Booking Your Wedding Vendors: Who Comes First?

Booking Your Wedding Vendors: Who Comes First?
From 'Yes' to 'I Do': The Ultimate Guide to Booking Your Wedding Vendors.

Engaged, and diving into wedding planning? It can be tough to know where to start! One of the more daunting tasks is securing your wedding day vendor team! This guide is here to help give you guidance on which vendors to start with in the booking process!

First things first, always remember that every wedding is unique. What works for one might not necessarily work for another. But based on my years of being around fabulous weddings and interacting with countless couples, here’s a typical order that many find useful:

1. Book The Venue

Before anything else, secure that dreamy location! It sets the tone for your wedding, determines the date, and can even influence your theme. Typically, 12-18 months out. Especially if you have a specific date or season in mind. The most popular venues get booked up quickly!

2. Find A Wedding Planner

If you’re going for one, now’s the time. They’ll help you navigate everything else and can sometimes get you great deals with other vendors. Around the same time as your venue, so 12-18 months out. They can be instrumental in helping you secure other top-tier vendors.

3. Secure Your Photographer & Videographer

Ahem, not to toot my own horn, but we tend to get booked pretty fast. 😉 Especially if you’re eyeing a specific date or weekend, it’s wise to lock us in early. Plus, it gives us ample time to get to know you, understand your story, and discuss any pre-wedding shoots or events. Yours truly, and my colleagues, tend to get booked pretty fast. So, 10-12 months in advance is ideal, especially if you’re getting married during peak wedding season.

4. Narrow Down Your Caterer

If your venue doesn’t offer in-house catering, start tasting and choosing your menu. Food is a central part of the celebration! If your venue doesn’t have in-house catering, start this process 9-12 months ahead.

5. Book The Entertainment:

Whether it’s a DJ, a band, or that quartet you’ve always dreamed of, book them next. Bands or DJs should be looked into about 9-12 months out.

6. Decide on a Florist & Decor

Once you have your venue and date, you can start visualizing the space and how you’d like to jazz it up. This is where florists and decorators come in. About 8-10 months before the wedding. This allows ample time for consultations, especially if you want specific flowers that might be seasonal.

7. Say Yes to a Dress & Attire

Oh, the joy of finding THE dress! Start early to account for fittings, customizations, and any changes. Begin shopping around 8-10 months prior to the wedding. This provides time for fittings, alterations, and any customizations.

8. Book the Makeup Artist & Hairstylist

Secure your glam team. Trials can be super helpful to ensure you get the look you desire on your big day. Around 6-8 months before. And make sure you book a trial!

9. Customize Stationery & Invitations:

With your date and venue locked, you can start sending out save-the-dates and eventually, the formal invites. Start designing around 8 months prior, with the aim to send out invites 4-6 months before the big day.

10. Find Transportation

If you’re thinking limos, vintage cars, or horse-drawn carriages, now’s the time to sort this out. Secure your transportation arrangements 6-8 months ahead, especially if you’re thinking of something unique like vintage cars.

11. Order Rentals

Think tents, extra chairs, lighting fixtures, or unique furniture pieces for your venue. Any additional rentals like tents, furniture, or special equipment should be booked around 6-8 months out.

12. Get a Cake Designer

Ah, the sweet stuff! Taste, design, and book your cake artist. Begin your tasty consultations around 6 months before the wedding.

13. Book the Officiant

Ensure you have someone to make it all official, be it religious, traditional, or a close friend with the right credentials. 6-8 months prior, especially if you’re opting for someone popular or a specific religious figure.

14. Bling with the Rings

Don’t forget these! 💍 Start looking around 6 months out.This allows time for custom designs or resizing.

Vendor Booking Timeline

Vendor CategoryWhen to Book
Venue12-18 months in advance
Caterer12-18 months in advance
Photographer & Videographer9-12 months in advance
Florist6-9 months in advance
Entertainment (Band/DJ)6-9 months in advance
Planner & Coordinator12-18 months in advance
Attire (Bride & Groom)9-12 months in advance
Rentals6-9 months in advance
Hair & Makeup6-9 months in advance
Photobooth6-9 months in advance
Accommodations6-9 months in advance
Honeymoon6-12 months in advance
Invitations & Stationery6-9 months in advance
Cake6-9 months in advance
wedding vendors - when to book

Remember, while this is a suggested order, it’s your day. Trust your instincts and prioritize what’s most important to you. But one piece of advice? Once you know what you want, secure it. The world of weddings waits for no one, and dates get booked up pretty quickly. And hey, if you need suggestions or want to chat about capturing your day in the most magical way possible, you know where to find me. Happy planning! 🥂📷


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Hello, from the Ardensea Blog! I'm Jackie Watson, owner and luxury fine-art wedding photographer based in beautiful South Florida. I hope you find this space a great resource to find all the resources you need to plan the perfect wedding, view my work, and see if we're the perfect fit for your own special day.

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