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Is a shorter engagement better for planning a wedding?

My experience with hundreds of weddings leads me to conclude that a shorter engagement is NOT better for planning a wedding!

Are you planning a wedding? Conventional wisdom may have you thinking that a longer engagement means more time, less rush,  and less stress in planning the event. Or you may think that it will allow you plan everything well in advance and then feel relaxed and worry-free for the rest of your engagement.

Sorry, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

It’s just like the adage (Parkinson’s Law) that says work expands to fit the allotted hours for a project. Similarly, when you plan a wedding you’re bombarded with choices. If you’re like most people who are overwhelmed with options, you procrastinate decisions. You might convince yourself you have a lot of time so why not decide later? As a result, you will drag out decisions and create more stress for yourself.

Horstman’s corollary to Parkinson’s Law is “Work contracts to fit the time we give it.” In the context of wedding planning this means that if you have fewer months for planning a wedding you’ll consider less options for each decision. Planning a wedding involves dozens of decisions. And there’s no shortage of options for each of those decisions. Considering fewer options for caterers, menus, venues, photographers, gowns — you get the idea — can actually make planning easier and quicker. And that means less stress.

So what do I recommend? I agree with the advice given in The Overwhelmed Bride blog post that inspired my post.

  • Choose a shorter engagement over a long one.
  • If you must have a longer engagement: Create a “fake” wedding date months earlier and have everything planned before that date. But you must force yourself to stick to that date!!!!

This is just one way (albeit a major one) to reduce the stress of planning a wedding. I have a few (hundred) more wedding planning and wedding day stress-savers in my bag. — And scores of customers who will attest to this. Please share your own experience!