After you get engaged, it’s easy to start getting excited about your wedding plans. But once you get the date set, how do you know when to start booking things? Is it better to get things done quickly, or is it better to wait a few months if your wedding date is far off?
Here’s a general idea of when you should book each wedding service so that you can be as prepared as you possibly can for your big day.
If you are planning on using a wedding planner, then this should be the first hire that you make during your wedding plans. You want to make sure that you are using someone right from the beginning of planning just so you don’t have to help them play catch up, and so you can get the full usage of their expertise.
Most couples typically spend about a year planning for their wedding, so it’s a good idea to book your wedding planner about a year in advance of your date.
The wedding venue is the biggest piece of the wedding planning puzzle. It is the most important thing to book, and should generally be booked first. You will need to know what address to give your baker or caterer, and so on, so it is important to think venues first.
As soon as you know your wedding date – and have appropriately celebrated your engagement – go ahead and start looking for a venue for the event. You should book your wedding venue about 9 months to one year before your wedding date. Allow for even more time if your venue is particularly popular in your city, as things tend to book up fast.
In addition to your venue, the food at your reception is definitely one of the biggest decisions you need to make while wedding planning. Finding a good caterer takes some time (and fortunately, a few tasting sessions), so you should try to do this as early as possible in the planning process.
You should start setting up meetings with caterers about 8-9 months before your wedding date and book your caterer no later than 6 months before your wedding date just so that you can decide on a menu, determine what dishes the food will be served in, and figure out how many servers or staff you’ll need on hand to help feed your guests.
DJ or Band
The music is one of the best parts of your wedding reception and helps to set the overall mood of the party. Whether you decide to go with a band or a DJ, you’ll need to set up meetings with your prospective band or DJ candidates about 9 months to one year ahead of time. You can make a more informed decision if you’re trying to choose between a couple of entertainment options.
You should book your band or DJ no later than 6 months before your wedding. This will give you plenty of time to prepare a set list or request certain songs that your band or DJ might need to prepare such as your first dance song, father-daughter dance song, or mother-son dance song.
If you’re choosing to have fresh flowers at your wedding, then you’ll want to talk to a local florist who can help consult you on what flowers to choose and how you would like them arranged.
Start looking at florists online about 9 months before your wedding date, and then make your decision on who you’re going to hire about 5-6 months out from your wedding.
Hiring someone to capture all of the little visual moments at your wedding is a big deal. You want to make sure that the professional your hire has a good track record and that you love their overall style. Start your hiring process by taking a look at your photographer or videographer’s website or Instagram page to get a sneak peek at their past projects.
Once you decide on a couple of photographers that you love, set up meetings with them no later than 9 months before your wedding, and try to finalize a contract no later than 5 months before your wedding. It’s also helpful to book your photographer or videographer early so that you can schedule engagement or boudoir photos, if you plan on taking those.
Wedding Cake Baker
No matter how old you are, how big the guest list is, or how much the wedding budget is, the best part of a reception is the cake. Cake tasting is undoubtedly the best part of wedding planning, and you should try to book a couple at least 9 months ahead of your wedding date and have a contract with someone for your wedding cake at least 6 months before your wedding date.
The officiant is the biggest hire that you’ll need to make for your wedding because, of course, you can’t get married without them. Whether you are going for your church’s pastor or a friend who is planning to get ordained, you should ask someone about a year ahead of time just to make sure he or she is free for your wedding date and that he or she is prepared for the ceremony.