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.
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 rustic fall barn wedding? A dreamy 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.
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.
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.
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 vendors like your Cake Baker, Stationer, Hair and Makeup Artist, DJ, and Officiant.
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.