5 Wedding Tasks To Finish Early

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Weddings aren't born when an engagement ring finds its finger, but in the list-writing, vendor-calling, deposit-check-writing weeks that follow.

Couples who aren't planning their wedding shortly after the ring is out and the parents are told are destined to be eaten alive by a wedding industry with painfully tight timetables and pitifully low tolerance for slackers. The average engagement is little less than 14 months, according to TheKnot.com ( KNOT) and WeddingChannel.com's Real Weddings survey, and 43% of couples are engaged for more than a year.

That's great, because they're going to need every day of it if they're going to book a Saturday night wedding slot (which Donne Kerestic, CEO of 1-800Registry, says 80% of engaged couples choose for their special day -- many booking a year in advance or more). Photographers are in similar demand, mostly because the nation's 541,900 businesses serving the wedding industry are pressed into service 77 times a year, or for roughly 1.5 weddings a week, according to wedding market research firm The Wedding Report.

This makes for a lot of frustrated couples and frazzled families, as the Real Weddings survey found that the average couple doesn't start planning a wedding until 10.6 months before the date, with only 28% of couples planning more than a year in advance. Even when couples do plan that far in advance, they're still procrastinating. The average couple spends 3.4 hours a week planning the wedding when they have a 10- to 12-month buffer between them and the aisle, but cram 11.3 hours of wedding planning into a week when the wedding's less than three months away.

With demand for wedding services increasing and the amount couples are willing to spend on their ceremony and reception growing, a wedding shouldn't be treated like a junior high algebra exam given the Monday after a weekend. Instead of playing around on their Bed, Bath & Beyond ( BBBY), Target ( TGT) and Macy's ( M) registries for months and cramming a bunch of details and stress into the last minutes before marriage, couples should consider tackling these five tasks as early as possible:

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