Buckle up. Wedding planning is a very time consuming task, but with the right tools and guidance you can make this a less stressful process. Before we begin on when to book vendors, we wanted to give you some advice on how to find who you want to book. Online reviews are SO helpful these days, WeddingWire and The Knot are a great resource to use to check out some of the amazing wedding professionals in the area, and with honest reviews you’ll be able to identify those that maybe aren’t so amazing.
12 months before the wedding
Wedding venue: First things first you’ll want to find the place you’re getting married! This can be a very exciting decision. Are you thinking rustic? Modern? Industrial? Once you decide on a venue, you will have officially set the date on your big day and everything else can be planned based around knowing the date. Booking your venue and securing your wedding date as soon as possible is the best first step to getting all of your other vendors
Wedding planner: If you read our last post, you know how we feel about wedding planners. To sum it up – we think they are SO helpful! No matter if you choose a full-service wedding planner or maybe just a month-of coordinator, having a wedding planner can drastically reduce the stress you might feel from planning an entire wedding. If you are planning to hire a full-service wedding planner, you might want to move this step up above choosing your wedding venue so that they can aid in your decision. With so many different venues to choose from, if you are completely lost on where to begin, a full-service planner can help guide you!
10 months before the wedding
Photographer: One of the wedding professionals that you will spend a good chunk of your day with, your photographer, needs to be someone you enjoy being around and has the style that fits the aesthetic you might be going for. Some wedding photographers edit photos to be dark and moody while others edit them to look light and bright. You’ll need to research photographers that fit your style as well as your allotted budget.
Videographer: Believe it or not, we are booked 20 months out right now, but of course we still have plenty of availability for the upcoming year. To ensure your date is available with our lead team, Tyler and Kasey, we suggest booking about ten months in advance. Our associate videographers are amazing and can usually snatch up any of our last minute bookings (even up to just weeks before your wedding date), so always inquire even if you don’t know for sure if we will have availability. We have the same suggestions for choosing a videographer as we did for photographers – make sure you talk with these people to ensure they’re people that you want to be around! They will be there for most of your day capturing all of the moments big or small. Additionally, seeing if the videographer’s editing style matches what you might have in mind will bring you satisfaction for years to come!
Florist: Find a florist that you trust and whose work you love and book them ASAP! Really explain your vision and find example photos of what you like about what they’ve done in the past so that they can make this come to life for your wedding!
Caterer: If your venue does not include catering, you’ll need to find someone to feed your guests! During this process you will need to decide if you want a plated dinner service or a buffet. You will then schedule tastings to pick the kind of food you want the caterer to serve.
9 months before the wedding
Reception music: Another decision to make is about the type of music you want at your reception. Is it more your style to have a live band or a DJ? A DJ with a great personality can really liven up your reception. They will be able to play a mix of songs and entertain the crowd in between events that happen during the reception. Check out our blog on why your DJ matters for more details on why choosing a professional DJ that knows what their doing is SO important for a successful reception.
8 months before the wedding
Ceremony music: This is dependent on your venue. Church weddings vs outdoor weddings will likely require different set ups and also have different acoustics. You can consider hiring a group of musicians such as a jazz band or a solo musician like a harpist to make the ceremony a bit more special. This is completely up to you and what you want to do!
Guest accommodations: If you have a handful of out of town guests, it would be nice to block off a portion of rooms at a nearby hotel. This will allow your guests to get a good rate for a place to stay and will assure that there are rooms available on the weekend of your wedding! Make sure to inform your guests of these accommodations on both your wedding website as well as your save-the-date or invitations.
Officiant: You will need to find a professional that is licensed to marry you and your loved one. Look for someone that will create a meaningful and personal ceremony. Maybe try to ask around to see if any of your friend’s family members might be licensed – as they might make the ceremony more personal and enjoyable!
Buying your gown: This is a super fun process that is in fact, a process. Feel free to try on a TON of dresses before deciding one on. We have an entire blog post about taking your time to decide on your dress. Eight months is a long time before your wedding day, but you will absolutely need time for the dress to be made and for alterations to take place.
Send out save-the-dates: For domestic or close-by weddings, we recommend sending out save-the-dates eight months prior to your wedding. If you are choosing to do a destination wedding, giving your guests a heads up as far in advance as you can is the best idea. We would recommend getting these sent out right after you book your venue.
7 months before the wedding
Bakery: Choosing your bakery or an individual to bake your wedding cake should be done about seven months before your wedding date to ensure that the bakery you are choosing has availability on that day! These professionals get booked up weeks in advance, so it’s best to book out as far as you can. This will also be a fun process because it includes cake tastings, which will be scheduled by appointment.
Bridesmaid dresses: If all of your bridesmaids live in the same area, figure out a date where all of you can meet up and have a try-on day! This would be a great option if you are looking to purchase from a bridal store, otherwise if you found dresses online – just send your girls a link and this task is done! Planning this far ahead will ensure that there are no mishaps with a wrong size or wrong dress sent.
Honeymoon planning: Whether you hire a travel agent to help you decide on a place or if you just do it by yourself, now is the time to plan your honeymoon!
6 months before the wedding
Get invitations made: You don’t really need to send invitations until about six to eight weeks before your wedding date, but it does take time to create, address, and assemble them.
Hair/makeup artist: Start searching for someone to do your wedding “glam”. You’ll need to schedule a trial run with these people to ensure that they can create the look you are going for on your wedding day.
Rentals: For any chairs, tables, linens, china, decorative furniture, etc. that you might need for your wedding, you’ll need to hire a rentals company to bring in these items. Check in with your other vendors (baker, caterer, venue, and florist) to ensure that you will rent the right things at the right quantity.
5 months before the wedding
Men’s attire: Deciding whether you want to rent or buy a suit or a tux will need to happen about five months out from your wedding date. You can group the groom and his groomsmen into this stage – and if everyone goes together to buy on the same day, you’ll often be able to receive a discount!
Accessories: Such as veils, shoes, undergarments, etc.
Transportation: You’ll need to consider hiring either a limo, shuttle bus, or other reputable transportation option to ensure that your day runs smoothly and everything happens at the right time. This vendor will be super helpful in figuring out the logistics and timelines for your day.
4 months before the wedding
Favors: Wedding favors can be SO fun and oftentimes may reflect the theme of your wedding. There are so many different options to choose from including koozies, pint glasses, wine glasses, candles, late night food, and so much more. These options will likely have to be personalized, so we suggest locking this down about 4 or even 3 months before your wedding.
Wedding bands: Head to a jeweler to pick out you and your partner’s wedding bands!