The big question – Will you marry me? – is easy to answer. The follow-up question – When? – can be a lot tougher.

When Sara Dorchak got engaged, she thought for sure that she and her fiancé, Jonathan DeSoto, would be planning their wedding for more than a year, if not longer.

Instead, the couple found themselves on a nine-month timeline. But when the couple began searching for a venue a few weeks after getting engaged, one of their top picks happened to have multiple dates open in June, and they even offered them a discount because the wedding was so close.

According to The Knot, the average length of engagement is 14 months – the precise amount of time Hayley Ryan and her fiancé, Adam Doyan, spent planning their wedding.

Although she planned her own wedding in just three months, wedding planner Marilyn Storch also recommends 12 to 14 months for planning.

Competition for venues and vendors is part of the reason planning takes so long, says Storch, particularly if you have your heart set on a specific venue. However, there can be a point where you’re planning a wedding for too long. “If you get too far out, a lot of vendors won’t contract with you,” Storch warns.

Even though venue, vendors and even dress selection help dictate when your wedding will be, your guests really are the largest factor in determining how long you’ll be planning your wedding.

Storch recommends trying to cut down the guest list to just those you really want to be there because that gives you better opportunities. “To plan a wedding with hundreds and hundreds of people really does take time.”

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