There are so many things on your to do list when planning your wedding, but it does not need to be overwhelming. One of the best things you can do is to write down a schedule about when everything needs to be done, and check things off your list one thing at a time! Here are a few tips on the different wedding vendors you may need to book for your wedding:

  1. Venue – The venue is the very first thing you need to book. This is more important than picking the perfect dress! It helps determine your wedding date and time, which is necessary to know for all other decisions you are going to make. This should ideally be done between 9-12 months prior to your wedding date. If your engagement is going to be short, that is fine as well. Don’t stress about it if you are getting married in three months. However, you definitely need to book it right away! Browse wedding venues online and make appointments to see the top three choices. Wedding venues offer packages that include different aspects of what you need in a wedding. You can rent chairs, they may offer their own catering, they may provide the cake from a specific bakery, set up could be included or it may be extra. Most venues break the expenses down so it is priced per person. A little known secret is that you can negotiate with some venues. For instance, if you want to bring your own cake instead of using their bakery, ask if they can take that out of the final price. If you set up yourself you may be able to save money that way. Try to also remember that it is your wedding day, and you may be very busy the week before trying to get things ready. Only commit to setting up the wedding venue if you have help or have ample time to set it up the day before.
  2. Photographer/Videographer – This is obviously a big thing on your to-do list and should be among the first things you take care of. Photographers and videographers book weddings very far in advance, and often times have very little availability. Whether you are getting married in two years or 3 months, make sure to book your photographer as soon as possible.There are a few things to consider when looking for a wedding photographer. You can google wedding photographers in your area or take recommendations from your friends and family. Look at their websites and specifically look at the wedding pictures they have done in the past. Taking family portraits for an hour is a lot different than taking pictures at a wedding for 8 years. Make sure you love their style and the pictures that you see. Photographers have a certain style, and they won’t be able to adopt another style just because that’s what you are looking for. Pick a photographer with the style you are imagining from the beginning! Ask for samples of their wedding galleries, so you can have a full picture of the photographer’s design.
  3. Caterer – Before you begin to find a caterer, decide what kind of meal you want to serve. Do you want to have a plated dinner or a buffet, Italian or Mexican, meat and potatoes or pasta? The suggestions for finding a caterer range anywhere from 6-12 months. Unless there is a world-renowned caterer you have your heart set on, 6 months should still be plenty of time. There are an abundance of caterers available in most areas and they often do multiple events a day. If you are going to do a buffet, it is wise to hire servers to actually serve the food. A lot of times with buffets, people will take a lot of everything and you could easily run out of food before everyone is served. When you have professional catering staff serving the meal, they will be able to monitor portion size and make sure there is enough food until the very end. Don’t worry, everyone will still be full!
  4. DJ or a Band – Try to book your musical entertainment somewhere between 6-9 months as well. They often have checklists of music you definitely want to hear, the songs that need to be played in terms of the dances that will happen throughout the reception, and songs you definitely don’t want to hear. While they may not be the most important person on your checklist, you want to make sure you get a good DJ to emcee your reception!
  5. Florist – If flowers are going to be a huge part of your ceremony and reception, put some extra research into the florist vendor around 9 months prior to your wedding date. If flowers are just going to be a decoration, but aren’t extremely important to you waiting until 6 months is adequate. The florist can help you determine what flowers will be in season at that time and what will be available. They do multiple weddings a day in most cases, so they do not fill up nearly as fast as other vendors.
  6. Wedding Transportation – If you are expecting to be driven to your wedding/reception in a limousine, you may want to book this 3-5 months before your wedding date. However, if you are getting married during the typical high school prom season, book a limousine as far in advance as possible! They will fill up and you may not be able to get one that will hold all of the people necessary!

Most importantly, for any consideration brides need to set a budget and stick to it! There will always be vendors that are more expensive or ones that are really inexpensive. Stay within your budget, so you can enjoy your wedding without being nervous about paying the bills! If this is overwhelming and you cannot even imagine how you will get this all done, look into hiring a wedding planner to take care of the details you envision! They can save you a lot of time if you do not desire to do it all yourself. There are so many wedding sites available to help suggest vendors in every category if you have a hard time finding people!

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