When to hire your wedding vendors? This question pops up in conversation about wedding planning, all the time! There are many opinions about when to hire your wedding vendors, but what it usually comes down to is this; which vendors are the most important to you? I’m going to help you navigate that question and come up with a personalized timeline for you by the end of this blog post. So, grab a pen and paper to jot down some notes, and let’s get going!
Wedding Venue vs. Wedding Planner
This is like the whole, which came first, the chicken or the egg, question again. This will depend on if you want or need a wedding planner and how involved that planner will be. There are two types of wedding planning services and most planners offer both. The first, is full wedding planning. This means your planner will be involved in nearly every decision, and will offer their expertise to you in hiring your venue and all other vendors. Or, you may just want someone to take care of everything on the wedding day. Your “day of planner” will meet with you a month or more before the wedding. You will nail down all of the details for the day of your wedding, and your planner will make sure everything happens the way you planned.
Most often, we are the first stop for our couples. They are newly engaged, excited to tour venues and lock in a wedding date. We include wedding planning services, so we are usually the first thing our couples book. No matter what your needs are in regards to help with planning a wedding, you will need to secure your venue and wedding date before you move on to any other vendors.
Photo by Ashley Elizabeth Photography
Photographer and Videographer
Before I wrote this post, I actually googled ‘when to hire my wedding photographer’ to see what others were saying on the topic. I was actually quite surprised by the advice! The range was anything between 18 months prior to only 6 months prior. In my opinion you should contact your top photographers and videographers as soon as you have your wedding date. Not only will this give you a chance to get in an engagement session, this also means you’ll have your pick of the best vendors available.
My biggest piece of advice in this area is to choose the ones you feel the most comfortable with. Obviously, you must love their work an be able to afford their services, but beyond that, choose the ones you connect with. After all, they will be with you the entire day, you want to feel like they fit right in and are capturing those moments that will happen oh so quickly.
Officiants and Church Ceremonies
I have found, that often the officiant becomes an after thought. Especially if you aren’t having a church ceremony, but they really should be closer to the top of the list. Churches have different requirements (pre marital counseling, ceremony time, day of the week you can be married) that you will want to be aware of once you have your date set. In fact, you may need to take this into consideration before you book your reception venue. Officiants will book multiple ceremonies in a day, and depending on the style of ceremony you want, you may miss out on your top pick if you wait too long.
DJ’s, Live Bands and String Quartets
I’m noticing a trend here, maybe you are too, but this is another category that you will want to book as soon as possible. Especially if this is an area of your wedding, that you really want to rock! It will take you some time to visit live bands, to experience their work. Maybe you have your heart set on the DJ your best friend had at her wedding, book them right away. If the reception music isn’t as big of a focus, you can take your time. There are plenty of DJ companies with a staff that can accommodate your wedding needs.
String quartets, or live ceremony music should be contacted 6-12 months in advance as well. They may not be in as high of demand, but the list of available vendors is usually shorter as well. If you’ve always dreamed of have strings accompany you down the aisle, find your favorite and sign that contract.
9-12 months before your wedding is a good time to contact florists. Most have the ability to do more than one event in a day, so they are likely to still have availability for your wedding at this point in the timeline. Meeting with them a year out will also give you a good opportunity to chat about, and possibly see what is actually in season around your wedding date.
Photo by Jessica Fowler
The most important thing to factor in to hiring a wedding caterer is your venue’s policies. Perhaps your venue has in house catering. If this is the case you will have already locked in your date with your deposit. All you have to do next is decide on your menu. If your venue allows outside caterers you’ll want to have one booked 9-12 months in advance. Typically caterers have the staff and equipment to cover multiple events in one day, so you can spend some time finding the one that suits you best.
Stylist and Makeup Artist
I’m going to use my days of working as a receptionist in a salon in this section. I would recommend booking your stylist and makeup artist 9-12 months in advance. No, you may not work out all of the details right away, but at least they know when to expect you and how many stylists to have ready for your party. On a side note, I would also highly recommend having a hair and makeup trial about 1 month before your wedding. Why not sooner? Because your hair and skin may be completely different a year before the wedding. You want your stylist, and makeup artist to have your look fresh in their mind for your wedding day.
I mean who doesn’t want to get started on tasting cakes?! As you can already tell, there’s a lot to do as soon as you have your venue booked, so this is one you can do 6-9 months before your wedding. There tends to be a lull in wedding planning around this time, so make it a date night and chow down.
You’ll want to make sure you have enough transportation for you, your bridal party, family and guests. You can book this at any time, but 6 months out you’ll have a better idea of your numbers. Sending out Save the Dates can help you estimate what you will need for guest transportation. Speaking of which……
6 months prior to your wedding you should be ordering your wedding invitations. This will give you enough time to have them customized and get them sent out. Remember, you’ll need to have you final guest count to your caterer about a month before your wedding, which means you need to have all of those RSVPs returned before then. You’ll want to start sooner if you are sending out Save the Dates.
If you are looking for any wedding rentals, 6 months out from the wedding is a good time to get them secured. This could be anything from farm tables, ghost chairs, linens, lounge areas, furniture pieces, tent draping or a puppy kissing booth. You will have your style and colors decided at this point, now it’s time to accessorize.
Photo by Hillary Muelleck Photography
Looking at the question of when to hire your wedding vendors, the answer is, it’s never too early! Have a look through this list and determine what are your top priorities. Focus on finding the vendors you love in those areas. Once you have done that, take a break on the wedding planning to enjoy just being engaged. It’s an exciting time in life, with so much to look forward to, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it 😉 6-9 months before your wedding, revisit those lists and finalize as many details as you can before you get your RSVPs back. The month before your wedding, it’s go time! But that’s for another post….
Cheers to Love,