When Maia James asked her now-husband, Daylon, what he was going to wear during their wedding ceremony, he replied, "That's a game-time decision, babe."
"Game-time" was also when he suggested they decide on the cake, music, and flowers (and Maia swears he was only half kidding). Luckily for Daylon, he was marrying a planner. Still, even Maia wasn't sure if three months was enough time but she had no choice; the due date for the birth of her son was four months out. So Maia was thrilled when her friend Kelly recommended mySomeday, which she had used to complete one of her own goals. With the right tools and a good dose of resourcefulness, Maia planned and pulled off an elegant wedding in just three months.
After interviewing Maia for our Spotlight On section, I started to question the conventional wisdom that couples need at least a year to plan their nuptials. What other type of party -- no matter how momentous the occasion -- requires twelve months of planning? A 100th birthday party? A blowout New Years Eve bash? The Olympics? (Okay, maybe the Olympics.) Maia grew and gave birth to an entire human being in less time! Not to mention the money most couples (or their parents) sink into the blessed event--the bride's bouquet alone can be a four-figure hit, and my lovely wife Elle spent a dizzying amount of money getting her hair dried (fine, "blown out straight," but still.)
I digress. It's not my intention to shatter anyone's dream of a storybook walk down the aisle. My hope is that perhaps Maia's story will inspire someone to stop the insanity. The fact is that you can pull off a fantastic wedding in much less than a year, and without being forced to mortgage the farm to finance it. Here are five tips Maia shared for those struggling to plan their nuptials on an abbreviated timeframe.
1. Do it yourself. Maia had the added challenge of a restricted budget, which she and her fiancee tried to overcome by making the wedding a homemade affair, starting with holding the wedding at Daylon's family home on Long Island. Daylon's family and friends prepared the food, and Maia's mom did the flower arrangements. A friend served as the marriage officiant, and an uncle provided the cocktail hour music. And the direct involvement of all of these people made the wedding much more personal and special.
2. Be flexible. With so much less lead-time (and especially in the current economy), you can really bargain with vendors. Maia was able to get the band she wanted at half-price. The flip side of this is that you have to be flexible; you can't have your heart set on only one florist or caterer or location, because odds are they won't all be available on such short notice.
3. Utilize "the cloud". With so many online resources at our fingertips, it can be tough to know where to begin. Maia found sites like theknot.com helpful in sorting through the massive amount of available information around wedding planning. "What really separated mySomeday from the pack was the community aspect," Maia says. "Having others provide support and guidance was key as we made decisions about music, food, my dress...everything!" Also, don't be afraid to exploit your social networks for volunteers or referrals.
4. Remember what's really important (namely, booze, booze, and more booze). The dirty little secret of all married people is that you don't really have fun at your own wedding -- you're too busy having obligatory conversations. So, focus on what matters most to your guests, and skip or cut down on the rest. Little attention is paid to the favors or the selection of fine tablecloths. However, your guests will certainly remember if they had to pay for their own drinks or if the DJ forced everyone to do the Macarena. The other benefit of free drink: if something goes horribly wrong, many of your guests won't even remember it!
5. Don't settle. Just because you don't have a year to plan doesn't mean your wedding has to have a "thrown together" feel. Maia and Daylon had nearly 150 guests and still managed to include fireworks (again, done by friends), a band, and transportation for all guests to and from their hotels. Prioritize what's most important to you, and enlist friends and family (and mySomeday.com!) to help you pull all the pieces together.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I have to come clean on one point: Maia recently admitted that her wedding cost nearly $40,000. I hope another intrepid Somedayer will tackle "Have a Fabulous Wedding Without Dipping into your 401(k)", but for now, let's try to ensure that the planning doesn't last longer than the marriage!)