Your wedding planning?! Congratulations! This is such an exciting time of your lives, and as you head into this next chapter together and start to plan your wedding one of the most daunting tasks is booking your vendors. Depending on what your wedding looks like there can be a LOT of different vendors involved, so how do you find and choose the ones that are right for you? If this question scares you, you’re in luck as I’ll be breaking down everything you need to know when it comes to your wedding and finding the vendors that are perfect for you!
When it comes to booking the vendors that will help create the wedding day you’ve always dreamed of there is quite a bit to consider. How do you find the right vendor? When should you reach out and book them? What costs are included with each vendor? Finding the answers to these questions and making the final decisions is daunting, so let’s break everything down to set you up for success and a wedding you’ll love!
Starting early can be as simple as following wedding vendors you might be interested in booking on Instagram, and if you openly talk about marriage in your relationship you can even start following vendors prior to your engagement. If you’re not sure where to start a simple Instagram search for #chicagoweddingphotographer or something similar with the rough location of your wedding will give you a nice place to start! Starting to look at vendors early is so important as it gives you a look into their work, you’ll find what you like and what you don’t, and you’ll get a glimpse into what it is like to work with them. A lot of vendors also give notice when they start to book out for their next season, so it’ll give you an idea of how far you need to reach out to certain vendors in order to book them.
Be sure to do your research once you start to put together a list of vendors whose work you like. Instagram and their stories on there are great bits of insight, but they only show a partial picture of what it’s like working with them. Reviews on Google are a great way to get some insight from real clients as to what their experience is like.
Be sure to also look at their website and read through their blogs if they have any. A combination of these three sources will give you a pretty solid picture of how they conduct themselves and what other clients have experienced while working with them. If everything looks good and lines up with what you’re looking for for your wedding day make note of that so you know to reach out to book them first once you start contacting potential vendors for the same service.
Now that you have a list of some of your favorite vendors that fit the vision for your wedding it’s time to start sending out inquiries to get the ball rolling on booking them. A few important things to note, I recommend not reaching out to more than three vendors for a service at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself trying to keep track of who you’re talking to. If you reach out to three and all are busy for your date, or aren’t what you envisioned, mark them off your list and move on to the next three.
Another important note is if you have vendors that you’ve been following for a while and you’re set on having them for your wedding, reach out to them as early as possible to ensure you book them. This is true for all vendors as the earlier you reach out to them the more likely they’ll be available, so don’t put it off!
When booking your wedding, vendors know that you are going to have deposits in order to reserve your wedding dates. As you start to send out your inquiries to your potential vendors you’ll start receiving their pricing guides and different packages they offer. Make sure they’re able to provide the amount of coverage you’re looking for and make note of what their payment plan is like. Make a list of all of the deposits that you’re going to have to make and plan accordingly to make sure you’re able to put the deposit down.
If you’re not able to do all the deposits at the same time, focus on your priority vendors like your photographer, videographer, and any others that you NEED for your wedding. Don’t make your deposit unless you are sold on booking that wedding vendor as they are non-refundable even if you decide to go another route a week after putting in your deposit.
Each aspect of the industry is different from the next, and there is sort of an order of events when booking your vendors for your wedding day.
Typically the earliest vendor to book when planning your wedding day is your wedding venue. Booking your wedding venue will lock in your wedding date and help you to book the rest of your vendors for your wedding day. If you’re eloping this can happen closer to your wedding day and after you book your wedding photographer.
If you have been following a photographer since you started dating your partner and cannot imagine planning a wedding without them being a part of it, you will want to reach out to them to book them as one of your vendors the second you start the planning process.
Wedding photographers typically only book out a year or so from the current date, so if you’re planning a long engagement, you definitely can reach out to them, but you might end up having to wait to book. On the other hand, if you’re having a short engagement, it’s important to reach out to your wedding photographer the second you have your wedding date picked out. If you have a photographer that is a must have vendor for your wedding day, you can reach out to them prior to booking your venue to check out their availability.
Much like wedding photographers, wedding videographers typically only book a year out from the current date. If you have a dream wedding videographer, you will want to reach out to them sooner rather than later. Because the job is extremely demanding and there are only 52 weekends in a year, it’s important to reach out to your photographers and videographers early so that you can reserve your wedding date.
If you’re planning to book a florist for your wedding day, you will also want to reach out to them around this time. Like photographers and videographers, florists only serve one if not two couples a Saturday, so if your wedding is on a popular date you will want to reach out sooner rather than later.
Start reaching out to your wedding entertainment! Talk over your wedding day visions with your partner and decide what kind of music and entertainment you want on your wedding day. Whether you want a live band, a wedding singer, or a DJ, now is the time to start reaching out to potential musicians.
One of the most important parts of your wedding evening, the meal for your guests! Start reaching out to caterers for your wedding day. More often than not venues have a preferred list of caterers for their wedding day. Reach out to your venue to ask for their preferred list first, and if they don’t have one ask friends or family in the area you’re getting married in for their
Reserve some rooms for your guests! Now is the time to reserve rooms for your guests at the local hotel. Whether you’re having an out of town wedding or just planning so people can have a good time, around 8 months is when you can reserve some space for them at the nearest hotel to your venue.
Booking your officiant is SUPER important. If you’re booking a professional or a religious figure as a vendor, start the inquiry process just like you might book any other wedding professional. If you’re hoping to have a friend or family marry you, now is the time to ask them. Once your friend or family member agrees, you can have them become ordained through the Universal Life Church. The process is super quick and easy and a great way to really personalize your wedding day.
If you plan to have your wedding stationary professionally made, now is the time to book your stationer. You send out your wedding invitations typically 6-8 weeks out from your wedding day, but you will want to make sure you have plenty of time for your stationer to complete the order.
Reaching out to your hair and makeup artist around 6-8 months out will ensure that you can reserve them for your wedding date. Know that you will also need to plan for a makeup trial and hair trial prior to your wedding day!
Start contacting bakeries that are local to your wedding venue and start to form a plan for desserts! Whether you want a cake, a donut wall, or something completely different, you will want to start your planning and research around 6 months out.
Any table, chairs, entertainment or decoration rentals should be inquired about 6 months out from your wedding day. You will want to make sure everything is reserved so that you can communicate your plans with your venue, your florist and anyone else that is working with you on your wedding day.
Guest transportation, your transportation, trolleys, limos, getaway cars, general car rentals, any sort of transportation for your wedding weekend or your wedding day should be reserved around 3-5 months out from your date.
Once you have your ideal vendors listed, inquiries sent out to them, and your deposits mapped out it’s time to make your final decision. Your vendors should send you a contract along with your invoice for your down payment. Be sure to FULLY read your contracts to make sure there’s nothing in there that you’re suspicious of. I know they’re not the most entertaining to read, but this could potentially save you from a huge headache later on. And if you have questions about your contract’s specifics don’t hesitate to ask your vendor about them before signing. If you’re curious about your contracts I have a full blog breaking down what to look for before signing them here! Once everything looks good and you’re comfortable, send over your inquiry and signed contract and you’ll officially have your wedding vendor booked!
After the initial deposit the cost for each vendor, and the frequency/due dates they have for these payments, varies greatly between vendors. Pay attention to each wedding vendor’s payment plans when booking, ask about due dates, if you’re able to pay early, and any other questions you have about cost. Once you have an idea as to what you’ll be paying and when for each vendor, plan out your payments and totals so that you know what you’re getting into and what you’ll need to make your wedding happen.
As you book your wedding vendors you will begin to get a lot of emails filled with contracts, invoices, questionnaires, and resources for you and your partner. Create a folder or a separate email to store all of these emails so that you can keep them all in one place.
Planning your wedding is SUCH an exciting experience, and your vendors are a huge part of creating the wedding day of your dreams. Be thorough in your research, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and move sooner rather than later to make sure you end up with the vendors you want for your wedding day! Be sure to head over to my blog page as I have a ton of resources to help plan out your wedding day, and if you need a photographer still head over to my contact page where you can send me an inquiry.