So, you found your venue! Now what?
This is a super common question and you’re not the only one completely clueless about this wedding planning business. This question isn’t featured in our FAQ because this question deserves a WHOLE post! Landing your venue can seem like a great accomplishment, but that’s just the beginning.
The wedding planning process can be totally overwhelming, luckily, there are numerous resources at your fingertips. Utilize your venues resources and ask for a preferred vendors list. This list will be a great start, and you can start reading vendor reviews from there. It is also important to inform your venue when a new vendor is booked.
If you have absolutely no idea where to start, we recommend contacting the professionals. A wedding planner or day-of coordinator can be your best friend. They are there to guide you every step of the way, no matter the request. They have also done this many times, so they know who to contact and when to book.
If a wedding planner isn’t really your thing, no problem, organization is key to stress-free planning – free of charge. Making a list of what you need on your wedding day and prioritizing each vendor will definitely help. Having a budget and sticking to it also helps narrow down choices for each vendor.
Here are some tips for booking different vendors:
This is the big one because photographers are booked at least a year in advance, so if you have a certain someone in mind, book fast. If you aren’t quite sure, take your time. The photographer is one of the most important pieces of your wedding day. These images are what you will remember your big day by and you want them to be perfect.
It is important to mesh well with your photographer and book someone who understands your needs. Again, your venue may have recommendations to help start your research.
Photographers are also where a major chunk of the budget goes to, photos are not cheap. Establish a budget you are comfortable with and only look at photographers in this price range.
Catering is important, especially if you’re a foody, but booking is not urgent. Unlike photographers, caterers can do multiple events in one day, so they do not need booked immediately. Picking a caterer familiar with your venue can also be a plus because they know where to go and how to set up.
Generally, caterers do not need to be booked a year in advance, so you can take your time researching options. Of course, if you already know who you want to book there is no reason to wait. Another check off the list is always satisfying!
Saying yes to the dress:
It’s never too early to dress shop, right? This can be the most exciting part for some brides. There’s no shame in having your dress the minute you’re engaged, just make sure you don’t wait until the last minute.
You don’t want to be the bride without a dress two months before her wedding, especially if you have a specific look in mind. If we’ve learned anything from Say Yes to the Dress, it’s that there are not many options when brides get down to the wire.
It’s good to start shopping a year in advance, but make sure a final decision is made at least eight months before. This gives enough time for the dress to be ordered and alterations to be made, if needed.
Depending on your specific needs, music will probably be one of the last things you book. Top talent in the area may book fast, so again, if you have someone specific in mind, don’t hesitate! A good rule of thumb for DJ’s is about six months in advance.
Is that it?
While these are only a few of the main vendors you will need to book for your big day, this is only the start. There are more decisions to make about hotels, flowers, invites, etc. Hotels might be a main priority on your list if you have guests from out of town who need a place to stay. The planning process can be unique for each bride, but knowing a general time frame for each vendor is a good start.
Remember, the wedding planning process should be fun. And if you find yourself too stressed out, maybe a wedding planner or day-of coordinator would benefit you!