Congratulations on your engagement! As you head into this next exciting chapter of your lives you’re probably starting to feel a little anxious as you plan your wedding. What should your timeline look like, who should you invite, when should you book your vendors are just a few of the questions you might be asking yourself. While we won’t be able to cover everything today, (you can find more wedding planning tips here on my blog!), we are going to go over how and when to book your vendors for your wedding day!
First and foremost you’re going to want to decide on a date for your wedding day, not only for your planning purposes but also because most if not all vendors need a concrete date set in order to commit to your wedding. According to an article on The Knot the average couple’s engagement lasts for around 16 months. Your engagement can really be as long or short as you want it to be though as it depends on what season you want your wedding in, which vendors you’re hoping to book, and what you want your planning process to look like. With your partner, talk over what you want your wedding to look like, both the day of and leading up to it. Once you have a date set you can start looking for and booking your vendors!
There are a TON of incredible and talented wedding vendors out there, so finding the right one can be a bit of a daunting task. If you want to keep your wedding planning as stress free as possible, start looking into wedding vendors early. This can be as simple as following some vendors whose work you enjoy on Instagram. You can even start this process well before you get into your wedding planning. That way by the time you’re engaged and begin planning you already have a list of vendors who you know will provide you with the wedding day experience and service you’ve dreamt of.
If you have a vision in mind and have specific vendors or a venue that you HAVE to have for your wedding day, you need to book these ASAP. Typically a venue and photographer are your highest priority as they book out the farthest in advance. If you have a vendor that is a MUST-have for your wedding day, and you’re flexible on your date or venue, you can always reach out to them first to ask about their availability. Then as soon as you have their availability reach out to your venue to reserve your date depending on the availability of said vendor.
Depending on how far in advance you plan on booking you may have to make some compromises when it comes to either your date, venue or vendors, which is why it’s so important to reach out to the vendors that matter most to you as early as you can.
Once you’re ready to start booking your vendors for your wedding there are a couple of things you should be doing to keep the process both smooth and simple for you and your partner. First, create a spreadsheet with each type of vendor you plan to have at your wedding. Then list out specific vendors whose work you enjoy in each category. Reach out to your must-haves first, and if there are a few vendors in the same category who you’d like to work with equally I recommend only reaching out to 2 or 3 at a time. This will keep things much less confusing as you start to get in contact with these vendors and save you from a potential headache!
Once you’re in contact with your vendor, they’re free for your date, and you’re ready to book, let them know and they’ll send a contract your way. Read over the contract carefully to make sure everything looks in order, and if you have questions be sure to ask them. If everything looks good and you’re ready to book you’ll likely have to sign the contract and send over an initial non-refundable deposit to book the vendor, but after that, you’re set!
Each vendor will have their own payment plan for their services apart from the initial deposit which they should discuss with you during the booking process. Plan out your finances accordingly to send them their payment(s) on time and you’ll be set to have the vendor of your dreams working on your wedding!
Pro Tip! There will be a LOT of payments that will go through at the same time the month before the wedding. Pay off some of your vendors early if you can so you won’t be overloaded with bills going into your wedding day.
Now that we have an idea of what it’s like to book your vendors it’s time to take a look at each vendor individually and the recommendation on when to book them in relation to your wedding date. As mentioned earlier if you have a vendor that is a MUST for your wedding day by all means reach out to them as early as you can. These dates are more of a guideline for your planning, every wedding day is different though so as a good rule of thumb the earlier you reach out the better!
Though it is important to start working on booking vendors, celebrating and your engagement is also extremely important. You will be tempted to dive into wedding planning the second you’re engaged. I encourage you to pause and really enjoy this time. Just enjoy your engagement for a bit before you jump into the wedding planning.
Whether it’s your backyard, an alternative wedding venue, or a more traditional wedding venue, you do need a space to get married in. This is almost always the first thing you will want to reserve as many wedding vendors won’t allow you to book them without a date. As mentioned above if you have a vendor that is a must-have you can inquire with them prior to booking your venue to make sure they have the date available. Even in that situation though it’s a good idea to have already contacted your potential venue to get the ball rolling with them and get an idea of how far they’re currently booking out.
Having professional documentation of your wedding day is SO important. These are moments you will only experience once, and though phone cameras are good, they are just not going to cut it for your wedding day. Though I am biased being a wedding photographer myself, time and time again this is a vendor you will want to book as early as possible so you can book the photographer whose work captures everything you want to remember from your wedding day. Wedding photographers only take a certain number of clients per year and most begin booking 12-18 months out, so send them an inquiry early!
Very similar to photographers, videographers tend to start booking out a year if not more in advance. They also provide an incredible service for your wedding day capturing so much of your day for you to watch and relive for years to come. While not necessary for every wedding, if you do want a videographer for your wedding day you’ll want to reach out to them well in advance of your date.
While not something every wedding needs, a wedding planner can be a HUGE help and one of the most important vendors if you have a wedding day with a ton of planning going into it. There’s a lot of planning that goes into the average wedding, and if you want to get extra creative with your day, having a planner will save you a ton of stress. You’re going to want to reach out to a wedding planner a year or more in advance so that they can work with you throughout the entire planning process.
It’s important to reach out to your potential officiant early, whether you actually reach out to an officiant you hire, or a friend/family member who needs to be ordained. Reaching out within 9 to 12 months of your wedding allows you to either book the officiant you want or allows your friend or family member enough time to become ordained for your wedding day.
This one depends on your venue as some have food done in house, specific vendors they work with, or allow anything for your wedding day. If your venue allows you to choose the food vendor that caters your wedding you’re going to want to reach out early so you get the food you want for your wedding day!
It’s a good idea to book your florist around 8 to 12 months in advance of your wedding. When booking, pay attention to the flowers they use as well as what is in season at the time of your wedding.
Having a good hair and makeup artist for your wedding day is one of the best ways to make sure you’re looking and feeling confident and beautiful for your day. Book your hair and makeup vendor around 9 to 12 months out from your wedding day to ensure you work with someone whose work you enjoy!
About 5 to 9 months out from your wedding you’re going to want to book your entertainment for your wedding day. If you do plan on going the route of a live band you may even want to reach out to them earlier than 9 months if you really like them and their energy.
Similar to a wedding planner, a wedding coordinator will help keep your wedding day and a couple of months leading up to it running smoothly. If you already have a wedding planner you won’t need a coordinator as they’ll fill that role, but if you’ve handled the planning up to this point and want someone there to make sure your day runs smoothly, find yourself a coordinator around 5 to 9 months in advance!
Whether you’re topping off your wedding night with cake, donuts, or something else sweet, you’re going to want to contact a bakery local to your venue within 4-9 months of your wedding day. Smaller businesses you will want to contact earlier, larger businesses can be contacted closer to the wedding day. Similar to many of the other vendors, they will also require some sort of non-refundable retainer along with a contract!
There’s a ton to think about when planning your wedding, booking your vendors is just one important part of it! If you need help with creating your wedding day and are also in need of a photographer, head over to my contact page to send me an inquiry!