How to Plan a Last-Minute Wedding in Puget Sound

May 26, 2021

A bride and groom kiss at their last-minute wedding in Olalla, Washington.

Whether you have two years or two weeks, the amount of time you spend planning your wedding doesn’t determine how special it is. In fact, a last-minute wedding might be just perfect for you and your partner!

Maybe you’re tired of waiting to marry the love of your life. Maybe the idea of taking months (or even years) to plan your wedding is just too stressful. Maybe now just feels like the perfect time.

Whatever the reason, don’t let the idea of planning a spontaneous wedding scare you!

As a Washington wedding photographer, I actually really love last-minute weddings. While it might sound stressful, I find that it can actually have the opposite effect. Planning a last-minute wedding means focusing on what’s most important, and if you’re able to do that, the pressure really comes off and the good times roll!

If you’re thinking of planning a last-minute wedding in Seattle, Tacoma, Marysville, or elsewhere in the beautiful Puget Sound region, here are some important things to consider.

What Will Your Last-Minute Wedding Look Like?

First, you need to decide what you want your spontaneous Puget Sound wedding to look like. Here are a few big decisions to make right off the bat.

What are your priorities? 

I recommend starting by making a list of your wedding day priorities with your partner. My biggest piece of advice here is to make sure you really focus on what makes you two happy. Because you have limited time, you might need to make some compromises, but having a well-thought-out list of your last-minute wedding day “must-haves” will help you remember to focus on what really matters and not get caught up in minor details. 

What is your last-minute wedding budget? 

Of course, your wedding budget will be a determining factor in many of the decisions you make. So, it’s important to have a strong grasp on your budget and where you’d like to allocate it. Compared to planning a big, extravagant wedding, you might even be able to spend your wedding budget more creatively.

What size will your wedding be? 

What does your guest list look like? Having an estimate of the size of your wedding will help when making other important decisions. 

A bride hold a bouquet and smiles with her bridesmaids during an intimate wedding while Washington wedding photographer Adina Stiles captures the moment.

If you’re planning a last-minute wedding, there’s a good chance your guest list is on the smaller side. You may even be planning a micro wedding, intimate wedding, or elopement. Smaller guest lists are a great way to keep things simple and easier to plan, so consider the most important people in your life (a last-minute wedding can also be a great excuse to avoid a huge guest list!). 

Where will you get married in Puget Sound?

Puget Sound is a beautiful region with an eclectic variety of cities, towns, and parks—all wonderful options for a wedding! Will you have a city wedding in Seattle? Or maybe a park wedding on one of the islands? Determining the location of your wedding will help when finding venues (if needed) and vendors.

Which Puget Sound wedding vendors will you hire? 

Now that you know your priorities, as well as the size and location of your last-minute wedding, it’s time to contact vendors. You may have to be a bit flexible here, but with so much amazing talent in the Puget Sound region, you’re sure to find incredible options even on short notice! Also, keeping it local is a great idea for last-minute weddings! 

Depending on what you have planned for your special day, you may want to consider contacting:

  • A Puget Sound wedding photographer
  • An officiant
  • A florist
  • A baker or bakery
  • A caterer, restaurant, personal chef, or food truck
  • A DJ
  • A hair and makeup artist
  • A wedding planner
  • Transportation
  • Decor rentals

Once you answer these important questions, you’re ready to start hashing out the details! 

And, no matter what, don’t forget to obtain your Washington marriage license!

Types of Last-Minute Weddings

There are several ways to go about planning your spontaneous wedding in Puget Sound. Here are a few!

Planning an adventure elopement in Puget Sound

Are you and your partner all about adventure, keeping things simple, and enjoying time together just the two of you? An adventure elopement in Puget Sound might fit just right!

There are some incredible photo spots in Puget Sound that are perfect for elopements! When it comes to choosing a location to elope, there’s really no shortage—from Seattle to Tacoma to Bellingham, and beyond—there are countless beautiful places to explore and tie the knot.

There are some serious benefits to planning a last-minute elopement, too! It’s the ultimate choice if you’re looking for something simple, intimate, and all about you. Elopements are typically more affordable, so you can either splurge on the things that really matter to you or add it to the honeymoon fund. 

Tips for planning a last-minute elopement 

Hire a photographer. I might be a tad biased, but trust me—if you’re going to have anyone there, it’s someone who can capture this special day so you can remember it for a lifetime! Plus, they often act as a witness, assistant wedding planner, cheerleader, and can help out with whatever else you need. 

If you’d like, you can still invite a few select guests to your elopement. For example, parents or best friends. This is a personal choice, but for some families, can make a world of difference.

A bride and groom exchange vows under a gazebo during an elopement in Puget Sound.

Don’t forget to brush up on the legalities of where you’re getting married. You’ll likely have to register, obtain your marriage license, hire an officiant, and have a witness present. 

Get dressed up! Just because you don’t have hundreds of guests doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look and feel great. Plus, you’ll be thankful when you see the amazing photos later! Even if your last-minute wedding dress or tux doesn’t fit the description of “traditional”, just do and wear whatever makes you feel stunning.

Don’t forget to consider your budget. Just because you’re eloping, doesn’t mean you won’t have costs to consider.

Let your family and friends know. Perhaps share some engagement photos or photos from your wedding (if you decide to wait until after) and consider having a party at a later date (if you’re worried that people might be upset). That way, your wedding day can still be all about you, without the guilt.

Speaking of guilt…don’t feel bad about eloping! This is your special day, and your choice. You should do it however feels best for you! 

Planning a last-minute courthouse wedding in Puget Sound

Another spontaneous wedding option is to get married at City Hall. Whether you’re thinking of getting married at City Hall in Seattle, Marysville, Tacoma, or elsewhere in Puget Sound, a courthouse wedding might be perfect.

Even more so than elopements, courthouse weddings are an excellent way to keep things simple and affordable. But just because they’re simple, doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Often, these buildings are quite beautiful and can make for beautiful images. For example, the upper levels of the Seattle Courthouse have huge windows that overlook the entire city! 

Tips for planning a courthouse wedding

Book your wedding ahead of time. While it doesn’t get much easier to find a last-minute wedding venue than this, you still want to make sure that you have a date locked in. You wouldn’t want to arrive and have to wait, or find out it can’t be done that day!

Invite a few of your most important people. If you’d like, you can invite some guests to your courthouse wedding. 

A bride holds a colorful bouquet behind her back during an intimate wedding in Maple Valley, Washington.

Celebrate after! Whether that means throwing a big reception, gathering with a few friends, or having a special night just the two of you—don’t forget to celebrate this amazing milestone! 

Hire a photographer.  You’ll want to remember this special day, and have something to share with friends and family! Hire a professional photographer to capture these amazing memories.

Planning a last-minute intimate wedding in Puget Sound

If you’re hoping for a more traditional last-minute wedding, an intimate wedding is the way to go! 

An intimate wedding is the perfect way to still get all of that classic wedding goodness on a last-minute schedule. You can invite your most important people. You can hire all the vendors. You can have the ceremony, the cocktail hour, the photo sessions, the dinner, the speeches, the reception, the dancing…whatever you please! 

Intimate weddings typically have smaller guest lists, and are a great option if you’re thinking of hosting an at-home wedding. Backyard weddings can be so special and a great way to plan an amazing day under short notice!

Tips for planning an intimate or backyard wedding

Keep the guest list short and sweet. Typically, intimate weddings have under 50 guests. Guest lists add up quickly, so spend some time really thinking about who should be there.

A bride reads her vows off a piece of paper during an intimate, last-minute, backyard wedding shot by Adina Stiles photography.

Hire vendors to help with your special day. A few vendors can make all the difference when it comes to intimate weddings! Perhaps hire a private chef, or get your favourite takeout for everyone to enjoy. Consider hiring a bartender to keep the good vibes flowing. You may want to consider renting some sound gear and microphones for dancing and speeches. And, of course, don’t forget to hire a photographer to capture the magic!

A few decorations can go a long way. If you’re planning an at-home wedding, add some simple yet impactful decor to set the mood. Some local flowers and bouquets, a tasteful table setting, some twinkle lights or lamps…little touches go a long way!

Have a bad weather backup plan. If you’re hosting a backyard wedding, don’t forget to be prepared for bad weather. Even if the forecast looks good, in Puget Sound you just never know! Have some umbrellas handy, blankets in case guests get cold, and an indoor space or tents that can be used in an emergency. 

Your Last-Minute Wedding Will be a Day to Remember!

No matter how long you spend planning, as long as your intention is clear and you know what matters most, your wedding will be an unforgettable experience! 

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer to help capture these amazing memories and your unique love, I would be happy to help! Please feel free to contact me so we can get to know each other better and start planning your special day.