Rachel asked me to give you all some advice on having a short engagement so here we go…
First, let me introduce myself and tell you how my wedding came to be. My name is Samantha and my husband proposed to me in Puerto Rico about a year ago. Fast-forward to 5 months later and we were wed on August 31st, 2013 (Labor Day Weekend). Our engagement was short and sweet, maybe hectic at times, but it all came together in the end and as they say, it was the happiest day of my life.
The best way to help anyone out in this same situation, is to give you an idea of the order in which our wedding was planned.
I think that when planning your wedding, the first thing you need to do is book the venue. Once you have your ideal location, you have to work with them to see what dates are available.
My husband and I checked out the ballroom at The Peninsula Hotel and we were hooked. They had a summer date or late November date and we knew we wanted to take advantage of the outdoor patio for the cocktail hour so we went with August.
THE WEDDING PLANNER
Next thing we did was get a wedding planner. My mom suggested using the same one we used for my sister. Done. While a wedding planner is not necessary, they are extremely helpful and come with great suggestions for vendors. There are so many out there (especially in a big city like Chicago) so word of mouth and the wedding planner helped us make our decisions.
SAVE THE DATES & INVITATIONS
If you are having them, send out the save the dates soon. It takes a bit of time to design, approve, create, and mail them. You want everyone to make it to your special day, so they need to know the date. I got those out ASAP with suggested hotels (at varying price points) so out-of-towners could book hotels. My wedding was Labor Day Weekend so we knew it would be busy. Next comes the invitations. Those too took a long time to design and print so it is important to work on them soon.
Side note: This is a good time to get the bridesmaid dresses too. For some odd reason, most take a long time to order and alter, so get on that quickly.
THE FLOWERS, THE BAND, & THE PHOTOGRAPHER
These can be booked in no particular order. I suggest looking at 2-3 for each. For flowers, we met and gave them an idea of what we envisioned and then came back for “the big reveal” where they set up a mock room of what it would look like on your wedding day. For the band, we went to two events and listened to each. Lastly, for the photographer, we looked at their websites to help us decide on one.
After everything was booked, we just had lots and lots of appointments (dress fittings, food tastings, etc). It was definitely a busy summer, but well worth all the planning. Everything turned out perfectly and even though it rained all morning (typical, right?) it stopped for the ceremony, the cocktail hour, and evening.
If you too are planning a wedding in Chicago, here is a list and links to all the vendors I used:
Venue: The Peninsula Hotel
Wedding Dress: Vwidon
Bridesmaid Dresses: Nordstrom Wedding Suite
Flowers: Heffernan Morgan RonsleyDesigns
Invitations: Jane Weber Ink
Band: Indigo (Arlen Music Productions)
Wedding Planner: Weddings Inc. (I used Chuck-Amazing!)
Photographer: Phil Farber