How to Get Married in a Hurry

On your mark, get set, go!

amanda patrick wedding toss
Photo: Lauren Fair Photography

Not everyone has a year to devote to planning a wedding. Even if you do, not everyone wants to spend that long worrying about all of the little details. Maybe the bride or groom is being deployed soon, or a couple wants a gravely ill family member to witness their union, or they're simply eager to start married life. In short, there's nothing wrong with planning your nuptials quickly.

Whether you have two weeks or two months to spend putting together your day, getting married on the quick can have just as many meaningful moments as a traditionally planned ceremony, as long as you're flexible. Here's how to get married fast if time is at a premium.

Come Up With a Budget

All your choices, from what you'll wear to the kind of meal you'll serve, will be based on how much you have to spend. An effective way to keep costs low is to have a small guest list, which is also a good idea when you have limited planning time.

Plan the Ceremony and Reception

Consider having them in the same place. That way, you'll only be dealing with one venue and one event planner, which will be far more efficient. Look into any wedding packages a venue offers—if they've already assembled a ceremony musician, photo booth, and bridal bouquet, for example, you can cross those off your to-do list. And since Saturday-night receptions at popular event spaces, including hotel ballrooms, were likely booked months ago, consider a Friday night or Sunday afternoon wedding. Rates may be lower, too. Or look into restaurants with party rooms.

Find an Officiant

Do this as soon as you have a date nailed down. You can go the traditional route with a clergy member, judge, or county clerk, or ask a close friend or relative to be ordained or deputized online to officiate at your wedding.

Send Invitations and Create a Wedding Website

You could have customized invitations in the mail within a week. Online stationers let you choose a theme, color, and font, then print the invites with your specific wedding details, which takes only two or three days. If there's no time for that, call or email each person on your guest list. Ask for a swift answer—people tend to be pokey when it comes to RSVPing, so try to get an answer on the spot. You should also share the link to your wedding website since it will be the easiest way for guests to stay in the loop. Rather than designing one from scratch, go with a pre-built option and keep adding more information as time goes by. When you register for gifts, include links to stores.

Form a Bridal Party

This is up to you to have one or not. (All you need to get married is a witness—bridesmaids and groomsmen are optional.) If you do want attendants, limit them to one or two for each of you—the fewer people you have to keep track of, the more time you'll save.

Figure Out What You'll Wear

Your best bet is finding an off-the-rack dress at a department store or a sample sale dress at a bridal salon. Avoid buying anything that would require major alterations, which may take too much time. Your groom can rent a tuxedo or suit, or wear one he already owns that's in good condition.

Book a Photographer, Musicians, Florist, and Cake Baker

If your top picks are booked, ask for a recommendation for another photographer. Be sure to check out his wedding portfolio before signing a contract. Do the same for the other vendors.

Order the Rings

If there's no time for engraving before the wedding, do it after the honeymoon.

Apply for a Marriage License

A few states have a waiting period between when you apply for a license and when it's issued; in Minnesota, for example, there's a five-day wait. Check with the county clerk's office in the state where you're planning to wed. In most states, you have 60 to 90 days to complete a ceremony using that particular marriage license.

Verify All Details With Vendors

Do this a week before the wedding as well as the day before. Confirm all dates, delivery times, locations, payments, and point person's name and cell phone number. Double-check that they have your cell phone number.

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