
Shhh, shhh, there there now, itâ€™s okay. I didnâ€™t mean to confuse you.
The difference, to me at least, is that planning is dreaming and list-making and researching. The other stuff? The paying of deposits and signing of contracts? Thatâ€™s the execution phase–aka the getting things done time.
I once read that planning a wedding of any scale or scope takes, on average, 20 hours a week during the first few months and then another 20-40 in the weeks closer to the actual event. Thatâ€™s like a second job–no wonder you need a honeymoon afterwards!
But think about it: would you really want planning a wedding to be like ordering a fast food meal?
â€œYes, Iâ€™ll take Rustic Wedding Combo 2, upsized, with a side of Cupcake in a Jar favors.â€
â€œThatâ€™ll be $12,000, please pull up to the first window.â€
If so? Head to Vegas, mâ€™dear, where they really do have drive-thru chapels (though I canâ€™t guarantee the cupcake favors).
For the rest of us, planning is the fun part, but itâ€™s still a lot of work. And, if youâ€™ve got the luxury of a long engagement, you can spread out those 20 hours/week into 2-3 hours per week for the next year without hitting overwhelm or running out of time.
Now, me, personally? Iâ€™m a dive in head first kinda girl and limiting myself to 2.5 hours of planning/research a week would be torture. I just love it too much to not think about it during every 3rd available moment. So thatâ€™s when scenarios and what-ifs come into play, so I can feel like Iâ€™m getting something done without actually committing too soon.
Of course, if you’ve been following along, you know we went ahead and booked our venue at 19 months out. Did some of those what-ifs cross my mind? Absolutely and then some! But, for me, the stress of not being able to make real plans and the limbo feeling we were in far outweighed the what-ifs.
Just make sure everything you talked about with your venue is in the contract and keep that contract in a safe place. If there’s a staff or policy change between now and then, verbal agreements aren’t going to hold up the way that contract will!
How far out did you start to put down deposits and made contract decisions?