If you’re thinking, “I just got engaged, now what?” First of all, congratulations! This is such an exciting time in your life. Before diving head-first into all things wedding planning, it’s important to know which vendors you should book first, and a general timeline of when to reach out.

Tennessee garden wedding venue captured by Sarah Woods Photography.

Before You Book Your Vendors, Choose Your Wedding Date

The very first step to planning your big day is choosing the actual date. Or at least a date range. What does your dream wedding look like? An outdoor summer ceremony? A warm and cozy Autumn wedding with all the rich colors? A dreamy Spring garden party? Determining the season you want your wedding is a great place to start when determining your date.

Once You Have Your Wedding Date, Set A Budget

The next step to booking your wedding vendors is creating an actual budget. If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it can be hard to know what the going rates of services are. Lucky for you, most reputable wedding pros have an investment guide on their websites to help you gauge the numbers. Having a general sense of cost will allow you to set priorities and know which areas you need to save. You’d be surprised how fast things can add up if you don’t set a budget early on!

Now that you’ve got a date and a budget in mind, it’s time to book your vendors.

**When reaching out to potential wedding vendors, please be courteous of their time and efforts by responding back to the emails you receive. Whether or not you plan on working with them a simple, “Hey, we’ve decided to go in another direction.” is much better than no response at all! xoxo

12+ months prior

1. Wedding Planner

The very first wedding vendor you should book is a planner/ coordinator. If it’s within budget, I cannot recommend hiring a full-service wedding planner enough. Don’t get me wrong, it’s 100% possible to plan a beautiful wedding without one, but boy does it make life easier. Think of it as having a wedding planning “fast-pass” helping you find all the best vendors, negotiate contracts, and stay within budget.

2. Wedding Venue

Next on your wedding vendor checklist should be your wedding venue. Since most venues book out 1-2 years in advance, it’s important to secure your date as soon as possible. Plus, your wedding venue sets the foundation for for the vibe/theme of your wedding day, so it’s helpful to have this figured out early on. Once you’re officially on the books, you can confidently hire out the rest of your vendors.

Looking for unique wedding venues in TN? Check out this blog!

10-12 months prior

3. Wedding Photographer

I may be biased, but wedding photography is one of the most important investments that you can make. Not only will you have these photos forever, but they’ll be used to tell your story for generations to come. Making sure you find a photographer whose style and personality match your vibe is crucial.

View My Portfolio!

4. Wedding Videographer

Wedding photography and videography go hand-in-hand in terms of capturing the intimate details and emotions of your day. Having the opportunity to relive those moments in the form of a cinematic masterpiece is truly priceless. Keep in mind that both photographers and videographers can only take on so many weddings in a month, which means that popular dates book up fast. I recommend reaching out at least 10-12 months in advance for the best chance at securing your preferred vendor.

A completely different style from traditional wedding videography — I’ve started offering Super8 Wedding Films! You know those vintage and nostalgic home-movies your parents or grandparents may have filmed in the 80’s? That’s what I’m talking about!

5. Wedding Florist

Florists are basically magicians when it comes to transforming a space. It never ceases to amaze me the artistry that goes into building floral arrangements and bridal bouquets. With such intricate designs and planning involved, your florist is another vendor that you don’t want to procrastinate booking!

6. Wedding Caterer

Some wedding venues provide in-house catering or a preferred vendor list. In the case that your venue does not offer catering, however, you’ll want to reach out to potential vendors ASAP. By beginning your search 10-12 months in advance, you will have ample time for tastings and menu building.

6-9 months prior

Once the above vendors have been booked you can start reaching out to some of the smaller (but equally important) vendors like your Cake Baker, Stationer, Hair and Makeup Artist, DJ, and Officiant.

Wedding vendor timeline for which wedding vendors you should book first by Sarah Woods Photography.

Knowing which wedding vendors to book first is incredibly important when beginning the wedding planning process. While there is such a thing as booking vendors too far in advance, (A.K.A. before you’re even engaged) the general rule of thumb is: the sooner the better.

Think we might be the perfect match?



  1. My fiance and I want to start planning our wedding next month, so we’re making a list of the steps we need to follow first. It’s helpful to know that we’d book different vendors for our wedding party with anticipation, so we’ll definitely work on this soon. We appreciate your tips on finding a wedding vendor for our venue.

    • Sarah Woods says:

      Hey Eli! A huge congrats on your engagement! I’m so glad that you found this post helpful. If there’s anything else I can help with, feel free to send me an email or fill out my contact form!

  2. Corine Tyler says:

    Love your advice for wedding planning Sarah!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *