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As you plan for your big day, the best way to navigate all the tasks and stress is by creating a wedding timeline that includes all the booking and organizing you have to do. To help you get prepared and on top of your schedule, we have mapped out a wedding planning checklist for booking your wedding vendors.
When you’re choosing your wedding venue, you’re going to want to check out a few places to see what’s out there. Start looking at venues as early as possible so that you can book your favorite one 10-11 months in advance. On popular dates, some venues can be booked over a year in advance so if you have a specific place in mind, don’t plan a save-the-date until you’ve booked your venue in case it is unavailable on the date that you hoped for. Lastly, before handing over the down payment, get all the information you need to make sure the venue is right for the celebration you want.
Photo Credit: Tom Weller Photography
The Wedding Planner
If you plan on hiring a wedding planner, the sooner you can do so, the better. Similarly to venues, many wedding planners are booked far in advance so if you can, hire yours 11 months before your big day. The latest you should be hiring your wedding planner is 9 months before your wedding date.
Shortly after you’ve booked your venue and planner, start seriously considering your wedding caterer. You’re going to want to have this ready 9-10 months before your saved date. Know what to look for when hiring a caterer and read through reviews. It’s also essential to have a tasting before you book your caterer. Your wedding planner may be helpful in pointing out caterers that he/she has successfully worked with in the past.
The Wedding Officiant
Some venues provide you with a rabbi, priest or pastor. If yours does not, or you prefer choosing an officiant yourself, ask friends and family for recommendations. A great officiant can really affect the vibes of your reception, so try to find someone who’s style speaks to you. Hire someone 10 months in advance. If you plan on writing your own wedding vows, talk to your officiant about it ahead of time because some are less accepting of this custom than others.
Photo Credit: Shane Godfrey Photography
Your photographer should definitely make the list of vendors to book early. While there are many to choose from, the best get booked far in advance. If you can, hire your photographer 8-9 months before your wedding. When interviewing photographers, find out if you are on the same page about what you want and that both sides are clear about what the other expects so that no problems arise during the process. Make sure to communicate if there is a specific style of wedding photos you are interested in. Furthermore, check out their past work and read through reviews.
How far in advance you should book your videographer is largely dependant on you. Is a wedding video very important to you? Does your photographer also come with a videographer? If you want a great high-quality video, you should book a professional around the same time you hire your photographer. On the other hand, if the video is not a priority for you, you can book your videographer 6 months in advance. When interviewing videographers, be sure you know what questions to ask to find out if they are right for you.
The music at your wedding is going to play a big role in getting people out on the dance floor and having the time of their lives. You’re going to want to hire your DJ or band 9 months in advance. Before making any big decisions, listen to their music ahead of time and discuss with them what type of music you want them playing on your big day. While it’s more than okay to hand over a list of songs to play, avoid being the DJ at your own wedding. Discuss with him/her the type of music you prefer, create a (short) list of specific songs and let the professional handle the rest. At the end of the day, if you’re out there rocking to whatever music is playing, your friends and family will be right there beside you!
Of course, picking your wedding cake is a fun part of wedding planning. You and your fiancé get to dedicate an afternoon to cake tasting, followed by decoration options. Visit several bakers before deciding which is the right one for you. Once you’ve found the place, book them 6 months before the wedding. Since bakers can generally prepare more than one wedding cake a day, this vendor makes the list of less time-sensitive hiring, but still you don’t want to learn that the cake you fell in love with won’t be available.
Photo Credit: Paul Retherford Photography
When it comes to your florist, you should book him/her 6 months before your wedding date. While the availability of florists tends to depend on the time of year, it is better to have this vendor squared away early. Once you’ve found someone and seen his/her work, talk style. If you want a certain style of bouquets or flower crowns, discuss this early.
If you plan on providing wedding transportation, you should book them at least 4 months in advance. You want pleasant transportation and drivers, whether that means a limo, a shuttle bus, or a trolley.
When planning your wedding, the best strategy is to book all of the important vendors as early as possible but without stressing yourself out by taking on all of these tasks simultaneously. Create a wedding timeline that allows you to see what to tackle that month. If it will help, instead of sitting down together or taking things on yourself, split the list with your fiancé. Hiring your vendors early will help you feel more at ease and prepared for your big day, and it will assure you and your spouse-to-be that you get the wedding that you imagined!
Photo Credit: Fabio Mirulla Photography