You've set a date, and now you and your fiancé can't wait to start planning! The best advice I can give… it's all about staying organized while booking your vendors. In a way, you're essentially scheduling and interviewing them to ensure you are hiring the best team to help make your planning process successful! The average couple spends at least 12 - 18 months preparing for their special day. This is why I've devised a tentative timeline to show you how far out you should book in advance.
15 - 18 months before your wedding…
Wedding Venue: Most couples already have an idea or know the location of where they want to get married. Finding a wedding venue is essential as it sets the tone for everything else. When searching, be sure to read the reviews and schedule a tour. Most couples' date is official once they've booked their wedding venue. The first thing to ask is whether or not the date you have in mind is available, and if you're looking to book an all-inclusive venue, offering options like your caterer, rentals, and sometimes even a wedding planner (which saves on both time and money) book your venue as soon as possible.
Wedding Planner: The benefits of hiring a wedding planner will assist you with your entire process from start to finish. Hiring a wedding planner can be most beneficial when planning your budget for how much you want to spend on your wedding. He/she will ensure you stick to your budget and offer suggestions that fit your price range. They can also help you and your fiancé choose and find the right vendors for your ceremony and be your voice of reason when things may be overwhelming. Your wedding planner is there to support you and help you make tough decisions. Most importantly, they will let you remember everything!
10- 12 months before your wedding…
Photographer/Videographer: Wedding photographers and videographers play an essential role in celebrating you and the love of your life. Capturing those special moments, still and live-action will help you commemorate those days for a lifetime. When looking for both, it's a good idea to consider referrals locally and professionally within the area, what his/her style is, and cost might be. You'll spend a lot of time with them, so choose the right one to make your vision come to life!
Caterer: Everyone is a foodie! Your wedding deserves the best of everything, including your choice of food for your guests. Most venues will provide a caterer on sight, but if it doesn't, book your outside vendor well in advance. Your caterer will help you determine what type of serving style you want for your wedding and arrange a pre-tasting menu to help you and your fiance decide!
Florist: Your florist is another important vendor to check off your list at least a year from your wedding date! They can help you decide what flowers would look best in your bouquet based on your choices and the time of season. Do your research, and remember to ask for recommendations. Find a florist whose work you love and book them as soon as you know your venue!
Hair and Makeup: Your glam team is a total must-have! With weddings at an all-time high, post-pandemic… you'll want to secure hair and makeup at least 10 months before your ceremony. Don't forget to ask for a bridal trial for hair and makeup when booking, as this will give you an idea of how you'll look on your wedding day! Have pictures ready to show your stylist/makeup artist so they know the direction you are leaning towards.
DJ/Music: Choosing a DJ or wedding band will help set the mood for the entire reception. Allow yourself ample time to choose the right music professional and one that will create a great playlist for both you and your guests!
8 - 10 months before your wedding…
Wedding Dress: Purchasing your wedding dress takes time, especially if made by a designer out of the country. Be sure to allow yourself ample time to shop and try on different styles to get a feel for what you like and don't like. When you've found it, factor in alterations if needed!
Wedding Attire: Bridesmaid's dresses and groomsmen's suits can take up to 4-6 months to arrive, and then factor in any alterations before the wedding. Be sure to pick the style and color palette you want at least 8 months out. This will ensure everyone has their dresses and suits well before your big day!
Guest Accommodations: Guest accommodations are essential for those traveling to attend your wedding. This includes any hotel accommodations where rooms are set aside for your guests, allowing them enough time to save up. You can have this information on your wedding website or on your save-the-dates!
Save-the-Dates: As soon as your wedding vendors are booked, be sure to send out your save-the-dates, whether it's a destination wedding or a ceremony closer to home!
6 months before your wedding…
Transportation: Whether you're hiring a limo, a shuttle bus, or other means of transportation, everyone must arrive safely and on time for your wedding. Find a reputable transportation company that will help you run things smoothly the day of!
Wedding Accessories: Your veil, jewelry, shoes, undergarments, etc., fit into this timeframe! It's all the small details that count! You'll at least want your shoes and undergarments for your first fitting!
3-4 months before your wedding…
Bridal Trials: This would be a reasonable time to schedule your hair and makeup trial with your stylist! I usually recommend trials take place either right before your final dress fitting or the day of your bridal shower!
Wedding Rings: Be sure you and your fiancé have your rings picked out! After all, it's the piece of jewelry you'll wear daily!
Party Favors: You can double up on these items for both your bridal shower/wedding day if needed! If you are personalizing your favors, this will give you enough time to do just that and prepare everything else you'll need for your event!
Remember...while researching, don't be afraid to ask questions before booking your vendors. Staying on budget and having good references can undoubtedly start you off on the right track! While planning your big day can seem overwhelming at times, knowing that you have a solid bridal crew behind you, you'll have less to stress about and more time to enjoy all the fine details while planning the wedding of your dreams!