In early 1994, Ed and LeAnn were only a new couple learning what life together would be like. Marriage was barely a thought between the two when LeAnn’s mother Verna broke the news that she would be leaving to serve a LDS mission in South Carolina for 18 months. Verna was assigned to report in just three weeks’ time from when she opened her call.
LeAnn’s father had passed away the previous year, and in that moment, it was clear to her what needed to be done. “If we’re going to get married,” she said, “we have to do it before she leaves. I’m not getting married without either of my parents.”
At 37 years old, this was LeAnn’s first marriage – and she didn’t want to wait any longer. This was Ed’s second marriage, and even with his own children to consider, he agreed that it was the right step to take. So, even with all the rush and limitations, Ed and LeAnn were married three weeks later on February 26th.
LeAnn is a wedding cake decorator by trade, so she did the cake and other desserts herself. She chose to wear a white Sunday dress as opposed to a formal gown at such short notice. The reception was held in the church cultural hall, free of cost.
It was a small event. Because of the short notice, Ed’s brothers from out-of-state were not able to attend, but the small guest list made the wedding feel intimate and personal. It wasn’t easy for many reasons, but the couple were happy to be able to start their life together as soon as possible.
Many brides and grooms choose to have a short engagement for reasons such as this. Maybe family circumstances require a closer date. Sometimes it’s a voluntary choice – why wait to start the rest of your life with someone when you’ve already committed to it?
According to the Wedding Paper Divas blog, only 4% of couples surveyed were married in 6 months or less from when they first got engaged. It may seem that a whirl-wind engagement is stressful, which it can be, but it also can be a blessing in disguise. For Elizabeth at Teaching Sam and Scout it was good because it gave “instant gratification” to the planning process. If planning gets stressful, it at least will be brief, instead of drawn out over 13 months (the American average for engagements). Elizabeth also adds that having fewer options makes the decision-making of planning easier, and helped to keep the process moving quickly.
So if you are planning or hope for a short engagement, you may need some advice to prepare yourself for the challenge. Here are some ideas to consider:
8 Tips for A Short Engagement
- Keep it Simple. As my college journalism teacher always says, “Cut the fat, leave the meat.” When it comes to weddings, there is often a lot of “fat” – unnecessary details that are included out of whim or obligation. Consider what’s really important. This may mean cutting your guest list to a far fewer number than you may have dreamed of. Things like favors often are wasted, and can suck away your time and money. Remember that simple is beautiful. Like Seriously Sarah says, “you aren’t going to remember the little details. Your guests might comment on how cute they are, but no one will care.” Consider what’s going to really be memorable about your day.
- Keep a Short List of Alternatives. With various vendors to schedule, you’ll have to make the calls and check availability. An idea to try may be to keep a sticky note or list with 2-4 options of a certain vendor (i.e. venue, photographer, etc.) on a board or your notebook, and to eliminate the options you’ve researched until you find one of these alternatives that can work with your timeline.
- Be Decisive. Wedding Wire suggests that, “with a shorter engagement, you won’t have as much time to make decisions. So when it comes to planning your wedding, be quick and decisive, and don’t sweat the small stuff. And once you’ve selected your color scheme, your attire, your flowers, your menu, or anything else, own your decision and stick with it.”
- Contact Your Guests ASAP. With a shorter timeline, its even more crucial to communicate with those who will be attending. Send announcements as soon as possible and take advantage of a wedding website that you can utilize in communicating all the details of the event with your guests. One platform for a wedding website that I recommend would be Joy, because it is free, available online and mobile, and is one of the most user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing platforms to communicate all the necessary details.
- Stay Organized. With everything to think about and not much time to think about it, it’s even more crucial to keep a planner with all the details of vendors, budget, guest list, etc. It will aid the efficiency of your projects if you keep them organized on a timeline and in a certain place.
- Get Help. Consider hiring a wedding planner who is more experienced with the process of planning if it seems like a daunting task. But Wedding Wire also suggests, “Hiring a planner is a major plus, but don’t forget about your family members and friends when it comes to providing assistance. Whether it’s having your mom research florists or one of your bridesmaids stuff invitation envelopes, your nearest and dearest love you and want to assist in any way that they can! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate, delegate, delegate!”
- Be Flexible. With a short engagement, things may not go exactly according to your vision. You may have to compromise the date, the vendors, or anything else based on their availability. That’s a reality that some brides struggle to accept if they’ve always had a very specific vision. If this is the case, you may need to reconsider a short engagement.
- Prioritize. Brides worked with Julie Savage Parekh, founder and creative director of Strawberry Milk Events, who said, “‘Start with the big items first— save the little items and details until last,’ … That means venue, food, and photographer come before those cute DIY table numbers and monogrammed cocktail napkins. ‘If they don’t get done because you don’t have enough time, it won’t be as big of a deal.'”
Looking back, LeAnn sees many things about her wedding she wishes could have been different; but under the circumstances, she can’t look back in regret, because in the end, she got what she wanted – the man of her dreams. Whether your engagement is brief or drawn-out, consider what your priorities are and make decisions you won’t regret.